Grammarly is a type of proofreading software that can help you clean up your work and figure out where those pesky commas go and don’t go–and even some of those mystery-riddled types of punctuation such as em dashes. It has a variety of settings and features that I will cover in a moment. It works much like the spell and grammar check on MS Word, but yet it is so much better than that. It’s great for the proofreading of smaller works like short stories and blog posts and every day stuff like letters and reports. Are you one of the ones who can cook up a great story, but the grammar is not up to par? Check out Grammarly!
I was recently contacted by Grammarly to try their service for free and provide them with an honest review.
Disclaimer: I was given a free trial of the paid level of the Grammarly software in exchange for an honest review. The review is based upon my general experience with the software, and the free trial does not influence my review.
After logging into my Grammarly account, I copied and pasted a couple pages of my unedited, unproofread WIP into editor, so I could get the full effect. For the settings you have options of these types of writing: academic, casual, technical, creative, etc. Since this is part of a fantasy novel, I chose “creative”. You can either copy and paste or upload the entire thing. There is also a plagiarism feature, so that can help save you batooty in a copyright suit–or at least suggest to offset the section and give credit to the author. Since my book sample is completely original, I wasn’t able to really experiment with this.
Some of the errors it was able to catch would be something I could fix on my own during my own proofread or caught by an editor, but it is worth noting it gave the right advice or really good suggestions about things that aren’t really “wrong”, just a better alternative.
You go through the piece error by error just like you do with spell and grammar check on Word. Words that it may not recognize will be flagged as misspellings. You have to save it in your own dictionary just like Spell Check if you are writing in vernacular or for character names and places if you plan on using Grammarly for the future if there is a series or trilogy.
In some of the grammar instances some things are not “wrong” there is just a “better” way to do it (like I mentioned earlier). It may help you with clunky or awkward sentences and help declutter them. It will give you examples and explanations of why this may be a better alternative. In some cases such as dialogue, things may be a bit tricky since characters do not speak in perfect grammar, so you may opt to ignore. It’s not 100% fail safe and it is an algorithm after all.
You make the changes in the editor by clearing and putting the suggested word/phrase choice/punctuation, or by clicking on the green correct suggestion (a lot like grammar check).
You even have the option to download Grammarly as a plugin to MS Word, so you can edit your stuff on your computer. My computer is older and didn’t accept the download, so I didn’t get to really try this feature to see how it worked. It was a computer error and not at the fault of Grammarly.
After you are finish with your editing, you can either copy and paste into a new Word document or download the corrected piece.
Note: Grammarly is used for proofreading only! It should never take the place of a human content editor for things such as: character development, plot flow, literary devices, etc.
To get a look at Grammarly’s pricing visit https://www.grammarly.com/premium. There are plans to choose from to fit your budget. There is a 7 day free trial at your disposal.
The pricing my seem a little expensive at first glance (it’s not anywhere near ridiculous), but you would spend about the same or more if you hire a human proofreader (rates vary). And if you don’t have a human proofreader, don’t know where to find one, and your personal proofreading skills are not up to par after you get your manuscript back from your content editor, then Grammarly is something worth checking out. It will help you put that final polish on the manuscript and you can get your money’s worth using it for everything! You can use it in addition to that human proofreader. Every little bit helps!
Plus, if you use this in conjunction with Autocrit (this tool goes a little more into the content rather than grammar), you may be able to save some money on editing costs by creating less work for the editor, and he/she can focus more on the plotline, character development, etc instead of misspelled words and commas.
My contact at Grammarly was very friendly and eager to help. The site was very user friendly and there are forums and contact forms, if you should need any extra help. The responses to inquires on the forums seemed professional and helpful. In part of this review Grammarly is looking for where they can improve, and they know they can! I’ll get to that. Responding to customer feedback and even looking for it in the first place is great service in my book.
Grammarly has the customer service and “ease of use” down very well. There isn’t really improvement needed there.
The biggest place Grammarly can improve is the speed at which the proofreading and user interface can go. As it is right now, the speed at which it goes now would work fine for a small document such as a blog post, short story, or a letter, but it will not work very well for 60-80K word novel. Some of my fantasy novels have gone to 100K+ words and longer, so this would take forever to do the entire thing!
The explanation boxes pop up and also slow things down a bit. There should be an icon or something to click on if the person should want it. If the person already knows what’s incorrect and knows how to fix the problem, they should be able to right click or simply pick out the correct usage and move on like grammar check, they won’t need the extra information (which is handy if the proofreader is second guessing or totally clueless of why this has been flagged as a possible error). Since Grammarly is better than grammar check, having a hybrid in between the two would probably be optimal!
Another suggestion would be to have downloadable plugins for other word processing programs such as Open Office, Word Perfect, etc. A lot of authors use Word, but not all of them do.
Would I recommend Grammarly to other authors for a possible resource? Yes.
But remember, authors, Grammarly does not, I repeat, does not, take the place of a content editor. It is for proofreading before or after or even before and after that content edit to catch those few mistakes that slip through (they do).
Only you can decide if they are right for you, but they are worth the time to check out!
Despite some of it’s shortcomings, Grammarly makes up for it in customer service, ease of use, and power of the tool. I’m pretty sure they will respond to customer feedback and improve the software. That’s one of the reasons why they contacted me, and with improvements they could really do well.