By Laura Pennington
Have you ever submitted an article to a client, and immediately realized that you managed to let a basic grammatical error slip through? It can be very frustrating to easily spot these problems immediately after something has already been published. Hiring a proofreader for all of your emails or content is one way to avoid this problem, but it might not be within your budget to do so. This is where an online grammar checking tool like Grammarly comes in handy.
- Free version available
- Grammarly Premium costs $11.66/month when billed annually
Having a second pair of eyes on your work
As a freelance writer, I have a responsibility to all of my clients to proof things as much as I possibly can. In general, this means trying to minimize errors whenever possible. Any time an error is published on behalf of myself or my clients, this can make either one of us appear unprofessional, and can cause their audience to lose trust.
Adding in additional opportunities to edit your work can minimize the chances that you'll find yourself within an unfortunate typo or proofreading error on your website or in any digital or printed material. This is why I love using Grammarly, one of the most popular tools on the market today. Although there is a paid version of Grammarly, I use the free version and find it is extremely helpful for tagging potential mistakes I have made in Microsoft Word, inside WordPress or even inside Google Docs.
As someone who writes thousands of words every single week on behalf of my clients, it is even more important that I can identify these mistakes before I send over a finished copy of whatever piece I'm currently working on. Grammarly helps make sure that some of the mistakes that might have skipped my eye during the second or third passive editing can be corrected and avoid embarrassing situations with me or the client.
Getting the most from Grammarly
Simply put: the more you write, the better you'll become at identifying grammatical mistakes. But the chances also increase that you could miss some of these errors because of the volume you are currently processing. Grammarly makes your editing efforts much more effective because it automatically puts red lines under your mistakes (or what the tool perceives to be your mistakes). This is one of the greatest challenges of using Grammarly because it is not a perfect system.
Writers and editors using Grammarly must be able to have enough grammar, spelling and punctuation knowledge to understand when Grammarly itself has made a mistake. I have most often found this to be the case with some comma placements or requests for apostrophes on words that don't need it. However, Grammarly still has a very strong success rate such that it could catch many of your actual errors.
Grammarly is especially great for flagging what could be simple mistakes, such as making a homonym that isn't correct or putting an apostrophe or comma in the wrong place. Having edited thousands of documents using Grammarly's tool and also installing the plug-in so that it checks all of my emails, website copy and Google Docs, has made it much easier for me to catch mistakes that would have been difficult or frustrating to explain to my clients.
You can easily copy/paste your text or upload it into the Grammarly tool!
Comprehensive results from Grammarly can help you see some of your general writing habits so that you can improve upon them. The screenshot below is available in the free version.
Here are some things Grammarly flagged in the free version of this article. Thanks, Grammarly, for catching some of my misplaced commas!
Grammarly will also show you how many "advanced" issues you could have fixed with the Premium program, so if you see lots of them there, you might want to invest in the paid version.
Should you Upgrade to Grammarly Premium?
Although there is a premium version of Grammarly, I have never found that I needed to upgrade to it. Those who might have lower levels of confidence in their writing ability might turn to the premium version of Grammarly when it happens to be on sale (which happens frequently). After you sign up for Grammarly, you should begin to receive emails about promotions they have to offer, and you can decide whether or not you need the premium version.
The free version of Grammarly focuses on basic writing corrections for grammar, spelling and punctuation. This alone covers what I personally need from Grammarly. In running your text through the free version, the tool will tell you how many advanced or premium mistakes they have found.
The premium version offers more advanced functionality by addressing issues such as wordiness, impoliteness, overused words, unclear sentence structure, inconsistent writing style, insensitive or non-inclusive language or ineffective vocabulary, in addition to those grammar, spelling and punctuation errors flagged at the free level. At $11.66/month when billed annually, Grammarly Premium is fairly affordable.
One of the major benefits of using Grammarly Premium is that it can also detect plagiarism. For those who don't already use a system like Copyscape to detect plagiarism, turning to Grammarly for a plagiarism check could give some additional peace of mind that each piece of content written is as original as possible. The company's website states that premium users make twice as many corrections on average compared to free users. And the company also promotes the plagiarism feature by comparing any text entered into the tool against over 8 billion web pages. Installing Grammarly on your computer gives you a much better chance that it can check across all of the different ways that you might create content such as inside emails, inside the back-end of WordPress or your website or even on Google Docs.
At this time, Grammarly uses a beta version inside Google Docs and does not promise that it is as thorough as other versions, but I found it to be extremely helpful in flagging some of my most common mistakes.
If you are a writer or editor, using the free version of Grammarly will provide an eye opening experience for some of the most common mistakes you make in the writing process, and could help you decide whether or not it makes sense to invest in the premium version.
***Laura Pennington is a freelance SEO writer working with law firms across the country. She's also worked for companies like Microsoft and TrueCar helping to build teams of digital freelancers. She blogs at Six Figure Writing Secrets.