10 Grammar Checkers and Editing Tools to Make Your Writing Super Clean

10 Grammar Checkers and Editing Tools to Make Your Writing Super Clean

Have you ever wanted a magical editing wand?

Just imagine: A flick of the wrist is all that would stand between you and the end of editing your writing. No frustration. Minimal time investment. An amazing manuscript or blog post.

Alas, no such magic wand exists.

But we do have grammar checker tools, which are the next-best things.

Just remember grammar checkers are designed to make editing easier, not to eliminate the work completely.

Putting the best grammar checker tools to the test

During self-edits on my latest manuscript, I experimented with editing tools, both free and paid, to determine which could be most beneficial to The Write Life’s audience. Besides being an author, I’m an editor, so I also weighed each tool against what I’d look for when editing.

Since editing has a broad definition — basically anything that improves your writing — it’s not surprising that the tools I tried had different functions, from checking grammar and style to eliminating unnecessary words, to identifying areas for improvement.

What you want in a grammar checker or editing tool will influence which one(s) you choose. No one tool can do it all — nor can one of these tools wave away the work and critical thinking necessary for a well-edited blog post, magazine article or book.

A grammar checker doesn’t replace a human editor. Because language rules and elements of a good story can be so flexible, human eyes will always be superior to the rigidity of automatic tools.

Here are 10 of the best grammar checker tools.

1. ProWritingAid

What It Does:  ProWritingAid is a web editor and plugin that will clean up your writing by detecting grammar and spelling mistakes, plagiarism and contextual errors. It also analyzes your writing and produces reports on writing style, sentence length, grammar, and repeated words and phrases.

Price: There’s a limited free version. If you upgrade to the premium membership, you can edit in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, access a desktop app and Chrome add-ins, and — best of all — lose the word-count cap.

A monthly membership is $20, a year’s membership is $79,  or go the whole hog and buy a lifetime membership for $240.

Who It’s For: Anyone, including students, authors, freelancers or ESL writers.

How It Works: Click on “Try the editing tool,” create a free account, then paste in your text.

The Best Part: ProWritingAid has a premium option, but most of the areas you’ll want checked are available for free.

What Would Make It Better: Though ProWritingAid checks grammar, I slipped in a your/you’re mistake without getting flagged. I wasn’t overly fond of the tool’s inability to work offline, but its overall functionality is hard to argue with.

Our Recommendation: Use ProWritingAid in the self-editing stage to guide your edits. 

More Details: For an in-depth explainer of ProwritingAid’s free and premium versions, check out our full ProwritingAid review.

2. AutoCrit

What It Does: AutoCrit analyzes your manuscript to identify areas for improvement, including pacing and momentum, dialogue, strong writing, word choice and repetition. Depending on what plan you choose, you can also compare your writing to that of popular authors like Danielle Steel or James Patterson.

Price: Three different plans are available: the “Free Forever” plan, which is free; the “Professional” for $30, or the “Annual Professional” for $297 per year. The latter offers a built-in discount of two months free every year. 

Who It’s For: Fiction and non-fiction writers.

How It Works: Paste your text into the online dashboard or upload a document and click on AutoCrit’s tabs to see its analysis. This tool uses data from various genres and more than a million books to provide a word-by-word level analysis of your writing and shows easy ways to improve the readability of your work.

The Best Part: I spent the most time in the “Compare to Fiction” tab, which provides a comprehensive look at common issues. It highlighted my tendency to start sentences with “and” and “but,” and identified my most repeated words. I felt like I learned something about my writing, and that’s something I don’t think I could say about some other tools.

What Would Make It Better: A more accurate definition of passive voice. It highlights any use of the “be” and “had” verbs, neither of which fully capture passive voice (you need a past participle in addition to a “be” verb), and many active voice constructions were falsely labeled as passive.

Our Recommendation: AutoCrit is great to guide your edits in the self-editing stage. It’s best used for developmental edits, rewrites and avoiding common writing no-nos.

More Details: For an in-depth explainer of Autocrit’s Free Forever and paid versions, check out our full Autocrit review.

3. Grammarly

What It Does: Grammarly is a grammar checker and proofreader.

Price: A limited version is available for free, and Grammarly also offers a number of other free services such as a wordiness checker and tone detection. The full-featured premium service starts at $11.66 per month, and the business plan starts at $12.50 per member per month. 

Who It’s For: Anyone, including writers, business people and academics.

How It Works: Copy and paste or upload your text into the online dashboard and let Grammarly work its magic. It flags potential errors, gives suggestions and provides an explanation so you can learn why it suggests the change. There’s also a free Grammarly Add-in available for Microsoft Word and a Grammarly for Chrome extension that’s also compatible with Google Docs.

The Best Part: Grammarly is easy to use and pointed out a vocabulary issue or two that none of the other tools did. It’s superior to Microsoft Word’s grammar checker. Its synonym suggestion feature is pretty nifty, too.

What Would Make It Better: As an editor, I work with many styles of writing, so it’d be helpful if Grammarly provided the option to switch between a few to ensure writers receive fitting suggestions to improve their work. For example, if you don’t use the Oxford comma, the editor will prompt you to do so, which isn’t right for all writing styles. 

Our Recommendation: Grammarly is best for the final proofreading stage, or for people who want to learn more about the technical aspects of grammar. If you’re an editor or strong writer, you might find yourself ignoring more flagged items than you fix.

More Details: For an in-depth explainer of Grammarly’s free and premium versions, check out our full Grammarly review.

4. Hemingway Editor

What It Does: Hemingway Editor is like a spellchecker, but for style. It provides a readability score — the lowest grade level someone would need to understand your text — and analyzes your writing to identify areas for improvement. Because it doesn’t require an internet connection, you can use it anywhere.

Price: Free online, and a one-time payment of $19.99 for the desktop version, which is available for both Mac and PC.

Who It’s For: Anyone

How It Works: Paste your text into the dashboard and scan for highlighted sections of text. The highlighted text is color coded depending on your area of improvement, whether it’s hard-to-read sentences, the presence of adverbs, or passive voice.

The Best Part: In addition to providing examples on how to fix passive voice or complex phrases, Hemingway Editor also identifies how many “-ly” adverbs and passive voice constructions you’ve used and suggests a maximum number based on your word count.

In my prologue, for example, I had one use of passive voice, and Hemingway Editor suggested aiming for six uses or fewer — which I nailed. These recommendations reinforce the idea that not all adverbs or passive voice constructions are bad, and that’s something other tools miss.

What Would Make It Better: Hemingway Editor was the cleanest and easiest to use of the free editing tools, but it’s not a true grammar checker or proofreader. Even though it’s not meant to catch grammar and spelling mistakes, any editing application that catches those mistakes is instantly more attractive.

Our Recommendation: Use Hemingway Editor to increase the readability of your writing and identify problem sentences during the copyediting stage, but supplement your efforts with a grammar and spell checker.

5. WordRake

What It Does: WordRake cuts out the unnecessary words or phrases that creep into your writing. It works with Microsoft Word and Outlook, depending on which license you purchase. I tested the Microsoft Word version.

Price: The Microsoft Word version is available for Mac or Windows, and you’ll pay $129 for a year or $259 for three years. The Microsoft Word and Outlook package version is only available for Windows, and it costs $199 for a year or $399 for three.

Who It’s For: Bloggers, authors and editors using Microsoft Word or Outlook.

How It Works: WordRake is an add-in for Microsoft products and requires you to install the program before using it, though it’s as easy as following the instructions. Select the text you want to edit, then use the WordRake add-in. It uses Track Changes to suggest edits, which you can accept or reject.

The Best Part: WordRake is as close as you can get to an automatic editor. It appealed to me more as an editor than a writer, but it’s great at eliminating unnecessary phrases and words that bog down your writing.

What Would Make It Better: I threw a your/you’re mistake in to see if WordRake would catch it. It didn’t, even though Microsoft Word flagged it. If WordRake could catch common writing mistakes like your/you’re or their/they’re/there in addition to unnecessary words, it’d be a hard tool to beat.

Our Recommendation: WordRake is a great tool for the copyediting stage. Verbose writers, authors wanting to cut down on editing costs or editors looking to speed up their editing process will most benefit from WordRake. Watch out if you’re running Word on a slow computer: WordRake could increase your load time.

6. After the Deadline

What It Does: Like Grammarly, After the Deadline is a grammar checker and proofreader.

Price: Free for personal use.

Who It’s For: Anyone.

How It Works: Click “Demonstration,” paste the text you want to check, and click “Check Writing.” After the Deadline underlines any spelling, grammar and style issues and explains its reasoning.

The Best Part: It’s free! You can also use it on your self-hosted WordPress site, as an extension or add-on for Chrome or Firefox, or with

What Would Make It Better: A definition of passive voice that explains how you construct it grammatically. After the Deadline rightly explains what passive voice does, but it seems to focus only on the “be” verb, which occasionally leads to falsely labeling non-passive constructions as passive.

Our Recommendation: You get what you pay for with After the Deadline. Use it for a final proofread, but exercise good judgment and don’t make every change it suggests — it’s not as sophisticated as the other five editing tools mentioned.

7. Ginger Software

What It Does: This AI-powered writing assistant and grammar and spelling checker works to improve your style and speed, plus boost your creativity. It also scans full, complex sentences and suggests context-based corrections. 

Price: Ginger offers a free (but very limited) plan, so you’ll find it to be more effective through its premium offerings: $13.99 per month, $89.88 per year or $167.76 for two years. Heads up: It’s currently running a 30% off promo for all plans, so these prices may increase at any time. 

Who It’s For: Anyone.

How It Works: Whether you choose to download Ginger to your Chrome browser, as a desktop app or otherwise, all you have to do to get started is follow the setup instructions to install it. As an add-on or app, Ginger will highlight spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, and it’ll even help you rephrase sentences by giving you tons of alternative options.

The Best Part: One word: cross-compatibility. Writers can download Ginger as a desktop app for Mac or Windows or directly into Google Chrome or Safari, and it works seamlessly with programs like Outlook, Microsoft Word and PowerPoint — you can even download it as a keyboard or app for Android phones and an app for Apple phones. 

What Would Make It Better: Most grammar checkers offer a plagiarism detector, but Ginger doesn’t. Even if it only added it to premium plans, this would be a helpful feature to include. 

Our Recommendation: Download Ginger If you have a good grasp of grammar and punctuation, and you need a grammar editor to back up your knowledge. 

8. Scribens

What It Does: Scribens is a free grammar checker that corrects more than 250 types of grammar, spelling and stylistic mistakes including nouns, verbs, prepositions, pronouns, homonyms, typography and punctuation.

Price: Free for everyone.

Who It’s For: Anyone, including writers, editors and authors of any genre, business people and academics.

How It Works: Choose which extension(s) where you want to install Scribner, then download it and begin writing. To test it first, click ‘Grammar Check,’ then paste your text or import a file into the editor. Through color-coded suggestions, it’ll check your style, vocabulary, grammar and spelling, it detects patterns in your writing, and it grades readability. 

The Best Part: You can download the Scribens extension in just about any place you’d need to write — i.e., social networks, websites with text zones (WordPress or forums), email platforms and more. Writers will be sure to enjoy this flexibility and the assurance that they can edit their writing right from any website or application. 

What Would Make It Better: For a free grammar checker, Scribner offers more than the average free tool, but it’s not as intuitive as others on this list. I tested a simple their/they’re mistake and it didn’t flag it. It’s helpful that it notes bigger grammar errors like compound predicates, but as a grammar corrector, it should also be able to avoid smaller ones from slipping through the cracks.

Our Recommendation: Use Scribner in the final stages of your copyediting. With minor issues out of the way, you can focus on addressing readability, syntax errors and stylistic elements with Scriber’s deeper analysis of your work.  

9. WhiteSmoke

What It Does: WhiteSmoke is a grammar checker and proofreading software that corrects spelling, word choice, grammar, punctuation and style mistakes. It also offers a translator and dictionary that supports more than 50 languages. 

Price: WhiteSmoke offers three yearly plans that include a web plan for $59.95, which is compatible with all browsers. Its premium option is $79.95 while business is $137.95, and they both fully integrate with Windows or Mac. 

Who It’s For: Students, professional writers and bloggers, business executives and employees and English learners.

How It Works: After you register, choose a package and install this grammar checker, WhiteSmoke’s all-in-one English tool will provide grammar, spelling, punctuation and style checks when you click on highlighted text from any application or browser. 

The Best Part: If you’re unsure about grammar rules during your writing process, check out WhiteSmoke’s handy video tutorials that focus on common writing problems and how to avoid them. Plus, if you need a template, it has more than 100 document and letter templates you can access.

What Would Make It Better: Unfortunately, this grammar editor isn’t the most intuitive tool on this list, plus it has a limit of 10,000 characters at a time, where each letter, punctuation mark and space counts. (For reference, you can check 150,000 words on Grammarly!) If you write long-form pieces, this may not be the best tool to use to check your work. 

Our Recommendation: WhiteSmoke offers many innovative features, but it shouldn’t be your main squeeze. Although it uses Natural Language Processing technology to enhance your writing, WhiteSmoke openly warns it won’t catch every grammar mistake, so supplement this checker with another one. 

10. LanguageTool

What It Does: A multilingual grammar, style and spell-checking software, LanguageTool is an Open Source application that checks your spelling, grammar, tone and writing style and instantly generates context-aware suggestions for more than 30 languages.

Price: Besides the free plan that allows basic grammar checks of up to 10,000 words, LanguageTool also offers monthly, quarterly, yearly or biennial plans for individual users. You can expect to pay $19 per month, $39 for three months, $59 per year or $99 every two years. 

Who It’s For: Anyone, including students, authors, freelancers, ESL writers and business people.

How It Works: Try the grammar checker on the website’s homepage or download it as a Google Docs add-on or a Microsoft Word add-in. Write or paste your text into the editor, and it’ll underline your errors in red, yellow or blue to indicate whether you need to correct your spelling, grammar or style. 

The Best Part: Similar to Hemingway Editor, you can take advantage of the web-based platform of this grammar corrector without the need to install anything. And because it’s multilingual, it offers a premium feature that detects gender while proofreading, which is super helpful when you’re unsure of how another language structures gender in writing. 

What Would Make It Better: While they offer fun features like detection of incorrect numbers and of incorrect names and titles in emails, LanguageTool’s premium plans limit you to 60,000 characters per text field. It’s an improvement from the 10,000-character limit in its free plan but still a pain point for long works.

Our Recommendation: LanguageTool grammar checker is a worthy writing assistant to consider if you write in or for other languages regularly, especially for its value. 

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

This is an updated version of a story that was previously published. We update our posts as often as possible to ensure they’re useful for our readers.

Filed Under: Craft


  • hey, these were really awesome tools.

  • Abhi says:

    Thus was great. I was looking for editing tools and found at the best time 🙂

  • Melissa says:

    Hi! What about StyleWriter4? Any thoughts?


  • While I read about ‘econometric algorithms’ and software writing entire books I still must type all I am then blamed for. Doing it the pretty old-fashioned way, though on a notebook and no longer with a typewriter or handwriting, seemed the way it is to me.

    I tested software, and online software embedded into websites. I found the time learning to handle them is often better invested into either writing or researching, as those skills remain with the author.

    Still thanks for your overview, it is, besides others, an appreciated shortcut to restart research!

  • Doug says:

    I use PerfectIt for cleaning up copy (not grammar, but things like acronyms that come before definitions, table numbers that aren’t correct, double spaces after periods, hyphenation consistency, etc.) and like it a lot. It’s a MS Word add-in. I forget the price.

  • Hugo Benjamin Minney says:

    Good article, especially the notes that say when these tools are most useful.
    I came across your page because I’m deluged with adverts for Grammarly, and when I see so many adverts, I have to do some research. I conclude from this that Grammarly is slightly better than Word’s own spelling/ grammar/ Fleisch score, and I’m not going to pay for that small an improvement.
    I’ve used StyleWriter for years. It seems to address most of the above concerns (in the comments as well), as
    1) it identifies the obvious process errors (spelling, grammar), but
    2) before it tries to tell you how to improve, it lets you define your audience and then tells you how well your current piece matches what it thinks your audience will find most persuasive. Examples: How long and sophisticated should the sentences and words be (the reports of a professional association should be a little more demanding than a book for children, or the readers will feel insulted)? Are there Sticky words that slow down your reader or interrupt their train of thought?
    What I particularly like is the graphical report. It can display my whole document in terms of sentence length and sentence complexity, so I can spot the super long and super short sentences, and by clicking on the graphical representation, get taken straight to them to make whatever corrections.
    Of course it isn’t live – once I’ve made a series of corrections/ improvements then I have to rerun the report. And it doesn’t correct for me – I have to make the corrections. But my readership seems to find the results impressive.
    By the way, none of the other tools are live either.

    • Thomas Lewis says:

      This may be not what you meant by ‘live’ (Grammarly does not correct my Scrivener or iBooks Author docs — I have to repaste), and I don’t want to sound like a cheerleader fanboy for Grammarly, but it is ‘live’ in one particular way, which is that it is ‘live’ for me right now, suggesting corrections for this very paragraph I am writing, right now.

      That is a documented feature, but one often overlooked by reviewers. Anything I write on the web is ‘live’ corrected by Grammarly, which can be very helpful.

  • Owen Marcus says:

    I have used a few checkers. I found Grammarly the best-BUT it continues to crash. After several weeks of doing everything their support suggested, it still does not work.

    It’s one thing to build a good product. It’s another thing to have it run well.

    • Thomas Lewis says:

      I think one challenge for software is to get it to run well on all platforms, especially when they are cloud-based. This may tie in to your issue. I have been running Grammarly daily for 6 months (Mac OS). It has never really ‘crashed’. Occasionally it ‘beach balls’, meaning it can’t process a copy/paste, and I have to reconnect to it. I guess that could be considered a ‘crash’. Maybe 3 times out of a couple hundred uses.

  • Subhamay Ray says:

    Your review of the editing/proofreading tools available free or for a price helped me very much. I did read separate reviews of some of these aids, but your article covers a number of them in one place. I finally decided to buy a lifetime licence of ProWritingAid and I like the fact that it has a Word Add-in that I can use offline. Thanks for the excellent coverage!

  • Lisa Lepki says:

    Hello – it’s Lisa here from prowritingaid.

    Thanks for all the feedback. We have removed most of those distracting big ads from the free editor. Now that our premium subscriber base is growing, we are much less reliant on those ads to make the free version available. We are working on the website design so hopefully our new version will address some of the usability issues that you brought up.

    Happy Writing!

    • Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

      TWL Assistant Editor

    • Daniel Westerdale says:

      I am thinking of trying out Pro Writer Aid for technical writing: requirements documents, progress reports, software design documents and WordPress blogging. I am keen to know if anyone has tried it out for this. I think Grammerly is over marketed and seems very highly priced. I pasted a paragraph into the online Grammerly dashboard and was told I had “two advanded errors” so needed the premium version. That got me thinking of UK alternatives.

      • Lisa Lepki says:

        Hi Daniel,

        Yes, we have lots of users that use the software for technical and academic writing. All I can suggest is giving it a try. You can paste into the online editor for free and it has about 90% of the functionality of the paid version.

        Or, the annual licence is only $35. You can test it out for free for two weeks and see if you think it’s worthwhile. The good thing about the paid version is that it has add-ins for word, google docs and wordpress (

        Let me know if you have any questions or need any help.



        • Daniel Westerdale says:


          Thanks, does the $35 anual license cover WordPress, Google addin and Word addin. Yes I am keen to give it a try as I have a shed load documents to work on

          • Lisa Lepki says:

            Yep! It includes access to everything. The only additional expenses you would ever have would be for plagiarism checks. Otherwise everything else is included.

            Good luck with it!


        • Daniel Westerdale says:

          Thanks Lisa, I will give it a try out today.


        • Mike Picray says:

          Lisa… did Grammerly catch “licence” in your post above? Or does it not do spelling/appropriate words?

          • Lisa Lepki says:

            Hi Mike,

            I’m in the UK and licence/license is one of those annoying words that has different rules in American English versus British English. In American English, license is both a noun and a verb. In British English, licence is the noun and license is the verb. So, you are licensed to drive a car but you have a driver’s licence.

            ProWritingAid doesn’t really mind whether you use American or British English, but its Consistency Report will check to make sure that you are consistently using only one or the other.



        • What I really like about ProWritingAid is its ability to link into Scriviner. This is essential for me and it does not change the formatting of the orrignal text “once saved”, meaning that it intially changes it in the ProWritingAid for enhanced readability but will revert to the original formatting.
          However, there are many grammar issues that it will not pick up. For example. I ran a grammar check on the below and it failed to pick up on any thing wihin this passage as being incorrect.

          “He children were here to stay. between you and me, there was something hear. I went to the shops and brought a milk. Having gone back home. There was many things that looked like it would be helpful. you’re here to stay. Me think its going to be a very bright day?”

          Clearly there are issues here with pronouns, captials, verb noun agreement, unacountable nouns, possesives etc…

          Having said this, the way it automatically reformats the text ( it will revert to correct formatting once saved ) enables you as an author to pick up on mistakes that you would likley miss. It left-flushes the text that enhances focus as your eyes are not darting back and forth from indented text to left flush etc.

          • Thomas Lewis says:

            Grammarly only flagged ‘hear’, ‘was’, and ‘its’ in that passage.

            All of these services are like well-meaning virtual assistants that also possess a low IQ.

            They are helpful, but not very omniscient. The state of the art is still ‘infancy’, IMHO.

  • Stephen Wolf says:

    I just gave Grammarly a try with a full manuscript and wasn’t too pleased. It kept suggesting I change words into other words because they were similar (like slap into slam or bard into board). The thesaurus included with it has few suggestions for those overly-used words. I plan on checking out some others for that additional set of “eyes”. Thank you for this article!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Steve. Interesting that Grammarly thought those words were wrong! Let us know if you try any of the other tools on this list.

      TWL Assistant Editor

  • Hi, Amanda,

    You and your readers might be interested in the results of an extended comparative study of 20 grammar checkers I did using published sources as test documents. Among other things, I tried to find out how many false positives the checkers delivered and how many writing problems they “corrected” with new mistakes. The checkers in Word and WordPerfect are included. The test documents included more than 360 mistakes and problems in grammar and contextual misspelling (the ones that spelling checkers can’t catch) and another 360+ problems with style (redundancies, tautologies, wordiness, cliches, pretentious and outmoded terms, etc.).

    Spoiler alert: I am co-author of a grammar checker on the list, but the results for it can be ignored if the reader suspects bias. Results for the other 19 checkers are comparable, because they all analyzed the same documents. There are comments about “readability” scores, about the use of passive voice (a necessity in scientific and legal writing), and about beginning sentences with “And” or “But”–all mentioned by your commenters as problems, but all long ago debunked by editors, teachers, and good writers.

    The study is at I think you’ll find it interesting.

  • Dan says:

    I’ve been trialing EssentialEditor it’s very slick and easy to use. Similar to WordRake.

  • Sae Kyung says:

    Nice Blog! I really like this post. Now-a-days grammar and sentence checker tools are playing a very important role. I am always using NounPlus tool. This tool through I improved my writing skill easily. Thanks for sharing with us such an informative post. I will suggest to everyone to follow your blog.

  • Lee Jackson says:

    Slick Write is a resource that should be on your list. There are plugins for WordPress, LibreOffice, and Firefox, and the author says he plans to create a plugin for Word soon. The site is fast, customizable, and well-maintained, and the author is open to suggestions on how to make it better.

  • I use Grammarly, and it helps with the initial edits. I like that it interfaces with Microsoft Office quite easily. I’ve used Hemmingway and I like it. By using both, I’m able to catch some things before I send my work off to the editor.

    Thanks for the list!

    • Good idea, Lori; sometimes a combination of tools is the best bet. I’m glad you liked the list!

      TWL Assistant Editor

    • Kwei Quartey says:

      Lori, the trouble I had with Grammarly is the limit on how many pages you can upload. I think it’s 60 pp now, before only 20. Another issue is that the export/import process to/from Word can be bumpy, and you can’t add a significant number of words or paragraphs in edit mode, because when you download back to Word, the formatting becomes crazy.

      Right now, I’m not sure if I should just dump the auto-editor idea. I’m a published author, but I think I have some bad habits. I’m not sure if the auto-editor is helping me much.

  • Dena says:

    I use Auto Crit. I liked the previous version [that I paid for] MUCH better. This new version doesn’t give grade level of the writing, which I used. I also agree with the previous commenter in that it gives a LOT of false positives, especially on things that shouldn’t ever come up. For example, yesterday I copied a chapter of my work-in-process into Auto Crit and used the Compare to Fiction – Overused Words tab, which is the one I most commonly use. It flagged 12 occurrences of initial “ing” and 30 occurrences of initial conjunction. For some reason, the program divides my sentences in the middle in odd places, so more than half of those occurrences were false positives. The “ings” and the conjunctions were words in the middle of sentences, not the first word. I review all my flagged items anyway, so I don’t just take the Auto Crit suggestions as required changes, but it’s really frustrating to have paid money for the service, then in the middle of the year I paid for, they make “improvements” and now the program makes mistakes that should be fixable with simple coding parameters [like if the word isn’t following a period, it is not an initial word]. I just looked at the Smart Edit site and I think I’ll download the trial version this weekend and see if it works better for me. Thanks for this informative page.

    • Interesting about Auto Crit, Dena. I must have used the updated version — and the number of false positives is definitely frustrating. The Hemingway App (free!) also gives you a grade level score if you need it.

  • Very nicely done. Lots of good information. Thank you.

    Grammerly is WAY over-priced; corporate use is all it’s good for.

    I’m going to give ProWritingAid a whirl. Being a starving aspiring writer, it is at least in the right price range. =)

    Thanks again.

    — Chris F.

  • They sound great – I’ll have to check them out! I’m most inclined towards the free ones. 🙂 While I guess nothing beats self-editing, it’s always nice to have some help.

    • It’s always nice to automate some of the work! And these tools will make it easier to spot trouble areas. 🙂

      • Mike Picray says:

        I’m not sure that I could proof/edit my stuff without some kind of assistance. My main tool currently is volunteer readers. My main problem is I get engaged in the story and forget about editing! I suppose in a way that’s a good thing… and some who have read my work tell me that they don’t notice “errors” because the story keeps them moving. I strongly suspect they are just being kind. I’ve also found that starting at the end of the work and going backwards helps with a lot of things. And as a professional I feel that I have to do the best work I can, so I’ll be looking at some of these starting with Paper Rater.

        Another “problem” I have is that I’m not really a writer. I’m a story teller – which is a whole different thing and I approach the writing from a much different angle. And yes… you CAN write an 80k or 90 k word “story.” ;-D

        • Thomas Lewis says:

          You seem to think much like I do. You may disagree with some points, but this all sort of supports my growing understanding that:

          1) Rules are only generic guidelines.

          2) Rules are made to be broken if you understand the rules and why you might choose to break them.

          3) Most of the rules are very basic and generic and were designed to support the cottage industry of Creative Writing ‘educators’ as a way to get the very basic concepts imparted to beginning, unskilled writers. As such, those ‘professional educators’ cling to those rules too tightly and continue to adhere to them mindlessly, even when the writers they are ‘assisting’ have evolved beyond being beginning, unskilled writers.

          4) This means that the intent of the rules may be often completely counter-productive to writers who write well already, and want to write well and write better.

          5) All advice, from seasoned writers, budding writers, SOFTWARE ROBOT SERVICES, and even from Creative Writing ‘professionals’ such as paid Editors should be weighed carefully, and each suggestion should be either accepted or discarded on a case-by-case basis, regardless of the ‘zero-tolerance’ rules, based on the original writer’s judgment, assuming the writer has good judgment.

          6) That is part of the definition of ‘writing skill’, to know how to adhere to the ‘rules’ and to know when not to adhere to them.

          To me, that only makes sense. In society we have ‘the rule of law’, but laws are not enough. We also have courts and judges to interpret the law. I think the same concept might apply here.

          I, though, am still trying to get the understanding of some of the rules, so when I break them, at this point, I may occasionally be breaking them for the wrong reasons, meaning if I want to break them respectfully and with confidence, I need to learn the rules better first.

          • Chidebere says:

            Thanks for these! I hate it when I feel I’ve done something creative, and someone tells me “that’s not how it should be done.” And I say to myself, “who decides how things should be done? Who sets the rules?”

            I’m just gonna go ahead and have fun writing, no matter what anyone says.

          • Suzanne says:

            Thank you for your comment. I enjoyed reading it.

  • AlexKhlopenko says:

    Hey, I’ve been using ProWriting aid for the entire trial period of two weeks the gave and enjoyed it. Yes, the marking system they use is indeed pretty disastrous, but antiplagiarizer is useful when writing academic papers and everything else worked great for writing short fiction.

  • Shivani Shah says:

    This is a great list. I usually use Paper Rater. It’s free (I’m on a budget), does an excellent spelling and grammar check, checks your vocabulary use, and even checks for plagiarism. I’ve used Hemingway as well but find Paper Rater far better. I will definitely check out some of the others!

    • Thanks for letting us know about Paper Rater, Shivani!

      TWL Assistant Editor

      • Nancy says:

        Thanks Amanda, for this great analysis! Shivani, I just tried Paper Rater- thanks for the info. It has some useful information, but you have to be careful not to connect to Grammarly’s ads. I look forward to checking out the Hemmingway app, and some of these others mentioned.

  • Thanks so much for the tips! This is a helpful list. I am just starting out on writing my first draft on my first novel. I need all the help that I can get when it’s time to revise. My problem is not having the money for much as I am on disability now, and I honestly don’t have extra to even save at this point. I am curious about Smart Edit. Have you heard of it or tried it? I have downloaded it, but I haven’t tried it yet. I have heard of Auto Crit, and of course, Grammerly. One of the Grammerly writers was a guest blogger on my blog. Thanks for your help. 🙂

  • I’ve used both AutoCrit and Grammarly (am currently a Grammarly subscriber) and have been disappointed with both. AutoCrit offered some good insights, particularly overuse of words but I found far too many false positives with both products. Reviewing the reports and investigating potential errors as opposed to stylistic differences is very time consuming and it’s frustrating to go through that process only to learn/decide there are no problems. I should mention that I am focusing on fiction and creative nonfiction. I think investment in something like the online Chicago Manual of Style and a rigorous self-editing routine would take less time and be more cost effective. As with spellcheckers, “outsourcing” editing to software can result in flabby language and grammar muscles. When it comes to the final draft of my novel, I’d rather apply the steep fee I pay to Grammarly to hiring a good living, breathing editor.

    • Keith, I think you’re hitting on something important here, that “automatic” doesn’t necessarily mean faster and easier, as counter-intuitive as it sounds. A lot of these tools are good starting points, but not replacements. Nothing beats the human eye and brain.

      Have you used macros with MS Word? I think if you create them to highlight known issues, it would function a lot like AutoCrit (and others) and would be a good supplement to a self-editing routine — one that would easily flag potential words/phrases to address. Especially since you can customize it.

    • Nate M says:

      I was unsure which to use and I found an article comparing grammarly and another software not mentioned here known as Ginger, has anyone tried that?

      • Taren Randal says:

        I have used Ginger and it could not correct the sentence, “I eight my breakfast at ate o’clock.” Even now Grammarly Plug-in is underlining the “ate” as an error. In my experience Ginger is just a waste of time.

        • Aaron R says:

          Hi Taren. Interesting comparison. Have you seen I just put your “eight/ate” sentence in there and gradeproof picked it up perfectly!

          • Taren Randal says:

            Thanks, I’ll check it out.

          • David says:

            I use Gradeproof and SAS Writing Advisor in Google Docs for my essay writing, which I’ve found to be a good combination. SAS will not change anything for you but rather takes the approach of identifying an area of improvement and asking questions that force you to rethink. It’s a great way to learn and best of all, it’s free to use!

    • Teth Kidron says:

      I agree! And Grammarly sure has a lot of times when it is defunct! I was trying AutoCrit because of this, and it missed caps at the beginning of my sentences. They are helpful, but too late, sometimes, you may learn that they have failed in some humbly way. Best to use four-five various programs. It seems tedious; give thought, however, to doing it all on your own without these opportunities. Then, it’s not so bad.

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