Executive Summary: WordRake is an impressive automated proofreader for lawyers.
Many of us are guilty of the same offense – we write like lawyers. To be precise, we often make word choices that hinder our ability to convey the point at hand in a concise and intelligible fashion. My prose is often wordy, and when I’m under the gun, it is not unusual for more than a few typos to find their way into my final draft. If time permits, I will often have a colleague proofread my work. However, this is not always possible if there is a time crunch or if I am working late at night on a blog post that must go out quickly to be timely.
Since I profess to be the hytech lawyer, it is only natural I would seek a technology solution to my proofreading need. First, I tried the grammar features of Microsoft Word and Apple’s Pages. While these programs catch basic spelling, tense and punctuation errors, they do not supplant the function of a good proofreader. I then tested two Windows based software solutions that purport to do just that; Grammarly and WordRake. Both of these products offer a free trial, which I took advantage of. Both products are sold on a subscription basis. Grammarly costs $ 139.00 per year for an individual subscription. WordRake is $99.00 per year for an individual subscription. Both offer other pricing plans based upon subscription length and number of licenses.
To demonstrate the programs, I ran them against the first rough draft of this post. Grammarly caught two grammatical errors, offered no suggestions to tighten the writing and identified many perfectly appropriate word uses as errors. However, because it found two significant grammatical errors, it was marginally helpful. A feature of Grammarly is it states the rule it is applying for each identified error and provides an example. This reiteration of proper grammar rules can, at least in theory, improve the skills of the writer as they work through the corrections. Grammarly also provides the option of selecting the appropriate level of strictness for the type of writing, e.g., general v. technical v. business v. creative v. casual, etc. It also has a plagiarism alert feature that offers a suggested citation to keep you out of trouble if your writing is too close to another source out on the Web.
On the surface, WordRake is not as full featured and does not address as many grammar issues as Grammarly. Instead, it seems designed to catch the typical word choice and grammar mistakes made by attorneys—just what I needed. WordRake does not explain its correction proposals, but I found most of the proposed changes to be good suggestions or least reasonable. WordRake integrates with Microsoft Word, but not Microsoft Office. Therefore, if you want to grammar check your emails, you must “cut and paste” the text to Word and run it through the program. That said, I appreciated its straightforward design and found it easier and much faster to use than Grammarly because it offers suggestions for each error, where Grammarly often just quoted the grammar rule with an example, leaving me to figure it out.
Both programs had features I found useful, but WordRake substantially improved my writing; catching many issues missed by Grammarly. If I had to choose one of the two it would definitely be WordRake, although ideally I would use them both if time and finances would permit.
The reports from the respective programs are below.
WordRake offers concrete suggestions to improve and tighten the wrd choice. I was quite impressed.
This program did not address any of the style issues. It did find two legitmate grammar issues. This passage may not have been a good one to show Grammarly’s full capabilities.