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What Is a Writing Assistant?

Updated on July 10, 2020Product

It happens to everyone: You write an important email to your boss, and—just seconds after you hit Send—you notice your mistake. You missed the “t” in “the” and spellcheck didn’t catch it, or maybe you used “compliments” instead of “complements,” or you accidentally left in that rambling sentence about your dog.

Writing assistants like Grammarly are digital tools that are designed to catch these types of grammar and writing errors and to help direct you towards better writing in general. There are human writing assistants, but these people are mainly paid to help authors write manuscripts. For this post, let’s focus on digital writing assistants, which can help anyone who needs to write anything. Here are a few key traits you should expect.

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Super Corrector

How many times has autocorrect taken a word you wanted to use and changed it to something completely wrong? Some spelling and grammar tools just look at your words and judge them as-is, but in a world where we communicate constantly via written word, context matters! Built-in spelling and grammar tools like autocorrect appraise very little of the context in which a word was written—they make the same corrections, whether dealing with a text to your friend or a résumé you’re sending out to a potential employer. 

Writing assistants like Grammarly take into consideration the style, intent, and emotion of your words to make sure that you don’t lose the meaning of your message in this way. They might even let you add your preferences to something like a personal dictionary. As you let the AI know how you like to write, it’ll remember your preferences for next time.

A Writer’s Toolbox

Better writing is so much more than just perfect spelling and grammar. Writing assistants will help you dig into your toolbox with suggestions for more appropriate synonyms and better sentence variety. The right word choice or sentence structure can be the key to a better connection with your intended audience.

Writing assistants like Grammarly will also help you identify wordiness or vagueness. They can identify and pull together the meaning of your message and let you know what words you can leave out. If you have ever been on the receiving end of a long-winded email with important information buried somewhere in its contents, you understand the value of being direct and forthcoming with the meaning of your message. 

We have so many things to read nowadays—we can’t spend time dissecting one text, tweet, or email for its meaning. As people who need to write to communicate, we need the tools to be understood by our audience—whether our audience is Grandma or our 15,000 Instagram followers. 

There’s often little time between when you compose your work and when you hit send, so it’s also crucial that you have access to your writers’ toolbox as quickly and easily as possible. 

Instant Editor

Today, writing assistants are digital and available across different platforms—including browser extensions and apps. They can check your 10 p.m. tweet as easily as your 10 a.m. blog post. You’d be hard-pressed to find an editor willing to instantly check your work around the clock with the same amount of reliability as a digital writing assistant.

That being said, you should still seek out an editor for large writing projects, like manuscripts and theses. Just remember to use a writing assistant to review your work before sending it to an editor—you’ll end up saving the editor some time and yourself some money.

When it comes down to it, writing assistants are basically another set of eyes on all your writing—as small as a tweet or as large as a doctoral thesis—except this set of eyes has been developed using linguistic algorithms and artificial intelligence to catch common errors and to improve your writing on a personal level that you really can’t get from other writing tools or even from editorial feedback.

Grammarly offers all of these benefits and more—use it to fix errors, choose the best word for what you mean, and make your writing the best it can be. 

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