ProWritingAid had a major update. This post is a revision of my original post from June 16, 2020. (Yep, if I had just waited a few weeks to write it up…anyway…)
ProWritingAid is a multipurpose program that checks style, grammar, and more. It is a free extension on browsers. At the premium level, it can be added to Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener. The app includes style, grammar, echoes, sticky sentences, and a wide variety of other features.
I’ll be upfront. I have the premium service for ProWritingAid. One of my fellow authors, Terry Graham, uses the program and her writing is pristine! I purchased it about a year ago with a great coupon. My membership is lifetime at a cost of about $100. Worth it to me at this point in my writing career.
I’ve installed ProWritingAid right into Word on my PC. (Unfortunately, Mac Word does not support it.) It’s another menu at the top of the screen. With the Premium license, I can install it on multiple machines. The program, under Premium, works with Google Docs, Scrivener, Final Draft, and Open Office as an add-on.
Again, I’ll focus on my version of Word, but the extension has many of these features.
I’m a nerd. I enjoyed school and loved getting good grades. It’s why I like the program because it grades your doc. The feature is called Summary and it checks several issues in the doc and gives you a lovely grade for it. Be sure to when setting up ProWritingAid to select your style of writing. There are slight changes based on business versus creative writing. (And you want that good grade, don’t you?)
Summary checks Style, Grammar, Spelling, Terminology, Key Actions (super helpful), Doc Stats, Vocabulary, etc. Basically, it summarizes all the features in ProWritingAid and gives a hint on how to fix them, all on one screen. It’s lovely. It contains the entire section all at a glance, easy to read, and check for problem issues. It sets you up for which features you need to explore in-depth.
Features such as:
- Realtime—Similar to Word’s continual grammar, style, and spelling check. The program will work as you write, suggesting corrections in an organized list.
- Summary—As mentioned above, a grade of your work with a list of everything it checks.
- Grammar & Style—Checks Spelling, Readability, Passive Verbs, Style Improvement, Repeated Sentence Starts, and Passive Index.
- Thesaurus—Same as word, highlight your word first before hitting the button
- Overused—Initial -ing, sensory words such as felt, smell, saw, and more
- Combo—Checks multiple reports at once. Click on Settings to choose which reports to combine. (Keep it down to a few regularly used ones. Too many can be overwhelming.)
- All Repeats—Checks repeated phrases and words.
- Echoes—Repeats of single words close together (like on my reading blog when I use the word “book” 60x)
- Structure—Analyzes sentences to see how they start and categorizes them. Great to make sure you have variety.
- Sentence—Analyzes sentence length
- Transitions—More useful in nonfiction
- Readability—Tells how fast the passage can be read with a time, highlights slightly difficult, difficult, and very difficult passages
- Sticky Sentences—Sentences with too many unneeded words
- Clichés—Picks out both clichés and redundancies
- Diction—Vague or abstract words and diction (great for my should/would/could problem)
- Pronouns—pronoun percentages, initial start of sentences with pronouns, and percentage for doc
- Alliteration—discovers alliteration in doc
- Homonym—checks for all homonyms (And I mean all. Extremely tedious)
- Consistency—checks spelling (American and Brit), punctuation, hyphenation, capitalization, quotes, ellipses, hyphens, en and em dashes, serial commas.
- Acronym—Checks use of acronyms for consistency, definition, and overuse.
- Style—Looks for Passive verbs, Hidden Verbs, Style Improvement (synonyms, mostly), Long Subordinate Clauses, Adverb use, Repeated Sentence Starts, Possible Emotional Tells, and a percentage of passive voice in the passage.
- Dialogue—finds all tags, analyzes how much of doc is dialogue
- Pacing—checks for slow paragraphs
- House—Create your own House style (oxford comma, no “they”, etc.)
- Plagiarism—analyzes your work vs the world to see if the doc is plagiarized.
- Word Cloud—Creates an adorable graphic of all your words. The bigger the word, the more it’s used in your doc. Great for writers who need to see if they overused a word or two.
Changes in the new version:
The big new feature besides the colors is the Realtime editing. Some find that having a check as you write a better system. Me, I like to write it all out, then edit.
Many of the buttons are in new locations with some combined. All my useful tools used to be right on the left side and now are all over. Guess I will use the Combo button.
Also, the highlighting is different to go with the new color scheme of mint and orange. Highlighted words are in softer colors with lines under them. I discovered when I edited, the highlights don’t exactly move with the words. I had to rerun reports to keep the highlights on the correct words. The new highlighting system feels a bit overwhelming right now as I was used to the blocks of bold colors.
There is no longer a solo grammar check. To check grammar, you must use the Grammar & Style tool.
The new version can be removed, and if the user refuses to update the file, the old system will stand. I assume new users will only have the new version as an option.
The app can process a limited amount of text at once (like Grammarly). Keep checks under 10k or lower to ensure good editing. (I do about 50 pages at once.) The fewer words, the better the program works.
Phew, that’s a lot of stuff. I don’t use all the features. But some I use religiously. Every blog, every doc gets at least grammar & style, sticky, and echoes. On my books, I use even more. The Premium is a powerful tool and worth the cost if you can find the coupon for the lifetime license. But I must note, Grammarly finds things that ProWritingAid doesn’t (and vice versa).
Last, here’s some quick pricing info: Monthly $20 per, Yearly subscription $79 (nice discount), Lifetime $299 (includes all updates). There are also academic packages and bulk plans. Look for discount codes online.