Following up on my last post about keeping up with web trends and tools, I wanted to share some of the writing and editing tools I use regularly, along with some I have been playing with recently.
I write everything I can in markdown. We don’t use markdown in our publishing workflow at work (although I’m trying to change that), but I often write notes in markdown, and I maintain our main web documents in markdown, such as our style guide and web content policy. At home, I write just about everything in markdown, including this blog.
I’m a huge fan of markdown; it’s such a liberating and flexible authoring experience. You can preserve structure while being able to publish to a variety of formats. It’s great, and it will probably continue to gain ground as a writing (anti)format in education, publishing, and communications workflows because of its ability to traverse print and digital publishing environments.
I’ve used a variety of writing apps, but iA Writer is my favorite. I just started using it with the latest version (4), which offers some really cool features to make markdown even more powerful and easy to use.
iA Writer is inexpensive and available for macOS, iOS, and Android. I do wish iA Writer was available for Windows, as I use a Windows machine from time to time at work.
I’m sure many would argue that Sublime Text, Atom, and Coda (among others) are superior, but I like Brackets, at least for now. It seems simpler than many other editors, and I don’t need much of the functionality that coders might. I particularly like the inline editor, which allows me to edit CSS within my HTML document. I don’t need to go back and forth between my HTML document and my stylesheet to make changes, searching through my CSS for the relevant selector. It’s great.
Frankly, I am tired of a content review workflow that results in a dozen Word files comprised of track changes. I’m usually the one that has to resolve all of those separate files and changes into a final version to publish. It’s maddening and error prone. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about.
Ideally, we’d procure a service like Gather Content, but Gather Content doesn’t seem like the best tool for managing edits to existing content; it seems primarily designed for managing the workflow for the production of new content. We really need a tool that can do both, but frankly it doesn’t matter, since we don’t have the budget for it anyway.
I’ve explored using Draft, but that would require markdown training and proficiency for dozens of staff, which is unlikely to happen right now. That stated, Draft is a great (and free) tool that has vast potential for small, technically savvy organizations.
Like Draft, Penflip is a collaborative writing tool. It’s marketed as “Github for Writers”. Penflip presents the same barriers to implementation for non-technical teams as Draft, but – from my limited exposure – it is easier to use than Draft. I need to play with it more, but I am fan of what I’ve seen so far.
The Hemingway app is indispensable for an editor, particularly if you edit the work of dozens of people in multiple departments and divisions.
The Hemingway app not only assists editors by pointing out reading grade level, unnecessary words, and sentences that are difficult to read, but it is useful as a neutral and visual source of evaluation that you can share with content creators. Many writers and subject matter experts do not like to be edited…few people do. Tools like the Hemingway app can be useful when starting discussions with content contributors.
I use Readability Score in much the same way I use the Hemingway app, but Readability Score is more complicated for non-editors and consequently more useful for me when I’m editing than as a communication tool with writers and subject matter experts. I don’t have a paid subscription, so I use the editor in an ad hoc manner.
Let me know what writing and editing tools you use @forestglenroad.