Editor Proofreading Program
Serenity Software
Editor: Software for Writers and Teachers
Editor Software
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Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
            About the Editor Program


What does Editor do that other spelling and grammar checkers do not?

Extensive investigation shows that no other software can approach Editor's range or accuracy in finding spelling mistakes and usage problems missed by other grammar checkers, and that no other checker pays as careful attention to problems of style.  Detailed support for these claims is on the comparisons page of this website.

Editor can find more than 200,000 mistakes and problems in spelling, usage, mechanics, and style, most of which standard grammar checkers fail to notice.  This estimate may seem extravagant; we explain its basis on another page.

Rather than claiming to "fix" your mistakes with a few careless mouse clicks, as many checkers do, Editor collaborates at your request.  It asks questions about what you mean and whether words and phrases you use are the ones you want.  Except for outright errors you might make in contextual spelling and usage, Editor seldom tells you what to say; you remain in charge of your text while the program makes many suggestions for your consideration.  Editor uses "possible" and "probable" qualifiers for terms that can be mistakes in some contexts but not in others, so you can judge their suitability yourself.

Editor offers two levels of assistance to writers.  If you want to free your writing from common mistakes and problems that only the best of writers avoid, Editor will help make your writing better.  (Note that no computer program can find all such mistakes, but Editor catches more than others.)  If you want, in addition, to become a better writer, you can do that by paying attention not only to Editor's questions but also to the discussions and examples in Editor's Reference screens and Writer's Manual, incorporating their information and ideas into your own thinking and using the program to focus your attention on matters of style.

As discussed in "Does Editor check 'grammar'?" under FEATURES, below, Editor does not check full-sentence syntax (sentence structure), which is what some “grammar” checkers claim to do but no commercial software can do reliably.

Is Editor user friendly?

Not exactly.  "User friendly" is a widely misused term in software evaluation  Editor is writer friendly in important ways that other grammar checkers are not.  You can read a discussion of the differences between so-called "user-friendly" interfaces and Editor's "writer-friendly" interface, including many prominent writers' comments on editing and revising, here.

Can I try Editor before buying the program?

Yes, by all means.  We recommend it.  You can download a free, 10-day-trial copy of Editor, including the optional Word Add-In, here.

A WARNING:  Some Internet sites offer high-speed "free downloads" of Editor.
These sites are not authorized by us and are probably scams.  They may appear professionally done, but linguistic markers indicate that English is not the native language of their designers.  Clicking on these sites may be dangerous to your computer or wallet.

The only free downloads of Editor authorized by us are our free, 10-day trial versions, and they can be downloaded only from a link here on our website.

Before clicking on any sites that advertise fast, free downloads of Editor, look these sites or services up on the Web and see what other people say about them.  Be skeptical about 5-star rating comments or glowing evaluations of the service: these may be from the scammers themselves, promoting their scam.

A TIP: If, after you have tried it, you decide to buy a Word Add-In copy of Editor, then if you have been using the Exclude function during your trial, you do not need to lose the Exclude work you have already done.  Save a copy of your trial-version "exclude.txt" file, which is in the C:\Program Files\Serenity Software Trial\Editor\Editor Preferences folder.  Then, after installing your purchased copy of Editor, replace the empty "exclude.txt" file in the same \ location in your new Serenity Software folder, and you will have all the exclusions you have already made preserved.


Who uses Editor?

Editor is used by students and scholars at schools, colleges, and universities in the United States and Canada and by many professional writers of fiction and nonfiction in the US, UK, and elsewhere.  Businesses large and small have bought copies for office use.  Our individual customers reside in 50 US states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 69 other countries around the world.  Click here for some comments from our customers and reviewers.

Please note: prospective customers whose first language is not English should read the FAQ “Can Editor help writers whose native language is not English?” and the FAQ “Does Editor check grammar?” below.

Does Editor work with the latest 64-bit versions of Word?

Yes.  Both the Standard and the Word Add-In versions of Editor install in Windows 2003, Vista, 2007, 2010, and 2013 on both 32-bit and 64-bit machines.

Note: The version of Word in Microsoft's new Office 365 system produces files that Editor can read and analyze, but only while they are on the desktop.  In other words, Editor cannot read anything stored in the cloud.  That should not be a problem for Editor users.

Office 365's design, where the program itself is cloud-resident, does not support third-party add-ins like our Word Add-In, so Office 365 users will no longer be able to edit documents directly within Word.  But earlier versions of Word can import Word 365 documents, which can then be edited using our Word Add-In if it is installed in the earlier version of Word.

If Office Professional Plus is resident on your local machine rather than in the cloud, we believe Editor and the Word Add-In will install and run on the local machine. We understand that Office 365 Business and Business Premium editions have an optional desktop installation. l Editor and the Word Add-In should work well in that arrangement, also.

Can I customize Editor--for example, to ignore clichés and slang in dialog?

Yes.  Editor looks for writing problems in more than fifty categories, and most of those categories can be turned on or off to suit a particular writing style or circumstance.
For example, a writer can decide whether the program should flag all contractions as informal.  A fiction writer can instruct Editor to ignore slang, clichés, colloquialisms, and pretentious terms used in dialogue.  US writers are notified when they use British spelling and usage, but British writers can turn those notifications off and choose instead to be notified when US expressions appear in their work.  Click here to see how easy it is to fine-tune Editor's analysis categories.

To suppress unwanted comments about particular terms, a writer can make an Exclude list of words and phrases for Editor to ignore during its analyses.  Writers can also develop a supplementary dictionary of items for the software to comment on and can add to the list of terms that the software counts.  Adding such personal features is easy: they are just plain-text, typed lists.  Writers can modify the output display of the DRAFT sentence-numbering function; Editor will also allow reorganizing its USAGE analysis comments from a list grouped by problem categories to a list organized by sentences.

Does Editor have an annual fee or required upgrades?

No.  The purchase price is for a complete copy of the program, which has no expiration date.  No subscription-renewal or required-upgrade fees apply.

Upgrades are optional and inexpensive.  This website maintains a cumulative list of changes and additions so that customers can decide for themselves whether and when to upgrade.  Our what's new page always has information on the latest upgrade versions and numbers.

Is there a Macintosh version of Editor?

One helpful answer was posted by a Mac user on a writers' forum in 2014.  

Additional details:  There is no native-code Macintosh version of Editor, but Editor can run on a Mac using special software that either runs Windows on a Mac or imitates Windows functions on a Mac.  Some of the special arrangements require the user to have a copy of Windows to install on their Macs; others do not.

CodeWeavers publishes CrossOver, software that allows Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 2007, and Linux software to run on a Mac without a copy of Windows.  
CodeWeavers' tests of Editor are favorable, and they have added it to their "compatibility" list with a "Gold Medal" designation, meaning that Editor runs well under CrossOver with at worst a few minor bugs.  A major university that has 220 copies of Editor running on PCs also uses Editor with CrossOver in a rolling Mac lab, "a cart with 40 Mac laptops that we can roll into any classroom in our humanities building" to help teach writing.  The author of the answer that we mentioned above has written a set of instructions for installing Editor and the Word Add-In on a Mac using CrossOver.  We will send you a copy on request.

We understand that the Macs using Snow Leopard 10.5/10.6 or later and Boot Camp can run Windows XP (SP2), Vista, and Windows 7 applications if the user has a copy of Windows.  Wikipedia has more information about Boot Camp.

We have customers using the Standard Version of Editor successfully on Macs under Parallels’s Desktop for Mac and both the Standard and Word Add-In versions under VMware's’s Fusion, both of which will run Windows XP (SP2), Vista, and possibly Windows 7 (the user must have a copy of Windows).

Because Editor can analyze files from Microsoft's 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013 versions of Word for Windows, and because Word for the Macintosh versions 2004, 2008, and 2011 files have essentially the same .dox and .docx file formats, Editor can read and analyze files from the Mac versions of Word.   Many Mac word processors other than Word can produce (save as) files in Word's .doc and/or .docx format, so Editor can read and analyze files originally composed in those other word processors and saved as .doc or .docx.  The output from analyzing such files is identical to the output from analyzing the equivalent Word files themselves.

The website macwindows.com has a list with descriptive information on all of the above, plus other emulators, including free ones. Serenity Software does not sell a Macintosh version of Editor or guarantee customer service to Mac users running the program in various configurations mentioned above.  Mac users interested in these possibilities are welcome to download a free, 10-day trial copy of Editor for Windows from the Internet and try it.

Another way to use Editor on a Mac document is to save the document on a PC-formatted disk or stick drive as a plain-text (.txt) file and run that file through Editor on a Windows machine.  Editor isn't interested in anything except the text itself—it discards all nontext formatting before analyzing the document—and the output it gives you is identical to what you would get if you could run Editor on a Mac directly.  You can print Editor's output, mark it up as a draft using Editor's comments, then go back into your Mac word processor and make the desired changes.  There is an extra step or two involved, of course, and you would need access to a Windows computer with Editor installed to use this method.

If I buy Editor, may I use it on more than one computer?

Yes. Many of our customers install Editor on a desktop and a laptop, or on a home and an office computer, for convenience.  We have no objection, so long as the program is not in simultaneous use by more than one person at a time.

Serial use by several people--e.g., by members of a family taking turns--is also fine with us.

Can Editor help writers whose native language is not English?

How much help Editor can give to a second-language writer depends on how well that writer already speaks and writes English.  Editor is not a program for teaching basic English to speakers of other languages.  More particularly, Editor cannot reliably correct poor sentence structure or fix broken syntax, nor can any other computer program.  Please read our note on ESL and the FAQ “Does Editor check grammar?” below for more information.

Is Editor useful in teaching writing?

Many teachers, including us, have found it so.  Editorís Standard Version models and encourages the editing-and-revision procedure used by most good writers, whose essential work of rewriting takes place between a first draft and a final presentation.
Modern word processors may short-circuit that procedure, especially for inexperienced writers.  Working with a draft outside a word processor, Editor restores it.

Editor's Word Add-In version leads a writer meticulously through a Word document on screen, examining writing mistakes and problems one at a time according to the problem categories the writer has chosen for Editor to investigate.

Editor has been used in classrooms and writing labs in high schools, colleges, and universities for many years.  The program is particularly effective in helping students develop thoughtful revision skills and acquire clear and fresh prose styles.

It is worth noting that lazy students left entirely on their own with Editor will use it to improve their writing about as often as they will use a spelling checker to improve their spelling: in some cases, not at all.  Teachers may decide not to mandate Editor's use, but they should strongly encourage it if they wish not to be plagued with low-level writing mistakes and problems when evaluating students' work.

Will Editor help teachers correct and evaluate student papers?

Probably not.  Editor extensively supplements the spelling and grammar checkers included in many word processors.  Unlike them, it also searches for stylistic problems.  Editor is intended for use before papers are submitted for evaluation.  Using the program to correct and evaluate student work after submission would be an inefficient way to spend time.  If students use a spelling checker and Editor to revise their work appropriately before submitting it, their teachers will have many fewer low-level writing mistakes to deal with.


Which style manuals and reference works does Editor use?

Editor's general reference for style in English is the Chicago Manual of Style, probably the most widely used writer's handbook.  Our chief manual of US usage is Bryan Garner's Modern American Usage.  Our US dictionary is Webster's Collegiate, a standard resource; we use the Concise OED for British spelling and usage.  For British style conventions, we also consult The Economist Style Guide and several Oxford University Press publications.  The MLA Style Manual and the Publication Manual of the APA are resources for scholars in the humanities and social sciences that we consult on many questions.  Where authorities disagree, especially in rules for punctuation and other mechanics, we note the disagreements in Editor's Reference screens and analytical comments.  NOTE: Editor can (optionally) check MLA parenthetical references for correct form but does not do that for APA references' alternate format.

In the continuing development of Editor, we consult many additional sources, including the New York Times's and London Times's style and usage guides, the AP Stylebook, Cassell's Spelling Dictionary, the Longman Dictionary of Common Errors, New Hart's Rules, New Oxford Dictionary for Writers and Editors, and dozens of Internet collections and other published resources.

The Bibliography at the end of Editor's Writer's Manual, available online within the program and in printed form in Editor's Serenity Software folder, has a list of more than 100 books and articles on language and writing that we have consulted in developing and upgrading the program, and an additional list of important Internet sites we have used.  Not listed are the hundreds of other Internet sources we have consulted on particular questions.

Professional manuals' rules for formatting footnotes and bibliographies are complex and differ considerably in detail among the professions.  Editor does not attempt to check them.  For proper notational and bibliographical formats, scholars should consult the style manuals appropriate to their fields or use specialized reference-formatting software available on the Internet.

Does Editor check "grammar"?

"Grammar" is a word commonly misused in proofreading-software advertising.
Properly used, the word refers to "the classes of words, their inflections, and their functions and relations in the sentence" (Webster's).  "Good grammar" means properly constructed sentences.  The more precise terms for these elements of sentence structure are syntax and usage  (For the misuse of "grammar" to mean "all writing mistakes," see the last paragraph below.)

Linguists like Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker have demonstrated that the number of possible, grammatically correct English sentences is infinitely large.  Since any correct English sentence can usually be made grammatically incorrect in at least several ways, the problem of analyzing ungrammatical sentences is even greater (yes, there are degrees of infinity), and nobody knows how to analyze more than a small fraction of them accurately.

The problem for programmers of text checkers is far more difficult than writing software to recognize or produce properly constructed sentences.  A true grammar checker would have to recognize all improperly constructed sentences—an infinity of them—fully analyze them, and produce correct sentences to replace them.

That is the Holy Grail of grammar checking.  No such software is available for English, partly because no one has come close to devising a set of rules that can consistently translate bad sentences into good ones, and partly because, unlike human editors, computer programs do not understand meaning and cannot figure out what a writer intends to say.

A sad consequence is that writers whose first language is not English will not find software anywhere that can rid their writing of serious mistakes in English syntax; see our note on ESL.

A good text checker can find some syntax and usage errors in parts of sentences without trying to analyze the sentences as a whole, and Editor has a multitude of sophisticated routines to check for such mistakes.

In the broader sense in which "grammar" is commonly used to mean "writing mistakes," there are also many types of mistakes, like contextual spelling errors and misuses of ordinary words, that cannot be caught by rules.  They must be individually identified and listed in a database—not as words but as incorrect phrases—by the text-checker programmers in order to be caught by the checker.  That means extensive, ongoing research and the compilation of very large databases.  At Serenity Software, we have specialized in such research and in the development of such databases for more than thirty years.  We have yet to encounter other "grammar" checking programs with database collections anywhere close in size and scope to Editor's.

Does Editor include a thesaurus to help find better words?

No.  As a recent book on writing college-application essays notes, "using a thesaurus will not make you look smarter.  It will only make you look like you are trying to look smarter."

Few words are exact substitutes for other words, and plugging in alternatives from a thesaurus may obscure, rather than enhance, your intended meaning.  If you feel that a word you have chosen does not quite express the idea you are trying to convey, a thesaurus may help you consider alternatives.  Word has an excellent thesaurus that can be consulted in this situation.  But no computer program can pick a good word for you from a list.

Editor often suggests alternatives to words that you are misusing or that people commonly misuse, but unlike many other "grammar" checking programs, Editor never does this merely to promote meaningless variety.  Editor can also show where you might substitute plainer terms for some overly formal or pretentious ones.

Editor's WORD LISTS option helps writers find words and phrases that may be repeated too often in their work.  Those are expressions worth the trouble of finding good alternatives for or rewriting to eliminate.

Does Editor use natural-language processing?

Of course. All grammar checkers do, in the sense that they all analyze texts written in a human language.  Editor has a unique, proprietary system that identifies English words according to their parts of speech and their properties and uses those identifications in its analyses.  Although this system enables highly accurate identification of hundreds of thousands of spelling, usage, and grammatical mistakes in documents, it does not extend to reliable analysis of full-sentence structure—nor does any other system outside (perhaps) a few research laboratories.  See our FAQ, "Does Editor check grammar?" above for more information.

Does Editor check spelling?

Yes, very effectively, but Editor does not duplicate a standard spelling checker’s functions: it extends them.  Editor specializes in commonly misspelled phrases: under stood, dramatis persona, at anytime, wailing away, different tact, weather or not, principle city, and tens of thousands more.

These are not grammatical errors: they are contextual spelling mistakes.
Because of the enormous numbers of sound-alike and similar terms in the English language, the possible number of contextual spelling errors is incalculable, though a great many are common in writers' work.  They cannot be identified by rules, by checking grammar, or by ordinary spelling checkers.  They can be caught only by brute force: they must be individually identified, collected, and included in a text-checker's database if they are to be found and corrected.

We believe that Editor's database of contextual spelling mistakes in English is the world's largest, by far.  In comparative tests against not only our competitors' but Word's and WordPerfect's widely touted contextual checkers, Editor finds many times more of these pesky spelling problems than they do.  The sidebars at the right of these pages include examples of spelling mistakes that Word and some well-known "grammar" checkers do not catch but Editor does.

We did not invent context-sensitive spell-checking, but Editor has been doing it for more than thirty years—far longer, and better, than Microsoft or anyone else.

Does Editor check style?

Editor is the most comprehensive English style checker available, both in the range of stylistic categories it looks at and in the numbers of individual style problems listed in its usage dictionaries.  The program checks for wordiness, redundancy, clichés, platitudes, jargon, informality, overworked and trite expressions, affected language, pompous phrases, empty intensifiers, awkward usage, slang, nonstandard and nonidiomatic diction, rash overstatements, tautologies, vague terms, outmoded diction, and potentially offensive language.

Each of these checks can be turned off and on in Editor's Preferences list if a writer wishes, and because many of these elements are used deliberately in fictional characters' speech, authors of fiction (as well as journalists and scholars) should ignore many of Editor's complaints while checking for mistakes and problems inside quoted speech.

Editor can show where your sentence rhythms are poor: too many long or short ones, or strings of sentences that suffer from structural sameness (no, it doesn't check for awesome alliteration!).  The program can find excessive repetitions of words in a paragraph or on a page, find short phrases repeated perhaps too often in a document, and find longer passages, anywhere in the text, where you may have repeated yourself unintentionally.  It can also produce a vocabulary list, along with word frequencies, to help you add variety to your expressions.

Can Editor handle British, Canadian, Australian, and other non-US English writing?

Yes.  Editor's databases of spelling and usage problems include common British English (UK) equivalents, so the software can analyze UK texts as well as texts by writers who—like Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, Asian Indians, South Africans, and other anglophones—use a mixture of US and UK spelling conventions.  Editor allows users to specify whether they wish to be notified if they are writing in one of the two primary dialects of English (US and UK) and, perhaps mistakenly, use terms from the other.

Except for some clichés, platitudes, and proverbs, Editor does not respond to local slang, colloquialisms, or usage conventions found in English-speaking communities outside the US and UK.

Can Editor find homonym mistakes?

Yes, many of them.  Ordinary spelling checkers miss most homonym errors because the individual words are correctly spelled.  Too many grammar checkers address the problem of homonyms (and other words having similar meanings) merely by listing alternatives without telling how the writer should choose among them.  Editor uses a specially designed form of syntax analysis to catch these mistakes, including misspelled plurals and possessives as well as the common confusions of its and it’s; effect and affect; their, there, and they’re; to, too, and two; alley, ally, and allay; insight and incite; posses and possess; and many, many more.  When it finds a possible homonym mistake, Editor suggests the most likely alternative.

Does Editor check punctuation?

Some punctuation problems cannot be identified reliably by software because they depend on sentence structure.  Editor does not attempt the full-sentence syntax analysis that no computer programs can do reliably (see our FAQ "Does Editor check grammar?" above).  Punctuation can also depend on meaning, about which computers are clueless.

Editor does know many things about punctuation.  For example, it finds some places where a comma is missing; it catches improperly formed dashes, hyphens, and ellipses; it notices when, in many compound modifiers, hyphens are missing before nouns; it flags improperly formed dates and MLA parenthetical references; it catches misplaced punctuation around quotation marks as well as some missing quotation marks, parentheses, and brackets; it finds many possessives that lack apostrophes; it knows which sentences should be marked as questions; and it knows that if words like "however" and "moreover" are followed by punctuation, there should probably be preceding punctuation as well.  Despite these features, there are many punctuation problems that Editor cannot resolve.

Editor avoids the mistake, made by many grammar checkers, of falsely identifying common abbreviations, along with ellipses and even dashes and parentheses, as sentence endings and wanting to capitalize following words as the beginnings of new sentences.

Does Editor flag passive sentences?

You do not need Editor's help for that.  Word's, Word Perfect's, and other word processors' checkers will draw sentences in the passive voice to your attention unless you turn off that option.  They may also suggest alternative wording in the active voice.

But such automatic flagging of passive constructions has long been considered as applying an outmoded zombie rule that has little to do with good writing.  Passive voice is not always a poor choice, especially when the alternative seems awkward or wordy.  In scientific and most legal writing, for example, it is used deliberately and extensively.

Editor does not apply this zombie rule.

Can Editor find clichés and trite expressions?

Bet your bottom dollar it can.  Editor's collection of 12,600 clichés, overused and trite expressions, inflated language, and vague terms, expanded to include more than 55,000 additional variant forms, is many times larger than any other grammar checker's.

Included in this collection are most common proverbs, some of which have become clichés, and many platitudes--proverbial expressions that overuse has rendered empty and dull.

Editor's purpose is not to forbid such terms, which can be effective when thoughtfully chosen, but to help writers avoid using them carelessly.  The program calls attention to them, so that writers can decide whether to use them deliberately.

Can Editor check a document for excessive repetition?

Editor has a special set of repetition-analysis functions that allow a writer to (1) check a document for words repeated four or more times, on average, per page; (2) look for individual paragraphs that have words repeated three or more times (the words are not chosen beforehand but depend on the independent vocabulary of each paragraph); (3) find all three-word phrases that repeat in a document; (4) find passages in a document of six or more words (up to a paragraph) that repeat; and (5) do a complete frequency count of a document's vocabulary.

Functions 2, 3, and 4 help find passages where repetition makes dull reading or results from careless cut-and-paste composition.  Function 1 is useful primarily for short texts, and function 5 gives summary information about a writer's working vocabulary.

Does Editor identify sentences that are too long or too complicated?

Yes and no.  There are no magic numbers of characters or words that identify too-long sentences, and no commercial software can reliably decide when a sentence is too complex.  Software that claims to make such judgments can make them only mindlessly, using made-up magic numbers.

Editor does draw attention to sentences longer that 40 words if they have fewer than 4 of the common punctuation marks—commas, semicolons, parentheses, and dashes—
that writers use to help organize sentences' meaning.  The intention is not to forbid long sentences but to ask writers to make sure they are readable.

Editor also has an option in its output display that lets you choose to view the sentences in a document as a simple, vertical list.  Such a list quickly identifies long sentences that may need revision and reveals dull rhythms in groups of sentences, all of similar length or similar construction, that might be rewritten for variety and balance.  These identifications are not instructions to make changes, only relevant information laid out clearly for the writer's consideration.

Can Editor handle large documents?

Yes, but.  Yes, Editor can handle large documents, but its analytic output can be voluminous.  To give you an idea, on a partial dissertation of 100 pages that we tested, Editor's detailed comments ran to 70 pages, double spaced.  We recommend analyzing large documents in shorter segments, or running only one USAGE dictionary at a time, for convenience in editing.

The largest document Editor has been tested on is a collection of 40,000 sentences, good and bad, that a researcher (not us) put together to test grammar checkers.  According to Google, that is the equivalent of 3750 manuscript pages or a 2600-page published book.  Editor delivered a complete analysis of the entire document—nearly a million words, by Editor's count—in about fifteen minutes. There are ways to fine-tune the program to eliminate many unnecessary comments, depending on the writing situation.  College undergraduates, journalists, dissertation writers, and fiction authors, for example, differ in their editing needs and purposes, and Editor can accommodate many of those differences.

There is no need to break up and then reassemble a long document in order to analyze it with Editor.  In a word processor, highlight sections of any length, extract them using Save As into separate documents, and analyze those.  Use the results, either as you get them or cumulatively, to copyedit the original document in the word processor.

Does Editor check citations, references, and bibliographies?

Professional organizations' rules for formatting footnotes and bibliographies are complex and differ considerably from one to the next.  Editor does not attempt to check them; for the proper notational and bibliographical formats, scholars should consult the style manuals appropriate to their fields or use specialized software available from the Internet.

Does Editor check scientific and technical writing?

Yes, with two reservations.  The first is that Editor might not read texts with mathematical formulas and other technical apparatus properly.  It is designed to read ordinary prose documents, discarding all nontext items if it recognizes them.  Reading scientific and technical terms should cause no difficulties, but text that is not composed using ordinary alphabetic fonts and symbols may distort Editor's output or even crash the program.

The second reservation is that Editor does not have databases of technical terms, and therefore cannot tell when such terms are misused or incorrectly spelled.
Following instructions provided with the program, however, a user can develop a special dictionary of typical misspellings and misuses of technical terms in the user's field, and Editor will use that special dictionary in its analyses.  Users can also notify Editor when terms should be deliberately excluded from an analysis.

Does Editor read email?

Not as such.  The emerging conventions of email writing—in spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and syntax—are informal and relaxed, so that much of Editor's analytical commentary is beside the point.  Click here for a suggestion on using Editor in composing, proofreading, polishing, and sending formal emails.

Can Editor proofread blogs?

Much of the writing in blogs is highly informal.  Bloggers who aspire to write more-formal English have choices.  Editor reads some HTML files, including blogs, and will offer analyses, but may not always recognize the latest forms of (X)HTML coding.  To make proofreading of blog prose easier and the results better, we recommend using the same procedure that we suggest for formal emails.  Click here for a suggestion on using Editor in composing, proofreading, and polishing the writing in blogs.

Does Editor provide readability statistics?

"Readability" scores are controversial.  We agree with a recent critic: readability formulas "are based around the average words [per] sentence, and the average syllables used per word. . . .   Being mathematically based, readability tests are unable to determine the likelihood that [a] document is comprehensible, interesting, or enjoyable.  It is possible to obtain good readability scores with gobbledygook, provid[ed that] the content [is] short sentences made up of monosyllabic words."   See The Language Project's Web site for this discussion.

There is little consistency among the many readability formulas.  The Gunning-Fog Index, for example, says a reader needs 12 years of schooling to read this website's home page, whereas the Flesch-Kincaid index says 8 years is sufficient.

Is there a user’s manual?  Is there onscreen help when learning the program?

Editor's “Writer’s Manual,” an instruction manual that is also a handbook on writing better prose, is available onscreen within the program.  The manual can be printed.   Additionally, Editor has more than seventy reference screens with explanations and examples of (1) the writing problems that Editor's analyses find and (2) the grammar terms used in Editor's explanations.  Context-sensitive Help screens are also available for every step a user must take. Error messages on screen explain what to do if the software encounters a problem.  Click these links to see a sample discussion from the Writer’s Manual or examples of Editor's reference screens.


Is Editor interactive?  Will it work inside my word processor?

The Standard Edition of Editor does not work within a word processor, but it can read Word and WordPerfect documents and many RTF and HTML files directly.  It can also analyze any document saved in the plain-text (.txt) format that any good word processor can produce.  Editor's analytical comments are identical no matter which document format it is analyzing, and they can be used the same way in copyediting text.

Editor for Word, with its Word Add-In option, has all the capabilities of the Standard Edition, and it can display Editor's analysis output on screen in a Word document, enabling editing directly within those documents.

Does Editor analyze other text files than Word's and WordPerfect's?

Yes.  Because Editor can analyze any plain-text (.txt) file, and any modern word processor can save files in that format, Editor can analyze any document written using any modern word processor.  The program's output is a set of plain-text files that are identical no matter what document format it analyzes, and the output is used in the same ways when revising and correcting any word-processor file.

Some word processors, like Open Office, WordPerfect, and Works, can save and reopen documents in Word 2003-2010 format.  If you have a copy of Word 2003-2010 available, therefore, you may be able to compose documents in your preferred word processor, save them in Word format, edit them in Word using Editor for Word, and reopen the edited documents in your preferred word processor without losing formatting information.  You can find out whether that procedure would work for you by getting a free 10-day trial copy of Editor for Word to experiment with.

Must I be connected to the Internet while using Editor?

No.  Editor is a self-contained program that resides on your hard drive, available for use at any time, and runs in your computer's memory.  You decide how much of a document—whole or part—to analyze at one time.  Our rigorous comparative tests show that Editor is far more comprehensive and powerful than the many online cut-and-paste grammar checkers, even when they run on powerful, multitasking computers.

Does Editor run in Vista? Can it analyze Word 2007-2013 documents?

Yes.  Editor runs in all Windows operating systems from 98 to 8.1, and reads all versions of Word after 97, including Word 2003-2013.


Can I download Editor after I buy it?

Within twenty-four hours after paying for a copy of Editor, you will receive an e-mail containing a link to download the program from the Internet.  The downloaded file will install Editor and can serve as your backup if you keep a copy on a removable medium like a thumb/stick/flash drive or writable CD.

What is your privacy policy?

Credit-card transactions with PayPal are confidential and secure.  We receive no information from them about your credit card or about any account you may have with them.  PayPal sends us only your name, e-mail address, mailing address, and the amount of your payment.

We will treat your payment information, and any other information you may decide to send us (e.g., a fax or telephone number), as strictly confidential.  We will not provide information about you to any other person or organization without specific authorization from you.

We do not send cookies or any other tracking devices to your computer.

What about upgrades?

Editor is upgraded regularly, with additions to its database of writing problems, new or improved analysis routines, and improvements to the user interface.  Every new customer receives the most recent published version.  Anyone on our list of paid customers can upgrade to the latest version of Editor inexpensively.
See our upgrades page for details.

My computer crashed.  Can I get a replacement for Editor?

In most cases, Editor has moved on, so a free replacement would amount to a free upgrade.  What you can do is purchase an upgrade, a new copy of the program, for much less than the new-copy price.  See our upgrades page for prices and payment links.

When you download an upgrade installation file, put a copy of it on a stick drive or other portable medium, and you will have a backup in case of another computer fatality.

If Editor does not suit my needs, can I get my money back?

Under some circumstances, yes.  Anyone can download a free 10-day trial copy of Editor, so if you are not sure that the program will suit your needs, try it before buying it.  We especially recommend a trial copy to every potential customer whose first language is not English.  See the FAQ "Can Editor help writers whose native language is not English?" above for more information.

If you think your circumstances warrant a refund, e-mail editor@serenity-
explaining the circumstances.

Last revised 27 January 2016

Word and WordPerfect do not recognize the following problems.  Slide your cursor down this column for a digest of Editor's comments.


The Weather Chanel forecast was ominous.

After college, she joined the Peace Core.

The police car turned into my driveway.

Florida weather is pleasant
excepting for hurricanes.

Good jobs are far and few

He was a trusted confident of the Queen.

There is little differential between the candidates.

We lived in Honduras between 1975 through 1988.

My grandmother is still hail and hardy.

You are seriously disconnec-
ted to reality.

Those efforts are doomed
to defeat.

He should not be demur
about his abilities.

I once met J.D. Salinger,
the writer.

They were contemptible of
our offer.

The course I want has perquisites.

He had slew thousands.

The market was in eminent danger of crashing.

We had greatfruit and serial for breakfast.

He had rewrit his essay many times.

I try to stay au currant with the news.

My birthday was June 31, 1986.

My father could not afford being seen at the jail.

We must appraise her of the danger.

Afterward we went home to dinner.

Good things come to them who waits.