Grammarly is a digital writing tool that aims to improve the quality and clarity of your writing. It is pretty much your wordprocessor’s spell and language checker on steroids. Grammarly has an online platform as well as as a chrome and Microsoft word plugin, but I use the desktop app. My workflow is writing in Google Docs and then copy and paste to a new document in Grammarly for editing and checking. You can, however, also import materials directly if you are working in Word or another word processor.
Goals in Grammarly
When starting a new project on Grammarly, you set your goals. The goals are divided into Audience, Formality and Domain, with a few experimental options such as Tone and Intent (I haven’t used these yet). Audience offers three options, General, Knowledgeable and Expert, with Knowledgeable being the default. This option means your text needs focus to understand and read. Formality looks at the use of slang and casual language and is divided into Informal, Neutral and Formal. Domain is where you have the most options. You can select whether your text is Academic, Business, General, Email, Casual or Creative, with rules and conventions applied based on your selection.
The Grammarly writing assistant
The app has a writing assistant which analyses your text, providing suggestions in four areas – Correctness, Clarity, Engagement and Delivery. These suggestions appear as alerts next to the word or sentence to be changed. In some cases, such as spelling or punctuation errors, clicking the correction in the alert message implements it. In other cases, the software may ask you to rewrite a sentence that is in the passive voice or choose a synonym for a word frequently appearing in the text. Grammarly provides an overall document score in the right-hand side of the screen, and each time an edit or change is made this score is updated This score is based on Readability and Vocabulary, with useful metrics provided. I particularly like the Readability module, which provides a score based on the Flesch reading ease test, assigning an age-range and education level to the text. This score is useful for educational publishing where you need to write to the level of the learner. You can download this report. Here is the report for this blog post, before editing.
Grammarly also has a built-in plagiarism check, which references your writing against pages available on the internet. Useful if you are collating several sources and may have missed one. And I guess if you are an educational institute or teacher receiving assignments from students (not sure how Grammarly’s plagiarism check stacks up against the likes of Turnitin?).
Cost of Grammarly
There are some limitations on characters per document when using the desktop app or online editor (100,000 characters at a time). If you were working with a lengthy manuscript, you could split this into chapters to work on at a time. These limitations don’t apply when using Microsoft plugins. All essential functions are available for free with a Grammarly account. However, if you want more of the advanced functionality, you need to upgrade to a premium account at roughly $130 a year. By comparison, I would pay a freelance editor $8 per page and a proofreader $3 per page.
Apart from improving your writing before publication, I find it also trains me to watch out for issues when drafting a text as I now am thinking forward to what alerts Grammarly may flag. Overall I think Grammarly is a useful tool to add to your arsenal as a writer or editor. I’m sure there are competitor products out there at the moment. Let me know in the comments if you have any experience with them.