Writing gets better with guidance and practice; with blogging, we get plenty of practice, but sometimes it’s hard to find authoritative guidance. Some writers enroll in classes to improve writing, but we don’t all have that luxury. Fortunately, there are plenty of techniques and online tools that can help us to identify grammar problems and even tutor us in clearer, more direct writing.

If you are like me, I have difficulty proofreading online. I generally compose in MS Word, which has built-in spelling and grammar-checking options. Then I print out my blog and read it aloud (when I’m all alone!), so I can hear any rough patches.

Lately, I have been using Grammarly as I compose. Now, I am a writing teacher, and Grammarly catches mistakes even I make. If you want to avoid the embarrassment of typos, grammar, and spelling errors, the free version of Grammarly is your friend, and the paid, premium version is even better. The free version will check for over 150 typical grammar and spelling errors, while the premium version will check for 250+ advanced errors, suggest vocabulary enhancements—great when you use the same word over and over, and indicate plagiarism. The premium version will even check for level of formality, distinguishing between academic, business, or creative writing.

If you are concerned about style, the Hemingway app’s free online version will check your prose for sentence readability, unnecessary adverbs, uses of passive voice, and phrases that have simpler alternatives. The desktop app paid version is relatively inexpensive: a one-time fee of $19.99. You can publish from the app directly to WordPress or Medium, and you can directly import text from MS Word or other word processing software, eliminating the need to cut and paste.

Good grammar and clear sentences reach more readers and save you embarrassment. Use the tools at your disposal to write correctly and to improve with practice.

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