Updated: Feb 14
From the frustration of receiving an email that gets your back up (or sending one that upsets someone else) to the typos that cause a head-in-hands moment – Grammarly can help us all.
We all lead very busy lifestyles, and although there is a writer in all of us, there is seldom time to type the wonderful ideas we have in our heads, let alone proofread them.
If you’ve managed to find the time to write an engaging blog, ebook, or even a bid proposal, you’ll be conscious that it needs to be factually correct and grammatically accurate too. Tools such as Grammarly can complement your manual process, often exceeding built-in spell checkers, giving you the reassurance you need.
Why should you use a proofreading tool?
I’ve been a writer for ten years now, and people have often questioned my use of Grammarly, asking why I need it and if I still manually check documents. In short, I use Grammarly as a virtual team member (as a final check) – it does not replace my process; it complements it. I write and check thousands of words at speed, and it’s good practice to have an extra pair of eyes.
What people may not know is that Grammarly goes above and beyond the majority of built-in spell checkers. For instance, as I’m writing this blog post, Grammarly is working in the background, you’ll see from the image below that I have downloaded a plug-in so that Grammarly works in Word.
You can also see that Grammarly appears as an extra navigation tool at the top of Word (underlined in blue below). Here is what you can check:
How to proofread manually
I was taught by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) to proofread and edit documents, and their guidance still stands.
My manual proofread looks like this:
1. Headline -- does it include keywords and is it catchy?
2. Style and structure – do I feel compelled to read on?
3. HTag and SEO check – will the article achieve clicks?
4. Tone of voice – does this match the client’s brief?
5. Sentence level – does each sentence read correctly? I use the ‘review’ and ‘read out loud’ tools in Word to double-check.
6. Word level – check for typos by reading the document backwards from the last word to the first.
How to proofread with Grammarly
Firstly, Grammarly isn’t restricted to Word; you can also use Grammarly on your phone for checking text messages and for reviewing web-based forms and cloud-based documents too. It truly is an extra pair of eyes, which can make a quick email to a top client a professional one in minutes.
It’s all in the context
The contextual spelling tool checks whether the words you use are grammatically in context with the rest of the sentence, which is pretty smart. So, when you have used ‘compliment’ instead of ‘complement’, you’ll be prompted to check, and more importantly, provided with an explanation. Contextual spelling is a big issue in most writing, as it’s easy to make mistakes like ‘license’ and ‘licence’ – we’re only human as they say.
Is or are?
As you would expect, Grammarly’s grammar and punctuation tools pick up the usual misplaced comma errors. However, it’s the comma splices and subject-verb agreement check that is worth its weight in gold when checking large corporate documents. In my capacity as an editor, I often see a company’s name, which is singular, used with the wrong verb form, such as ‘HMV are’, which should be ‘HMV is’. Using an incorrect verb form will prompt a critical issue for you to resolve in Grammarly.
Structure, style, and ditching dull words
Where Grammarly really starts paying for itself is the improvement it can make to even a seasoned writer’s work. From checking that your sentences aren’t rambling on to reminding you that using ‘important’ for the twentieth time isn’t ideal – we all fall into habits, and Grammarly nudges us to improve.
There is also a handy plagiarism tool, which is perfect if your editing or proofreading work from an external writer and need to double-check that everything is referenced correctly.
The email that got taken out of context
We’ve all done it. We’ve read an email from a client or colleague and had steam coming out of our ears at the tone or wording used. Many of us have also later found out that the situation isn’t anywhere near as awful as we thought.
The issue arises when we shoot from the hip with a message and hammer the keyboard with what we think is a stern but professional email. Although I prefer to pick the telephone up in these situations, it would be a lie to say I have never done this.
One of Grammarly’s latest tools is the tone of voice checker, which now pops up in everything from LinkedIn (if you have the software installed on your computer) to a text message. It’s a quick way of checking whether your stern email is, in fact, aggressive, or your professional message is a little too friendly.
Grammarly is a tool for learning as much as it is proofreading – and we should never stop learning.
We also have to find ways to manage with the busy lifestyle we all lead these days so that we can be kind to ourselves.
Grammarly provides the reassurance required for projects on tight deadlines.
Grammarly is an extra pair of eyes in addition to traditional proofreading methods.
Large documents become short work with Grammarly.
Text messages, emails, web forms, and traditional documents can all be reviewed.
Grammarly explains suggested changes so that the writer can learn.
Tone of voice checks ensure that messages aren’t taken out of context.
Ready to try Grammarly? Click here for more information.