Writing Tools: The Ulysses App Checks Grammar And Style, Who Knew?

Good writing tools can make a huge difference. For me, the difference is motivation: good tools help me to maintain my motivation for writing.

Of course, there are many other benefits of good writing tools.


  • Encourage structure, whether you’re writing a book or a tagline for a client;
  • Help you to maintain focus and clarity. Writing is chaotic. The right tool helps you without getting in your way;
  • Eliminate chores, like formatting;
  • Inspire you; they help you to think;
  • Enhance creativity (and that seems like magic.)

Ulysses offers all the above benefits.

BTW, this isn’t an ad for Ulysses, despite the gushing. I have zero connection to the company. I bought the Ulysses developers’ immediate precursor to Ulysses, then bought Ulysses when it launched.

I mentioned my long experience with Ulysses for a reason…

It’s this.

I was completely unaware that Ulysses checks your grammar and style—moreover, it does it well.

A few days ago, while munching my lunchtime tuna sandwich, I caught up with my email, and read a message from Ulysses. It mentioned that Ulysses checks grammar and style.

Huh, I thought. My immediate next thought: I’ll bet it’s complete and utter rubbish. (Sorry for the leap to judgment. I was wrong.)

Ulysses avoids the danger of grammar/ style apps

Over the years, I’ve checked out many grammar/ style apps, with mixed results.

Some are dangerous. If you’re writing fiction and are unaware, they’ll destroy your voice. This is a disaster, because in a novel, voice is everything. If a novel’s voice is engaging, the characters can be stick figures and the plot non-existent, but your novel will work anyway.

If you know what you’re doing in fiction (or any form of writing), you know the style you want. You also know it bucks some rules of English grammar. You don’t care.

When you unleash a standard grammar and style app on fiction, you can feel as if you’re dealing with an especially dumb version of artificial intelligence; with the emphasis on “dumb.”

Last year I coached a fiction author with a wonderful voice. I loved her writing. Imagine my shock when she sent me a later draft of her first three chapters. Her voice had gone. Vanished.

I didn’t have to ask whether she’d “edited” the chapters. I called her to ask whether she had a backup. Luckily she did. “Delete your grammar-checked version of the files. Stick with your own voice. Please.”

Ulysses: sadly, only for for Mac and iOS

Ulysses is only available for Mac and iOS. That said, the iOS version is excellent. A writer friend, who’s also a teacher, uses Ulysses on his iPad. He writes everything in Ulysses on his iPad, including blog posts, class materials, and books.

The grammar/ style checker is available in iOS too.

What I like about Ulysses’ grammar/ style checker

Primarily, I like that Ulysses is not only clever, it’s also circumspect.

When using some grammar checkers, the app goes wild. Your perfectly-adequate text sprouts 685 errors in a single 4,000 word chapter. Not so with Ulysses. As you can see in the image above; the app restrains itself.

I also like that it makes a case for any change it recommends, as you can see in this image below.

Good writing tools: do you need a grammar/ style checker?

That solely depends on you. You know yourself best.

For me, the Ulysses checker is perfect. It does just enough, without making a nuisance of itself, and doesn’t fall into the trap of flagging everything.

If you’re a Ulysses user; try it.

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