Is that a pedantic parrot on your shoulder?

April 4, 2015 | By | Reply More

Getting friends, family and trusted readers to catch the typos and errors in your budding masterpiece is all well and good, but how do you take your editing to the next level without paying $2000+ for a professional proofreader or book doctor to go through your book?

Here’s some suggestions for software – both PC-based and on-line – that will help give you a leg up on the next writer in the slush-pile. They all aim to improve on the free spelling and grammar check that comes with Microsoft Word.

These all come with free trials so you can give them a test run before you decide on which is best for you . . .



SmartEdit is a PC or Mac-based program which runs a series of 20 individual checks on your work and highlights areas that might need to be looked at. These checks include: highlighting repeated phrases and words, producing a list of every adverb used, flagging possible misused or misspelled words such as “complement” instead of “compliment”. SmartEdit also examines your sentence structures: highlighting common phrases you use to begin sentences, monitoring sentence length, as well as flagging possibly incorrect punctuation, such as multiple exclamation marks (“!!!?”), or inconsistent use of smart quotes and straight quotes. Unlike the other two systems below, this is a buy-once piece of software, rather a web service with a subscription. Being cheap, I tend to prefer desktop software over monthly premium subscriptions.


Grammarly is a web-based system which scans your text for proper use of around 250 advanced grammar rules, spanning everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement. Grammarly also aims to spot erroneous use of lose/loose, affect/effect, lie/lay, there/their/they’re and many more commonly confused words. Words can make an impact, or they can fall flat. Enhance your sentences with Grammarly’s word choice suggestions that optimize for the context of your document. Readability and meaning are often improved.

Pro-writing Aid

Pro-writing Aid is a web-based system which allows you to check for hidden and passive verbs. It also tries to identify overuse of adverbs and glue words; locate repetitive sentence structure; replace commonly overused words and reveal repeated words and phrases. Other tricks up this one’s sleeve includes eliminating vague, abstract and complex words. Finally, it looks to remove clichés and redundancies.

Category: Writer's Dojo

About the Author ()

I have been working as a full-time author publishing fantasy and science fiction novels for HarperCollins for the last seven years.

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