What is the Best Word Processor?: Our Top Five
Few writers prefer the feel of pen and paper, these days, even for a first draft. There are so many word processing programs out there that make life easier, and this is true whether you’re writing for yourself or for a client. Most of these programs are similar, but there are key differences that can take some of the effort away and help you to write quickly. This is why finding the best word processor is so important, and it’s what we’ll look at in this article.
If you are over 40 you were likely introduced to a word processor in school, and which one you used was dependent on whether you were using a PC or a MAC. Most users started out on early versions of MS Works or Word, AppleWorks, WordStar or WordPerfect. By the 2000’s, the majority of users were either Word or WordPerfect, with the occasional Linux or Mac user just doing their own thing. But today, word processors are designed to cross platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux), and your choices are more varied than ever before. With so many choices out there, how do you find the best word processor?
Best Word Processor Features
Writers are not expected to “just write” anymore. As technology progresses, it’s easier than ever to prepare your written work for the public eye. Word processors now include features that allow writers to choose different fonts, set margins, change headers and footers and a host of other DIY formatting capabilities. This do-it-yourself trend is great for writers when to comes to costs and access to publishing. The downside is that worrying about that presentation layer takes away from the writing.
There are several main features writers should consider when looking for the best word processor:
The best word processors eliminate distractions, freeing the mind to focus on writing. A word processor that separates the writing interface from the presentation level of a document, presents the writer with a simple screen, free of buttons, menus, or other clutter that can be distracting. This allows the writer to focus on writing, getting the word onto the page. And let’s face it, as a writer, earning money is all about getting the words on the page.
Another feature to look for in a word processor is how easy they make it for the writer to make corrections for things such as typos. The best word processors will also let you make even larger changes, such as deleting blocks of text or rearranging paragraphs. For writers who are working on longer documents such as novels or research papers, being able to make revisions quickly and easily means you can get back to the main focus, getting your message onto paper.
Ease of Presentation
Every writer knows the frustration that can accompany trying to get a finished manuscript into whatever format is needed to meet submission guidelines. Getting your final written work to look the way it should visually be a bit of a pull-your-hair-out experience for many writers.
In the past, this public presentation was handled by typesetters and editors, who were skilled in presentation layer capabilities. Today much of the presentation layer is up to the writer. So a word processor that can also make it easy to turn your final written work into a stunning visual document, ready for the public eye, without the hair pulling experience, is a huge plus.
Sharing and Compatibility
In order to earn a living from your writing, you have to share it with others. Because of the varied choices that are out there today between platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux and file types like .doc, .docx, RTF, HTML, etc., it’s very important that the word processor you choose will let you save, view, and edit your files in multiple file types.
You need to be able to share your file with others, who may use a different word processor or even a different operating platform, so they can view and in some cases edit it using whatever platform and word processor they have, without corrupting your final work.
Microsoft Word by Microsoft
- Proprietary software (not open source)
- Windows and OS X platforms
- Most well-known word processor on the market
- Considered to be the best word processor for many years (when competition was weaker)
- $149.99 MS Office Home & Student or subscribe monthly to Office365
- Great customer service
- Track changes and insert comments features are treasures and save time for writers and editors of all genres
- Multiple file formats available
- Proprietary Software
- $44.99 after 30-day free trial
- Easy to brand, produce, translate and sell digital documents such as e-books
- Great for authors, illustrators, researchers, anyone who works with large amounts of text
- Designed to combine writing and creativity in a variety of different ways for flexibility as your skillset changes or broadens.
- Supports all file formats popular with those who wield a pen for penny or passion.
- Customer service meets expectations of Apple customers.
- Video tutorials and digital user’s manual available
WordPerfect by Corel
- Proprietary Software
- Priced at $249.00
- Simulation mode for those who prefer interface layout of older versions
- Interactive PDF features, encryption and password protection for file sharing
- Variety of pre-made templates available for ease of formatting
- Access online resources without leaving WordPerfect to add up to date facts for reports
- Resource library includes Oxford Press Dictionary, thesaurus, spell and grammar checkers. Draw and insert your own graphics
- Redaction feature-conceals sensitive information in the document. Great for legal documents.
- Compatible with over 60 file types, including the ancient WordStar format.
- Open Source software
- Available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS
- Support for over 100 languages
- Similar Interface to MSWord
- Can handle different document types (.docx and .doc)
- Great document templates built-in
- LibreOffice Viewer available for Android
- Open-source software
- Available for Mac, Linux or Windows operating systems
- Interface similar to Microsoft Word
- Active support community with developers worldwide
- Import and edit PDF files
- Multi-language support
- Document sharing made easy with international open standard format (.rtf, .doc, .docx, etc.)
Whether you are a fiction novelist, blogger, non-fiction writer, magazine writer, educator, or poet, you can benefit from all of these word processors. As far as the “best word processor” goes, MS Word is still up there. But my opinion of the best word processor may be different to yours.
It all depends on what you want, on whether you value spell-check more than an easy-to-use interface, and whether price comes into play. And that’s not to say that any of the above mentioned programs qualify as being the best word processor, because there are also some other great programs. This includes Google Docs (which is free, and comes with one of the most accurate spellchecks) and Apple Pages (the default program for Mac, and probably the best word processor for Mac users).