Blogging Tools: Writing and Grammar Tools
It’s been a while since I’ve written about writing. While this section of my site has sat up next to more frequently covered topics such as Travel, I haven’t explored the meta opportunities of blogging about the practice of blogging for far too long. So, today, I’m working to correct that by kicking off a new series where I’ll be featuring blogging tools. To start, I thought I’d take a look at some useful services that can help improve your writing by keeping your spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. in check.
Writing and Grammar Tools for Blogging
- Cost: Free (Basic), $30 (Premium, monthly), $60 (Premium, quarterly prepaid), $144 (Premium, yearly prepaid)
Grammarly is easily the most well-known tool on the list — and, truth be told, it’s also the only one I have any personal experience with. Specifically, I utilize Grammarly’s free Chrome plugin. With it, when I’m writing in WordPress, in emails, in Google Docs, or even in Slack, the app will draw my attention to errors. Akin to traditional “spell check,” this is done via red underlines for misspellings and green underlines for grammatically dubious words or sentences. Meanwhile, with Premium, you can add such features as full-sentence rewrites, plagiarism detection, and more. That upgrade is pretty pricey on a month-to-month basis but the 60% discount you’ll get by paying for a year upfront would definitely make that route my pick.
Seeing as I use Grammarly, while I can speak to its pros, I can also comment on some of the flaws I’ve observed. Namely, in WordPress, it seems there are times when it just doesn’t work — until I refresh the page and suddenly there are red lines everywhere. Honestly, I’m not really sure if this is a quirk of WordPress or Grammarly, but I can tell you that it’s frustrating. Luckily, I’ve learned to account for this and am always sure to refresh and review before publishing.
Overall, I’ve been perfectly happy with Grammarly’s free service — although I am now growing curious about some of these other options. Nevertheless, I have to imagine the tool is popular for a reason, making it a good place to start when testing various tools.
- Cost: Free (Basic), $14.99 (Premium, monthly), or $96 (Premium, yearly prepaid)
Looking at the Linguix site, it seems like another straightforward grammar plugin. That is to say that it will highlight misspellings, allow for rewrites based on suggestions, and more. However, one feature that stood out to me was the shortcuts option that you can utilize to quickly type phrases you use often. Once you set this up, you’ll just need to type “//[shortcut name]” to populate the text you want.
Giving the free editor a shot, one thing that annoyed me was that it underlined one word in my text and, when I hovered over it, it invited me to subscribe to Premium in order to see what was wrong. Perhaps Grammarly does similar things from time to time but I haven’t seen it. On the bright side, if you do want to go with the Premium version of Linguix, its monthly price is half that of Grammarly’s while the yearly pricing is even more affordable.
- Cost: Free (Basic), $19.99 (Premium, monthly), $47.94 (Premium, quarterly prepaid), $149.76 (Premium, yearly prepaid) — but plans are currently 30% off (as of August 2022)
While all of the tools on this list offer some sort of free option, after briefly trying Ginger’s gratis offering, I have to imagine it’s one of the more pared-down ones. Instead of trying the Chrome plug-in, I decided to download the Mac desktop app. That’s when I learned that this version can only assess 900 characters at a time.
As disappointing as that is, I did appreciate the way Ginger offered multiple sentence revision options that went well beyond correcting spelling errors. With the Premium version, this feature goes from “limited” to “unlimited” — which you’d pretty much need. Also notable is that the Premium edition apparently can translate more than 40 languages.
The last thing I want to note about Ginger is that, at the time I’m writing this, they are offering 30% off of their plans. Because of this, a monthly subscription currently goes for $13.99 a month, while a year upfront will only set you back $90. So, while I found the free edition of Ginger to be disappointing, this paid upgrade may be worth it — especially at this discounted price.
Pro Writing Aid
- Cost: Free (Basic), $20 (Premium, monthly), $120 (Premium, yearly prepaid), $399 (Premium, lifetime one-time payment), $24 (Premium Plus, monthly), $130 (Premium Plus, yearly prepaid), $499 (Premium Plus, lifetime one-time payment
Pro Writing Aid is a service that comes in a number of different flavors. In addition to the go-to browser extension, they also have a Microsoft Office add-in, and “Everywhere for Windows” option (with Mac coming soon), a Google Docs integration, and more. I decided to give the lattermost tool a try and was pretty impressed with the results.
After putting my text in Google Docs and selecting the “Improve Document” option, Pro Writing Aid provided me with feedback in a number of areas. These included scores on overall grammar and spelling, sentence variety, “Glue Index,” etc. Then, I could dive into more detail by selecting any of the tabs at the top. All in all, I found these insights to be quite thorough and interesting… even if I didn’t necessarily take on all of their suggestions.
Apparently the free version of this feature only allows you to check 500 words at a time. So, on that note, I have to say that the $120 yearly prepaid option seems like a pretty good deal. Or, if you really like it, then the $399 lifetime option could end up being a smart investment. Lastly, if you want to add plagiarism checking ability (up to 60 checks per year), then there’s also a Premium Plus edition to explore.
- Cost: Free (Basic), $19.95 (Premium, monthly), $79.95 (Premium, six-month prepaid), $99.95 (Premium, annual prepaid)
If you’re looking for a quick way to look over your writing without needing to install plugins or apps, then Quillbot may be for you. Although they do indeed offer Chrome and Word extensions, you can also utilize a number of tools right from their website. These include a grammar checker, paraphraser, summarizer, and more. With an upgrade to Premium, you’ll not only remove limits on these tools but will also add a plagiarism checker.
I have to admit that I had a blast playing around with Quillbot’s basic capabilities. In particular, I was taken with the summarizer, which was surprisingly effective. Granted, I don’t have a specific use case for such a feature — but perhaps it is helpful if AI can catch the overall point in your writing.
After exploring this site for a short time, Quillbot feels like a tool I’ll personally be returning to in the future. As for whether the nearly $100 tag for an annual subscription to Premium is worth it, that will definitely depend on how useful you find these specific tools. Of course, while some might appreciate the ability to just copy and paste text in for assessment, others might find this annoying. But, for them, perhaps the aforementioned extensions may be a better way to go.
- Cost: Free (Website), $19.99 (Desktop app)
Next, we come to Hemingway — which is different from the other options on this list in a couple of ways. Instead of being a subscription-based product, bloggers can choose to purchase the desktop app via a one-time payment. Additionally (or alternatively), you can try out the service using their website.
On the site, Hemingway will grade the readability of your text, highlight words or sentences that could be improved upon, and more. For smaller fixes, hovering over the text will allow you to select a replacement or omit a word, while more complex problems (such as “very hard to read” sentences) you’ll need to figure out on your own and manually edit.
Based on this demo and the language on the Hemingway site, it’s clear that this app is focused on helping you craft simpler, more concise prose — or, as they put it, “The Hemingway Editor cuts the dead weight from your writing.” While I can appreciate that, I personally think that writing style and voice are more important than always being as to the point as possible. In any case, if you do give the demo a try and like what Hemingway’s suggestions offer, then a $20 download is definitely not a bank-breaking option.
- Cost: Free (Basic), $11 (Pro, monthly), $99 (Pro, yearly prepaid)
First off, props to whoever managed to score the “Writer.com” domain for this tool. Either they paid handsomely for the URL or they acted early. But, with that addressed, let me discuss what Writer has to offer.
Writer has integrations for a number of platforms, including Word, Chrome, Outlook, and Google Docs, as well as services I haven’t heard of like Figma and Contentful. Glancing at their website, they also seem to be the most enterprise or team focused of the tools on this list (although some others did have business plans available). Diving a bit more into the service, the reason for that emphasis becomes more evident, as there are a number of templates for everything from advertising and sales to SEO blog posts — but these are all limited to enterprise plans.
So what about the individual plans? Well, based on my experience, it seems that the free version will really only give you access to basic spelling and grammar corrections — along with a few other insights, such as writing grade level. Then, other categories such as style, clarity, delivery, and inclusivity enter with the Premium plan. Having so many features off limits from the free version is a bummer, but at least the $99 per year price tag isn’t horrible. Still, I get the feeling that, since Writer seems to be geared towards enterprise customers, that’s likely who would benefit the most from this service.
With no shortage of free-to-use tools usable both on and offline, bloggers now have several options for services that can help them improve their writing. From nuisance typos and errors to more complex suggestions such as tone, these offerings can do a lot — although you may need to pony up for a premium membership if you want to unlock their full power. Because of this, before buying, I’d recommend trying a few of these tools on for size using their free version and making your decision from there.
P.S. Join me next time as we’ll take a look at blogging tools that can actually write for you using AI.