It's been a while since we looked at the best tools out there for fettling and finessing your web copywriting project. So we've had a look at our little roundup, culled some and added a few new ideas.
Of course, most of the time, you'll simply plonk yourself down in front of Microsoft Word, Pages or Google Docs. But sometimes, the standard tools aren't quite up to the job.
When things get a bit more complex, you'll need specialist help: from image capture and editing, through to readablity and file sharing.
Cutting, cropping, pasting AND CONVERTING
- Pixlr.com – simple online photo editing for cropping and re-sizing.
- PNGWeasel (OSX) – if you edit images, there will come a time when you need to make PNG files with a transparent background. This free download does the job beautifully.
- TinyPNG – compresses your PNG files right there in the browser, without ruining the quality. Lovely drag and drop interface too.
- Fireshot (Windows) – take simple screenshots from Firefox, Exporer and Chrome, then edit them.
- FastoneCapture or Snagit (both Windows) screenshot tools that let you do things like capture menu selections and edit portions of the screen. The Windows Snipping Tool is fine if you just need to copy something without editing.
- Jing (Windows and OSX) – the screenshot tool that the devs use. Capture images and short videos of your screen, then share them instantly.
Spelling, grammar and writing style
We like the Oxford and Chambers dictionaries for the basic stuff. For the times when dictionaries don’t cut it, we look to style guides. And because style guides can be idiosyncratic, it’s worth checking a few of them to find the right way for your brand.
- Oxford English Dictionary online – more trustworthy than Word’s spool chooker.
- Chambers Thesaurus and Chambers Dictionary Apps (iOS) – clear definitions and a distinctive modern style.
- Guardian Style Guide online – The Guardian’s grammar gurus answer questions about modern writing conventions.
- Government Content Style Guide – thorough and well-illustrated guide, essential if you’re writing for the public sector.
- MailChimp Style – a nuanced and very detailed look into a fascinating brand.
- MailChimp Tone of Voice – a great example of how personality and customer care come together beautifully.
- BBC Radio News Style Guide – the 800x600 design is what hits first, but don't be put off. This is an excellent guide to writing clear, crisp copy.
- Hemingway app – write like Papa. This online text editor highlights the superfluous stuff. It’s a bullfight for bullshit.
- Readability plugin for Word 2010 (Windows) – Much more powerful than Word’s built-in readability tool.
Notes, notes and more notes
- Nebulous – (Windows, iOS and OSX) – a simple note-taking app that synchronises notes between all your screens.
- Evernote (OSX and iOS) – save notes, clips, files and images – then access them on all your devices.
- Infogr.am – free, good looking charts and infographics.
- Pidoco – create clickable wireframes for web and mobile applications.
- Google Fusion Tables – got a big set of data? Make it look purty with a Fusion Table. You can display it as a chart, map, network graph, or a custom layout. You can embed the HTML in your website, too.
Grabbing text from image files
- Adobe Acrobat – use Acrobat’s OCR text recognition function in the 'Document' menu.
- OneNote (Windows) – if you’re using a PC, just drag in an image, right click and select ‘Copy text from picture’. It may not be 100% accurate, but it’s fast.
Sharing and managing projects
- GatherContent – a brilliant workflow tool for content teams. Create a site structure, then share and populate it with content (not just copy).
- Basecamp – share documents and notes chronologically, synchronise diaries and allocate work all in one place; it’s secure, easy-to-use and very fast.
- Dropbox – a file hosting service that lets you store, synchronise and access files securely from any device.
- Axure (Windows and OSX) – make content changes directly in a client’s wireframes. OK, so it costs. But there’s a free trial, which is handy for one-off projects.
- Trello – organise anything with anyone. Trello is a list of lists, and lets you keep track of everything that's to do, in progress, and done on a project.
- Podio – heavy-duty project management for everything. Podio is totally customisable, to the point where you'll want to use it for everything you work on.
The social bit (Not strictly copywriting, but useful)
- Tweroid – find out when your Twitter audience is listening, and tweet accordingly.
- Flare – social buttons to float alongside your content, making it super easy to share.
- Hootsuite – an obvious inclusion, but important nonetheless: the dashboard that brings together all your social media channels. Keep abreast of what's going on, post to multiple channels, and enrol in the Hootsuite University if you like.
Of course, all of this is just bells and whistles without strong, compelling copy. And that’s what we’re here for.
Want to know a bit more?
Call Alan on 0203 603 7740, or email firstname.lastname@example.org