As an infopreneur, I do a lot of writing for this website, for my books and courses, and not to mention ongoing communication with others. My grammar skills are above average, but I majored in business, not English so every once in awhile I need a little help. Typically, when I’m unsure of word usage, sentence structure, or punctuation, I search online to understand the correct approach e.g. everyday vs. every day. I don’t conduct a lot of searches, but when I do, it’s always a pain to weed through various websites to find the correct answers. For larger projects, I previously hired proofreaders, but the results were hit and miss and costly, so I don’t purchase those services anymore.
What about MS Word?
Microsoft Word (click here to check your grammar settings) and competing word processors are good at catching spelling mistakes but clumsy at highlighting poor grammar, for instance, Microsoft isn’t going to emphasize suggestions regarding active and passive voice or identify incorrect comma use. Keep in mind that MS Word was originally designed to perform the tasks of composition, editing, formatting, and printing, not necessarily to be a first rate grammar checker. Also, I don’t always compose in MS Word, so without MS Word open, I expose myself to many more writing errors.
How Are Your Grammar Skills?
When’s the last time you assessed your spelling, punctuation, and grammar skills? It’s probably been a while, or never, I guess. If you don’t know the proficiency of your writing skills, you won’t know where needs improving, which can be problematic. Jane Straus, The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation, offers several free interactive grammar tests including two comprehensive tests at grammarbook.com. As for grammar apps, there are too many to count, but Grammly and English Grammar Test for Android appear to be well received.
Three Free and Awesome Writing Tools
These three tools have been lifesavers, and they’ve enhanced my writing abilities dramatically.
Grammarly – Free or Premium
Grammarly may very well be the best online tool I added to my list this year. Grammarly improves communication among the world’s 2+ billion native and non-native English writers. Their flagship product, the Grammarly Editor, corrects contextual spelling mistakes, checks for more than 250 common grammar errors, enhances vocabulary usage and provides citation suggestions. Millions of registered users worldwide trust their products, which are licensed by more than 600 leading universities and corporations. Grammarly “makes you a better writer by finding and correcting up to 10 times more mistakes than your word processor,” and I concur.
What I enjoy most is that Grammarly challenges me to word things differently, which stimulates my creativity. With add-ins for MS Word, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox, and desktop functionally, I can write from anywhere with grammar support. You can use Grammarly for free, but I found the service to be so fantastic that I decided to upgrade to a premium plan.
Afterthedeadline (or Polishmywriting) – Free
From the folks who make WordPress, Afterthedeadline (AtD) uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing technology to find your writing errors and offer smart suggestions. It provides contextual spell, advance style, and intelligent grammar checking. It too offers add-ins and extensions to various web applications, but not to MS Word. AtD is great when I want to do a quick copy and paste grammar check.
Titlecapitalization – Free
I can’t tell you how many times I see miscapitalized headings and titles concerning books, courses, articles, posts, chapter and lecture titles. Of these three tools, I’ve been using TC the longest. Upon visiting the site, you’ll notice the one text field to input whatever needs checking. For instance, if I’m not sure what needs capitalizing in Learn about stocks, bonds, funds, financial planning, and investing, I can copy and paste it into the text field for correct capitalization to get Learn About Stocks, Bonds, Funds, Financial Planning, and Investing.