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Quickview: Don't Annoy Clients With Bad Grammar

Your writing can make or break first impressions with clients. Consider this online service to avoid an embarrassing grammar faux pas.

Bill Winterberg, 02/27/2014

I'm willing to bet that the majority of your client correspondence is done in the written form. Between financial plans, emails, blog posts, and handwritten notes, your words and the quality of your grammar undoubtedly influence the impression your clients have of you.

Perhaps I'm a bit extreme, but nothing bothers me more than receiving an email from one of my service providers where words such as "your" and "you're" or "their" and "there" are used interchangeably.

English and composition majors likely excel with exquisite prose in client correspondence. The rest of us need help, and that help can come in the form of an automated proofreading service called Grammarly.

Touted as "the world's best grammar checker," Grammarly examines your writing against 250 grammar rules in an attempt to improve the quality and clarity of your composition.

Grammarly is a Web-based application that features an integration with the Microsoft Office Suite, including Word and Outlook. The service goes beyond the basic spell check and grammar check built into the word processor, as Grammarly can identify correctly spelled words that are used in the wrong context (e.g., "lose" vs. "loose"). Grammarly also helps you avoid plagiarism by checking your text against reference material from over 8 billion Web pages.

Grammarly is available in monthly, quarterly, or annual subscriptions. The former costs $29.95 per month, while the latter costs $139.95 per year, or $11.66 per month. A seven-day free trial is available so you can determine how helpful (or frustrating) Grammarly can be in improving your writing.

The Grammarly website also has a text box where you can paste a sample of your writing for an instant analysis. Try it with a recent email you wrote or perhaps a few paragraphs from a financial plan you created for a client. You might be surprised at the number of corrections Grammarly identifies to improve the quality of your own writing. Fair warning: Grammarly will want you to sign up for the free trial to get all the details of your corrections!

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Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.

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