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00 blog.jpgThere are approximately more than 130 million blogs out there with around 900,000 posts per day. There are over 80 languages used in the blogging world, but more than half of those blogs are written in English. And even though I can’t find the data, I’m sure that only a teeney-weeney percentage of the blogs are proofread and edited before published.

Translation: expect to encounter non-perfect English anywhere you land your eyes on.

Even though everything is fine as long as the readers get the message, being continuously bombarded with bad English is definitely not a pleasant experience.

Man In The Mirror

A wise man once said, “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make the change.” That statement fits perfectly to our topic today.

I know perfectly well that my English is far from flawless. I live in a country where English is spoken mostly inside English classes at school. So I have to work extra hard, making sure that my writing is not going to give our dear editors here “the time of their life”. But even after crafting my words carefully, I think I’m still not on their Christmas card list. :)

That’s why I always look forward to trying tools that can improve my writing skills, especially the ones that can be integrated with my internet life. One such tool is After The Deadline.


00 After the Deadline logo.jpgThis is the tool that will provide users with contextual spell checking, advanced style checking, and intelligent grammar checking. It will use their server to give you a more accurate check of your writing, and it promises to improve your writing skills and spend less time editing.

Wow! The answer to my prayers (or is it?).

Jump In, The Water’s Fine

AtD (short for After the Deadline) is available for several platforms : bbPress, Browser, Intense Debate, PHP List, RoundCube, and WordPress.

But before you can start using the service, you need an AtD API key. You can get one by registering at their site.

01a AtD Register.jpg

After getting the API key, you can download and start using one (or more) of the versions.

The easiest one to use is the browser bookmarklet. Just drag and drop the “Add Proofreader” bookmarklet link to your browser’s bookmark bar. Click on it every time you want to activate AtD.

02 Drag n Drop bookmarklet.jpg

Besides the bookmarklet, another version of AtD that most people would probably commonly use is the WordPress plugin. Since the recent version of WordPress lets the users install plugins from within the admin area, installing AtD is virtually a walk in the park.

Click the “Add new” link from under the “Plugin” menu on the sidebar.

03a AtD_-_WP_Add_new_plugin.png

Then do a search with “after the deadline” as the search string.

03b AtD_-_WP_Search.png

Install and activate the plugin. But make sure that your AtD key is ready.

03c AtD_-_WP_API.png

After installation, a new proofreading button will appear in your WordPress visual editor.

The Long & Winding Road

It’s amazing how human brains recognize language patterns in a way that is unparalleled even by the most sophisticated computer available today.

During my experiment with it, I was excited that this app caught my spelling mistakes and wrongly used words, and able to give me several suggestions to fix the mistakes.

04a AtD_-_WP_Spelling_Mistakes

However, the ability to recognize grammar mistakes is still far from what I expected. I deliberately wrote grammatically-wrong sentences and then let AtD check it. It missed the spot most of the time.

04b AtD_-_WP_check_mistakes_-_really_.png

My conclusion is, AtD does works, but not perfectly. You can use it as the first filter to get rid of the most annoying mistakes out of your draft. Then let the gray cells inside the skull do their wonders.

I guess we still have to wait for another long decade before any machine can really proofread our writing. For now, the human editors get to keep their jobs for a little longer.

Do you know other alternative tools to improve your writing quality or improve your writing skills? Share using the comment below.

Image credit: Mike

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