ProWritingAid Review (2020): Is it Better Than Grammarly?

Posted 03 Mar 2020, by

Brendan Brown

ProWritingAid in a Nutshell

VERY GOOD (4.5/5)
5/5

Pros

  • Accurate and powerful
  • Easy to use
  • In-depth feedback on your writing
  • Surprisingly affordable

Cons

  • Free version has a 500 word limit
  • Not quite as sleek as Grammarly

Bottom Line

As a professional editor, I’ve been using ProWritingAid for 6 months. I’ve found it to be a worthy competitor to Grammarly—it’s accurate, easy to use and genuinely affordable. In my ProWritingAid review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this increasingly popular online grammar checker.

Being a professional editor means that my margin for making mistakes in my own writing is close to zero.

To help bring grammar and style issues to my attention, I run my own pieces of writing through online grammar tools. I need my writing to be truly fit for public consumption.

I’ve discussed the grandmaster of these tools, Grammarly, at length here. This time I decided to try a different tool to see how it stacked up: ProWritingAid.

In my epic ProWritingAid review, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about this tool. I’ll provide a nuts and bolts overview of ProWritingAid, explain how to best use it, and reveal whether I think it’s better than Grammarly.

Whatever type of writer you are, by the end of this review you’ll know whether ProWritingAid is the right grammar tool for you.

Let’s get started.

Note: This review contains affiliate links which means we make a small commission if you end up signing up to ProWritingAidat no extra cost to you. You can also claim an exclusive 20% discount within this article.

What is ProWritingAid

Prowritingaid review website

You may be familiar with Grammarly, but know less about ProWritingAid.

Essentially ProWritingAid is a competitor to Grammarlyand a worthy one at that. They do much the same thing; but they do have a few important differences that I’ll outline below.

In my experience using ProWritingAid, I’ve found it to be a powerful editing program that offers a variety of real-time editing solutions to improve both grammar and writing style.

You can use ProWritingAid will help you with:

  • Spelling and grammar errors
  • Poor word choice
  • Sticky sentences that slow your reader down
  • Vague and abstract words
  • Duplicated words and phrases
  • Past and present tense consistency
  • Overall readability of your content.

You can also use ProWritingAid in a varety of ways.

ProWritingAid integrates with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, and most web browsers, and you can download their Desktop App for Windows (but not Mac). Or you can upload your documents to its web-based editor.

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Who is ProWritingAid for?

An online grammar checker like ProWritingAid is perfect for anyone who wants spelling and grammar mistakes to be eliminated from their writing.

Whether you’re a professional writer, a hobby writer or a student, these mistakes are easily avoided with the help of ProWritingAid.

Although any writer can benefit from a grammar checker running in the background, in my experience, the following types of writers can particularly benefit :

  • Authors
  • Copywriters, content writers, or bloggers
  • Students or academics.

I also think that ProWritingAid fits at home in a corporate setting. When drafting reports, important emails, and presentations, it’s important to present the information clearly and accurately.

ProWritingAid’s offers solid support to business writers who need to ensure their public-facing text is easily understood.

ProWritingAid: Free vs Premium

ProWritingAid comes in two packages: free and premium.

I like to think of the free version as a demo: you get access to a web-based checker that caps out at 500 words, and you get a basic browser extension that checks your spelling and grammar online.

Not bad.

However, the premium version gives you:

  • A Desktop App
  • Stronger browser extensions
  • Full web-based app
  • Microsoft Word, Google Doc and Scrivener integration.
  • A bunch of reports into your writing style.

Basically, if you want to check anything over 500 words and make full use of what ProWritingAid has to offer, you have to pay for the premium version.

To write my ProWritingAid review, I purchased the premium version and used it extensively for one month. The rest of this review reflects my experience with it.

How to use ProWritingAid

How to use prowritingaid

ProWritingAid (in its premium version) can be accessed in a variety of ways. I’ll tackle how each version works below, but I’ll give a rundown on the general product first.

As you type, ProWritingAid underlines spelling errors in red, grammar errors in blue, and style issues in yellow. You are free to click on the specific errors to see ProWritingAid’s suggestions. After clicking, you can choose to implement, ignore, or in spelling cases, “add to dictionary.”

So far, so goodand pretty standard when it comes to online grammar checkers.

However, that’s just the realtime tracker. ProWritingAid also offers a suite of different reports and specific document checkers which you can check out.

I’ll parse these out further down in the review, but the main reports are:

  • A summary report which takes a holistic view of your document
  • A style check which goes over the overall style of your document
  • A grammar check
  • A thesaurus engine which offers synonyms throughout your document
  • Overused word checker
  • Sentence structure, readability, pacing
  • Plagiarism checker.

Through each of these tabs, a report off to the side of the document will generate, showing you specific areas to examine. You can click through ProWritingAid’s suggestions to either accept or reject their changes to your document.

Check out all the ProWritingAid reports here.

Online Editor

ProWritingAid offers an online, web-based editor. You log on to the ProWritingAid site, navigate to “start web editor,” and can then draft, edit, and save documents to your ProWritingAid account.

If you’re a free user, this is one of the only ProWritingAid features you can use.

You still have access to all the reports and checkers of ProWritingAidonly just online and only for 500 word documents. Anything larger requires a premium account.

Still, it’s great that this option exists for the curious user who’d like to try before buying.

Microsoft Word

If you’re a Windows user, you can download the Microsoft Word plugin.

This plugin seamlessly integrates ProWritingAid with your Microsoft Word application by displaying itself as a tab that nestles right past “help” on the Microsoft Word top bar.

When you click on the tab, you are immediately given access to ProWritingAid’s suite of reports and checkers, allowing you to bring ProWritingAid’s editing power right into your word processor.

To me, having this program available directly in Microsoft Word is a huge boon. So much of my work is done on Word (though Google Docs is giving it a run for its money lately), and having this seamless integration is great for my own day-to-day work.

I wrote this ProWritingAid review largely based on my experience using it on Microsoft Word.

Caveat: this only works for Windows users. If you’re a Mac user, you’re out of Schlitz. For Mac users, ProWritingAid suggests using their desktop app.

Check out the Microsoft Word plugin here.

ProWritingAid Desktop App

prowritingaid review desktop app

The ProWritingAid Desktop App functions similarly to the browser, except it runs directly on your computer. It is able to open .doc and other open office Word Processing files, so you can take that Microsoft Word file and edit it directly in the ProWritingAid Desktop Appperfect for the Mac user.

The nice thing about the desktop app is you don’t have to start with a .doc; you can work on RTFs, open office files, or Scrivener files. It’s a lot more flexible, which is great.

Unfortunately, it still needs an internet connection. This means that you can’t use the ProWritingAid desktop app offline.

ProWritingAid Google Docs

Like Microsoft Word, you can integrate ProWritingAid directly into Google Docs, which brings you edits and suggestions in real time.

It doesn’t deviate terribly much from the other variations of ProWritingAid (you have access to Realtime editing, summary reports, and all of the other ProWritingAid goodies), while being comfortably nestled in Google Docs.

If you’re an editor or writer who likes the collaborative nature and easy accessibility of Google Docs, ProWritingAid’s Google Doc integration is definitely a wonderful option.

Browser Extensions

This one is slightly different: ProWritingAid offers a suite of browser extensions for Safari, Chrome, and Firefox.

This is different than their web-based editor; it is integrated directly into the browser itself. Therefore, it works any time that you are writing onlinebe it Facebook, Gmail, or WordPress.

For non-premium users, the plugin simply provides a check for grammar and spelling issueswhich is certainly a nice feature. You don’t want to be caught in a Facebook or Reddit argument with a spelling error!

If you pay for premium, you are able to access the full editing features that ProWritingAid provides.

You get what you pay for with the premium version.

How much does ProWritingAid cost?

ProWritingAid costs less than you may think it would.

ProWritingAid Premium is $70 for a year, $100 for two years, $140 for three years, or $240 for a lifetime. For one year, this is half the price of a premium Grammarly account. Plus, you have the option to buy a lifetime account!

Affordability is a major coup for ProWritingAid that competitors such as Grammarly simply don’t have.

prowritingaid review prices

If you want to include the plagiarism checker, the price goes up slightly. They call this Premium Plus.

You can access an exclusive 20% discount from the above prices simply by clicking on this link.

The reports: Is there value in them?

The most lauded feature of ProWritingAid is its reporting function. ProWritingAid doesn’t stop at a simple green line under your sentence, reading “fragment, consider revising.”

Instead, ProWritingAid deploys an array of reports that tackle specific issues.

The first one is the Summary Report. When you click Summary Report, a large page comes up over your document (meaning you can’t edit while reading the summary), which breaks down all of the aspects of your document.

Right off the bat, it gives you an overall score out of 100, which is a composite of four separate scores focused on spelling, grammar, style, and terminology.

Immediately underneath this score, it gives you key actions (suggestions) you can take to improve your overall “score.”

Scrolling through the report, it shows you your word count, readability, overused words, sentence variance, spelling issues, etc.

It’s a pretty robust reporting tool that gives you a nice, overall view of how your document looks. From there, you can swap over to the other reporting functions to examine them one at a time.

One of the neater reports is “style,” which checks your writing for passive voice, adverb usage, and readability issues. The report is generated off to the side of the document, while also underlining the problem phrases on the document itself. This way, you can either click in on the report (which groups and explains the issues) or the document (where you see the issue in context) to decide how to go forward.

Two unusual reports that I’d like to draw attention to are the “sticky sentences” and the “pacing” reports.

The sticky sentences report identifies the heavy use of “glue words” within sentenceswords that do not carry the meaning of the sentence. When too many glue words bunch together in a sentence, it slows the reader down.

The sticky sentence report does not offer corrections. It does, however, identify the glue words in each sentence for you in order to help you make your own editing decisions.

The pacing report is similar; it highlights passages that have slow pacing (meaning not a lot of action) in your text. It’s less about “sticky words” and more about areas of introspection or inaction. Again, it doesn’t offer solutions; it only shows you where the slow sections are, so that you may make an informed decision.

There are additional reports, like “readability,” which tells you how easily and quickly an average reader can parse your text.

Additionally, all of their reports come with a link to a webpage that explains the grammatical thinking behind the report. That way, you can understand why the dialogue tag report is flagging “Jared adamantly exclaimed, ‘I have to go to the bathroom!’”

Ah. Poetry!

Did the reports improve my writing?

I’ll be honest, my first thought when I saw ProWritingAid’s report was “MY WRITING IS FINE, OK!”

Yeah, it underlined a lot of stuff.

Certainly, it caught all typos and mechanical issues. Tick.

And it definitely had an opinion about my style.

A lot of ProWritingAid’s style suggestions are pretty wise and commonplace:

  • Change passive voice to active voice
  • Remove adverbs
  • Clarify hidden verbs
  • Repeated sentence structure

The deeper suggestions (glue words, readability, pacing, dialogue tags) were … divisive (to me).

On the one hand, they’re great. I, and everyone else, should be cognizant of overusing non-essential words. Removing them makes the writing much clearer.

On the other hand, removing them takes a lot of the nuance and beauty out of a text.

As a test, I ran a page of my novella  through ProWritingAid to see what it would flag. The paragraphs flagged as “most sticky” were paragraphs that I was particularly fond of. These were paragraphs I had spent a great deal of time crafting to create a very specific mood and feel.

And ProWritingAid flagged them as “sticky.”

Now, ProWritingAid will be the first to admit that “sticky is not always bad,” but it became clearer through reading their additional reports that accepting a majority of its suggestions would leave my piece feeling clinical and cookie-cutter.

Their readability suggests that texts should be understandable at a 5th-grade reading level. While, sure, this is true for maximum comprehension, it’s a bummer to see your work flagged as being too complicated for reading at a 10th-grade level.

If you’re looking to make your document sound clean, unobtrusive, and simple; the ProWritingAid reports will be a great help. If you’re purposefully producing purple prose, ProWritingAid might leave you with a sour taste.

It’s a tough balance to strike, and ProWritingAid puts the onus on the writer to choose what to accept and what to ignore (as it should be).

But I couldn’t shake this feeling that ProWritingAid was overzealous in its application of style guide suggestions. In the hands of an experienced editor, this is no big deal. In the hands of a less self-confident writer, this could easily lead to a loss of originality and style.

Writer beware.

The pros of ProWritingAid

  • Many impressive reports
  • Lots of different platforms for access
  • Good explanations for grammar and style corrections
  • Lifetime access for $240 is very tempting
  • Plagiarism checker (so I don’t accidentally write Moby-Dick).

I was really impressed by ProWritingAid’s robust reporting features, along with its variety of platforms for access. I particularly enjoyed clicking through the explanation pages on each report to learn why certain things were highlighted. This way, I could make informed decisions when accepting or rejecting their suggestions.

The multiple platform element is worth mentioning again. I like that there are three separate browser extensions, along with a Word integration (for Windows), a Desktop App, and a web-based app.

This variety is great value.

The lifetime access for $240 is also a great perk I want to stress again. In a time where every software wants to convert you to subscription plans, it’s nice to see a simple “buy-it-you-own-it-forever” option, displayed alongside the subscription rates.

It offers the user the freedom to choose their level of commitment, which is always appreciated.

Lastly, it’s great to have a built-in plagiarism checker! Even if it’s an accident, you never want to publish work that isn’t your own. For ease of mind, a plagiarism checker is a real Godsend.

The cons of ProWritingAid

While I think it can be a great tool for most writers, my ProWritingAid review wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t reiterate its cons.

  • No Mac integration for Microsoft Word (this is a major bummer).
  • Desktop version can’t be used offline.
  • Style suggestions felt prescriptive and punitive.
  • The free version has a 500 word limit.
  • Readability score depresses me.

The lack of Mac integration is a major sore spot. Many creatives do their work on Mac devices; and it’s unfortunate ProWritingAid couldn’t make that work.

The inability of the desktop app to function offline isn’t so surprising – Grammarly has the exact same limitation.

Point being: to use ProWritingAid, you have to be connected to the internet. This means no subway editing, no flight editing (without in-flight wifi), no Hurricane Felice hit my house and the power is out editing.

Just online editing.

Lastly, the free version of this app isn’t super great for most writers. Unless you’re routinely cranking out only 200 word texts, you’re going to want to go premium.

If you’re not interested in spending $70, ProWritingAid probably isn’t the right tool for you.

How ProWritingAid stacks up against the competition

ProWritingAid is a powerful editing program, but the competition is quite stiff.

With Grammarly, Ginger Software, and WhiteSmoke also serving as powerful options for grammar checkers, can ProWritingAid stand out from the pack?

Grammarly

Pros

  • Grammarly is the best-known grammar checker in the business.
  • It’s a simple + elegant solution that seamlessly integrates with your browser.
  • Alternatively, you can download the desktop app, Word integration, or use the web-based checker.
  • There is mobile integration.
  • Grammarly’s free version is more comprehensive than ProWritingAid
  • Fast, sleek, and easy to use.

Cons

  • Grammarly offers fewer style suggestions
  • The premium version is more expensive
  • You do not have the option to buy a lifetime membership.

Ginger Software

Ginger Software has some unique features that none of the other grammar checkers have:

Pros

  • Translator for 40 different languages (that’s in the free version!)
  • Text reader, so you can hear your written words out loud
  • Has a sentence rephraser that suggests new ways to write tricky passages
  • Can be accessed via desktop app, browser extension (Chrome and Safari), iOS, and through an Android keyboard integration
  • You can easily build a personal dictionary so Ginger will stop flagging invented words as mistakes

Cons

  • Ginger costs $89.88 per year, compared to ProWritingAid’s $70
  • No Firefox compatibility! As Firefox is one of the top three browsers, this feels like a major oversight
  • The interface is significantly less elegant than ProWritingAid
  • Does not offer style suggestions to the level that ProWritingAid does

WhiteSmoke

Pros

  • Whitesmoke integrates with more browsers than the competition (it even integrates with Opera!). If you prefer to use a non-Safari, non-Chrome browser, this could be an attractive option.
  • It provides clean, professional templates to help you compose documents for specific occasions, such as thank you letters.
  • Has translation capabilities.

Cons

  • There is no free version. The lowest-priced tier, which just includes web integrations, is $60 a year.
  • Premium runs at $79.95, which is around $10 more than ProWritingAid for a less robust product.
  • The user interface is clunky and speed remains an issue. This product doesn’t feel like a natural component of the internet age.

ProWritingAid review: Grammarly vs ProWritingAid

prowritingaid vs grammarly

When it comes to purchasing an editing tool, the real choice boils down to ProWritingAid and Grammarly.

If you’re looking for a free versionGrammarly packs a bigger punch. But, if you’re looking to spend on a premium product, ProWritingAid is a formidable contender for best grammar checker.

To me, its main selling point is its great price ($70 for a year or $240 for life), which is half of what you’d pay for Grammarly.

If you’re really interested in the nuts and bolts of writing, and want to learn where your writing can be specifically improved through style changes, ProWritingAid is also your best bet. It’s a great tool for the curious writer, who isn’t afraid to dig deep into the mountains of reporting and data that ProWritingAid provides.

However, I’ve already mentioned in my other review that I consider Grammarly to be the best outright Grammar checker in the business.

I still do.

Grammarly is the simplest, sleekest, fastest checker you can have. It provides the least intrusive amount of reporting, along with all the data I need to see to review a piece of writing efficiently.

Although both Grammarly and ProWritingAid are easy to use, Grammarly is also a little more user-friendly. In what way? Because of its elegant interface and highly functional layout. It’s like the Apple of online grammar checking; things just work and it’s a tad ‘sexy’ to boot.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t like ProWritingAid. In fact, I think ProWritingAid is great. Not only is it exceptional value, it’s also a powerful editing software in its own right.

Grammarly is more expensive. If you’re not willing to shell out $140 a year, then Grammarly is not the right option for you.

For the cost-conscious writer, ProWritingAid delivers the most bang for your buck.

How Does ProWritingAid compare to a human editor?

ProWritingAid is impressive, but can it replace me (a human editor)?

Luckily for my career prospects, a human editor is still superior to any online grammar checker.

Yes, ProWritingAid is great at spotting typos, suggesting style fixes, and giving you a summary of the overall flow of your text, but these additional components won’t replace an editor.

For a writer, it’s useful to see where you’re using passive voice, where your dialogue tags need deleting, and where your pacing has ground to a halt. For the writer looking for clarity, cleanliness, and accuracy, ProWritingAid is excellent.

An editor can do that and much more too.

ProWritingAid, like other grammar checkers, rigidly applies the grammar rules that are programmed into it. What’s the problem with that? In the English language, some rules are made to be broken.

The elements of good writing and storytelling in English can be highly contextual. Some of the best writers break rules on purpose to improve the readability and flow of their writing. When this happens, human eyes will always be superior to the rigidity of automatic tools.

Some mistakes are also impossible for a machine to spot, even quite basic ones.

For instance, you may spell a word that is only spelt wrongly in the context of the paragraph (such as bear vs bare) or you may mention that someone is wearing a red cap in one paragraph and a blue cap in the next. An editor will pick up on these.

Finally, a critical aspect of being an editor is respecting the author’s voice. Whenever I edit someone else’s work, I still strive to maintain their original meaning, intonation, and quirks that make their writing unique.

Given the rigidity of a machine, ProWritingAid has no such code of honor.

ProWritingAid can’t replace a human editor. But why not use both? Use a grammar checker at first instance to eliminate basic errors in your writing, and then an editor to elevate your language, improve your expression, and iron out issues an online tool is incapable of doing.

Keep this in mind

Like any grammar checker, you have to review ProWritingAid’s recommendations; they will not auto-change.

This is a good thing! You don’t want your text magically changing as you type it (or maybe you do. In that case, build that program and I’ll review it!). You want to be able to go over each of the suggestions to decide whether or not you’ll implement the changes.

While ProWritingAid will seamlessly pick up your basic grammar and spelling issues, it will also flag nearly every instance of passive voice, adverb use, and dialogue tags.

The problem with this is that English is a nuanced language and ProWritingAid takes a mow-em-all-down approach to finding errors and inconsistencies. If you use ProWritingAid, you’ll probably spend more time than you’ll like clicking “ignore” on some of their more fussy suggestions.

On the flip-side, you may be pleasantly surprised by their “sticky sentence” report, and find that it helps you write more efficiently.

In other words, stick to your own judgement.

ProWritingAid is just that: an aid. It cannot replace your own judgment.

ProWritingAid FAQs

What is ProWritingAid?

ProWritingAid is an AI-powered grammar and style checker. It is a powerful editing program that offers a variety of real-time editing solutions to improve both your grammar and writing style. You can use ProWritingAid as a desktop app or integrate it with Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Scrivener, and most web browsers.

Is ProWritingAid better than Grammarly?

ProWritingAid is a worthy competitor to Grammarly. Although Grammarly is more seamless to use, ProWritingAid is cheaper and its writing style reports are more comprehensive. Therefore, I think ProWritingAid is better than Grammarly for some writers.

Is ProWritingAid free?

Yes, there is a free version of ProWritingAid. However, it is less powerful than the premium version and has a 500 word review limit.

How much is ProWritingAid?

The premium version of ProWritingAid costs $70 for one year, $100 for two years, $140 for three years, or $240 for lifetime access. You can claim an exclusive 20% discount from these prices by clicking on one of the links in this review.

How do I get the ProWritingAid discount?

I have negotiated an exclusive 20% discount to ProWritingAid for my readers. Simply click on the link in the box below to access this discount.

What are the main features of ProWritingAid?

The main features of ProWritingAid are: it’s a robust spelling and grammar checker, its suggestions will help improve the quality of your writing, its reports dig deep into your writing style, and it’s probably the best value grammar software available right now.

Is ProWritingAid safe?

ProWritingAid is absolutely safe. It does not store or save any of your text within its system. Therefore, your work cannot be stolen or plagiarized in any way.

Can ProWritingAid replace a human editor?

No. A human error will always be superior to an online grammar checker. Given the complexity of and contradictions within the English language, a machine is too rigid to understand the true meaning of your writing.

Can I use ProWritingAid offline?

Unfortunately, you have to be connected to the internet at all times to use ProWritingAid. However, you can download their reports for offline reading.

What is the best grammar software?

ProWritingAid and Grammarly are clearly the two best grammar checkers for writers. I recommend them both.

My ProWritingAid review verdict: is it worth it?

The free version of ProWritingAid is quite limited.

Therefore, the better question being: is ProWritingAid premium worth it?

Yes, definitely. ProWritingAid is more than worth the $70 a year you’d spend on it. It’s a great, intuitive tool that offers a tremendous amount of reporting that no other checker can offer.

It won’t replace a human editorno tool can.

However, as previously mentioned, I think that ProWritingAid is best suited for writers who want to get their text in professional shape. Its style suggestions make you think critically at your own work. Even if you don’t accept its suggestions, it will inform how you tackle tricky textual elements going forward.

More knowledge is never a bad thing!

I really want to stress that the premium version is by far the more attractive offering that ProWritingAid offers. Its free version is limited, and held back by a 500 word limit. It’s only when you pay for premium that you’re able to see how diverse and impressive this grammar checker truly is.

If you’re a writer looking to dig into the nitty-gritty of the style and mechanics of your text, this is the adventurous program for you.

ProWritingAid shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for an editor though. Instead, it functions best as a preliminary self-edit that gives the text an early level of polish.

From there, a human editor can go through and focus on the more nuanced aspects of the text.

Verdict: If you’re looking for the best bang-for-your-buck premium grammar checker, or you want to dig into the style and mechanics of your writing, ProWritingAid is the right choice for you.

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