Before you publish anything online, it’s a good idea to use a free plagiarism checker.
You’re writing original content. But some parts of what you write might be duplicate content or accidental plagiarism. It isn’t the same as copied content, though.
If you use a plagiarism detector, you can edit or change certain sentence structures and phrases. You could use a sentence paraphrasing tool if you need to be sure that your content is unique.
If you are writing blog posts and articles, uniqueness is an essential factor for SEO and search engine traffic.
What is plagiarism?
Oxford Lexico defines it as the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own.
The word derives from the Latin word plagiarius, which means kidnapper.
Meridian-Webster gives two definitions of the verb to plagiarize.
1. To steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source.
2. To commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.
I’m sure that these definitions don’t apply to you.
If you happen to plagiarize content, it is usually by accident and for common phrases.
You can avoid unintentional plagiarism and this possibility by checking your new texts with an online tool that compares your text to already published texts.
But some people cheat. A plagiarism detecting tool can help you track anyone who might have copied your published content.
Some time ago, I came across a blatant case by one blogger. He had copied and published an entire blog post and the images. A plagiarism checker brought the errant blogger undone.
Why should you check for plagiarism?
There are billions of pages of content on the Internet today.
Writing original content is the best way to rank on search engines and provide unique content for your readers.
I’m sure that when you write an article or blog post, you are using your own words.
But some phrases and sentences might have been written elsewhere. It is better to check and, if necessary, edit your text to make it 100% original.
Another reason to check is to look for the possibility that your published content has not been copied and re-used.
If you find this happening, you can contact the blog owner and ask for a credit or backlink.
It is a positive move on your part because gaining backlinks from plagiarism can help your content to rank better.
Another reason is to check and make sure that you have cited any quotes you used in your text. A good checker should find any that you may have missed.
How to detect plagiarism
The easiest way to do a test is to use online tools to check any new content that you write. It’s best to do this before you publish, but you can do it later.
It is a good habit if you are a freelance writer, content article writer, or blogger.
There are a lot of paid and free online checkers. The one you decide to use will depend on your needs.
Free tools are ideal for short texts up to 1,000 – 2,000 words. If you are writing a novel, a research paper, or an academic paper, you might need to look at a premium tool.
But you have a few good choices for a free checker that can deliver reasonably accurate results.
Another possibility is to use free browser extensions. You can find a few checkers in the Chrome Web Store. However, you can only check published content with these tools.
The 5 Best free plagiarism checker tools
I tested over 25 of the most popular checkers you can find using a Google search.
For each one, I used two texts—one of 500 words and a second of 1,500 words.
One text is published, and a detector should find a high degree of copied content. The second text is unpublished, and it should show no plagiarized content.
Except for Grammarly and Prowritingaid, all the tools I tested were free to use.
Many of the tools I tested failed to be useful, and some even failed to provide a result. Most of them were using the Grammarly API and limiting the results to 300 words or fewer.
A lot of sites use free checkers as a way to market other products and services. Many of them asked for an email address before delivering a result. For this reason, I haven’t included any of them in my list.
But there was a handful that performed well, and you can do a check without any obligation.
1. Grammarly & Prowritingaid (Free with your subscription)
I have to start with Grammarly.
Many writers use it to do a thorough grammar check.
If you are a premium user, high-quality plagiarism checking is included for free in your subscription.
But the Grammarly plagiarism checker is not obvious to find. You may have missed it.
I had been using Grammarly for months before I noticed it. Maybe you should check.
You can find the tool button in the bottom right-hand corner of your online or desktop editor screen.
It’s small, so you need to know where it is hiding.
But once you find it, the results of a check will only take a few seconds. And it will be extremely accurate.
Without a doubt, Grammarly is one of the best checkers you will find anywhere.
For users of Prowritingaid, you have a checker included in your subscription.
Like Grammarly, the button for the plagiarism report is not on the main menu. You need to go to More Reports and the bottom of the dropdown menu.
The report runs quickly, and it is highly accurate, with no word count limitations.
2. Small SEO Tools (Free)
For a free online plagiarism checker, the Small SEO Tools checker worked quite well.
It is limited to 1,000 words per check. But if you copy and paste your text in chunks, you can check a long document.
I had no problem conducting a few tests in succession.
What I liked best was that it gave me the matched sources.
The text I used was an article I wrote some time ago.
The results found the web page addresses for three locations where it was published. On my site, Medium, and one other site where it was published with my permission.
3. EduBirdie (Free)
When I checked my two texts with EduBirdie, the results were fast and accurate.
Not only that, but it accepted my longer text with no restriction with the free tool.
It found instances of my published text and gave me a friendly popup to tell me.
If you want a quick, easy, and reliable free plagiarism checker, this might be the best one for you.
4. Search Engine Reports (Free)
It might not sound like a name you would associate with checking your content for originality.
But the checker on Search Engine Reports is very good indeed. However, expect it to take a minute or so for your results.
It has a generous limit of 2,000 words, and it processed both of my texts. I liked the layout of the report table.
It breaks your text into unique and original sentences.
That’s a great way to check every sentence in your text. Then you can re-write any that appear anywhere else.
5. Quetext (Free)
When I tested the free version of Quetext, it processed both of my test documents.
However, for the longer text, it only checked the first 500 words.
It was a little slow at about 30 seconds to give the results. But the results were reasonably accurate.
Which one is the best free plagiarism checker?
In researching this article, I tried and tested more than 25 different checkers.
Most of them performed poorly, or not at all.
Many of them are hooks for paid writing and essay services, so don’t waste your time.
There are many paid checkers available. But they are all attached to premium grammar checkers.
It is not worth paying for these if you already have a grammar or writing checker.
In the end, after hours of testing, I can only honestly recommend the first five options I listed above.
If you already have a Grammarly or Prowritingaid subscription, you have access to the best. You have no limitations, and the results are fast, accurate, and reliable.
EduBirdie is miles ahead of the rest for a totally free option and is the best one I could find.
It has a generous word limit, and the results are very good. I think it is an ideal plagiarism checker for students.
But I would give second place to Search Engine Reports for a free check.
Then there are the rest.
Should you check your writing for plagiarism? Yes, of course, you should.
But make sure you are using a reliable tool to check.