3 Reasons You Should be Using Grammarly

 It’s important for authors to know as much as they can about the tools they have available to them. Writing tools are vital to productivity. Think about how long it would take to write an entire novel by hand! Not to mention all the editing. When possible, authors can and should automate some tasks. Like spell checking. Enter Grammarly.

3 Reasons to Use Grammarly

  • Free and can provide online and file-based grammar and spelling checks
  • Quickly switch between checking for American English and British English
  • Grammarly serves as an extra set of “eyes” on the document

I’m looking only at the free version. Many reviewers across the web have reviewed the paid versions, so I suggest checking around Google for those articles. Grammarly’s free tool is perfect for the self-published author. Nothing to invest upfront for consistent spelling and grammar review. Just note that, even with a paid version, you will need actual readers. Grammarly helps with spelling, but it is far from perfect.

We can all agree; the best material you can produce will be clean of spelling and grammatical errors. As the content’s creator, writing will fall on you. Spelling and grammar you can and should get all the help you can with reviewing and polishing. Grammarly is ideal for helping ensure your book is as perfect as it can be.

How Does Grammarly Help?

When I typed the line above the first time, I missed the space bar between “Does” and “Grammarly.” Here’s what I saw when I put the cursor over the erroneous text:

Grammarly, WordPress, Notifications

This pop up is the basic menu, offering a correction (or multiple corrections if applicable). You also can add the word to Grammarly’s dictionary, ignore the error, and “See more” to open the full editor:

Grammarly in browser view

The in-browser editor is a pop-out window that will be familiar to anyone comfortable with MS Word’s track changes function. Grammarly shows the text you’ve written in the left column and provides in-line suggestions in the right column. This pop-out can always be viewed from a “Grammarly dot” located lower right of the text box you’re working in:

Grammarly popout shot

The red number represents the corrections found through the free tool. The yellow number is “premium” corrections you can only see if you subscribe to their paid services. Clicking on either icon opens the pop out for reviewing the corrections, but the premium corrections are not visible unless you have a paid account.

Browser-Based Editing

You might notice that I’m looking at using Grammarly in a browser (Firefox in this case) to edit a web document (a WordPress blog). Recently, Grammarly added functionality to check spelling in Google Docs, a nice addition to their browser extension. For locally viewed documents, like a Word DOCX, you can check the content by pasting it into Grammarly’s ‘home’ page or through a downloadable desktop application.

The piece that will be most useful for an author will be the interaction between Grammarly and the actual content file you’ve created. This is a bright point for Grammarly. Whether you stick to the web tool or use the application, the layout you will work on is the same.

Grammarly Mac App

That’s the home screen. Clean, simple, and very similar to the MS Word screen most of you will be familiar with. This design (left column for navigation, a majority of the screen for content) is common for writing applications, and Grammarly is set up so you could write directly into the application. I doubt many writers will go that route, but it is an option. More useful is the “Import” function, allowing you to take a .docx file and plug it into Grammarly.

This may seem redundant, as Word already has a potent spelling checker. There is value in redundancy! Grammarly will catch some errors Word might miss while offering advice about questionable word usage errors Word often misses. Think of this just like giving your manuscript to multiple editors or reviewers for feedback. Each reviewer will catch different problems and provide different feedback. If you’ve relied on MS Word’s spell checker for years, I highly recommend complimenting that tool with Grammarly. Not because one is better than the other, but because getting multiple looks at your manuscript is always beneficial.

Dissecting Grammarly

Once you have an account and either download the app or access the home screen in your browser, you’ll notice a document is already present. This “Demo Document” is a great feature Grammarly uses to highlight the functionality of the tool.

Grammarly Demo Document

The document has several errors built-in, alongside suggested corrections. You’ll see the “Upgrade” option here, along with “Advanced Issues” that can only be viewed through the paid service. Sticking to the free tool, Grammarly identifies issues in the document and offers suggested corrections. Most of the spelling and punctuation errors are one’s MS Word can handle, but the usage and word choice tools set Grammarly apart. Look at this instance a little deeper in the Demo Document:

Using the Grammarly Demo Documnet

Grammarly identifies the word “vary” as potentially being misused in the sentence’s context. When I click on the “expand” marker for this correction, I see an explanation of why they’ve marked this word, and their suggested replacement. Clicking “More” also gives helpful examples of confused or misused words:

Using the 'Confused Words' editor

Creative Freedom

And you have the option to “Ignore” the flag and keep the text as-is. This is helpful if you’ve used the word in question for a creative or design reason that Grammarly won’t be able to identify.

Once you’ve run through all the suggested changes, Grammarly has an export option so we can export the document to our computer. If you imported a .docx file, the export will match that. If you wrote directly in Grammarly, the export will be a .txt file. For most, a .txt file will not be ideal, so you would have to copy and paste the results into Word.

As a final note on the way Grammarly works, I’d like to suggest this review from Grammarist. In it, the authors run a handful of tests by inserting grammatical and spelling errors into the editor and reviewing the results. They are fairly thorough, if not more critical than need be, in looking at the ways Grammarly handles tricky situations. It is a very informative read and might help give a perspective on the uses of this software.

Why Grammarly?

  • Free and can provide online and file-based grammar and spelling checks
  • Quickly switch between checking for American English and British English
  • Grammarly serves as an extra set of “eyes” on the document

I cannot point to a single compelling reason to say “you must use Grammarly.” I will say that the software’s free version can be helpful, and as it is free, I see no reason not to try it. But it remains possible that you will not find Grammarly a key tool in their writing toolbox. I would look at it as a helpful supplement to your normal spell-checking.

For your manuscript, I cannot say emphatically enough how important it is to have other humans review the content. A spelling and grammar tool like Grammarly is good for catching a lot, but without actual human eyes on the document, you cannot hope to have the quality of reviewing a manuscript deserves. So use all software knowing that real people reading and reviewing your work are still invaluable.

Let’s call Grammarly a decent add-on for content editing and particularly nice for catching some misused words, but not the end-all of the grammar editing tools. With that in mind, I’d like to point out one other use that may not be obvious but is still useful.

Self-publishing is about more than just writing a book and uploading the file. That is the literal act of self-publishing. Maintaining a self-published book and finding success is an ongoing and ever-changing process, one that involves a great deal of writing outside the book itself. Think about the blog posts, social media posts, emails, press releases, website copy, and blurbs on advertising sites you have to write. Here is where Grammarly can shine.

Too easy to say no

Because Grammarly has a browser plugin, you can add the tool to your web browser and Voila! You have a grammar and spelling tool for all your online writing. This is particularly helpful for blogging if you write directly into WordPress (or your blogging software of choice). While most software will have spell check, they will not have the depth Grammarly offers. Facebook and Twitter also work with Grammarly. While a spelling error here and there on social media isn’t likely to cost you any readers, maintaining a level of professionalism with correct spelling and grammar is easy with the Grammarly plugin.

I would strongly recommend any author who does a lot of writing through a browser for their marketing efforts really consider Grammarly. And for those authors who shy away from hiring an editor, Grammarly is a good second check for spelling and grammar in your manuscript. I don’t advise going without some amount of human editing, but if you make the choice to eschew an editor, Grammarly is the alternative I would lean toward.

On a final note, I’m always happy to hear from our readers about the software and tools they use when writing and editing, so if anyone has something they are using and wants to give it a shout out, please do so in the comments!

17 thoughts on “3 Reasons You Should be Using Grammarly”

  1. I ordered and paid for the book, “The Deception of the Century”, by Theodor Kolberg, and you people have cheated me by your own DECEPTION! You say I never ordered it. You are a bunch of lying DECEIVERS!!!!

  2. GRAMERLY was very useful when I edited my PhD Thesis entitled RELIGION AND PEACEMAKING IN SIERRA LEONE, which is now published!

  3. Hi Mary,
    I should have touched on this more in the blog because the site is a little tricky for a new user. You have to start by clicking the “Get Grammarly for [your browser]” button. That starts the account creation. They’ll ask if you want to start a paid plan, but you can opt out and go with the free account while setting up.

  4. I use Grammarly all the time and love it, but it has one gigantic omission – Google Docs.
    Yes, I understand that I can copy the text from the doc and paste it into the Grammarly editor, but this is not foolproof, stripping much of my formatting.
    And I can start with the editor, but this should not be unnecessary given that there is a plugin for Outlook, MS Office, the Chrome browser – just about everything except Google docs. J

  5. Hi John,
    The lack of Google Docs is a huge omission – though I know Grammarly acknowledges this so I have to hope they’re looking to add Google Docs integration eventually.
    But you’re absolutely right, the inability to use Grammarly in a Google doc major stumbling block.

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