Proofreading Services: How do the best online tools compare to professional proofreaders?

Published on January 7th, 2019

Technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence are producing a new breed of smart software that is capable of making decisions without human input. This includes tools like the most sophisticated AI translation tech, marketing automation software and proofreading tools.

As things stand, AI is not yet close to matching human translators but what about a somewhat simpler task such as proofreading – how do the latest proofreading tools compare to professional services?

How good are the latest proofreading tools?

If your last memory of proofreading tools is something like the default spellchecker in Microsoft Word, you will be glad to know technology has come a long way over the past half a decade. Here is what you can expect from the latest proofreading tools.


Grammarly is an impressive and free online tool that you can use catch those niggling typos and basic grammar mistakes. It is certainly not perfect but it is a great safety net.

The app is surprisingly effective at detecting spelling mistakes and common word misuse – e.g. “there” vs “their” and “effect” vs “affect”. However, it can still get confused about plurals and singulars in complex sentences and other times it will simply get things wrong. All that said, it is a genuinely impressive tool that will catch a lot of the most common typos and grammar mistakes.

Best of all, the Grammarly plugin works in the browser while you write emails and social posts, while the paid for version even works with Microsoft Word and Google Docs.


Hemingway is a different kind of proofreading tool in the sense it does not spot spelling and basic grammar mistakes. Instead, it focuses on improving the quality of your overall writing, by making it more impactful and easier to read. It will flag up adverbs, the use of passive voice and other grammatical features that make your writing less effective. As a proofreading tool, it is equally as impressive as Grammarly, but it highlights an entirely different range of issues.

How do the tools compare to professional proofreading services?

Aside from Grammarly and Hemingway being two of the best proofreading tools on the market, there is another reason we chose to look at these specifically. First of all, we can say both apps are genuinely useful tools that make proofreading faster and easier, but neither is going to replace professional proofreading services.

The reason these apps highlight potential errors rather than automatically correcting your writing is because they get things wrong. Sometimes, they get most things right; other times they do not – expecting any more than this will lead to problems.

Secondly, you can see these tools play two very different proofreading roles and this is an important distinction. Proofreading goes way beyond typos and grammar mistakes and, even if these tools worked perfectly, they could not replace a professional proofreader.

That said, tools like these can make the job of proofreaders easier by flagging up potential errors and acting as a kind of first round of proofing. Of course, your editor is still going to need enough grammar and spelling smarts to know when the software is right and wrong, and they will also need to be able to make editorial decisions, such as when you are intentionally breaking rules or working to a style guide.

To sum up, the tools are getting better, but they still need the right pair of hands to get the job done.

Proofreading tools are only now really becoming genuinely useful for the first time, thanks to advances in AI and machine learning. Apps like Grammarly are not going to take work away from professional proofreaders, but they are already making the editing process faster and providing a safety net for us humans. This makes proofreading more time and cost effective for everyone – pros and clients alike – and this can only be considered as good news.

Our team of dedicated professionals can advise you on the best practices in proofreading. Get in touch with them today.

Posted on: January 7th, 2019