While we have all used spellcheckers to make sure our sentences make sense, we also know too well the burdens of an overzealous autocorrect. Copyediting and proofreading software is far from perfect. Why then are many businesses, content writers, and editors relying on modern apps and browser extensions to determine what makes good content — good?
Programs like Grammarly, Hemingway App, and Copyspace can be useful in a variety of applications, but dependency upon them for identifying and editing clear, concise, and impactful copy is not the most effective way to generate stellar content. These programs limit creativity and turn interesting articles into bland blogs.
Let's look at how copyediting and proofreading software staunch success and how we can overcome the growing ubiquity of these online tools.
Spellcheckers have been around since the 1970s, but until recently they merely highlighted possible mistakes and made suggestions as to how those mistakes may be corrected. Now, advanced software is able to compute complex algorithms that can identify more than simple misspellings, such as possible syntax errors, punctuation problems, and plagiarism, and automatically edit those supposed mistakes on the fly.
The problem is, these copyediting programs aren't always right. A study conducted by J. M. Dembsey of the Howe Center for Writing Excellence shows that Grammarly has a 41% margin of error with the majority of mistakes stemming from Grammarly flagging errors that didn't actually exist.
The impact of reliance on these programs is two-fold.
First, writers and editors who become complacent learn to expect that the software will catch all of the errors, and thus may neglect their own responsibility to manually proofread the work. Going even further, such complacency can cause professionals to forgo deeper levels of content editing that contemporary software simply cannot catch.
Second, the inaccurate feedback provided by these copyediting programs can actually contribute to further errors. Dr. Young, an English professor with over 20 years of experience teaching linguistics and literature, warns about the inaccuracy of grammar checkers and argues that errors in writing often result from learning incorrect rules.
Clients seeking SEO-friendly copy for their company blog, product pages, and elsewhere are turning toward copyediting and proofreading software to save time and money. It makes sense, but a price is being paid for the convenience.
The overuse of these programs and strict adherence to their algorithms results in bland web copy. The purpose of the Hemingway App, for instance, may be to help make an article more concise and impactful, but, when every computed suggestion is taken as editorial law, all creativity becomes lost.
As Scott Esposito said on SFGATE, "If we all wrote like Hemingway App tells us to, we'd all sound awfully similar, and awfully dull."
In the complex and competitive online world that we live in, it's the personality and personal connections that make our content stand out. Readers aren't robots — not yet, anyway. They want to be inspired, intrigued, and invited to get to know your brand and products.
When proofreading software is used as a be-all-end-all solution, much of that personal connection is lost, and any digital marketing expert worth their salt knows that such connection is key to a business' success. Localization and lingo are concepts that a generalized algorithmic software cannot yet comprehend.
Likewise, even plagiarism checkers should be used with care. When a writer cannot offer up a powerful quote or paraphrase an insightful study to get their point across, your content could be lacking the punch it needs to convince a reader to buy-in. As with most things in life, moderation is key. These tools can be useful, but they're not an answer to all of your content conundrums.
It's as simple as that. When you hire quality talent with a track record full of positive testimonials, you can trust them to deliver content that has the panache to interest your readers and the SEO-friendly, keyword-laden, grammatically correct copy that'll boost your leads and sales.