I don't know about you, but for me, catching stray typos isn't easy.
Sometimes I look back through private messages and just cringe.
I can't help with spell check for private messages, but over the last couple of years, I've found a couple of great tools for grammar checking that can at least take out some of the guesswork. If you write stories, emails or even Facebook posts and tweets, one if not both of these resources can make a huge difference in providing a second eye for your work!
(Note: This post doesn't have affiliate links. I just love the products!)
I stumbled on Grammarly when I started teaching writing lessons, I think. Sometimes I was stumped by a piece of homework and wanted a second opinion. Grammarly.com lets you upload documents (lengthy ones, but the free version limits the length) and it will give you a basic grammar check. If you buy Grammarly Premium, they'll check even more details for you, but, while I'd like the premium someday, I found that the free version does a very, very good job. Grammarly will suggest a fix, you can click on the fix they suggest, and it will automatically insert the correct spelling/punctuation for that particular word. Some of its fixes aren't always correct, so you don't have to apply all their suggestions, but they do a great job in general.
Grammarly can also be installed as a plug-in on your internet browser. What does that mean? Every time you type something, whether it's an email, or a Facebook post, or a Facebook comment, or a tweet, you'll see a little circle at the bottom of your post/email with the number of fixes Grammarly has suggested. The incorrect words in your posts and emails will be underlined in red, and you can hover your mouse over the word to see the suggested fix. Grammarly is even checking this blog post as I type!
Not only does Grammarly have a website and an internet plug-in, but it can also be installed into your Microsoft Word program (I've never used a Mac, so I don't know about Mac users--sorry!) Once installed, you can type up your document, click the Grammarly tab at the top left of your screen, and it will show the fixes for you. In Word, Grammarly doesn't show up the mistakes in your document as you go along. You actually have to click on the Grammarly button for them to reveal the suggested changes. My computer is in good health, so this option works well for me. As it slows down with age, the Grammarly plug-in will definitely slow down opening up Word (it opens a little slower with the added plug-in) so I may have to remove it temporarily as my computer ages.
I've used Grammarly all three ways and definitely recommend it. You can find the official website by clicking here. Also, Grammarly sends you weekly emails with a fun summary of statistics about your writing, which I always enjoy seeing in my inbox.
I first heard of Pro Writing Aid through Steve Mathisen, a great editor who you can find by clicking here. Once I looked it up, I really liked what I saw, so much so that I bought a $40 year's subscription, and will probably buy the lifetime $140 option when this year is up. Pro Writing Aid gives you a much more robust check than Grammarly, though they both have good uses. Pro Writing Aid could very quickly look overwhelming, so Grammarly is a good choice to ease into things.
Pro Writing Aid offers a multitude of different options that help you improve the style of your work as well as the grammar. It will show you if all your sentence lengths are the same, or if you have good variety. It will show you if your quotation marks are straight or curly (There are two kinds. I had no idea.) It will show you how many repeats you have of certain words. It goes over grammar, style, cliche phrases, and so much more. Pro Writing Aid also gives you a nifty summary with fun info like how many paragraphs and sentences you have, your most unusual words, and your most repeated words.
Pro Writing Aid allows you to copy and paste your Word document into their website and check it there. But the word count they allowed you to check for free was limited, and I preferred paying the $40 to be able to check larger portions of my work. Pro Writing Aid also allows you to install their program into Microsoft Word, so you can keep Grammarly, Pro Writing Aid, and your story all in one spot.
While I haven't used Pro Writing Aid for very long yet, it seems like a valuable tool, and I'm looking forward to using it a lot more in days to come. I highly recommend trying it out by clicking here.
Grammar is important, but it's hard, too. I'm so grateful for tools like Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid which help make it easier. They give stories that extra polish to take it to the next level.