Thursday, July 15, 2021

Great Software Programs for Writers

 We all know about spell-check and the importance of using it when we are writing any documents, particularly correspondence and reports related to work. But there are new and more advanced types of programs that go way beyond the capacity of the spell-check. Check these out:

 Grammarly: this is a phenomenal program that not only far exceeds Microsoft in terms of its ability to detect errors in spelling and grammar, but it also flags repetitive words and potentially inappropriate word usage (e.g., let’s say that you wanted to use the word “reminisce” to talk about old times but instead you said, “let’s remiss about the good old days.” The program would alert you to the possibility that might not be the word you want to use and suggest something more appropriate. It also highlights terms that have become like slang now, such as “awesome, amazing,” and “totally” and even brings to your attention potentially offensive/politically incorrect words like “mankind” or “elderly.”  And it is fully compliant with The Chicago Manual of Style, so Grammarly will suggest the best punctuation for you. It’s a real time-saver and ensures that you will not miss embarrassing errors. Plus, you always have the option of taking their suggestions cafeteria-style by choosing the ones you like and leaving the rest behind.

 PerfectIt: I could not live without this program. PerfectIt makes sure that all your word usage is consistent. Did you hyphenate brand-new in two instances but not the third? Did you capitalize the City of Chicago four times but leave it in lowercase twice? PerfectIt to the rescue. This is particularly useful for long documents, novels, and nonfiction books where you can’t trust that you are going to remember every single hyphen or capital. It makes you look like a real pro with a terrific memory and a great eye for detail. PerfectIt also identifies redundancies (e.g., “I’m going to meet Paul at 10 AM in the morning.” AM and morning are redundant. You can say one or the other. “I am going to meet Paul at 10 AM” is sufficient. And “he thought to himself.” By definition, a thought is something that we think to ourselves and we don’t say out loud, so it’s fine to say, “he thought” without the extra verbiage).

Both Grammarly and PerfectIt are terrific for writers who want their material to be flawless and professional. But don’t forget about Microsoft’s spell-check. It is still worth remembering to always spell-check everything that leaves your desk for business, starting with emails and moving on to reports and proposals, short stories, and full-length books, etc. You can also use these programs for social correspondence if you want to step up your game.