Tools like Grammarly are popular for a reason.
They’re a quick, easy way to catch grammar and spelling errors and make your writing look polished. And if you’re using the free version, it doesn’t cost a cent.
In fact, Grammarly is so popular that some people think it can completely replace an editor. After all, why would you spend the time and money hiring a human when software can do the same job?
Although choosing software may be tempting, don’t make the mistake of thinking Grammarly is an alternative to a living, breathing copy editor.
Yes, the human version may be more expensive, but in the end, you’ll get a much better return on your investment with a copy editor—and a better chance at success.
Copy editors bring experience and expertise that generate more engaging and compelling copy that will deliver better business outcomes. Grammar-checking software simply can’t compete with that.
If you’re writing on a professional level, such as for marketing, technical documents, or legal documents, it’s essential to venture beyond software and use a real person. Keep reading to learn why copy editors—time and again—trump Grammarly.
For starters, grammar-checking tools like Grammarly generally do only one thing—they check grammar and spelling. If you’re lucky, you may find a tool that offers other advice, such as how to avoid plagiarism and improve word choice.
Grammarly’s full version currently offers help with:
- Grammar and spelling
Sounds like all the things a normal copy editor can do, right?
Well, not exactly. Although Grammarly says it can check all these things, the tool typically doesn’t execute a review with the ideal level of accuracy and nuance you would get from a human copy editor.
Here are three specific limitations of Grammarly:
1. It Can’t Understand Context
Because Grammarly is an automated program, it can’t grasp the full context of your document.
Although you can add specialized or colloquial terms to a custom style guide with a Grammarly Business plan, this is a tedious process, and the software won’t know whether the text matches the tone of other documents in the same project.
Beyond a simplistic “tone detector” feature, Grammarly also has no way of ensuring the copy aligns with your brand voice.
2. It May Not Catch All Errors (And It Can Even Introduce New Ones)
Although editing software can catch spelling and grammatical errors, many may slip through the cracks. This is especially true when errors are context-dependent or rely on specialized terms.
What’s worse, grammar-checking tools can even introduce new mistakes. This is most likely to happen with tone or sensitivity edits from Grammarly Premium, but it can also occur with the more basic spelling and grammar edits.
Check out this article to see some examples of Grammarly’s mistakes in action.
3. It Can’t Offer Personalized Feedback
Catching objective errors is one thing, but making subjective, big-picture edits when it comes to the tone, flow, purpose, and voice of a piece is another.
It’s nearly impossible for Grammarly to make detailed suggestions for how to rearrange paragraphs, reorganize sections, or ask questions about whether there’s a better way to communicate a certain concept.
Hiring a copy editor is a good idea, as is hiring an actual programmer, copywriter, project manager, or salesperson, rather than relying on software or artificial intelligence.
The simple reason is that technology like Grammarly is not at a point where it can replace human sensitivity and expertise—at least not yet.
A human copy editor brings more accuracy, knowledge, expertise, and, most important, critical judgment to the table compared with Grammarly and other automated grammar tools.
Below are three ways copy editors deliver higher-quality work in comparison with Grammarly.
1. Copy Editors Have a More Nuanced Understanding of Grammar and Language
Although Grammarly might have a great database of all the technical rules and guidelines for language, it’s still software that’s operating without the capacity for common sense.
Tools like Grammarly often blast through a document, making changes that are technically correct but don’t really make sense in the context of the piece.
Copy editors, on the other hand, can more easily understand nuances, double-check obscure rules like hyphenation and citing procedures to be sure they’re accurately applied, and use their judgment to determine when certain grammar or punctuation should be overruled in favor of clarity or brand voice.
This is especially important for marketing copy, where strict guidelines may not apply and may actually make copy worse when applied. Think about how many times an “&” or “+” needs to be used for the sake of conciseness, even though these symbols technically breach the rules of many popular style guidelines.
2. Copy Editors Can Apply Customized Style Guidelines
Copy editors also have a much better understanding of customized style guidelines that inform not only grammar, punctuation, and capitalization but also the purpose, tone, and voice of your piece.
Copy editors can easily understand, internalize, and apply your company’s style guidelines—no matter how customized or unique they may be.
Grammarly, on the other hand, has limited ability to go beyond the style guidelines already programmed into it.
3. Copy Editors Can See From a Bigger-Picture Level
It’s rare for a piece of copy to exist in a vacuum. Typically, the copy is part of a larger objective or sales funnel process, and only a human copy editor has the capacity to understand this.
A copy editor can look beyond a single document and make edits based on how the document fits into a larger project and the overall objective—whether those edits have to do with style and tone or grammar and spelling.
Copy editors go beyond sentence-level review and provide feedback about big-picture elements in a piece, such as structure, flow, and whether you’re successfully communicating your ideas.
Use Super Copy Editors as Your Grammarly Alternative
While Grammarly can be a valuable tool for basic edits, it’s no replacement for the eyes of an experienced copy editor.
To supercharge your copy and see a return on investment of time, effort, and resources, you need to work with a skilled copy editor.
Fortunately, you don’t need to hire your own in-house editor. Super Copy Editors is a team of skilled editors who can help you with both small and large edits in marketing writing, advertising copy, business documents, and more. Get in touch with us for your free, personalized quote.