The new and improved WhiteSmoke Writing Enhancement has a busy design when compared to other online grammar checkers (opens in new tab), and the suggestions it provides are mostly correct, although errors do creep in. It can be used to correct spelling and grammar, to check for plagiarism, and to translate articles into different languages, if you opt for the Premium Suite. Currently, the 2020 version works on all modern versions of Windows and the latest version of Mac. There is a browser and downloadable version available too, so there is flexibility.
Initially, we were impressed with the sheer number of errors WhiteSmoke picked up when we copied and pasted our sentence test document into the software. However, once we evaluated the quality of each of the suggestions, it became more disappointing. Some were flat out wrong and made the already problematic sentences worse, which isn't ideal for software that is intended to make your documents as close to perfect as possible. However, the 2020 version of WhiteSmoke Writing Enhancement definitely picks up more errors and accurately corrects them, than previous iterations, so it's obvious that improvements have been made.
WhiteSmoke still wasn’t sophisticated enough to correct some problems with prepositions or passive voice in our testing. While it found some comma errors, it missed others in more complicated sentences. Occasionally, the software suggested an incorrect change to a word or a phrase because it failed to catch the bigger problems within the sentence. Unlike Grammarly (opens in new tab), which does a good job understanding the content of sentences so it can create suggestions to fix mistyped or misused words, WhiteSmoke can’t quite make the necessary leaps to give good feedback, despite some big improvements in recent years.
One function we'd like to see in the browser-based version is compatibility with more document editing programs, like Google Docs, which is commonly used by millions all over the world.
WhiteSmoke’s UI is a little cluttered, but not too bad. There is a single icon in the top left corner of the text checker for grammar, one for translate, and one for plagiarism. On the right side of the screen, you see results and explanations for whatever function you're using. Just like ProWritingAid (opens in new tab), this is a review-based software. You copy a completed document into the suite so you can review it before submission. For the most part, it works this way, although the document can get busy with suggestions and references if there are too many errors found, which may lead to a little user confusion.
The lesson suite does give some information about the quality of your writing, which is a bonus. When we ran our sentence test document through WhiteSmoke, with over 50 errors in just over 500 words, the site gave it an overall score of good. Just above the chart, the software gives your writing a score out of 100, and the test document did receive a 60 out of 100, which graded would be a D-. The positive feedback is misleading in a paper so full of errors.
Overall, WhiteSmoke Writing Enhancement has come a long way in the past few years, but it still lags a little behind the absolute best in the field. The user interface is quite busy, but does a decent job of presenting you with information. And while there are still errors it misses or misdiagnoses, WhiteSmoke has made big strides in the past few years. Does it justify the price when other free programs manage to do the same job to a comparable standard? Probably not, although WhiteSmoke is relatively cheap right now. However, it's good to have everything in once place, especially if you're under-confident in all aspects of your writing.