Spelling checkers are a handy tool, but they are not always available or reliable. Many people embarrass themselves by using the wrong word, since they relied too heavily on their spell checker. TopTenREVIEWS recently tested various software designed to improve spelling and vocabulary and test found the best software for anyone – old or young, native or foreign – hoping to improve their skills in English spelling and grammar.

"Much of our day-to-day work revolves around communication; using the correct vocabulary and spelling can mean the difference between getting hired as the manager or being relegated to mail-room assistant," said Lecia Monsen, Managing Editor at TopTenREVIEWS. "Even as professional writers, our testers improved their writing with spelling software."

The top 3:

1. Ultimate Spelling: This spelling software comes with 160,000 words in the database, and users can add more. This software is good for all ages, combining activities, tests and games for a good variety of learning tools. Also, Ultimate Spelling offers in-depth progress reports for multiple users.

2. Vocabulary SpellingCity: Visual learners will appreciate the 26 exercises, activities and tests available with this spelling software. Graphics bring words and lessons to life and demonstrate the meaning of different words. Vocabulary SpellingCity is fine for adults but definitely focuses more on a younger audience.

3. ClickN Spell: This spelling software offers an audio recording of each word in its database and uses it in a sentence, and the in-depth progress reports are a plus. With a cartoon teacher, ClickN Spell definitely aims for a younger audience.

What makes a top-notch spelling software?

The best learning software offers a variety of activities and lessons. The top programs offer this variety, as well as printable activities, progress charts and technical support. Of the plethora of options, spelling software should include these elements.

Features: Spelling software should provide a database of common words, but software that allows customization stands above others. For example, some software allows learners to add words and change the example sentences. Also, some programs included audio recordings to offer more variety to the learning. Finally, good software includes a variety of activities, tests and games to help students learn the words.

Additional resources: Great software comes with printable worksheets and additional resources available on the website. If the software allows for customization, users should be able to build worksheets and flash cards based on a list of words they pick.

Progress reports: The best spelling software will track a person's progress with graphs or charts. The data provided should be detailed and approachable, so the user can determine where to work harder. Good software can chart multiple learners separately.

Help & support: All software should come with some kind of user guide, and the manufacturer's website should include tech support and FAQs. Spelling software should also include access to user forums for additional information.

With the use of spelling software, anyone can become a great speller and break his or her addiction to spell checkers. Spelling software proves that while technology can make our lives easier, it can also improve our communication.

More product reviews can be found at TopTenREVIEWS.

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