Microsoft Word has been a reliable computer program for as long as most of us can probably remember—starting way back when computers first came onto the mainstream scene.
Word is a great program, but has it become more of a habit rather than the most efficient software for your personal needs as a writer?
Word costs $69.99 per year and the software has just about everything an author or writer would need. But it’s not always user friendly. Word is not efficient for formatting, however, as it has to be done manually. So, if you are looking for an all-in-one writing and formatting app then another on the list could be better suited to your needs.
There are tons of Microsoft Word alternatives out there, many of which writers now swear by, and a lot of them have great features that Word does not possess. Maybe it’s time to think about making that daunting switch from Microsoft Word to something more current that will suit your writing routine and offer you the most support.
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Grammarly is an app that costs $139.95 per year and is essentially an editing app for writers. This would be what a writer would use before hiring a professional editor in order to catch simple mistakes. Some of the features include comprehensive grammar checks, plagiarism detection, and highlighting various types of mistakes while also offering fixes. Grammarly is also compatible for integration with a multitude of web browsers and computers. If you think you are using a software that isn’t helping with editing, or you simply need a little more attention to detail when it comes to editing then Grammarly is a worthwhile investment.
Scrivener is one of the most popular writing apps at the moment aside from Word. It costs $49 for Mac users and $40 for PC. There is a bit of a learning curve with Scrivener, but the capabilities are plentiful once you are familiar. It allows you to view notes, outlines, and manuscripts altogether. It has features such as a visual corkboard for note card organization, a drag and drop outliner, and is compatible with most all devices and even applicable with Word.
Freedom costs $6.99 per month, $29 per year, or $129 for life. The purpose of this app is to block all distractions while writing. You are able to block apps, social media, and websites across all your devices temporarily while you write (but you may still be reached for emergencies). Freedom doesn’t have tons of features and capabilities other than distraction-blocking but is meant to help you increase your productivity and focus.
NovelFactory costs $39.99 and is an app that will guide you through the process of writing a novel. It is currently unavailable for Mac, available for Windows only. It offers a split-screen view and built-in Word processor. You will be prompted to complete tasks such as making notes, developing characters, writing your story’s premise, and following your hero’s journey outline. This is a great tool for those that need more assistance when it comes to world building and fleshing out their story more fully.
ProWritingAid is a software that costs $79 per year and its aim is to help writers improve rather than offering a space solely for creativity. It consists of in-depth grammar checking features and editorial reports. The program is compatible with most processors and browsers. Similar to Grammarly, this wouldn’t be an app you would use for the later task of formatting or even for sharing and commenting, but foremost to improve the editorial aspects of your work before reaching the next steps.
This app costs $9.99 and is only compatible with Mac computers, so Windows users will not be able to utilize this word alternative. WriteRoom fills the entire screen so you cannot look at anything other than your book when working. There are some customizable backgrounds as well as estimated reading time features, but there aren’t many further features as the app is meant to make the writing process less complicated.
Frost is a very unique free web service that helps writers get into the needed mindset for working on their project. You can choose different settings, sounds, and music to help jumpstart your motivation and get you into the right headspace to write. There are no collaboration features and Frost does not work as a formatting service, but if you need a little assistance finding motivation and inspiration, Frost has you covered.
This is a free to use app that is basically designed for a writer to simply write freely and without editing. It is similar to Microsoft Word in many ways but made even simpler. There is a cursor to plainly get those thoughts down. The Hemingway Mode can be put into use to prohibit writers from going back and editing their work. There are a few more advanced features for collaborative edits and comments, but if you’re simply looking to get the words down without continuing to go back to previous sections of the manuscript then this is a useful software.
9. Hemingway Editor
Hemingway Editor is free to use on the website and costs $19.99 to purchase your own version. It is an easy-to-use software that focuses on writing style, less on grammar and spelling. It will highlight sentences to be edited if they are lengthy, complex, passive, and so on. It will also highlight overused words and make suggestions for replacements. The app also teaches more straightforward writing and offers overall tips to improve upon writing style. There are some formatting features, but the main purpose is to improve upon writing and utilize editing.
This is a free to use software that comes pre-installed on all Apple devices. Mac users will be especially familiar with Pages, and it has way more capabilities than most everyday users will utilize. The app can be used for much more than writing a book, including handwriting-to-text on mobile, and formatting templates.
This is a free to use software that is only designed to write books. The unique layout allows writers to divide their novels into scenes, making it easier to organize your work. There are also progress tracking features and a storyboard view. If you are a writer who likes to look at your book scene by scene in an easy-to-use layout then yWriter will have you covered.
12. Google Docs
Google Docs is a free to use program and is available to everyone with a Google account. This is a web-based service and is not meant for the specific needs of a writer, so it may be lacking in some of the other perks that programs on this list utilize but is certainly fully functional for writing and editing. Google Docs also makes sharing documents with editors and beta readers easy to do with the ability to see comments in real time.
LibreOffice is free to use. The software is similar to that of Google Docs, but can be used offline, and of course going through Google isn’t necessary if you ever want a Google break. LibreOffice can do everything that Google Docs and Microsoft Office can and is compatible with just about every computer. It can be used across platforms and has formatting options, but they will need to be done manually similar to Google. It is likely not the best formatting option out there and using a different service for formatting after the writing has been completed could be worthwhile.
Hopefully now with more information about all the various apps and services out there for writers you will be able to decide on one—or multiple—that works best for you. Of course, these services are not designed to fully write or edit your work as that would be impossible, but they should be able to make the sometimes daunting task a little less so, contributing to more enjoyment.
Do you use any of these Microsoft Word alternatives already? What do you like most and least about them? Do you still find Microsoft Word the most trustworthy or are you moving away from it to something a little more specific and personalized?