My latest advice on this software: Do not use it, I have paid for this and actually un-installed it, the full reasons are at the end
I have considered purchasing this program for many months having even taken the free trial previously. However, at that time I could not justify the modest expense as I had a spell and grammar checker already in Microsoft Word, thus the duplication was a waste of my money.
As I have now decided to create more written content, this program’s functionality was reconsidered as a way to improve my work rate and get this content published with less time spent in the proof reading phase.
Thus with the software purchased and installed, I decided to run it through its paces. For this I wrote an article, which was checked using 2 of the most common text editors to check for writing accuracy. These programs were Microsoft Word 2007 personal edition, OpenOffice 3 Writer and of course Whitesmoke 2011 was given the final word on the quality of the article.
I use a multi-tab program called Notepadd++ to write my articles. This has the benefit of retaining my frequently used files on separate tabs, which means my writing template and latest article will both be available at the same time. However, once you have activated Whitesmoke using F2 from the text editor, then all the tabs become locked and remain so until you have finished with the Whitesmoke proof reading process.
Plus as I attempt to touch type but with 10 fingers to control whilst releasing the thoughts from my brain means that often one of these digits goes astray and this combined with my age means there are many spelling errors.
I have used Word as my first line of defence in proof reading for many years, and it does a reasonable job for locating spelling and grammar errors, although it is a little too obsessed with semi-colons for my liking. However, as one of my writing friends once said, if in doubt use a semi-colon as very few understand its use, and thus no one will question it!
Having tested the article in Word, there were five spelling mistakes and a couple of grammar advisories.
With Word having done its best, I returned to the original text and let OpenOffice Writer take the helm. Its filters managed to find 4 of the spelling errors and neither of the grammar errors. The spelling that it missed was the use of ‘every day’ instead of ‘everyday’. The other problem here was that it did not recognize ‘ISP’ and provided no sensible alternatives.
Thus out of these 2, Word was clearly the better for an initial spelling and grammar check.
Now enter Whitesmoke and its many promised dedicated proof reading filters.
You do not actually open Whitesmoke, rather you call for its help from where you are writing. This can be a text file such as the one that I created for this review, an email or in your browser, when you are adding as an example, a comment to a blog.
This is fine as long as you are not using Chrome.
I currently have IE 9, Chrome, and Firefox installed. Of these Chrome was the one that did not work with Whitesmoke, it will open when called but the text will not appear in the check area.
WhiteSmoke’s initial run through the article was good as it found all the spelling mistakes and came up with 12 grammatical advisories.
One item that may cause confusion after you click on the check button is the error message ‘Repeated Word’, what this really means is that you have poor sentence construction. If you right click on the error you are given several choices, which can be seen in the image.
These will explain the nature of the error and suggest alternative constructions to improve your text and ultimately your entire writing style, this is why it makes sense to consider these suggestions and use these as learning opportunities.
If you have like me ever tried to read a guide on grammar then you will know just how tiring this task can be, it takes learning by rote to a whole new level of pain and depression. I never did read the entire book, page 100 was the furthest into the book that I could go! Therefore, this learning as you go is for me a much better option.
If you look more carefully at the image, you are also provided with a review of your writing ranked using several categories, this is an interesting feature and one you can use to challenge yourself with.
Now a word of caution, this program will not auto correct your writing. You need to click on each error or advisory and make the alterations to satisfy these indications. Once you have run through the text click on apply, it will make the changes and return control back to the program that you were writing in, complete with the amended version of the text.
I purchased the General Writing version and thus alongside the writers’ tab, there were also four other tabs, the first of which was the translator, but as I do not speak any foreign languages, it was impossible to verify for accuracy. I converted a piece of the article into French, Chinese and German and then used both Google translate and Yahoo Babel Fish to revert the text back to English. None of the results were satisfactory. However, there is an option to have the conversion done properly by a site called onehourtranslation.com, I have not tried their services but at 0.06 euros per word it is not an expensive service.
Next to this tab, there is a dictionary which is very comprehensive and actually draws its information from several sources with the encyclopedic content coming from Wikipedia, unfortunately this tab does not contain an example of how to use the entered word.
The final tab contains a series of templates arranged into categories the first being Apologies with a template for inappropriate behavior, which may come in handy for many after the office party.
Overall this is a very useful tool to help raise the quality of your articles whilst allowing you to develop and improve your writing skills, and if you take advantage of the free trial you can see just how powerful this program really is before having to part with any money.
You may have noticed there are few reviews on this site and that is because I am an actual user of every single program I review thus I really do recommend you follow the link below or click on any image to trial this software.
WhiteSmoke Writer 2011 Grammar Software
By the way, if you do spot any spelling or grammar errors in this review then let me know as it was run through Whitesmoke in 3 parts as there is a 3000 character limit.
The above review was based upon the test as described, however the more I use this software the more problems I am discovering with it, in particular the random nature of its recommendations. If you are not a natural English speaker, this software could make your writing worse, if you trust it blindly.
For this reason I would recommend that you do not take the paid option at the moment. I have written to the company for clarification on these issues and I await their response.
I have now lost total faith in this software and as I was having a PC clear out, this was high up on the delete schedule. I never did hear back from the creators and thus even though I took the paid option this software is no longer used by me or any of my team members.