Writing and editing with digital tools: commercial offerings: Grammarly comes top

By Peter Hulm

I tested several grammar checkers and proofers to find one that gave me the most help in preparing texts.

They are not really in competition with each other.

Linguix is aimed at people who need help with their English, such as students and non-English speakers — with essays, emails and business mails to write and can use a template to help them along. Its spellchecking facility seems on a par with MsWord's, but you don't need Microsoft's program to use it.

PerfectIt, for example, is more of a proofer than a composing aid such as Grammarly or Hemingway.

Online versions for Grammarly are not currently available for Internet Explorer but the program installs easily on Chrome and Firefox.

myWriterTools, once my favourite, does not work on 64-bit machines.

Grammarly

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This was the winner in grammar checking but not necessarily the best.

It also comes as a free Google Chrome browser add-on. More details

PerfectIt

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The friendliest. There‚Äôs a 30-day trial version, which makes it worthwhile giving to your authors when they are close to submitting their manuscripts, and buying the full program for your editors — not least because it has stylesheets for U.N., European Union and W.H.O. as well as U.S. to U.K spelling checkers. I checked with the creator Daniel Heuman and he is happy for people to do that. A yearly subscription costs $49 to $70. More details

StyleWriter

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It might seem expensive at $220 for three computers but there's a 14-day trial version. It offers the closest experience to seeing an editor work on your text, but it may be more than you need.Website

WhiteSmoke

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This program catches lots of grammatical mistakes Word lets through but costs $90 a year. You might find it worth the money simply because it offers you a screen that looks more like standard editing. But it is American. Four years ago I signed up for a lifetime subscription but that no longer seems available and turned out to be for only three years. Here's how it performs against Word. Website

Hemingway

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H comes free online and as a $20 downloadable version.It works as a distraction free writing program if you want, then highlights its "Hemingway" recommendations when you click the edit option. You can save it as a webpage styled text or simplified form called Markdown. You can import and export from Word. This is what it did to a text I wrote about these programs. Full review here. Website

ProWritingAid

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PWA ($75-163 a year for a premium subscription to edit various formats) positions itself as a writing coach rather than a text editor. It might help to show your writers what this "personal coach" has to offer. You can try/use it on the Web by uploading or pasting short texts. It also offers a Plagiarism Checker (starting at $10 for 10 checks). You get a Google Extension if you buy a Premium subscription. Website of various writing aids(not mine).

Editor's Toolkit Plus

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ETKP ($70) is a Word add-in that comes in really useful before and after your other bots have done their work. It helps you prepare your Word documents for design programs and can get rid of double paragraphs, double spaces, etc. And it has a good Revision menu that is better than Word's hide-and-seek. Once you use it, you are likely to find it indispensable in a professional office. Website

Innovations

Its latest version (issued in June 2018) has some innovations that increase its usefulness immeasurably. The latest What's New file runs to eight pages.

ETKP will convert direct formatting to styles, even the italic and bold shortcuts. This makes the texts much easier for a formatting editor to work with. Otherwise this is one of the most annoying aspects of Word you have to correct.

It also removes extraneous formatting from paragraph styles.

But perhaps the most useful new facility is its ability to automaticall apply paragraph styles to unformatted text including everything from chapter numbers to headings and block quotations.

This doesn't even have to work perfectly for this to be a great help to anyone who receives plain text, say from emails or simple text editors, as contributions to your publications.

Editor's Toolkit Plus will even combine paragraph lines improperly broken with hard or soft returns, common if you use text from a PDF.