With so many proofreading tools out there, it can be tough to know which one is best. Some of them excel at certain aspects of proofreading and editing while falling behind at others.
Well, I aim to take a deep dive into the proofreading tool PaperRater today. You’ll see whether it’s worth using and what it (if anything) it excels at over other similar tools.
Don’t want to read the whole review. I’ve got you covered. Here are the biggest takeaways:
- It’s a good tool for checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
- Has a free version.
- Checks for passive voice.
- Checks for varied sentence beginnings.
- Cheaper than Grammarly and ProWritingAid
- Made mostly for students.
- Inaccurate plagiarism checker.
- Free version is limited to checking 3,000 words, the premium version only checks 6,000.
- No integration — you can only use the tool on the website.
- Not good for checking blogs, manuscripts, or non-academic papers.
The Bottom Line: PaperRater is made for students. Mainly, it’s for checking essays for originality, clarity, complex sentence structure, and varied word use. Unfortunately, this makes it a bad tool for general use. Sure, it will check to see if you misspelled anything or forgot a comma, but the deep-level suggestions won’t do you much good. And since it has a low word limit, trying to proofread a manuscript with this tool would get old quickly.
- What PaperRater is
- Who PaperRater is for
- Free vs paid plans
- What I like and don’t like about it
Table of contents
- What Is PaperRater?
- Who Should Use PaperRater?
- Free vs. Paid PaperRater Plans
- How Much Does PaperRater Cost?
- How to Use PaperRater
- What I Like About PaperRater
- What I Don’t Like About PaperRater
What Is PaperRater?
PaperRater is a basic proofreading and plagiarism detection tool. The American company of the same name was founded in 2009 and sold for an undisclosed amount to Barnes & Noble Education in 2018. Like other proofreading tools, it uses Artificial Intelligence and Data Technology to analyze text for originality, mistakes, style choices, and word choice suggestions.
How PaperRater Works
PaperRater is a little different from other proofreading tools. While other tools have integration or downloads, PaperRater is only available for use on their website. If you’re familiar with the Copyscape plagiarism checker, it’s a similar setup. You go to the website, paste or upload your text, and have the technology do its thing to check it.
As mentioned above, PaperRater Features include:
- Plagiarism Detection
- Grammar Mistake Detection
- Spelling Mistake Detection
- Word Choice Suggestions
- Style Suggestions
The way PaperRater works is fine if you’re checking a small amount of text. But if you’re an author looking for a tool that can check your manuscript right in your word processor of choice, this isn’t it.
Which brings me to the next section on who should use this tool.
Who Should Use PaperRater?
PaperRater makes no secret of the fact that their service is mostly for college and high school students. And the sale to Barnes & Noble Education in 2018 merely cements this notion.
When you consider the limitations, such as the 1500-word limit on the free version, you see what I mean. A college essay of 1500 words would be pretty easy to copy and paste into the PaperRater tool.
That said, it doesn’t preclude other professionals from using this tool. But it’s not a great option for authors. And not just because of the low word limits. More on that later.
PaperRater can be used effectively by:
- College Students
- High School Students
- Technical Writers
Free vs. Paid PaperRater Plans
There are two plans that PaperRater offers: Basic (free) and Premium (paid). Like other tools that offer free versions, there’s only so much you can do with PaperRater’s basic plan. Still, it’s nice to be able to use it even with the limitations. You can see what it’s all about, allowing you to make an informed decision on whether to purchase the premium plan first.
Basic Free Plan
Here’s what the basic PaperRater plan offers:
- Max 5-page submission (300 words per page)
- Max of 50 submissions a month
- 10 plagiarism checks per month
- Writing suggestions
- Grammar and spelling check
- Automatic text scoring
It also comes with ads, which aren’t particularly obnoxious. But they’re still ads.
Premium Paid Plan
And here’s what the PaperRater premium plan offers:
- Max 20-page submission (300 words per page)
- Max of 200 submissions per month
- 25 plagiarism checks a month
- Writing suggestions
- Grammar and spelling check
- Automatic text scoring
- No ads
- Integrated plagiarism checker
- Enhanced plagiarism checker
- The ability to upload documents instead of copying and pasting
- Premium modules to improve your writing
- Faster processing
How Much Does PaperRater Cost?
As you can see, the premium version has some definite improvements. But how much does PaperRater premium cost?
The premium version has a couple of different price tiers, depending on whether you purchase monthly or yearly.
Here are the PaperRater pricing options on offer at the time of this writing:
- Monthly Plan – $11.21 per month (down from $14.95)
- Yearly Plan – $5.96 per month (down from $7.95) billed as one payment of $71.55
Both options are considerably cheaper than Grammarly and ProWritingAid. But that doesn’t mean you should jump on this deal. It may not be worth the money.
Before you decide, let’s take a look at PaperRater in action.
How to Use PaperRater
Although the website looks a little outdated, the free tool is easy to use. You don’t have to sign up or jump through a bunch of hoops to use the free version. You just head to the PaperRater website and click on the “Use Now Free!” button, which is easily visible above the fold.
You’ll be taken directly to a page where you can enter your text and do a search. All you have to do is paste your text, then answer two questions from little drop-down menus (three if you want it to check for plagiarism.)
Next, you’ll have to agree to the terms of service (after you read them, of course), and then click the “Get Report” button at the bottom of the page.
The tool is quicker if it’s not searching for plagiarism. But even then, it only takes about fifteen seconds or so. Then it takes you to a page like this:
You can then click on one subject on the toolbar to the right, and it will take you through what it thinks the issues are with the paper.
For illustration purposes, I copied a section of text out of my ProWritingAid review to see what it came up with. So let's take a look at the results to give you an idea of how well this tool works.
PaperRater Plagiarism Checker
Although I copied and pasted my text from one of my live blog posts, the plagiarism detector said it was 34% original. This is worrisome because it should come up as zero percent original. The good news is that it did list the link to my blog post. There are some free plagiarism checkers out there that are much worse than this one.
To give you an idea, I put the same text into Copyscape for a plagiarism check, and it came up saying that 100% of the text matched my article — meaning it was totally “plagiarized.” This is how a plagiarism checker should work. That’s one mark against PaperRater.
Spelling, Grammar, and Word Choice
The spelling and grammar functions seem to do pretty well on PaperRater. These features are comparable to other proofreading tools. But the word choice function was a little strange.
It flagged the text I put in as having some poor word choice errors. It says I overused words like “I,” “you,” “think,” “get,” and a few others.
If I were writing a college essay, this would be very helpful. But since I’m writing an informal, second-person blog post, I’ve decided to use words like these. Blog and essay writing are two very different things.
It also pinged my text under the “Style” heading for two things: transitional words and sentence complexity. It suggests that I use more words like “consequently,” “therefore,” “furthermore,” “moreover,” and the like.
Again, this comes down to who the tool is for. English teachers may want to see these transition words used in an essay, but they don’t belong in an informal blog post. (At least, not a lot of them.)
Similarly, the sentence complexity suggestion is interesting. PaperRater suggests that my sentences are too simple and short. However, as a blogger, I know that short, simple sentences do much better online — not only for ranking on search engines but also for readability.
PaperRater does check for passive voice and varied sentence beginnings, which are both great things to know about your writing.
PaperRater also offers automated scoring. It pulls up a letter grade to let you know how it thinks the paper will be graded. Plus, it tells you if you’re using enough complex words in the “Vocabulary” section.
Again, these tools are great for checking an academic paper, but not so useful for those of us who aren’t writing essays in college or high school.
What I Like About PaperRater
PaperRater would’ve been incredibly helpful when I was still in college. I really could’ve used a free tool like this. But there are a few things that are helpful for me today. These include the spelling and grammar checker, and the style checker.
1. Spelling and Grammar Checker
PaperRater’s spelling and grammar checking functions seem comparable to other proofreading software on the market. And that you can use it for free is helpful.
While it’s not ideal to have to copy and paste your text in, it’s better than nothing. And while you’re at it, you can check what the helpful style checker says.
2. Style Checker
Despite some confusion with the style checker, I did find some helpful tips in this section of the tool. PaperRater checks for passive voice and sentence starts. It will flag you if you use too much passive voice. Likewise, it will tell you if you start too many sentences in the same way. For me, these are valuable tips that definitely help improve my writing.
3. Low Priced Premium Version
In my case, the premium version of this tool wouldn’t be worth the money. But for a college student who will write a lot of papers, it’s a pretty good deal. It doesn’t really do anything that Grammarly or ProWritingAid can’t, but it’s cheaper than both options. Something to think about if you’re doing mostly academic writing.
What I Don’t Like About PaperRater
As a general proofreading tool, PaperRater isn’t great. Here’s what I didn’t like about it.
1. Inaccurate Plagiarism Checker
The little experiment I did with the PaperRater plagiarism checker made me think that it’s not the most accurate tool for this. Copyscape does a much better job. So that alone tells me that I wouldn’t want to use it for checking if my blog posts are accidentally plagiarizing other sites on the web.
2. Limited to Short Texts Only
The free version of PaperRater can only check 3,000 words at a time. The premium version checks 6,000. For those of us looking for a proofreading tool to help us with our book writing, those word counts are much too low. This, combined with the decidedly academic tilt to the tool, makes it a bad option for anyone who is not writing a relatively short academic paper.
3. Geared Toward Students
PaperRater doesn’t market itself as a general proofreading tool, as far as I can tell. They make no secret of the fact that it’s geared toward students. And for someone who wants a good proofreading tool for my blog posts and fiction writing, this is a con.
Some of the suggestions it makes for writing improvement are the opposite of the best blog writing practices. So as a general proofreading tool, PaperRater has very limited uses.
4. No Integration
If you're looking for something to use with Google Docs or Microsoft Word, PaperRater isn't it. You can only use the tool on the website. And the word-count limitations will make longer texts harder to do.
If you’re a student looking for a good proofreading tool (either free or paid), I would absolutely check PaperRater out. But if you’re writing books or blog posts, I can’t recommend this tool.
Although the premium version is cheap, it has some serious limitations. These include the 6,000-word limit per search, the fact that it doesn’t integrate with any other writing tools, and the academic-geared programming.
You may have to pay a little more for a premium version of Grammarly or ProWritingAid, but at least you’ll know you’re getting an all-around proofreading tool that doesn’t have these same limitations. Want to find the best proofreading tool for authors? Check out my article on the best proofreading software, along with individual reviews for the following: