As a prolific author and online content writer, I’ve found the best proofreading software is a toss-up between Grammarly’s free version or ProWritingAid’s premium version.
However, each proofreading tool has its own pros and cons. To see which one works best for your unique situation, I’ve compiled a list of pros and cons for 12 different proofreading tools.
Proofreading tools give you an edge over your competition. They help you work faster and write better.
Built-in spell checkers can catch some mistakes, but they’re nothing compared to modern alternatives, such as ProWritingAid, Grammarly, Ginger, and Hemingway.
Poking around the internet, I noticed that most online reviews of these tools are woefully outdated. So I decided to do my homework and write recommendations of my own.
This article will compare and contrast what’s available to help you find the best proofreading software for your unique situation.
Spoiler alert: ProWritingAid is my top choice for long-form writing, i.e. what most authors would need, although Grammarly is extremely powerful and works as well. But we give the edge to ProWritingAid because it has a lifetime subscription option. And if you use the code KINDLEPRENEUR20 in your checkout process, you'll get 20% off with this link:
- Tell you which ones to avoid
Table of contents
- What is proofreading in writing?
- Best Proofreading Software to Use for Writing
- 1. ProWritingAid
- 2. Grammarly
- 3. Ginger
- 4. Hemingway
- 5. Quillbot
- 6. Autocrit
- Others You May Have Heard Of
- BONUS: Fictionary
- Proofreading Software vs. Human Proofreader
I’ll also tell you if proofreading software can replace a human editor. (Spoiler: It can’t.)
Links in this article may give me a small commission if you use them to purchase any proofreading software. There’s NO extra cost to you.
What is proofreading in writing?
Proofreading in writing means making sure that your spelling and grammar are correct. This may be in an essay, a novel, a manual, a website, or any other medium.
It is crucial to proofread your writing. Proper spelling and grammar give off a professional air and ensure your reader understands you. Poor proofreading may lead to embarrassment, miscommunication, and even fewer job opportunities.
Why Am I Qualified to Talk about Proofreading Software?
Let's face it, there are many people out there that write these kind of articles by just doing some research on what others say, and regurgitating it out without firsthand knowledge of the tools in question (or worse, have AI write it for them). That's not the case here.
As someone who's been publishing books for over 13 years, I've seen a lot proofreading tools go up and down. Some have been revolutionary game-changers, while others haven't lived up to the hype.
However, choosing the right proofreading software isn't just about picking the most popular one. Each writer has unique requirements and preferences. What works wonders for me might not for you. For example, Grammarly is hugely popular, but it's not what I recommend for long-form content.
So, in order to create a top-notch overview of the best tools for proofreading, I sent out surveys to my readers, and talked to some heavy-hitting authors in the industry – many of which I have been a consultant to as well.
Based on my observations, the results from those surveys, and talking with some of the most well-known authors out there, I feel very strongly that this is a subject I can truly tackle.
So, with that, let's jump into a list of what I think are the best proofreading tools for authors.
Best Proofreading Software to Use for Writing
The best proofreading software to use for writing novels is a combination of ProWritingAid and Hemingway, which check different things. For blogs, emails, memos, social media posts, and shorter projects, Grammarly is a robust proofreading tool — even the free version.
Bottom line: These proofreading tools work better than the native spell checkers in word processors like MS Word.
Also be sure to check out my comparison between the top two options: Grammarly and ProWritingAid:
In this table are the 5 leading proofreading apps/software (because they’re the best). After the table, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of these plus 3 additional proofreading tools.
Ultimately for me, ProWritingAid comes out on top. But I'll let you come to your own conclusions…
ProWritingAid looks for grammatical and punctuation mistakes. What I find particularly impressive is its ability to also check for structural issues like repetition, cliches, and a lack of variety in sentence length.
It is also my #1 recommended tool for proofreading long-form work like novels. And it's pretty good with short-form too.
Its browser extensions are free. You can use ProWritingAid’s limited online editor for free. Also, their premium versions come with a 30-day free trial and 14-day money-back guarantee.
How much does ProWritingAid Premium cost? If you use my Kindlepreneur link to buy ProWritingAid Premium, you can get 20% off the prices below!
- $79/year ($6.58/month value)
- $399 one-time payment
There is another premium version: ProWritingAid Premium Plus, which includes 50 plagiarism checks a year.
How much ProWritingAid Premium Plus cost?
- $89/year ($7.42/month value)
- $499 one-time payment
For businesses and groups, ProWritingAid offers bulk discounts.
A truly powerful editing software, ProWritingAid creates a detailed report for every piece you evaluate in its online editor.
- Big-picture feedback
- A graph of sentence lengths
- Vocabulary comparison
- A list of most used words to help you avoid unnecessary repetition
ProWritingAid offers browser extensions for:
The premium version of ProWritingAid comes with desktop apps for Mac and Windows, which allow you to work offline and are great for writers working in Scrivener or Microsoft Office.
ProWritingAid is best suited for writers seeking detailed feedback on longer pieces, like mystery novels, lengthy blog posts, memoirs, and academic essays. Using ProWritingAid’s browser extension for Facebook posts or casual emails may help but may feel like overkill.
Is there anything better than Grammarly? Yes, ProWritingAid is better than Grammarly to a lot of writers and proofreaders. ProWritingAid offers a more detailed, data-driven approach to online proofreading that appeals to many professionals. Plus, its free version is far more robust than Grammarly’s.
Read my full review of ProWritingAid.
Pros of ProWritingAid
- Features more writing reports than any other proofreading service
- Has a contextual thesaurus and style suggestions to strengthen your writing
- Available in different forms of English (American, Australian, British, etc.)
- Encourages you to vary sentence lengths to maintain reader interest
- Lets you know how dynamic your vocabulary is compared to other PWA users
- Shows you phrases you use multiple times, so you can decide if they are overused
- Compatible with most browsers, Google Docs, Scrivener, and Microsoft Office
- Works with Mac and Windows
- Premium Plus version comes with a robust plagiarism checker, or you could purchase plagiarism checks separately
Cons of ProWritingAid
- Catered to writers, not ordinary people just writing social media posts and emails
- No mobile app
- Premium version can get expensive
- Premium Plus version (that includes plagiarism detection) is costly and much less extensive than Grammarly’s plagiarism checker
- Steeper learning curve than other proofreading tools
With over 10 million users, Grammarly is one of the most popular online proofreading softwares on the market. It’s easy to use, beautifully designed, and widely considered one of the best tools for catching spelling and grammar mistakes.
It was also the tool I used the most before ProWritingAid came along. I still use it for some short-form content.
Grammarly offers free browser extensions for:
- Google Chrome
You can also install the Grammarly desktop app for Windows and Mac. There’s even a mobile app to improve your writing on the go!
How much does Grammarly cost?
- The free version offers a massive number of features
- $29.95 per month
- $59.94 per 3 months ($19.98/month value)
- $139.95 per year ($11.66/month value)
- $12.50/month per member (minimum 3 members) with Grammarly Business
If you encounter a program or website Grammarly is not compatible with, you can simply paste your writing into Grammarly’s online editor, correct it there, and paste it back.
Grammarly’s premium version comes with double the suggestions (often more than double), a sentence structure checker, a plagiarism detector (great if you hire ghostwriters), and genre-specific feedback.
Pros of Grammarly
- Free version has a robust suite of features
- Conforms to your writing style (academic, casual, creative, etc.)
- Adjustable formality levels: formal, neutral, and informal
- Grammarly works great for everyone, not just professional writers
- Premium version has a plagiarism checker
- Easy to use with a variety of browsers and websites
- Integrates with MS Word (and MS Outlook on Windows only)
- App available on iOS and Android
Cons of Grammarly
- Only works with English, not other languages
- Still in beta with Google Docs (works well, but not perfectly)
- Doesn’t offer much feedback on big picture writing
- Website editor only allows documents up to 4 MB and 100,000 characters
- Premium version charges a monthly fee (no one-time purchase option)
- Doesn’t integrate with most writing softwares, like Scrivener, yWriter, or Apple Pages
- Their marketing pushes you to buy the premium version (you can unsubscribe from their emails)
Ginger has been a proofreading powerhouse since 2007. Recent updates have made Ginger one of the best proofreading tools on the market.
And the thing I like about Ginger is its focus on an audience where English is not their first language. It's extremely useful for them.
How much does Ginger cost?
- Its free version has a few useful features
- $59.88/year ($12.48/month value)
- $95.76/24 months ($9.99/month value)
Ginger occasionally runs sales that save you up to 60%, so watch for those special deals.
What really sets Ginger apart are the cool advanced features that come with its premium version.
The most useful is Ginger’s text reader, which reads text aloud from Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook emails, and some websites opened with Google Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.
This lets you hear how your writing sounds and helps you find opportunities to strengthen your syntax and word choice. It’s a handy productivity tool, allowing you to listen to articles or blog posts while you fold the laundry or walk on the treadmill.
Ginger Premium also includes a translator that will easily translate your writing into over 60 languages. This can be great for day-to-day communication but has many more applications for fiction writers.
Want the character in your novel to overhear a secret phone call in French? To discover a scandalous old letter written by the hero’s Russian grandmother? Ginger can help you make it happen!
Grammarly is probably a more robust option over Ginger for general grammar and spell check use. For a more measurable comparison, Ginger’s free Chrome extension has a 3.72 star-rating after 1,388 reviews, while Grammarly’s free Chrome extension has a 4.62-star rating with 29,650 total reviews.
In the example below, you’ll notice Grammarly suggesting I change “more good” to better. That’s a smart catch that Ginger seems to be missing.
Pros of Ginger
- Great for catching spelling and grammar errors
- Easy to use with multiple browsers (but not Firefox)
- Offers a lot of value in its free version
- Available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android
- Premium version can translate into more than 60 languages
Cons of Ginger
- Free version is not as robust and user-friendly as Grammarly
- Doesn’t offer much big-picture feedback on writing
- Premium version charges a monthly fee
Hemingway stands apart from the other tools on this list in that its goal isn’t to catch misspelled words or grammar mistakes. Instead, it’s designed to make your writing “bold and clear,” more like the writing of Ernest Hemingway.
This was also the free tool that I used the most before I invested in one of the paid tools. Strapped for cash at college perhaps? Then this is your godsend.
How much does Hemingway cost?
- Hemingway’s online editor is a free online proofreading tool
- Hemingway’s desktop app costs $19.99 for Windows or macOS
Hemingway will strengthen your writing by helping you avoid too many adverbs, slipping into passive voice, being overly wordy, or writing complicated sentences that are hard to read.
Unlike Grammarly or Ginger, the Hemingway editor generally doesn’t make specific suggestions. It just points out problematic areas in your writing and nudges you in the direction of stronger alternatives.
To be clear, I don't think Hemingway will magically turn terrible writing into the work of Ernest Hemingway. And it’s worth noting that good writing is more than a set of rules.
In fact, The New Yorker has a great piece where it shows that even Hemingway himself doesn’t always pass the Hemingway test (sometimes the best writing comes from breaking the rules).
However, while this software won’t make your writing perfect, it can make your writing more effective. It’s a smart tool to have in your arsenal.
Hemingway does not come with any browser extensions. You simply copy and paste into the online editor, which is free, easy to use, and requires no signup or installation.
Admittedly, I feel this is a hassle for longer pieces. If you’re writing a book or plan to use this tool frequently, you might want to purchase the desktop app, available for Mac and Windows.
The app allows you to import your writing, perform edits, then export to text, PDF, or DOC. If you’re a blogger, the app can also export as HTML or Markdown — it even lets you publish directly to WordPress or Medium.
Pros of Hemingway
- Big-picture feedback, including style and formatting
- Easily identifiable color-coded errors
- Online editor is free
- Desktop app is a one-time fee: an affordable $19.99
- Can export from desktop app to TXT, PDF, DOC, HTML, or Markdown
- Makes more indirect suggestions, allowing you to maintain a feeling of control over your writing
Cons of Hemingway
- Does not catch spelling errors
- Does not make specific suggestions
- No browser extension
- Not meant for Gmail or Facebook, like other proofreading apps on this list
- Even Hemingway doesn’t always pass the Hemingway test, showing that following the many rules of writing shouldn’t ever be a hard-and-fast rule
Quillbot is unique as a proofreading software, in that it uses AI for many of it's tools.
And it has a lot of different tools, some of which you won't find on other items on this list. For instance, you can use Quillbot to paraphrase short phrases so you're not plagiarizing, or if you just want to say something a different way.
Funny enough, I thought Quillbot was the first AI-powered tool that I reviewed here, but turns out all of these tools use an AI engine in one form or another, but Quillbot makes it more obvious. It's got a couple of great AI-powered features that I enjoyed playing with.
You will find the following with Quillbot:
- Grammar Checker
- Plagiarism Checker
- Citation Generator
How much does Quillbot cost?
- $13.33/month, billed semi-annually
- $8.33/month, billed annually
Is there a free version of Quillbot?
Yes, there is a free version of Quillbot, and it comes with the following:
- up to 125 words in the Paraphraser
- Limited modes for the grammar checker
- 3 synonym options
- 1,200 words on the Summarizer
Note that the premium version offers much more for each of these, and also includes faster processing speed, advanced grammar rewrites, and the plagiarism checker.
Quillbot has an excellent grammar checker, and while I think the program caters better to students and academic papers, it still has some nifty AI tools that come in handy.
Pros of Quillbot
- A paraphraser
- A summarizer
- A plagiarism checker
- A citation generator
- Affordable pricing
- There is a free version
Cons of Quillbot
- Limited options in the free version
- No lifetime purchase option
- Better at short documents and academic papers than long-form writing
Autocrit is a editing software built specifically for authors of fiction. It is unique in that it digests millions of fiction books to help Autocrit's algorithm analyze your book to see how it compares.
You will find the following critiques with Autocrit:
- Pacing and Momentum
- Strong Writing
- Word Choice
- Compare to Fiction
How much does Autocrit cost?
- Basic plan: $10/month
- Professional plan: $30/month
- Elite plan: $80/month
Is there a free version of Autocrit?
No, there is not a free version of Autocrit. However, you can get a 14-day trial of the Professional or Elite plans for $1, after which it will revert to the $10 basic plan.
Pros of Autocrit
- Reasonably priced
- Excellent for fiction authors
- Focuses on fiction-specific editing that you can't get anywhere else
Cons of Autocrit
- Not as good at grammar when compared to ProWritingAid
- No lifetime price
Others You May Have Heard Of
You may have heard of some of the following. While some have their good sides, most of these we don't recommend. Here is a bit about each of them and links to our reviews.
- WhiteSmoke: WhiteSmoke is a highly-rated Natural Language Processing proofreader with one-click correction, translation, and plagiarism detection, but has a 10,000 character limit, inaccurate suggestions, no free trial, slow support, and high yearly cost with no monthly billing. See our review.
- LanguageTool: LanguageTool is an affordable proofreading tool for teams with grammar, style, and number checks, but has strict character limits, no Safari support, and limitations for long-form writing. See our review.
- PaperRater: PaperRater is a proofreading software emphasizing its free plagiarism checker, and also offers spelling, grammar, style, and readability checks, along with premium document upload options, but it's not the best because of its English-only limitation, outdated website, slow online editor, ad-filled free version, and restrictive word count checks (1,500 for free users, 6,000 for premium). See our review.
- Slick Write: Slick Write is a free but limited proofreading tool with useful features but subpar usability compared to premium alternatives like Hemingway Editor and ProWritingAid. See our review.
- PerfectIt: PerfectIt is a proofreading program designed specifically for professional editors with useful formatting consistency checks but limited to Microsoft Word with no grammar or spelling checks, best for editing technical documents rather than book manuscripts. See our review.
- Wordtune: Wordtune is an AI-powered sentence rewriting tool with a free version and useful suggestions to improve clarity and concision, but an unintuitive interface, nonsensical recommendations, and expensive premium version limit its value. See our review.
Fictionary is another platform that I highly recommend, but for different reasons than other options on this list. Fictionary is a web-based editing software designed to simplify the developmental editing process for writers and editors.
Did you catch that? It's a “developmental” editing program, not a grammar/spelling editing program. That's why I'm including it as a bonus here instead of a true competitor with the rest. It's in a league of its own.
How much does Fictionary cost?
- Storyteller: $19/month or $14/month with annual billing
- Storyteller Premium: $29/month or $21.58/month with annual billing
- StoryCoach: $49/month or $33.25/month with annual billing (editors only)
Is there a free version of Fictionary?
There is not a free version of Fictionary, but you can try the tool out for a 14-day free trial.
Pros of Fictionary
- Unique take on editing
- Ease of use and design
- Good documentation
- Great visual tools
Cons of Fictionary
- A lot of legwork required of the author
- Not subplot tracking
- Limited sentence-level editing
Proofreading Software vs. Human Proofreader
Can proofreading software replace a human proofreader? No, a proofreading checker cannot replace a human editor.
When you use Grammarly or ProWritingAid or any of the proofreading tools we’ve talked about, your writing may improve. But this does not mean you should skip hiring an editor before publishing.
Every author needs to have their work professionally edited by a qualified human editor before it is released to the public, bar none. Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Nora Roberts — they all use editors, and for good reason.
If you don’t think a proofreading tool can meet your unique needs, then hiring a professional proofreader is a viable option. It will cost a pretty penny (about $0.01 per word, which adds up quickly). But if this is what works for you, then great!
How do you become a certified proofreader? You can become a professional proofreader by earning a certificate in Editing and/or Proofreading through various institutions. There are long-distance learning opportunities for at-home learners.
What software do professional proofreaders use? Professional proofreaders use various softwares to check their clients’ work. Many use native spell checkers and grammar checkers alongside their own skills. Others may use Grammarly, Hemingway, or PerfectIt to catch any mistakes they might miss.
Which online proofreading software is best for you?
The results of my hunt for the best proofreading software are ProWritingAid vs. Grammarly vs. Ginger vs. Hemingway. Each tool has its strengths and weaknesses, and some authors will want to invest in more than one.
- ProWritingAid proofreads grammatical errors and spelling mistakes in real-time, as well as big picture feedback for strengthening your writing. It also comes with a one-time payment option, which can help you save money in the long run.
- Grammarly is an excellent tool for everyday life (think emails, Facebook posts, comments on a blog). And it can also help people writing books, blogs, or essays catch spelling and grammar mistakes in their writing — more so than a default text editor.
- Ginger is a reliable alternative to Grammarly, with some cool extra features such as the text reader and translator.
- Hemingway is a handy software for people writing longer or persuasive pieces, like a nonfiction book or essay. Although Hemingway is by no means a magic wand, using a combination of this tool and your own brain can make you a stronger writer.
If I had to pick one tool from the list, it would be ProWritingAid. That's because it does better with long-form content, and has a lifetime subscription option.
And one of the cool things about that lifetime subscription is that you can get a 20% discount when you buy ProWritingAid through my link and with the code KINDLEPRENEUR20.