Do you really need all those Microsoft Office programs just to write?
I’m sure you don’t prepare business plans with charts and graphs. You don’t use online collaboration tools. You don’t schedule meetings for a group of directors.
I doubt if you would ever need to create business presentations with 100 slides.
You write your words down for blog posts, content articles, guest posts, short stories and maybe poems. So why do you pay for MS Office to do these simple writing tasks?
You do not need to pay for a word processor
Whichever option or version of Word you choose, you pay. The Office suite is a bundled application of many programs that writers will never need.
Even with the basic personal Office 365 subscription, you pay for Excel, Outlook and Powerpoint just to get MS Word.
So why pay for all the stuff you will never use just to write Word documents?
There is an option to use Word online as part of Office Online, but you still need to pay.
If you just need to write, there many Microsoft Word alternatives that will do the job perfectly for you.
I was a Word user for years, like all of us. But I can’t remember the last time I used it.
Sure, I have lots of old files in Word document format. But I can open and edit almost any file formats with a free alternative to Microsoft Word.
A word of warning for authors. Word processors are not suitable programs for writing a book.
Long manuscripts can cause a lot of problems with any word processor, including Word.
You really need to use software that is designed to handle the big job of writing a novel or a book.
Read our article that lists the best free and paid software choices for you if you plan on writing a book.
You have lots of choices
Nowadays, you have so many options. You can still download free word processor software or you can use web-based applications and cloud access.
All you need is a blank document. Then write your words. Add a little formatting and save your work. Almost any free version word processor can do this.
Do you want to move away from using Word? Try some of these alternatives to see if one is just right for you and your writing needs.
To get you started, here are ten free word processors to choose from.
Google Docs is a free office tool suite. The big contrast to MS Office, of course, is that Google Docs is absolutely free.
If you know how to use MS Word, you will adapt to Docs in no time at all.
The user interface, menus and formatting options are almost the same.
Docs has a word counter, so it’s easy to keep track of your writing goals.
Many writers, including content article writers, use Google Docs due to the ease in sharing documents and collaborating.
Writing projects are stored and saved to Google Drive. You get 5 gigabytes for free. It is usually enough storage space for most writers.
Another advantage is that you can also set up Docs to work offline if you prefer.
You are a Mac user and all you need is a free word processor, it’s easy. Apple Pages can do everything you need to do.
The page layout view is extremely easy to work with. All the fonts, text formatting, and editing tools are easy to find.
It has a decent spell checker, word count and track changes that come with a comments option.
Pages also has a great real-time auto-save function. It saves your work automatically to your computer, or to your iCloud drive when you are online.
There is a file duplicate function too. It allows you a lot of control over your edits and revisions.
Almost all of the common features in Word are available in Pages documents.
One area where Pages really shines over Word is that you have a lot more control over any images you use.
I used Apache OpenOffice for many years. It is an open source project and is still a great option.
However, there is another very similar free office suite. Libre Office is a favourite for a lot of writers.
The two office suites came from the same basic development, so they share a lot of things in common.
Working with Writer, the word processor, is easy. It has clear traditional menus, icons and toolbars. So it doesn’t have the sometimes confusing ribbon found in Word.
This might be a good feature for you. It allows you to get on with writing instead of endlessly searching ribbons for the right buttons.
If all you need is a functional word processor, Writer in OpenOffice or Libre Office might be sound choices for you.
If you are familiar with Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you will be able to work with WPS Office straight away.
WPS is in the same vein as other free word processors. It has all the standard features you expect and it works with most standard word processing file extensions.
But one of its best features is that it gives you the facility to drag and drop paragraphs. It really is a very practical idea.
Another great feature of WPS is that it has tabbed documents. No need to keep hunting for open windows.
WPS also comes with a complimentary cloud storage service that gives you 1G free space for PC and iOS.
Calmly Writer lets you one thing well. Write.
When you start typing, all of the distracting options disappear away from the interface. All you see are your words.
Calmly also includes a focus mode tool. When you activate it, it highlights only the paragraph you are working on at the time.
If you are a writing minimalist and hate distractions when you write, it could be a good choice for you.
Calmly Writer is a browser-based app and there is a Chrome extension available.
Zoho Writer is a great free alternative to Word. It is packed with a lot of features.
You can sync between your PC or Mac, iPhone, Android or iPad.
Almost everything you do in Word, you can do with this word processor. There are even collaboration tools.
It also has, Zia, a writing assistant to help with contextual grammar, readability and style suggestions.
You can import your existing Word documents and get to work. There is also a plugin to link your Zoho documents to Word.
Not a bad deal for at all for a free online writing tool.
FocusWriter is another one of the minimalist distraction free text editors.
It uses a full screen hide-away interface. You access the menus by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen.
This option allows the program to have a familiar look and feel about it. But you can get all of the clutter out of the way so that you can immerse yourself in your work.
It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
If you are looking for a clean no-fuss writing web app, then iA Writer might be right for you.
Forget about all the fancy keyboard shortcuts and lists of menu options.
All you can do with this great little app is write.
The NYT says this about iA Writer. “It creates a clean, simple and distraction-free writing environment for when you really need to focus on your words. It’s delightful to use.”
For article and blog post writing, it is one of the top free word processors out there. It will suit all types of writing styles.
It is available for Windows, Mac, and apps for Android and iOS.
Free Office gets a mention because it can do one thing many other word processors cant do.
It can export directly to .epub. This is a very handy feature for self-publishers.
FreeOffice is a complete Office suite with a word processor, a spreadsheet application and a presentation program.
All of these are compatible with their counterparts in Microsoft Office.
TextMaker is the free word processor in this office suite.
It comes with advanced formatting options, the ability to create databases for bibliographies and footnotes, as well as track change.
It is available as a free download for both Mac and PC.
Scribus is a free program for desktop publishing.
It gets a mention here because it is free of course. But also because it is such a feature-rich cross-platform program.
As long as you are familiar with using text boxes, you can use this program to design flyers, brochures and newsletters.
Scribus is a page layout and desktop publishing program.
It works with Linux, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, OpenIndiana, Debian GNU/Hurd, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4, eComStation, Haiku and Windows.
So, well that says you can use it on any operating system under the sun.
Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK colours, spot colours, ICC colour management and PDF creation.
Perhaps it is not a perfect choice for most writers and bloggers. But you might have a desktop publishing job you need to do one day.
No, you don’t need to pay a cent for a reliable and fully functional word processor.
Many of the programs listed above are full office suites. So you get a bonus with all the extras that come with them.
You definitely have a lot to choose from. So make your choices and save yourself a lot of money.
I started my working life as a lithographer and then spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of the Alps.
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