Because of the nature of my work, I've had the pleasure of trying out a couple of online proofreading tools. My experience has varies from one to another and therefore I find myself well equipped to write a review on the one's that served me best, plus a couple more.
These proofreading tools are not only useful for those in the writing profession but also who prefer having error free messages, emails, presentations and even social media posts.
Thankfully, I have carefully handpicked 10 of what I think are some of the best proofreading and grammar checker tools for 2020. Instead of just writing you a long list, I have saved you the trial and error process by carefully explaining my experience with each software. I hope this proved to be useful in your grammar checking and proofreading endeavors.
For this 2020 review I chose the following grammar checker softwares:
- After The Deadline
- Word or Google Docs
- Hemingway Editor
- Sentence Checker Plus
- Grammar Checker
It is important to note that most of these tools have a free version so if you're mostly looking for a free version then you're in luck. However in most softwares the free version tends to only correct the common grammatical mistakes, they generally have limited features in comparison to their paid for counterparts.
It is for this specific reason that I highly recommend you use the premium version of these softwares to ensure you get the full proofreading experience. With these versions you are sure that even the hard to spot errors are pointed out and corrected as per the rules of the English language.
My Research Process
I started my research on the best grammar checker tool for 2020 by first comparing the top four most common proofreading tools; Grammarly, Whitesmoke, Ginger and ProWritingAid in no particular order.
What I did was simple really. I got free versions of all the four softwares. Wrote down an article full of grammar mistakes on a Microsoft Word document. Although MS Word was able to identify a couple of these mistakes, it didn't identify all of them. Regardless, I ignored these corrections and went ahead to paste that draft onto the four different softwares and marked the corrections.
Later on, I subscribed to premium versions (over a period of time of course) of these softwares and pasted the same draft onto each one of them and again, just like before, noted down the corrections. I then made a comparison between my (now 8) different findings and this is what I found out:
Having used this tool from way back in 2015, both the free and premium versions, I must say this is the software I am most familiar with.
Grammarly has been my aid in proofreading and checking for grammatical mistakes in each and every one of my writing drafts. Whether I'm writing a chapter in my book, sending an email to a colleague, posting my morning coffee on social media or updating my blog posts. Grammarly has been with me through it all.
The tool works in so many different ways in order to accommodate everyone's needs and suitabilities. It works via a Chrome Web app, a desktop app for Mac, a desktop app for Windows, a Chrome plugin and via a mobile app for both Android and iOS.
You also have the ability to check whatever you write online for errors using Grammarly by simply installing a plugin for whatever browser it is you use, be it Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Microsoft Edge. Adding it as a browser plugin also enables you to edit your work as you write it online eg on WordPress editor. Update your blog posts from wherever thanks to Grammarly.
If you are a non-English native speaker, or simply just want to improve your knowledge on English grammar, then Grammarly Premium is definitely what you need. This is because it not only corrects your mistakes, but also gives you useful insights and suggestions on how to make your writing better, in the process also improving your writing skills.
If you are a startup writer then you are probably on a fixed budget when it comes to online proofreading tools. Grammarly Free Version is perfect for you.
Grammarly Premium Cost
- Monthly subscription costs $29.95 per month.
- Quarterly subscription costs $19.98 per month, billed as a single payment of $59.95.
- Annual subscription costs $11.66 per month, billed as a single payment of $139.95.
As much as online proofreading tools are useful, it is still important to proofread your work by a set of human eyes. Well Grammarly has their in-house set of human eyes. You can send extracts of your work directly to a human Proofreader who'll charge between 0.02USD and 0.12USD depending on how fast you would want the document to be proofread.
Grammarly Findings from Test
The Grammarly editor software was successfully able to identify grammar, spelling and Punctuation mistakes in my earlier copied draft. These were shown to me in a sidebar. Issues that I had mentioned were ignored by Microsoft Word, among them passive voice texts were also identified by the grammar checker.
For every mistake that Grammarly identified it provide corresponding information on how best to correct the mistake and also explained why. This is very useful in improving one's writing skills. I also happened to notice that Grammarly Premium is able to detect errors in sentence structure.
Using Grammarly you are able to cross-check your work against billions of other articles found in the web. This with the intent of checking for any plagiarism incidences, which are punishable by law. The plagiarism checker is however only found in the Premium version of this tool. For those who do not have the money to pay for this feature I recommend Dupli checker. It is a free plagiarism checker that is very precise and efficient.
Grammarly also offers useful writing insights that are bound to help you in your self editing. These include: readability score, sentence and word length, your usage of rare and unique words among several other helpful insights.
Average Rating: 10/10
Ginger software review
Having been established in 2017, Ginger is one of the more established online proofreading tools.
Just like Grammarly, Ginger is accessible in several ways. The best way to use it is as a Chrome plugin. The plugin is also available to other types of browsers. It is also available for more advanced softwares like Slack. Ginger is also available as an app for Android, iOS and Windows. An additional keyboard is also available for Android users. You can use these apps and plugins to proofread your texts. Alternatively, you can directly paste your texts onto their web software.
Ginger has several useful features and tools. Grammatical and spelling mistakes are highlighted in blue. It also has a feature that helps you find commonly used words and even provides synonyms that can be used in their place.
Just like Grammarly, Ginger Premium Version has more advanced features in comparison to it's free version. Among these advanced features is a subject-verb agreement grammar checker.
How Much Does Ginger Cost?
- Monthly subscription costs $29.96 per month.
- Quarterly subscription costs $19.98 per month if paid upfront.
- Annual subscription costs $12.48 per month if paid upfront.
Ginger Findings from Test
On posting my text onto the Ginger Chrome Web App, the software copied my documents formatting to precision. Grammarly doesn't do this. Neither does Whitesmoke as I'll show you later on in this article. Ginger also correctly identified all my grammatical, punctuating and spelling mistakes, including the ones that Microsoft Word failed to identify. I however had an inconsistent usage of the comma in my text which Ginger failed to identify.
Rather than reviewing my mistakes in a sidebar like I did with Grammarly, I had to hover over specific underlined texts or mistakes in order to correct them, which proved to be rather time-consuming.
Ginger is also useful for 60 other language speakers as it can translate your writing into these languages. I however am not sure whether it can proofread your work while in these other languages.
Also included in the Ginger Premium subscription is a virtual writing tutor. This tutor improves your English language by offering grammar lessons through videos and giving tests on the same. This is a very useful feature for English first-timers or non-English native speakers. It is actually perfect for non-English native speakers because this means you can write your draft in your language, translate it to English, then check for grammar mistakes all in one app. Sounds wonderful doesn't it?
Unlike Grammarly, Ginger offers a personal dictionary. This is where you add words that you do not want the tool to identify as mistakes, they may be people's names, institutions or slang words and so on. This sounds most appealing to fiction writers who tend to have unusual names for their characters.
Average Rating: 8.5/10
Grammarly Vs Ginger
There's very little difference between these two online proofreading tools. One of the most notable ones being the absence of a Mac desktop app for Ginger and it's availability in Grammarly. There's also little to no difference when it comes to pricing for the two, except that Grammarly has a human Proofreader feature which costs slightly more but Ginger does not have such a feature.
Ginger is most useful for writers who use more than just one language, not just English.
It is also very useful if you want to learn more about English grammar through its various video lessons.
Set up way back in 2002, Whitesmoke is an online proofreading software available for both Windows and Mac.
Whitesmoke has a couple of proofreading features including errors in sentence structure, punctuation errors, grammar mistakes, spelling errors among others. It is perfect for both native English speakers and non-English native speakers.
Whitesmoke performs in several browsers such as Chrome, Firefox, Opera and Safari. However their performance greatly depends on your subscription.
In addition to browser plugins, Whitesmoke also has mobile apps for both Android and iOS phones that require internet access to function.
For this particular test I used Whitesmoke premium which offers additional support plus apps for Gmail and Microsoft office. Whitesmoke Essential on the other hand is a software that's only compatible with your browser.
How Much Does Whitesmoke Cost?
- Whitesmoke Essential costs $10 per month, billed as a single payment of $59.95
- Whitesmoke Premium costs $6.66 per month billed as a single payment of $79.95
- Whitesmoke Business costs $11.50 per month billed as a single payment of $137.95
Whitesmoke Findings from Test
Unusually, Whitesmoke doesn't offer any monthly subscriptions. Unlike Ginger which supports 64 languages, Whitesmoke only supports 8 and offers a translator feature in addition to that. Writing projects such as books, grant proposals, cover letters and so on are the best to work on with Whitesmoke's help thanks to numerous templates the tool offers.
According to my research, Whitesmoke is definitely the cheapest proofreading tool and is even more accurate than Grammarly is. It is however not as fast neither is it as easy to use as Grammarly.
If you want to make changes to your final document using Whitesmoke, you must first export it as a text document, which makes it harder to do than you would have if you were using Grammarly. The whole correction process is also slower than with Grammarly. The mobile and desktop apps also do not have a good user interface in comparison to Grammarly.
The languages supported by Whitesmoke are however more than those supported by Grammarly. The difference in accuracy between Whitesmoke and the other proofreading tools I've already covered in this review are very minute, barely noticeable.
Average Rating: 8/10
Similarly, ProWritingAid is available as a desktop app for both Windows and Mac and also as a browser plugin. It also offers plugins for Google Docs and Microsoft word, which proves to be a very helpful feature. More good news, ProWritingAid even has a Scrivener integration. Alternatively, you can use the web editor by simply posting your text and waiting for it to do it's magic. You could also simply upload your text on the web editor as a document.
How Much Does ProWritingAid Cost?
ProWritingAid offers a two-week trial for newbies (what I used for the purpose of this review). After the trial ends, they charge you $50 per year. This without a doubt makes ProWritingAid one of the cheapest online proofreading tools.
ProWritingAid Findings from Test
ProWritingAid keeps your text formatting once you paste it in for correction, this includes even your color choice and fonts used. Like many proofreading tools, this software underlines your mistakes and also gives suggestions on how to improve them. The reports and suggestions might seem overwhelming at first, but you take your time to go through them you'd realize they make sense and are actually very helpful.
I have a problem when writing, overusing certain phrases and words. ProWritingAid figured this out with the help of one feature I'm particularly fond of, Echoes. It also identified a couple of cliches in my work. This feature can be useful when it comes to improving your writing skills. If you're still learning the English language then this tool does not suit you as it mostly supports British and American English.
In comparison to Ginger and Grammarly, ProWritingAid takes longer to identify and correct your mistakes. It's user interface also isn't love at first sight but it's navigable.
ProWritingAid also helps in figuring out your readability using the Flesch Reading Score. If you write blog posts, then 8th or 9th graders should be able to comprehend your articles (Flesch score of 70% and above). This tool helps you figure this out and in turn works on your web writing skills.
The WordPress plugin Yoast has the Flesch feature, although the feature is also useful for those who write outside WordPress. This is important because online/web readers tend to have a shorter attention span and this feature helps you hold on to their attention just as required.
The desktop version of ProWritingAid allows you to open Scrivener files directly onto the tool, fix your issues and then upload back to Scrivener. Scrivener is very useful for long forms of writing and I must admit that this is a very clever feature. So if you use Scrivener a lot then this is your go to tool.
It is also perfect for new writers or those on a low cost budget.
Average Rating: 8/10
After the deadline review
I have been on and off After The Deadline user for years now. I mostly use it to check my blog posts. It is pretty easy to use and is sort of perfect for blog and web publishers.
After The Deadline is built into Jetpack, which is a WordPress plugin. It is also available as a browser plugin for Chrome, which is absolutely free.
This online grammar checker makes use of artificial technology to check your texts for errors and mistakes. It uses different colors to show different mistakes, a red highlight means misused words, blue highlight means style suggestions and green highlights indicate grammar mistakes.
In comparison to Microsoft Word, After The Deadline catches more errors. Aside from spelling, punctuation and style mistakes, After The Deadline also points out redundant words and cliches, just like ProWritingAid.
I ran into some trouble as I tried out the Chrome plugin and it is for this reason that I recommend the Grammarly plugin for any work done outside of WordPress. Before I forget to mention again, After The Deadline is absolutely free, amazing right?
Average Rating: 9/10
Word or Google Docs review
If you are a new writer, or on a low-cost budget, then don't worry about the paid for tools in this review for now. Word and Google Docs work just fine. Both tools are very useful in catching typos, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors. I would however advise using them on short-length articles. Another advise is to make sure your work is gone through by a colleague or professional before publishing. Number one rule for an author is, always make sure your work is gone through by a human set of eyes.
These inbuilt grammar checkers won't however help you identify redundant words or give you suggestions on how and why to fix your mistakes. This means that these tools barely help you in improving your writing skills.
As you probably already know, these inbuilt grammar checker tools are free!
If you are not a native English speaker, if it is your second, third or fourth language then this tool is perfect for you. This is because this online grammar checker helps you learn the rules of grammar through its helpful insights. The tool only functions in a web browser, and you can paste up to 2000 characters for it to scan.
Just like most, it checks for cliches, redundant words, punctuation errors, spelling mistakes, sentence structure and so on. The tool does not however let you add words to the dictionary, specific writing styles and so on. It completely ruins your text format once you paste that text on to the tool. It is however still very thorough when it comes to finding and fixing errors. It is the best recommended free online tool (according to this review). It is most effective on short length pieces of writing. If you want to check texts that are longer than 2000 characters, then you have to pay $14.99 per year, which I think is very affordable, especially for new writers.
Hemingway editor review
I rely on two grammar checker tools for my work, Grammarly and Hemingway Editor. Earnest Hemingway, author and founder of Hemingway Editor once said, "All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know." This is exactly what Hemingway Editor does, helps you write the truest of sentences.
The grammar checker tool is especially useful for self editing. Complex sentences are highlighted in red, wrong adverbs in blue and usage of passive voice in green. However, they leave the decision all up to you, to your taste and writing style.
Hemingway Editor does not provide me with suggestions and insights as with other grammar checker tools. It is however very fast and quite efficient too. It helps you write clearly through self editing.
The web version of this grammar checker is absolutely free. Alternatively, you can purchase a desktop app for both Mac and Windows for USD19.99. The desktop app does not contain any additional features, but it is most useful for writers who get lost in the rabbit hole while using the web browser. The desktop app simply has less distractions.
Sentence checker plus review
As I was preparing to write this review, I came across this grammar checker tool and decided to try it out. Before then I had never heard of it before. It works a lot like SpellCheckPlus.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to properly use this tool because its site contained a lot of pop ups and ads. I ran for my computer's dear life, I'm scared of viruses. I have an antivirus installed but you don't see a lion and head towards it because you have a ranger by your side.
Grammar checker review
This grammar checker tool automatically rewrites short pieces of writing. It ideally finds synonyms to the words used and swaps them as it deems necessary. This is in order to get an SEO friendly and plagiarism free text.
When it comes to languages, this tool supports a couple of them including French, Arabic, Spanish and German. I think we're all in agreement that Ginger holds the crown when it comes to languages it supports.
This tool only works via a web browser.
I found the tool not efficient enough as it skipped a couple of my mistakes. It's accuracy was also off putting as it inserted some very weird words as synonyms for mine. I like to personally review and self edit my mistakes in depth and Grammar Checker did not provide me a platform for that. I would absolutely not recommend this tool to serious or professional writers.
Reverso helps in checking multiple languages for common grammatical errors and mistakes. It can also translate your texts into different languages; Spanish, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Italian among several others.
Reverso is available as a web browser, plugin for Chrome and a mobile app for both Android and iOS.
It has an in-built dictionary which provides helpful insights and suggestions to improve your writing. Reverso is very powerful with short pieces of writing as it has a word count limit that's set to 600 words.
The tool provides a lot of self editing context from within the tool itself. This is actually very easy for it only requires a couple of clicks.
After further investigation, I found out that Reverso is powered by Ginger software, which sort of explains the numerous similarities they have.
Tips when proofreading
As a writer, it is very difficult to spend hours writing, then spend more hours proofreading your work. You will probably miss a lot of mistakes. Personally I use a grammar checker tool like the ones I covered above, then make sure my work is proofread by a human set of eyes, just to make sure everything is perfect. The grammar checker tools aren't always 100% accurate, same goes to human proofreaders, that's why I use both, to find errors the other might have missed.
There is an old journalist's trick that can help you proofread your work:
- Change your font to Courier New or basically Courier(according to your preference, it doesn't really matter which)
- Double your spacing
- Print out your work
- Use a red pen to highlight the mistakes
- Read it aloud(to note any clunky language)
- Edit as need be
Your eyes are easily bound to catch mistakes thanks to the double spacing and evidently white space between words. Reading aloud helps you hear the mistakes.
Below are a couple of other tips that will help you proofread your work.
- Let your work/manuscript rest for a couple of days after you conclude your writing. This helps you dive in with not only a fresh mind but also a fresh set of eyes.
- Go through your work in a conducive environment, preferably one that's quiet.
- Rather than fixing your work as you read it, mark up the mistakes first using a red pen.
- Read your work backwards( an interrupted pattern will help you find mistakes you might have missed).
- Read it several times in order to get as many mistakes as possible.
- Ask a colleague to go over it if you're not satisfied.
- Accept that no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes.
Frequently asked questions
Who uses a grammar checker tool?
This is simple, everyone, as long as you deal with writing projects. They are bound to help writers with their grammar techniques, especially non-English native speakers.
Advisably, any serious or professional writer should use a grammar checker tool. Bare in mind that a human Proofreader is just as necessary.
Are there any English grammar checker tools that don't require a monthly fee?
Yes, yes and yes. As I mentioned in my review, there are a couple of free grammar checker tools. Alternatively, you should also consider free versions of the paid for proofreading tools. Check my review for detailed coverage on this.
Are there any grammar checkers that work offline?
Most grammar checkers work online or in the cloud. There are a couple though that work offline; Word and Hemingway Editor. Whitesmoke is also very useful when writing offline.
Do grammar checkers provide content privacy?
Most grammar checkers will not monitor your content. However, if you have a legally sensitive document, a grammar checker isn't the best proofreading option.
What grammar checkers work with Word?
Whitesmoke is the best option for Word. It provides templates such as those provided in Word.
Best grammar checker apps for a mobile phone?
Most grammar checkers are mobile friendly. Grammarly, Reverso and Ginger all have mobile apps for both Android and iOS. Alternatively, you can use the built in dictionary in your smart phone. However nothing else other than spelling errors will be noted by the built in software.
What is the best free grammar checker on the internet?
I would suggest SpellCheckPlus, it is perfect for writing on the go. You could also use WordPress. Simply install the jetpack plugin and turn on After The Deadline.
Is Microsoft Word grammar checker accurate?
If you're on a budget then yes, it absolutely works. It is however not that accurate with long pieces of writing.
It is always preferable to use a human Proofreader, especially for long pieces of writing. I would also highly caution against fully using the softwares to translate from foreign languages to English, not always accurate.
I also don't consider proofreading tools as a replacement for a set of human eyes or common sense.
That being said, I still believe grammar checker tools are a big save, I know they are for me. My number one pick is Grammarly because even before writing this review it had already served me well. The best proofreading tools don't cost less than $7 a month.
When it comes to picking the best grammar checker tool, it greatly depends on one's preference and writing tastes. I believe this review will help you in picking the right one, the one that suits you best.