It’s no secret that aspiring writers, and sometimes even published authors are living on a shoestring budget. I’ve also talked to many writers who are reluctantly using MS Word for writing because they were “forced” into using it because the word processor they loved dearly was no longer supported.
In the 1990’s, in fact, many writers made the switch from their favorite word processor reluctantly because for nearly a decade or more Microsoft simply dominated the word processing world and support for other products were dwindling in the business world.
If you are a writer who is:
- Budget-conscious by necessity
- Longing for your now unsupported favorite word processor
- Frustrated with the bugs running rampant in the latest MS Word release
There is hope out there, and you will be pleased as punch to know that there are now some very viable and well supported MS Word alternatives on the market today. Many of them are even free or low cost which has the added benefit of putting that money for license fees back into your pocket. There is a free version of MS Word online that you can look at if you are looking to simply save money.
The Best Alternatives Word
Open Office Writer by Apache
This is a free and open source word processor that in my opinion is one of the best alternatives to MS Word that I have found. For those used to using MS Word exclusively, there may be a slight learning curve initially, but once you adjust to the menu differences, you’ll wonder why you didn’t ditch MS Word sooner.
Writers who have used Apple Pages to write a manuscript are typically pleased to find that it has an interface that is relatively easy to learn and it converts the finished manuscript back to Word for sharing with an editor pretty well. Power users may miss Word features such as quick click but after a time will find that those Word “must have” features really aren’t.
Google Docs by Google Drive
This is an online web-based word processor. The best thing about Google Docs is that you can create documents and work on them at the same time as someone else which makes it great for a co-authoring project or for an editor to work closely with an author.
LibreOffice Writer (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Created by SoftMaker, LibreOffice is a cross-platform open source application that works for simple tasks like a to-do list as well as more robust projects using graphics or the index, tables, and other components of a book.
WPS Office Writer
This is free and available for Windows, Linux, iOS, or Android. It’s been around for over two decades and provides all the standard features writers want, such as spell check and word statistics. It will even convert documents to PDF and let you handle multiple documents by switching between them using tabs instead of multiple windows. It’s highly compatible with MS Word documents which make switching over a breeze.
Lesser Known but Effective MS Word Alternatives
Nevron Writer by Nevron
This is a robust word processor deserving of inclusion in the list of MS Word alternatives. Screenshots show amazing similarity to the MS Word interface, and it includes all the standard features a writer would need. It has the simplicity of a text editor with all the advanced capabilities of a word processor and even some text editing features not found in desktop publishing software.
If you haven’t checked it out, it’s worth a look. Nevron Writer is cross-platform and available as a web-based version. It offers both a free and professional version.
is another of the MS Word alternatives available for Windows users. It’s a fully-featured word processor, but the free price won’t break your wallet like those MS Word licensing fees. To top it off, AbleWord boasts the power to not only load PDF documents but edit PDFs just like any other document! With the capacity to read and write MS Word files, PDF, rich text (.rtf), HTML (.htm and .html), as well as plain text (txt) files it’s highly compatible with just about any other software program you may need to use.
Like its name, which is derived from the Spanish root word “abierto” meaning “open”, AbiWord is an open source yet another of the completely free alternatives to MS Word available for all three major platforms. The interface and other settings can be modified to create a distraction-free writing environment if that’s what you need. It includes all the standard features as well as some more advanced features and works with most popular file formats. Plugins are easily installed, but the print preview is missing.
This is the basic version of Atlantis and is available for free download. It’s a cross-platform word processor created by Rising Sun Solutions, Inc. It’s intuitive and simple and will get the job done for many writers looking for MS Word alternatives.
This is a free and open source tool created by Theologeek. Designed with writers in mind, Manuskript features an outliner feature to help you organize and re-organize your thoughts and a distraction-free mode to eliminate those pesky distractions while writing. Those writers familiar with the Snowflake Method by Randy Ingermanson will love the Manuskript novel assistant feature designed to help you turn your single inspirational idea into a best-selling novel.
Quip created by Quip, Inc.
Quip rivals MS Word online when it comes to flexibility. It’s a modern word processor available across about any platform you can think of, and it offers real-time document editing with others through shared folders similar to Google Docs. It combines the power of social media and email to let you see who is online, keep up with what they’re working on, and know when others have read your edits or you have edits to read.
This is part of the FreeOffice suite by SoftMaker, and it is available free, but you will need to follow instructions to request a product key to unlock the software during installation. TextMaker includes standard features needed for creating documents, but it has the added feature of being able to export documents in the ePub format for publishing.
Using MS Word Alternatives
So, if you’re struggling to find a word processor that will meet your writing needs but won’t break your budget, experiment with several of the MS Word alternatives listed above. My recommendation is to make a list of all the word processor features you need to have and then make a second list of the features you’d like to have.
As you explore the available MS Word alternatives, use your list to better evaluate which ones to try out. Once you’ve found one that suits you the best, decide what you’ll do with the extra dollars in your budget.