Writing is a very personal practice, and as a result you have a million writing-focused apps to choose from. From distraction-free apps that take up your whole screen to feature-packed mainstays like Microsoft Word, we’ve put together a guide to help you choose the writing software that’s right for you.
There was a time not that long ago where your choices for writing apps boiled down to plain text or Microsoft Word. Things have changed a lot over the years. Nowadays, you have almost too many options. So, with that in mind, we’ve tested out a ton of writing software to pick our favorites depending on what your needs are.
. . . .
For Novelists Who Hate Microsoft Word: Scrivener/Ulysses III
Microsoft Word might be the default app for writing a novel, but it’s not necessarily the best. If you’re looking for something created with long form writing in mind, both Scrivener and Ulysses III are excellent choices.
Scrivener ($45) is a Windows and Mac app that gives you a single place to dump all your ideas and writing. It includes tools to keep notes, collect research, outline, and organize your writing. With all that, you can navigate to different sections of your text, jump around to different parts of research, and find whatever you’re looking for with powerful search options. Basically, Scrivener is like Evernote for longform writing, and if you’re looking for a way to organize and write in the same place, it’s an excellent option. Scrivener also integrated with Simplenote if you want to take your writing on the go.
Ulysses III ($44.99) for Mac takes a similar approach to Scrivener, but simplifies things a little bit. It uses plain text or Markdown for writing, but also includes statistics, notes, exporting, organization, and more. The Markdown support means you can use it for regular old blogging just as easily as for novel writing. Ulysses III fits somewhere between a minimalist writing tool and Scrivener. It’s feature packed, but offers a ton of options for hiding those features away too. If you want to take your writing on the go, Ulysses III integrates with Daedalus Touch on iOS.
. . . .
Editing is often the hardest part of writing, but you won’t find a ton of tools specifically made for dreaded task. That said, you have a few great options for apps that help put a spotlight on your mistakes, spot repeating words, and help you clean up your writing a bit.
Hemingway is a web app that highlights problems in your writing. Once you paste your text into it, Hemingway highlights hard to read sentences, adverbs, complex phrases, and passive voice. What you decide to do with that information is up to you, but it’s a great tool for editing it you’re the type to use too many adverbs or drop into passive voice.
On the Mac, we like Marked 2. Technically, Marked 2 is just a Markdown previewer, but it includes a ton of tools for writers. You’ll get word counts and a ton of advanced document statistics, but its best feature is “Visualize Word Repetition.” This mode highlights words that you repeat throughout the document, which is helpful if you’re the type to repeat phrases a lot.