If you’ve read our blog before, you know that we’ve covered some of the best websites and apps for freelance writers. It can be confusing to find the right software, with an ever-widening variety of software that serves every writing function available. But how do you find the software that increases your workflow while avoiding the needless bells and whistles? In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best writing software out there, no matter what type of writing you undertake.
Best Writing Software: Microsoft Office Suite
When looking for the best writing software, you don’t have to look further than Microsoft Office Suite. For writers, the obvious workhorse is Microsoft Word, a powerful word processor that needs no introduction. Tied in the suite is also Microsoft Excel, renowned for its ability to create handy spreadsheets, and Microsoft Access, a database program useful for keeping your contacts and data organized. Simply put, if you want to write, you’ll need MS Office.
Best Writing Software: Scrivener
If you’re looking for the best writing software for creative writing, Scrivener might just be up your alley. Scrivener was originally developed by a writer that was frustrated with the lack of software to address the unique problems that novelists, screenwriters, academic writers, and others face when creating their work.
Scrivener serves a number of useful functions. Not only does it have its own built-in word processor, but it helps you gather all the material (notes, images, web pages, etc.) in one place so you can spend less time shuffling through documents and get down to writing. The designers even include templates, character files, and even goal-setting (useful for NaNoWriMo). Essentially, Scrivener gives you a slick digital workspace along with a version-control system, where your previous drafts are automatically saved for reference and comparison.
Scrivener currently offers a 30-day free trial for PC and iOS users.
Best Writing Software: Dragon Naturally Speaking
Sometimes the best writing software has nothing to do with writing at all—it has to do with how you speak. Dictation software, which we’ve covered here, allows you the ability to increase your writing speed and save your hands from wear and tear.
The best dictation software on the market? Dragon Naturally Speaking. Available for PC, Mac, and mobile devices, Dragon offers a easy-to-use interface that not only transcribes your speech, but also “learns” with you by incorporating frequently-used words and idiosyncrasies of your speech. It can be used for crafting emails and novels, alike. Simply turn it on and start talking.
Best Writing Software: Dropbox
If you write for a living, you’ll know that storage, backups, and accessibility are a part of your livelihood. When hunting for the best writing software, it’s easy to overlook this aspect, especially when there’s a multitude of apps to grab your attention. Forget them; what you really need is Dropbox.
Dropbox can serve as an online repository for your work. By downloading Dropbox, you sync up an online folder that stores your files (2 GB for free). On each of your devices, you can download Dropbox and have access to your files. In addition, you can access your files online from any device after a simple login procedure.
If you use a number of devices in your writing, Dropbox can help you organize your files, while automatically backing up your data. If you lose a device, you can access your work until you replace it. Similarly, if you only have access to another computer, your files are still accessible and can be updated.
GoogleDocs, a similar service offered by Google, serves a similar purpose, as does other cloud computing programs. But having a free standalone service is hard to beat, especially if you don’t use Gmail or want to add another layer of backing-up capabilities.
Best Writing Software:Trello
In previous articles, I’ve expounded on the benefits of a Trello. Be sure to click here to read how Trello can revolutionize how you work with clients, subcontractors, and colleagues on projects. It also serves as a version-control database (especially helpful if you have multiple projects going on at once). You can even make your own to-do lists or track the progress of your queries! Much like Dropbox, Trello can work across multiple devices regardless of an internet connection.
Best Writing Software: Final Draft
Are you a screenwriter? If so, you’d be get Final Draft on your hard drive immediately! The #1-selling screenwriting software and an industry-recognized standard for crafting screenplays, Final Draft handles the formatting so that you can focus on your ideas. Similar to Trello, Final Draft allows for collaboration, mirroring how writers hash out ideas in real-world writers’ rooms—without ever leaving your workspace. Final Draft also contains a host of features specific to screenwriting—alternative dialogue, reference points, and story mapping so that you don’t get lost in the details.
Best Writing Software: Calibre
If you’re into self-publishing ebooks, Calibre might be the software for you. Calibre works as an ebook management system, which is helpful if you work as an editor or just read a lot. However, the best feature of Calibre is its ability to convert documents into any number of formats for distribution or reading. For instance, you can take an .EPUB document and convert it into a .PDF (or any number of formats), which you can then view in Calibre’s E-book Viewer. This is useful if you want to see how your book looks for Kindle-users without even owning the device yourself. Best of all, Calibre is free to download and constantly updated to keep up with the influx of new reading formats.
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As a final piece of advice, remember that finding the best writing software is a job in and of itself. You’re looking for a way to increase your output, not complicate your workflow. Experiment with the best writing software mentioned in this article and see if it fits in your work. You’ll be glad you did!