12 Open Source Tools for Writers
The open-source community produces a large amount of software for different uses. Writers are no exception here. Let me highlight some of the best open-source tools to help authors be creative and productive.
Why Open Source tools for Writers?
When we think of the software we use to write, most people think of programs written by big corporations like Microsoft Word or Scrivener . These programs cost money and are built by large teams of programmers. These companies and products could disappear and be unavailable at any time .
Moreover, the commercial/proprietary tools may involve many features you do not need . Not to forget, they could also introduce changes that you never wanted .
Open source programs are a little different. The vast majority are free . The code used to create them is freely available and provides transparency with privacy practices. And, it is here to stay with the help of the community forks, if the developer quits.
Furthermore, the open-source options may not include as much bloat as the proprietary options . And they respect the user preferences more than anyone else.
All things considered, using open-source software has a lot of benefits. So, let us take a look at some of the best open-source tools for writers.
I have already told you about open source tools for creating interactive fictions .
Bibisco is an application designed to help you write stories, mainly novels. Where it shines is in character creation. Bibisco asks you a series of questions about each character in your story. The questions will help you create a solid idea of what your character looks like, their motives, and their background. It also has a place to store images that help you create a mental picture of your characters.
Bibisco also comes with an interesting analysis feature that allows you to see at a glance what characters and locations appeared in different chapters. It includes a decent look text editor that has basic formatting features.
Bibisco is released under GPL. It is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac . You can explore more about it on its official website or GitHub page .
Manuskript is another novel creation tool. This application focuses on outlining. By looking at the detailed outline tool, you can see each chapter's stage and the characters involved. You can also easily rearrange chapters. It uses the snowflake method to help you build your novel.
Manuskript includes a frequency analyzer to see which words or phrases you repeat and how often. It also includes a distraction-free writing mode.
Manuskript is released under GPL v3. It is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac .
Even though it has been in development for a while, it is still in its early stages. So, you can expect a few hiccups your way. It worked fine in my case but you should keep that in mind and go through its GitHub page if needed.
If you’re looking to crunch more words quickly, you might want to use an open-source text expander Rust-based tool like espanso.
It works offline and you can create custom keywords to expand texts you would use frequently. I’m sure you can figure out ways to make the most out of it to speed up your writing tasks. It supports various extensions to enhance what you can do with it.
Also, I would suggest you refer to our article on espanso to learn how to set it up and get started.
GitBook is a service mainly used for technical writing, but I don’t see why it would not work for a fiction writer or someone else. GitBook uses the git version control system to keep track of changes in the document you are writing. It also enables several users to collaborate on a book and import data from Notion, Google Docs, and more.
You can choose a free account or pay $8 per user monthly. You may not require the paid plans unless you have a team to collaborate with. But, if you do, it is worth noting that eligible open-source or non-profit projects will get 50% off .
You can choose to create a public space or a private space , depending on how you want to give access to the information you’re working on. If it’s private, only your team members or collaborators can access it (if any).
The GitBook Editor lets you edit/create pages online on the web browser without needing a separate desktop application. So, you can use it on any platform (Linux, Windows, or Mac).
5. KIT Scenarist
If you’re into screenwriting (or scriptwriting), KIT Scenarist is a full-fledged solution for casual and professional use.
It offers many features that include the ability to create/manage cards, get statistics about your project, and organize all your research materials to comfortably work on your script with an easy-to-use GUI (Graphical User Interface).
If you’re curious to explore more about it, you might want to read our article on KIT Scenarist .
Ghostwriter is a personal favorite of mine. (I used to do all my writing in it). The project is now under KDE's umbrella. So, it can be an exciting option to use.
This application allows you to use the Markdown language to create documents. It is a distraction-free markdown editor by design. It can export to HTML, Word, ODT, PDF, Epub, and more. One nice feature is that it will convert headings to chapters if you export to Epub.
It also provides different light and dark themes to help you get comfortable writing or editing.
Ghostwriter is licensed under GPL v3. It can run on Linux and Windows.
Scribus is a free and open-source desktop publishing application. While it’s not designed to help you write the next big novel, you can use Scribus for the layout or work on publishing a print-ready magazine.
It has support for powerful vector drawing tools, a huge number of file types via import/export filters, emulation of color blindness, or the rendering of markup languages like LaTeX or Lilypond.
Scribus can run on Linux, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, OpenIndiana, Debian GNU/Hurd, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4, eComStation, Haiku, and Windows. It is released under GPL.
Markdown is more than a tool. It is also a formatting syntax. This means that you can write your stories in a plain text editor and then convert it to any document format or use it to convert text to HTML. Check out our Markdown guide to learn more about it.
This is great because it prevents you from being locked into one program or file format only to see it die. To use Markdown, you typically need to use a text editor that supports Markdown. You may refer to our list of the best Markdown editors for a head start
Ghostwriter, as mentioned above, is one such useful editor for it. Markdown is released under a custom license .
AsciiDoc is another document formatting syntax. AsciiDoc has support for several options, such as footnotes, tables, cross-references, embedded YouTube videos, and more. It can be used to create notes, documentation, articles, books, e-books, slideshows, web pages, man pages, and blogs. AsciiDoc files can be converted to HTML, PDF, EPUB, and man pages. It is released under GPL v2.
AsciiDocFX is a useful editor that supports AsciiDoc. In either case, you might refer to one of our existing guides on getting started with AsciiDoc .
Are text editors enough to help you get a flawless writing experience?
If you want to avoid silly errors and make sure that your writing is as perfect as possible, you might want to try LanguageTool .
It is an open-source spell and grammar checker that can also work offline. It provides you browser extensions, and add-ons for popular editors like Microsoft Word, LibreOffice, etc., and you also get a desktop app if needed.
You can refer to our LanguageTool review if you want to explore more about it before getting started.
LaTeX is a human-readable document preparation system. While this system was created for scientific papers, it can be used to create beautifully formatted books. You use a series of markup cues to set the structure of your document and also add citations and cross-references. The end product can be converted into several file formats.
There are several LaTeX editors for Linux and other platforms that you can use. Just to test LaTeX, I suggest you give Lyx a spin.
LaTeX is released under the LaTeX Project Public License .
novelWriter is a markdown-like text editor specially crafted t help you write novels and work with larger projects.
You get a wide range of features to organize what you write, export them, focus mode, dark theme, and many useful things.
It supports Linux, Windows, and MacOS. To explore more, head to its GitHub page .
Honorable Mentions that have been Discontinued
Continue the discussion.
If you’re curious, you should also read how to create ebooks in Linux with Calibre .
Have you ever used one of the tools on this list? What is your favorite open-source tool as a writer? Please let us know in the comments below.
If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it with fellow writers and authors.
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18 Recommended Open-Source Tools for Writers and content creators
In this article, we want to share with you 10 free and open-source programs that are going to be great and help you if you are an author or a writer.
Every tool here helps with different aspects from story boarding, actual book creation to artwork creation as well, and so we're just to take a look at all of these best programs. We think would be valuable for writers and authors.
We have created several lists for writers and content creators, here are some of them:
- Top 7 Free and Open-source Markdown Editors for macOS
- 10 Best Free and Open-source LaTeX/ TeX editors for macOS
- 10 Best Open-source Self-hosted Collaborative Text Editors Alternative to Google Docs
- 20 Distraction-free Text Editors for Linux, Windows, macOS and The Cloud
Best Open-Source Tools For Writers
Manuskript is an open-source tool for writers. It is used to write articles, research paper, novels, stories, and more. It has a productive editor-friendly interface, predefine templates that helps you in writing process, grow your premise from one sentence to paragraph, help you to re-organize chapters and sentences.
Manuskript has a spell checker, markdown highlighter, frequency analyzer, and automatic save in open and plain text file format that help you with writing process.
Manuskript released under the GPL v3, written in Python and available for Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Bibisco App follows the concept of Manuscripts to write novels, stories in a simple way. It uses to organize chapters and scenes, manage revisions, organize your ideas high-end cryptography to protect notes and data.
Bibisco offers a desktop application available for Linux, macOS and Windows.
With Bibisco, you can create your world, design characters, analyze the length, time, location of characters chapters, it is multi-language, It focuses on characters and all of unusual thing about it, and more.
It is licensed under the GPL-3.0 license
GitHub : https://github.com/andreafeccomandi/bibisco
Ghostwriter is an open-source writing app for mobile for large documents. You can download it on Windows, Linux, and macOS. Although It looks simple, it offers more editor-friendly features its come without distraction, live HTML preview, navigation, export to multiple formats, drag and drop images, it displays live statistics.
You also can export to HTML, Word, ODT, PDF, and more, it enables you to highlight the current line, sentence, paragraph, or three lines, it provides an outline of the document.
It is a Django v3.0 project written in Python 3.9 and license under GNU General Public License v3.0.
The primary feature of Gitbook is its fancy interface, it helps you to connect with your team across space and time, you can publish docs anywhere.
It released under the Apache-2.0 License.
Espanso is a free open-source cross-platform text expander with privacy options written in Rust.
Espanso features smarter typing, support shell, emoji and date, custom scripts, code snippets, works with most applications, it works offline, it also speeds your writing skills, cross-platform that mean you can download it into Windows, Linux and macOS.
Espanso is open-source, licensed under the GPL-3 license.
Trelby is a free and open-source script and screenwriting software. It helps you develop and manage your different scenes, characters, and dialogue between different characters, so this is especially going to be useful if you're writing a screenplay or a script, but it can be nice for just general story.
It has all the built-in tools you'd expect like spell checker and different ways of sharing your story.
It has excellent analytical tools too you can see different characters and how often they're seen throughout the story, so it can be a perfect tool to use to help you understand and maybe diagnose and dive deeper into the data of your story.
You can also download scripts or stories from online and then import them and edit them or just inspect them to see you know different ways that they've achieved their results. It is a good tool to get familiar with if you are a writer or an author.
It comes with many features such as auto-completion, spell checking, Multiplatform, it has Scene, location, character, dialogue reports.
It also can compare scripts, Import and export from Screenplay formatted, Final Draft XML (.fdx), Celtx (.celtx), Fountain (.fountain), Adobe Story (.astx) and Fade In Pro (.fadein).
It is a free software licensed under the GPL.
The "afterwriting" app is an open-source web-based writing software that runs in the browser. The project has a clean productive interface, set of editing, offline-first, with no registration, no ads, no fuss.
It is used to post-processing for fountain screenplays, converting Fountain format to PDF, extracting basic screenplay information like location's distribution, dialogue, page balance, it is loading and syncing with Google Drive and Dropbox.
It is released under MIT license.
Markdown is a conversion tool for web writers. It is open source, let you read and write easily. It is aim to plain text formatting syntax, then convert it to HTML, XHTML.
You need to know that you want to use text editor that support markdown.
It can prevent you from being locked, help you to write stories.
It is released and licensed under the BSD-style open-source license.
9- kit scenarist
kit scenarist is a simple, powerful app used for creating screenplays. It is used from more than 10000 authors. It comes for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, iOS, and Android.
kit scenarist is the right choice for Researches, Scripts, Statistics, stories. With it, you can manage lists of characters and locations, add descriptions, photos to them. The script editor will allow you to think only about the story itself.
It is written with C++ and released under the GPL-3.0 License.
AsciiDoc is an open-source writing tool text processor and publishing tool chain for writing notes, documentation, articles, books, webpages, blogs, slideshows.
AsciiDoc features include: it has real-time collaboration mode, it hosted on GitHub, Dropbox, and other services, highly configurable, it can be customized and extended by the user.
The project is free software and licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPLv2). It has written in Ruby.
Official website: https://asciidoc.org/
LaTeX is not a writing app, rather it is a complete document preparation system for high-quality typesetting
It is not the right tool for developers and software engineers to organize and manage their documentation, but it is beneficial for normal daily users or people who want to take notes on-fly.
LaTeX includes many features such as typesetting journal articles, technical reports, books, and slide presentations, it controls large documents, Multi-lingual, it is Controlling large documents, cross-references, tables and figures.
It is released under the LPPL-1.3c License.
12- Story border
Story border is a great free and open-source program for creating storyboards. It has superb art tools it's very intuitive and you can create both 2D and 3D storyboards. It will be fantastic specially if you're doing an illustration or a book that has different pictures in it like a children's book this can be a really useful program.
You can use Story border to sort of solidify scenes, especially if you're working with multiple people. In this writing you can share ideas by expressing them in these storyboards the art work and storyboards can also be exported to be edited in external programs like or Photoshop.
Calibre this is an e-book management software so it's designed primarily for managing your e-books between different devices.
It also has wonderful tools for publishing e-books so if you want to write a book and then share it as an e-book you can export it in different types of common e-book formats, and you can even edit the different data, so you can edit the metadata, associated with the e-book.
With it you can add all kinds of data, convert e-book from one format to another. You can export it for example PDF, or you can convert a PDF into a different type of e-book for maybe the Amazon Kindle or different types of e-readers that are out there and one nice thing is you can also add all this extra information like the author and the date of the book. You have full control over metadata associated and of course you also have control of the text and the style of the book itself.
Inkscape is a vector art drawing software and this is going to be perfect for creating book art and also any art work within a book so, especially for doing a children's book or something that requires a lot of illustration.
Inkscape is a perfect tool for that. If you want to work in the vector style it can be used to create all kinds of printed media, do t-shirts, do business cards.
Inkscape is especially going to be good for creating book covers and sharing that in a professional file format with professional printers.
15- Plume Creator
Plume Creator is a free and open-source manager text editor for writers, it support for multiple projects.
PlainPad features rich text editing, full-screen mode, chapters and scenes outlining, note-taking, manage characters, places and items, desktop and netbook displays, and more.
It licensed under GNU GPL v3 and written with Python.
16- Quoll writer
Quollwriter is a free and open-source writing application available for Windows, macOS and Linux.
Its features include a minimal interface, your text is the focus, convert your great ideas into words, you can manage all projects in one place, is familiar and easy to use.
LanguageTool is a free 0pen-source writing assistant tool, grammar checker for more than 25 Languages for all browser and word processors.It helps you to check all the words continuously through writing.
This software is distributed under the LGPL and written with Java.
Scribus is an open source desktop applications that used for publishing a print-ready magazine.
It is support professional publishing features, such as CMYK colors, spot colors, ICC color management, versatile PDF creation, It has powerful vector drawing tools, support for a huge number of file types via import/export filters, and more.
Well, thanks for reading guys we hope you found this article informative go a head and leave questions and comments below if you have any apps too.
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4 open source Android apps for writers
While I'm of two minds when it comes to smartphones and tablets, I have to admit they can be useful. Not just for keeping in touch with people or using the web but also to do some work when I'm away from my computer.
For me, that work is writing —articles, blog posts , essays for my weekly letter , e-book chapters, and more. I've tried many (probably too many!) writing apps for Android over the years. Some of them were good. Others fell flat.
Here are four of my favorite open source Android apps for writers. You might find them as useful as I do.
If you're a writer, you need to write with something. A good choice for that job is Markor , a simple, flexible Markdown editor.
All you need to do is fire up Markor, create a new document, and start typing. You can add Markdown formatting by hand or by clicking a button on the toolbar. When it comes to writing, Markor has no frills. It's just you and your words, as it should be.
The app automatically saves your work to your phone or tablet's filesystem. If you sync your phone with a service like Nextcloud , you can set up Markor to save your work in a folder the Nextcloud mobile app uses. That way, you don't need to shuffle files around manually.
Markor has a few other useful features. One of those is a simple preview. Another is a task list, which uses the same format as Todo.txt (a popular to-do list manager). When you're researching a writing project, you can create a list of bookmarks. You can also export what you're writing as an HTML or a PDF file.
Some writers swear by outlines. Others hate them with a passion, finding outlines restricting. I'm in the former camp. On my laptop, I do most of my outlining using Emacs and Org mode . Bringing the Org mode experience to my phone or tablet is easy using Orgzly .
Don't let the fact that Orgzly uses Org mode's format turn you off. You don't need to be an Emacs guru, or even an Emacs user, to benefit from it.
Create a new notebook (the label Orgzly gives an outline) and add items to it. In addition to a title, you can add tags and notes to each item in your outline. Since outlines are fluid, you can move items up, down, and around. If you need to, you can also sync your notebooks with your service or tool of choice.
Orgzly takes a bit of getting used to. Once you do, Orgzly's a great app for creating not only outlines but also notes and task lists .
Notes are the lifeblood of any writer. They're a record of thoughts on a subject. They're snippets and rough drafts. They're research and quotes. And a lot more.
You can use Markor or Orgzly to take notes, but they're not for everyone. If you're one of those people, you'll want to check out Carnet .
Unlike some note-taking apps, Carnet lets you add formatting to your notes. You can change the size, color, and alignment of fonts and add character formatting. You can also insert images into a note. When you finish, you can sync the note either with Carnet's online service or with Nextcloud.
The way Carnet displays notes reminds me of Google Keep's layout—as tiles, which you can color, that display a note's title and its first few lines. That's not a bad thing—you can see what a note is about with a glance.
When I write on a phone or tablet, I usually use a folding Bluetooth keyboard. It's a lot faster and easier than typing with an onscreen keyboard. But there are times when I don't have my physical keyboard with me. The stock Android keyboard? It really doesn't do it for me. Instead, I use Anysoft Keyboard .
Why? I prefer the layout and spacing. On top of that, it has several keyboard themes to choose from. Some are compact, while others space the keys out a bit more widely. Don't use QWERTY? Not a problem. Anysoft Keyboard also supports the Dvorak , Colemak , Workman , and Halmak layouts.
While I'm more of a poly-not than a polyglot, I know more than a couple of people will find Anysoft Keyboard's language support to be a boon when they're writing in a language other than English.
Have an open source Android app that you find indispensable when writing? Feel free to share it by leaving a comment.
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Open-source tool for writers
Organize your thoughts and snippets in a hierarchical manner. Organize them as you wish, reorganize them on the go.
Get rid of all distraction while writing. Set personal goal in word count or time before you can leave editor.
Use the snowflake method to grow your single genius idea in an coherent whole, with complex characters, intricate plots and detailed universe.
Free as in free speech
Because free is always better.
Manuskript is a perfect tool for those writer who like to organize and plan everything before writing. The snowflake method can help you grow your idea into a book, by leading you step by step and asking you questions to go deeper. While writing, keep track of notes about every characters, plot, event, place in your story. Manuskript is still in development, and in need of extensive testing.
Develop complex characters and keep track of all useful infos
Create intricate plots, linked to your characters, and use them to outline your story
Organize your ideas about the world your characters live in
Simply start writing
Manuskript 0.15.0 arrived! Quite some time has past since the last release of Manuskript and again the release will mostly fix bugs – but a lot of them and some new features arrived as well. There is also quite some progress in translations of the UI thanks to all the translators. So please enjoy the […]
Manuskript 0.14.0 is here! This is mostly a bug-fix release. So there are not many new shiny features. However this release will hopefully help reduce the issues from many users. What’s new? Stability There are multiple bugs which should be fixed by this release. If you have an issue still open on Github, you can […]
Manuskript 0.13.1 got released! Why is it called 0.13.1 instead of 0.13.0? Well, because a newer Python update broke compatibility right after I finished preparation for 0.13.0. However this shouldn’t affect most platforms without Python version 3.10.1 or newer and I applied multiple changes already to prevent crashes. So Manuskript 0.13.1 should work just fine. […]
Manuskript 0.12.0 is finally here! This is mostly a feature release which integrates a lot of long requested enhancements and is made possible by the folks who contribute to the project through opening issues, filing bug reports, adding code improvements and translating the UI into many languages. Thanks to you all. What’s new? Searching The […]
Manuskript 0.11.0 is out! This is a bug fix release and is made possible by the folks who contribute bug reports, code improvements, and language translations. Thanks goes to all of you. What’s new? This release fixes a bug that can result in data loss when copying and pasting into the Notes / References and […]
Manuskript 0.10.0 is out! This release is made possible by many people who contribute bug reports, code improvements, and language translations. Thanks goes to all of you. Special thanks to Jan Wester (@worstje) who enabled the new Windows 10 dark theme and has provided fixes for a variety of issues. What’s new? This release adds […]
Manuskript 0.9.0 is out! Development continues moving forward on github, thanks to many people contributing with: bug reports, ideas, code, and translations. Thanks to all of you. Special thanks to Youness Alaoui (@kakaroto) who added the new fullscreen features and has been really helpful lately. What’s new? This release adds fully configurable fullscreen editing features, […]
Manuskript 0.8.0 is out! This release focuses on bug fixes and language translation updates that improve the usability of Manuskript for both fiction and non-fiction writers alike. What’s new? Add support for Pandoc v2.x while maintaining v1.x support Fix plot importance changes if delete earlier plot and click other plots Remove conflicting plot resolution step […]
Manuskript 0.7.0 is out! This release contains enhancements, bug fixes, and language translation updates that improve the usability of Manuskript. What’s new? Add new focus mode (line/paragraph) Add new import formats like doxc, html, opml, Mind Map Remove broken format buttons and add format menu Fix crash if Cheatsheet filter term not found and Enter […]
Manuskript 0.6.0 is out! This release contains many enhancements and bug fixes that improve the robustness and overall usability of Manuskript. What’s new? Add Import feature to import several document formats via pandoc Add Organize menu to assist changing document structure Fix manuskript fails to run in Ubuntu 14.04 Remove hard coding of colors (improves […]
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8 Best Free Open Source Writing Software For Windows
Here is a list of best free open source writing software for Windows . As all of these writing software are open source, hence you are allowed to download their source codes along with their installation files. Plus, you can also edit their source codes without any restriction.
These open source writing software help you write novels , screenplays , fiction and nonfiction stories , etc. Plus, most of these are suitable for both professionals and novice writers. As novels, screenplays, etc. have various characters, chapters/episodes, scenes, etc. In order to create , edit , and manage characters, chapters, etc., these software provide various dedicated sections. Besides this, these software also help writers to focus on writing by removing all the distractions from the interface when in full-screen mode. As these are writing software, so you also get standard text editing tools in them like Undo , Redo , Bold , Italic , Cut , Paste , etc. These freeware lets you save or export the novel, screenplays, stories, etc. as HTML , PDF , CSV , TXT , DOCX , etc. files.
My Favorite Open Source Writing Software For Windows:
Manuskript is my favorite software because it provides predefined templates for different writing projects (novels, trilogy, short stories, etc.). Plus, various dedicated sections to divide the project into small and manageable parts are also provided by it. Its Dictionary , Spell Checker , and Frequency Analyzer tools further help you in maintaining the accuracy of your content.
You can also check out lists of best free Lyrics Writing Software , Open Source Screenwriting Software , and Story Writing Software for Windows.
Manuskript is a free open source writing software for Windows. Using this software, you can write Novels , Short Stories , Trilogy , Research Papers , etc. For different types of content, it has predefined templates to help you during the writing process. Besides this, it also provides various sections to divide the whole novel writing , script writing , trilogy writing , etc. into small parts.
Let’s take a brief look at all important sections of this software:
- General : In it, you can define the information about your project (book, novel, trilogy, etc.) such as Title , Subtitle , Series , Volume , Genre , etc.
- Summary : Here, you can write the summary related to your project.
- Characters : Using it, you can define all characters and their associated information like Goal , Conflict , Motivation , Importance , etc.
- Plots : In this section, you can add all plots and turns of the story along with resolution steps.
- World : In here, you can add all important objects and their description which are important to the story.
- Editor : It is the main writing section where you can write and edit the main content of your project.
- Debug : From this section, you can view and edit all the data of all other sections.
To help you in writing and verifying the content, it provides three important tools namely Spellchecker , Frequency Analyzer , and Dictionary . After the completion of the project, you can save it locally as manuskript file and export it as a TXT file.
bibisco is a free open source book writing software for Windows. This software is designed for writers who want to write novels. Each aspect of this software revolves around novel creation like organization of ideas , creation of novel structure , focus on characters , and more. It provides various sections to help you create a novel namely Architecture , Characters , Locations , Objects , Chapters , and Analysis .
Let’s take a brief look at all important sections of this software:
- Architecture : In this section, you can define Premise (describing the novel in one sentence), Fabula (to create and sort narration of events in logical and chronological sequence), Settings (to describe place, time, and social context of the story), and Notes (to create and save ideas, notes, and cues).
- Characters : In it, you can create all the main and secondary characters and their back stories.
- Location : Here, you can describe places where the main characters are situated or any place which is used in the story.
- Objects : In here, you can define all the main objects related to the story like a magic wand , map , gun , etc.
- Chapters : It is used to create and manage multiple chapters of the novel.
- Analysis : You can use this section to analyze characters appearances , location distributions , narrative strands distribution , etc.
This software also has one more section named Export through which you can export your novels as PDF , DOCX , or as Archive File (file.bibisco2).
oStorybook is yet another free open source writing software for Windows. This software is created for creative writers , novelists , and authors, who want to keep an overview of various plots while writing. To keep an overview of the writing, this software provides multiple important categories such as characters , location , scenes , items , tags , etc. The final version of your writing piece can be saved as HTML, text, CSV, and XML files.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the important categories of this software:
- Characters : Using it, you can add , edit , or remove characters and assign them to scenes. Plus, you can also define the gender of characters.
- Strands (Plot Lines) : From here, you can define the primary plot lines and add secondary plot lines with scenes.
- Locations : In it, you can add new locations and add them to different scenes.
- Chapters : It is used to define chapters and assign scenes to them.
- Object Tree : In it, you can define the relationship between different scenes , characters , locations , and other important story elements.
In this software, you cannot only define various aspects of stories, but you can also view the story from different aspects using viewing sections. There are four viewing sections available named as Chronological View , Manage Chapters & Scenes , Book View , and Reading View . In the chronological view , you can view scenes sorted by dates and each plot in its own personal column. The Manage Chapters & Scenes View shows all chapters and assigned scenes. Options to move and rearrange scenes are also present in this view. The book view shows chapters and scenes in a sorted manner. The Reading View shows the final version of the text just like in a book.
Trelby is the next free open source writing software for Windows. It is mainly a feature rich screenwriting software that comes with a simple and distraction-free environment. The main aspect of this software is its Screenplay Editor in which you can write screenplays. Besides this, its editor also helps you maintain the correct script format , pagination , and correct spellings by enforcing these important aspects of the screenplay writing. In it, you also get various different views (draft view, WYSIWYG view, fullscreen view, etc.) to view the content as you want.
This software also comes with a Name Database that contains more than two hundred thousand names from various countries. You can use this name database to find the right name for your characters. Some other important features contained by this software are Compare (to compare scripts to know the difference between them), and Reporting (to view scene report, dialogue report, character report, etc.).
After the writing of the complete screenplay, you can save or export it in formats like PDF , TXT , HTML , RTF , XML , and Fountain format .
Quoll Writer is another completely free open source writing software for Windows. It is designed to help you focus on your words. Using it, you can easily write novels , screenplays , stories , etc. To help you write your ideas, it provides a lot of important features which are discussed below.
Let’s take a brief look at some of the important features of this software:
- Management of characters and assets : To manage characters and assets, it provides dedicated sections like Characters , Items , Notes , etc. through which you can add, edit, and delete characters and assets.
- Annotation : It lets you annotate text , scenes , etc. to help you keep an eye on important aspects of the story.
- Full-Screen Mode : If you don’t want any type of distraction, then you can enable this mode which hides every option from its interface and show you a distraction-free writing interface.
- Problem Finder : It is a very handy feature because it highlights every detected problem with the text.
- Editor Mode : This mode helps you share your projects with other editors in a few simple clicks. Plus, inbuilt chat feature along with comments section to get feedback from other editors are also provided by it.
- Statistics : It is another important section through which you can view statistics like word count , readability , session charts , etc.
Another great feature of this software is its ability to Import/Export writing projects in various formats like DOCX , HTML , EPUB , etc. Overall, it is a really great and feature packed writing tool for professional writers.
Plume Creator is another one of free open source writing software which is mainly used as a Novel writing software . Like other novel writing software, it also helps you divide the novel into chapters , scenes , acts , etc. Additionally, Notes and Synopsis sections are also provided in it to store information associated with chapters or scenes.
To manage , store , and retrieve novel information, it also provides various dedicated sections like Chapters (to create, edit, and manage chapters), Scenes (to write and manage different scenes of the novel), Notes (to store information related to scenes and chapters), etc. A very useful fullscreen mode is also provided by it to give you a distraction-free writing environment by hiding every distraction from the screen. Its export option is also quite advanced because it lets you individually export chapters and scenes along with the whole book as HTML , ODT , TXT , CSV , and PDF file formats. Overall, it is a simple and easy to writing software for both beginners and professionals.
KIT Scenarist is another open source writing software for Windows. In this software, you can edit an existing screenplay file or you can write the whole screenplay from the scratch. Existing screenplays or scripts of DOCX , DOC , ODT , FDX , etc. formats can easily be imported and edited. After the completion, you can save script back in PDF , DOCX , FDX , and Fountain file formats. In order to simplify the process of writing the screenplay, this software provides three main sections namely Research, Script, and Statistics. Let’s take a look at all three sections to write screenplays:
- Research : Using it, you can specify script name , page title , synopsis of the script, etc. Plus, options to add characters , locations , and research material with referenced files , images , URL links, etc. are also available.
- Script : It is the main writing section in which you can write screenplays. Besides this, you can also add dialogues , action , transitions , etc. to the screenplay.
- Statistics : From this section, you can view various reports related to screenplay like location , character , dialogues report , etc. Also, you can view plots including story structure analysis and character activity from here.
In general, it is another good open source writing software to write screenplays and books.
Afterwriting is the next free open source writing software for Windows. It is a web-based writing software that runs in the web browser. You need to open its index.html file in a browser in order to work in it. A complete online version of this software is also available that you can access and use from its main website.
In this software, you can easily write screenplays , fictional stories , non- fictional stories , etc. It is quite a simple and straightforward software when compared to other similar software. In it, you get a simple text editor in which you can create your writing project. Plus, you also get some sample screenplay projects that you can import in your current project and edit. This software also keeps track of various key elements of the content that you can view from the script statistics like primary character , title page , duration , scenes , speaking time , etc.
In this freeware, you can also make various customizations like embolden scene headers , scene numbers , scene continuations , page break after a scene , etc. After the completion of the script or story, you can save it as a PDF or Fountain file .
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11 Best Free and Open Source Tools for Novelists
Writing is one of the essential skills in modern society. Being able to communicate effectively is paramount both at work and at home. It makes your thinking visible to others, and is the main way in which work, learning, and intellect is judged by others.
At first glance, the trusty word processor might seem a good tool for a novelist. After all, in days gone by, budding authors would tap away using a typewriter, and a word processor is the modern day equivalent. Linux has some excellent word processing software such as LibreOffice. However, word processors are actually not the ideal tool for some forms of writing, particularly novel-writing. In fact, it could be said that using a word processor for novel-writing is a recipe for disaster, and actually a retrograde step from a typewriter. Word processors are a general application software that are perfect for constructing business documents, letters, batch mailings using templates, etc. However, many word processors are too obtrusive and distracting for writers. What is needed is software that helps concentrate on the content of the novel, sketch out the chapters and scenes, work out the best structure, import research, add locations, characters and objects, and so on.
The software featured in this article is designed to meet the specialised needs of a budding novelist. There’s the finest open source distraction-free tools, software designed to create visual novels, and tools to help capture and visualise ideas.
To provide an insight into the quality of software that is available, we have compiled a list of 11 high quality free writing tools. Hopefully, there will be something of interest here for anyone who has a passion for writing novels, including visual novels.
Let’s explore the 11 tools at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.
CherryTree is rated kinda high (and Joplin kinda low) considering that there’s no mobile version of CherryTree right now.
Not certain the lack of a mobile version has much bearing on an article about Linux software.
Thankfully LinuxLinks seems to publish far fewer Android articles these days.
October 12, 2022 at 8:02 am 😄…cheeky
Well, I doubt Cherrytree would run on any Linux mobile platform out there e.g Purism’s OS?
And also, availability of good Linux apps on other platforms would increase linux fanbase, as the bane of the low usage of Linux distros on PC’s is not so much of Linux not being a good OS but the lack of standard apps that can compete with, not be like, the defacto commercial ones
Since Cherytree exports to plain text files, you can export to such format, send them to your mobile, then copy/paste to your note taking app…
😉…the perks of linux, great options (which sometimes may not be usable), lengthy workflows or rather workarounds…
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Write a Novel with Open Source Tools
If you are looking for an open source tool to help you write your next novel, bibisco, ManusKript, and Plume Creator can help you get started.
Aspiring writers have no shortage of software that is supposed to help them along the road to a finished manuscript. Whether they are writing a short story or a multi-volume series, this software promises to organize them by providing software and revisable outlines, as well as a supposedly distraction-free full-screen mode and databases for characters, settings, objects, and drafts. On Windows and Mac, the leading software is Scrivener. However, since a Linux version of Scrivener has yet to reach general release, open source alternatives have sprung up like bibisco , Manuskript , and Plume Creator , each with its own approach to writing and outlining.
Two years ago, I gave my opinion of bibisco in my Linux Magazine blog. Revisiting bibisco, I find my opinion unchanged: It’s a well-meaning piece of software that will appeal only to the minority who outline in fine-detail before they write. In fact, in my experience, those who outline as copiously as bibisco advocates typically put so much energy into preparation that their creative energies burn out before the first word of the opening chapter (Figure 1).
You can get an idea of Bibsco’s tendency from the way it handles characters. Bibisco’s first tip states that “in order to write believable characters, you must know everything about them” – and that apparently applies not only to main characters, but to minor characters as well (Figure 2). In pursuit of this knowledge, bibisco’s Characters tab offers nine different categories of questions to answer. Some, like the character’s physical description, are obviously useful, although I doubt that anyone needs to know every single detail; as my neighbor once pointed out to me, who remembers the color of Madame Bovary’s eyes? Similarly, I doubt that you need a character’s complete backstory ahead of time, let alone “every aspect of the character’s psychology.” In the best of circumstances, much of this detail is likely to be developed in a character’s interaction with others and the plot, and setting down this detail will be a waste of time for most people.
Much the same can be said for bibisco’s analytical features. A manuscript’s word length can be useful, although beginning writers tend to be obsessed with the statistic, with no regard for literary quality. But how often are you going to need to know all the scenes in which a character appears, or the different points of view used in each scene?
By contrast, other features, like the Locations are barely fleshed out at all -- proof, if any is needed, that bibisco’s makers view the novel as primarily about character. Nothing is wrong with this view, and it is, of course, a time-honored one. But when I think of the sense of wonder that Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings derives from fabulous settings like Rivendell, Lothlórien, and Minas Tirith, I realize just how limited bibisco’s view of writing can sometimes be. Moreover, other categories, like Objects and the Timeline , are available only in the paid version.
The worst thing about these limitations is that bibisco has by far the best interface, with functions laid out in a menu across the top of the screen and options arranged in buttons or sidebars across the window. Attractive as this interface may be, its usefulness is limited thanks to bibisco’s insistence that users do things its way.
Manuskript does not attempt bibisco’s detail. Admittedly, when you start a new project, it asks for a genre, although exactly what the structural difference between a novel and, say, a trilogy is not clear. It appears to be a matter of how many levels are in a hierarchy: A novel is divided into Acts, Chapters, and Scenes, and a trilogy adds Books at the top of the hierarchy. At the start, you are asked how many of each level you want, although how you should know when you have not already started outlining is a bit of a puzzle. Nor are making choices easy, because the opening windows are only partially visible until you drag on their edges (Figure 3).
However, once you actually get down to planning, Manuskript is much less dogmatic. The interface favors one sentence summaries that can be expanded into paragraph-long summaries for every aspect of a work, but usually it offers only a brief title and an entry field with no required fields. For example, the Basic Info tab for a character contains fields titled Motivation , Goal , Conflict , and Epiphany , leaving you the choice of which to complete. If, like me, you consider the first three fields synonymous and do not see characters in terms of epiphanies, you can leave some of the fields blank. Other parts of the structure have a similar freedom, leaving you to decide, for example, what goes on the Notes tab as opposed to the Detailed info tab. Probably you will want consistency, but, on the whole Manuskript has a freedom that bibisco lacks.
One handy feature of Manuskript is its Scrivener-like storyboard, with a menu of chapters on the left and fields for each scene on the right. While scenes cannot be added from the storyboard, scenes can be deleted and shuffled, and detailed views are only a click away, all of which makes Manuskript an ideal tool for initial planning (Figure 4).
Like Manuskript, Plume Creator offers a clear and open-ended approach to outlining. Although the initial distinction between a novel and a long novel is unclear, once you are at the main window, the layout is clear enough, with a menu in the left margin and an editable table of contents to the right of that. To the far right are secondary content, such as lists of Characters , Items , and Places . If Tools is selected, you can toggle a timer, a feature that many beginners use in writing sprints. At the bottom right, the current word count is highlighted in red; this can also display the target word count. The Outliner tab allows items to be listed by draft number, providing a basic tool for version control.
Plume Creator’s open-end approach can be seen in its treatment of Characters , Items , and Place (Figure 5). Each item can have a name and an alias, as well as three characteristics that are chosen from a drop-down list. For characters, the first two drop-downs are the importance and role of the character, while the third is left blank for customizing. To the right, the character’s age can be set. Anything else must be added to the Notes field below. This arrangement is about as far from bibisco’s details, marred only by the fact that just three drop-down lists are allowed, and that the defaults for characters also appear for items and places (Figure 6).
Still, once customized, the editing windows are clear enough for the high-level planning typical of most writer’s initial outlines. If Plume Creator seems unfleshed-out compared to bibisco or Manuskript, its layout seems more realistic and flexible.
A Solution in Search of a Problem
An annoying feature of all three of these applications is that their input is strictly manual. All three have a full-screen mode with a minimum of features so that you can write without considering format, but using any of these applications at all means manual formatting, and, more often than not, a second pass through the manuscript to finalize formatting. I would far rather use my fiction template in LibreOffice that sets which style follows which. Using the template also allows me to forget about format, but does not require a second pass through the manuscript. Moreover, if I do want to make format changes afterwards, I can do so in a fraction of the time required in these novel-writing applications.
But my greatest reservation is the assumption that detailed outlines are an absolute requirement before you write. Even a well-known writer like Neil Gaiman says in his master class that the first draft is like driving in the fog, while the second draft is about creating the illusion that you knew what you were doing in the first. In other words, Gaiman does not begin knowing all the details of his story or his characters and instead discovers much of the story during the writing process. Nor, in my experience, is he alone in his work flow. If anything, he is part of an overwhelming majority.
It seems to me that the problem with all three of these applications is that using them in the way that they are intended can easily be a distraction from the actual writing. They create an illusion of progress, yet, in the end, I suspect that they result in copious notes and no manuscript or wish to produce one. All three could learn from Krita, which only soared to excellence when it started to listen to those who would actually use it.
(Bruce Byfield is two-thirds through the writing of his first novel.)
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Best free writing apps (March 2023): top writing software for everyone
Bring your words to life with the best free writing apps
- Best free writing apps
- Buying advice
The best free writing apps help you focus on your writing - wherever you are, and wherever inspiration strikes.
Whether it’s essays, work documents, or your latest novel, free writing apps and free word processors lets you organize your thoughts on the page without breaking the bank. But the best free writing software and apps make it even easier to save, share, and sync documents online.
Some of the best choices offer distraction-free interfaces and gamification-style challenges to keep you in the zone. Others focus on professional document creation for work. You’ll even find advanced features like speech-to-text transcription and online collaboration tools .
Our picks cover the best free writing apps and software on the web and across Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS free of charge. Optional subscription upgrades are also available for some tools, unlocking extra features, but they’re not essential.
To help you find the right tool, we've tested the best free writing apps for all types of writers, whether you’re at a desk or writing on the go. Tools that let you just focus on the art of writing, without worrying about costs or distracting features you’re never going to use. Just you, your keyboard, and your creativity.
We’ve also rounded up the best note-taking apps to make sure you can keep on writing wherever you are.
- Best laptops for writers : Stay creative on the go
Scrivener: best writing software for authors Scrivener is packed with all the features a novelist needs, helping you track plot threads, store notes on characters and locations, structure your work and (most importantly) get some serious work done. It's not free like the tools below, but it's well worth the investment if your budget will allow it.
The best free writing apps 2023
1. google docs.
Our expert review:
Reasons to buy, reasons to avoid.
Google Docs is the perfect companion for any writer. It’s an extremely clean, quick word processor available in the browser, on desktop, and phone and tablet apps. So, you can take notes wherever inspiration strikes.
Docs is more or less Google’s spin on Microsoft Word. The interface is a bit more consumer-friendly than the professional office software - although it’s no less powerful.
You’ll find heaps of writing tools, including a pretty accurate speech-to-text transcription tool (just enunciate and don’t talk too fast). Keyboard shortcuts are very well-supported.
For best results, you’ll need an internet connection, though documents can be used offline. They’ll be synced, and in our experience, that happens swiftly behind the scenes.
To take advantage of the free writing app, you’ll need a Google account, which may be a deal-breaker for some - but that also opens up the rest of the Google-stuff in the Google-sphere, such as Sheets, Slides, and . With a free account, you get 15GB of storage, which should be more than enough for word documents. A Google One subscription upgrades your storage space, amongst other things.
Read our full Google Docs review
FocusWriter helps writers combat one of their biggest challenges: distractions. One of the best free writing software tools out there, it's specifically designed to let you just concentrate on your writing.
The stripped-back interface is deliciously sparse - ideal for when you just need to get your head down and write - and not dissimilar to a moderately powerful version of Notepad, featuring support for TXT, basic, RTF, and ODT files.
Even the toolbar is hidden until you actually need it. Just swoop your cursor to the top on the screen to reveal a barren menu, from basic formatting to themes and timers.
Features are light within the software, but FocusWriter isn’t made for heavy editing sessions. It’s designed to make the act of writing flow seamlessly onto the page.
Elsewhere, the writing app boasts the ability to add themes and your own background images, which can help you stay motivated.
The Daily Progress tool is a sweet extra, adding Duolingo-style gamification that lets you track your daily writing streak. For when it’s oh-so-easy to slip onto social media when you can’t find the perfect word, it’s a nice way to keep you within the app.
Available for Windows, Linux, and macOS, the writing software also comes as a portable download, no installation required. So, you can pop it on a USB stick and plug it into any computer you’re working on.
Read our full FocusWriter review .
WriteMonkey is another piece of free writing software that cuts down on the clutter to deliver uninterrupted writing sessions.
The free word processor, cleverly described as zenware, is unbelievably pared back compared to more traditional writing apps.
There’s very little in the way of distracting ‘screen furniture’, which means you’re better positioned to concentrate on the writing process. And absolutely nothing else.
But don’t let that stripped-back approach fool you. As one of the best free writing apps, WriteMonkey is still rich with the sort of core features that matter to writers.
However, most options are hidden in a context menu (so you’ll need to right-click to view it). It also only supports TXT files, which may limit those looking to read, write, or edit across multiple formats. It is, at least, a portable download, letting you take it wherever you need.
If you’ve enjoyed Markdown, the simplified text-editing language that lets you format, annotate, classify, and link as you type, then great. WriteMonkey’s inner workings will instantly chime.
First-timers should spend a little time with this free writing software, to uncover that intuitive simplicity.
Read our full WriteMonkey review .
4. LibreOffice Writer
Writer, the open-source, free writing software, serves almost all general writing needs.
LibreOffice is a near-perfect example of free office software - a familiar, feature-rich take on the office suite. What the veteran software package lacks in Microsoft polish (its interface is undeniably old-fashioned, for starters), it makes up for in its price-point: free. For that, you get access to six tools: Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, Math, and Writer.
Earning it a slot on our list of best free writing apps is the fact that LibreOffice Writer packs the full editing toolbox.
This isn’t just a note-taking app for staving off distractions when you’re deep in the zone; it’s for when you’re in pure writer-mode.
If you’re at all proficient with Microsoft Word, you won’t have any problems using the Writer software. Layouts and functions are almost identical, and there’s support for DOC and DOCX file types, making it efficient to switch out of the Microsoft garden.
This free writing app is ideal if you’re hunting for a tool that almost perfectly replicates the Word experience without the cost.
Read our full LibreOffice review .
5. Microsoft Word
When it comes to word processors, Microsoft Word is probably the baseline against which all others are compared. It’s the one most of us use at school, home, and work. It’s familiar, comfortable - and it’s available free on the web and mobile devices.
That may not be the best way to write your masterpiece (unless you’ve hooked up a Bluetooth keyboard). But it’s a great way to jot down ideas on-the-go. When we tested the browser-based version we found it could be a bit slow at first, and we were typing faster than the words appeared on screen. This settles down (mostly) after a minute or so.
Microsoft’s free writing apps on Android and iPhone had no such issues. Using these was velvety smooth. We especially appreciated the option to switch between mobile view and desktop view, so we could gauge how the document would appear in full-screen.
As with Google Docs, you’ll need to sign up with a Microsoft account. And, like Google, that also lets you use free versions of PowerPoint, Excel, and the like. While Word offers one of the best free writing app experiences, there’s no denying that the paid-for upgrade is superior, offering more tools, and a true desktop app.
Read our full Microsoft Word review
Author promises to make it easier to ‘think, write, and cite’. It’s a promise capably delivered, with a clean interface and bags of writing features designed to make it easy to go from first draft to final copy.
If you're an Apple user in search of the best free writing apps on macOS, this one demands your attention.
Concept Maps is one of the best features. It’s a great mind-mapping tool to visualize and lay down all your thoughts while they’re fresh in your head without constraint. You can worry about whipping them into shape later.
Students and report writers will appreciate Author’s ‘fast citing’ tools - speeding up assignment-writing by correctly adding and formatting citations, references, and contents.
A paid-for upgrade of the writing software that offers exporting options is available for $28.99. Unless you need automatic formatting on export, you can stick with the free version.
Best free writing apps: Buying advice
How to choose the best free writing app for you.
Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test .
When deciding which free writing app is best, start by figuring out what sort of writing you want to do.
Do you need a handy tool for quick scribbles and jotting down ideas here and there, or are you using the writing software to write and edit an epic novel? Tools like FocusWriter and Write Monkey are great for getting thoughts on the page without friction.
It’s also worth considering if you need a writing app with a distraction-free design, so you can concentrate on what really matters to you. Again, FocusWriter performs admirably here, but as a result, you lose core typography and editing functions. Unlike LibreOffice, this isn’t the best Microsoft Office alternative if you need those tools. In that scenario, it may be worth considering looking at some of the best free office software , which includes MS Word-style apps, alongside other tools similar to Excel, PowerPoint, and so on.
Access is an important factor when using your writing software. A tool like Scribus needs to be downloaded to your machine. Lightweight apps like FocusWriter, however, offer a portable download that can be downloaded to a USB and carried with you.
Check what file formats your chosen writing app supports, too. While some let you create and edit the common DOC and DOCX files, others only allow TXT or RTF documents.
But most of all, it’s important to choose the best free writing app for your unique creative flow.
What's the difference between a writing app and an AI writer?
AI writers vs writing apps - what's the real difference?
Artificial intelligence is growing in a big way - and when it comes to writing, it's ChatGPT that's been snatching all the headlines of late, with its ability to generate short- and long-form content based on user prompts.
Generally, an AI writer will write your content for you, based on its current learning (although often without 'understanding' the context). A writing app simply lets you write your way, in your own voice.
Some platforms, such as Canva , have even integrated AI into its Canva Docs and Canva PDF Editor services. However. its Magic Write tool acts as a writing assistant, serving up suggestions and ideas, leaving real writers to work their magic on the content. Though usually hiding in the back-end, you can also find AI integrated in other ways across other top PDF editors (and even free PDF editors , too).
As always with AI-generated content, whether it's the written word or an artwork masterpiece, human involvement is usually necessary and always desirable. Even if you're using the best AI writers out there, editing and proofreading is essential to give the content accuracy and emotional resonance.
How we test the best free writing software
Testing the best free writing software, we assess how easy it is to get your words down on the page with the least amount of friction. Portable writing apps rank high, because they let you use the program on whatever computer or laptop you’re using.
We also look at performance for its intended audience. For distraction-free writing apps, do they really foster focus? For word processor-style software, does it offer good formatting and editing options?
Most importantly, we expect to see free writing apps that are genuinely cost-free - no-one wants to stumble across hidden fees and charges in the contracts.
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Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.
Best Free Writing Software: 20 Top Options
Are you looking for the best free writing software? If so, take a look at a few of our recommendations below, and get your writing off to a great start!
Writing is a fulfilling pursuit. It is an excellent opportunity to explore your creative side, dive deep into your chosen ideas, and entertain your readers while educating them about an interesting topic. But, the writing process can also be challenging, filled with confusing moments, writer’s block, and tedious clerical work.
Enter free writing. It describes capturing ideas that come into your head without worrying about typos and grammar mistakes. It’s an excellent skill for new writers and teaches you how to write faster and without self-censorship. If you are looking for the best free writing software available, take a look at a few key options below. Some of these are ideal for writing, while others will help you focus on a free writing project. The best free writing program is Scrivener, although it has a learning curve. I also love using Ulysses but it’s Mac only. IA Writer is a delight for free writing on a tablet. Otherwise use Google Docs.
3. ia writer, 4. google docs, 6. apple pages, 7. prowritingaid, 8. grammarly, 10. hemingway editor, 12. reedsy book editor, 13. evernote, 14. freedom, 15. slick write, 16. abi word, 17. dropbox paper, 18. shaxpir, 19. focus writer, 20. onelook, final word on best free writing software, selection criteria for the best free writing programs, why you can trust us, faqs about the best free writing software.
Price: Free trial available. Paid version is $49 Best for: Long-form free writing
Scrivener is one of the most popular writing programs available because it was made by writers for writers. The program breaks your work into chapters (which you control), making it easier for you to drag and drop segments of your work, organizing it in a manner that makes sense to you. You can turn on a distraction-free typewriter mode during free writing sessions and even set session word counts. To learn more, read our Scrivener review .
- Manage large projects easily with a high-level overview
- Mobile apps for iPhone and iPad are available
- Publishing, template, and productivity features are available
- Has a steep learning curve
- No application for Android devices
- Formatting can be hard
Price: $4.99 per month Best for: As a Scrivener free writing alternative
Ulysses is a minimalistic writing app that supports Markdown. I use it regularly for free writing sessions. I can hide the menu bar and user interface and focus on the words in front of me. You can export free writing drafts into another format, including blog posts and Word documents. It’s a good choice if you find free writing in Scrivener overwhelming. Mac and iOS only, it works nicely on a tablet. For more, read our Ulysses App review .
- Easy to use
- Excels for long-form free writing projects
- Subscription model may put off some
Price: $49.99 Best for: Free writing on a tablet, across devices and operating systems
IA Writer is a popular free writing app. Like Ulysses, it also supports Markdown, and is minimalistic and distraction-free. You can easily export drafts from IA Writer to the web or other formats. It works particularly well on a tablet. It’s available on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS. For more, read our IA Writer review .
- Widely supported
- Fantastic user interface
- Works great for free writing on a tablet
- Comparitvely pricey
Price: Free Best for: Those who need to collaborate with others on a book or project
Even though there are better options than Google Docs for writing, it’s free, and it works everywhere with internet access. It is easy to figure out and automatically backs up all your information to your Google Drive (provided there is enough space.) I like using Google Docs on a tablet as I can pick up a free writing session from where I left off.
- Free and ubiquitous
- Ideal for collaboration
- Supports document revisions
- It does not come with an advanced grammar checker
- Does not work well offline
- Not a program designed specifically for writers
Price: Free Best for: Those looking for a strong word processor for group writing projects
If you are looking for a free word processor but doesn’t necessarily give you access to professional writing and publishing features, you might want to use Zoho writer. This is the complete package for those who need to write many documents. However, it isn’t necessarily meant for book writing. Nevertheless, many people love Zoho because it bears the familiarity of Microsoft Word with some other advanced features. For more, read our Zoho review
- Provides access to a wide array of group management and writing tools
- Has a short learning curve with the familiarity of Microsoft Word
- Is completely free
- Not a professional writing tool
- The grammar and spell checker leaves a lot to be desired
- Cannot publish for you
Price: Free with Macs Best For: Those looking for a simple word processor on a Mac product
If you use a Mac, then there is a good chance you have heard about Apple Pages . It is one of the best writing programs for Mac users, and it works smoothly. Similar to Microsoft Word on Windows, you start with a blank document. Then, you can include a template if you want to make the process easier. In addition, apple Pages comes with numerous features, including spell check, word count, and track changes.
- Straightforward and easy to use
- Automatically saves your work to your iCloud Drive
- Include customizable features such as spell checkers and word counts
- Grammar checker is not the best
- Only available for Mac users
- File type cannot be opened on all applications
Price: Free. The Premium version is $60 per year Best for: Those who do not have access to a professional editor and need help with grammar and spelling
Free writing involves writing at length without worrying about typos and other issues. When it’s time to edit, enter ProWritingAid . It’s a grammar program and spell checker that can catch many of the problems you might overlook. Now, a grammar checker will never replace an editor, but this affordable program can help you replace some of what you would get from a professional editor.
- Fast and easy to use
- Provides suggestions for grammar and sentence style
- Premium version less expensive than other grammar checkers
- Does not always take context into account with its suggestions
- Premium version is not as intuitive as the free version
- Less suitable for writing drafts
Price: Free. The Premium version is $144 per year Best for: Those who want to catch grammar mistakes and prevent plagiarism
Seasoned writers also use Grammarly to edit their drafts. This popular free writing program can catch a wide variety of grammar issues. The free version alone can catch punctuation, spelling, and run-on sentences while also giving you suggestions that can help you keep your writing concise. If you want to see more options for editing software, check out our post looking at the best Grammarly alternatives .
- Free version is compatible with a wide variety of other programs
- Suggestions come with clear explanations
- Useful for all types of free writing projects
- Free version is limited
- Premium version is more expensive than most other programs
- Plagiarism checker can be overzealous
Price: From $2.92 per month Best for: Journaling and free writing
Journaling and free writing go hand in hand. If you want to get more from journaling, then it’s best to use a dedicated app like Day One . You can write about whatever you want, time-stamp your entries, sync them across devices and also encrypt everything.
It’s available on the Mac Store with an annual subscription discount available. Day One enables you to free write about your day. It also provides writing prompts as inspiration. I free write using this app on my iPad, laptop and desktop. For more, read our Day One app review .
- Easy to use and write with
- Ideal for journaling and free writing
- Supports multimedia content
- Less suitable for free writing sessions unrelated to journaling
Price: Free Best for: Those looking for a free editor
If you want to make your work easier to read, the Hemingway Editor is one of the most effective options available. While the program has many features that make it deserving of a spot on this list, the most impressive is the Readability score. To learn more about the different editing tools on the market, check out our Hemingway App review .
To learn more about the different editing tools on the market, check out our post on the best grammar tools .
- Completely free
- Provides advice on a wide variety of writing issues
- Can help you keep your writing concise
- The program is an editor, not a writing software program
- Sometimes highlights adverbs that add value to your work
- Doesn’t always provide context behind some suggestions
Price: Free with a premium version available Best for: Those looking for a grammar checker and vocabulary enhancer
Ginger Grammar is a popular grammar checker that features a free chrome extension. It bears similarities to many other grammar checkers but excels because of its ability to interpret words in context. The contextual correction means that this grammar tool is more accurate than many other tools on the market. For more, read our Grammarly vs Ginger comparison .
- Free version available that includes a lot of features
- Can handle other languages
- Provides a helpful vocabulary enhancement tool
- Not as intuitive as many other grammar checkers
- The sentence rephrasing tool can use some improvement
- The AI features of the program are not great
Price: Free Best for: Those who frequently need to convert file formats
Reedsy Book Editor is a completely free writing and editing software program that makes it easy for you to coordinate with others. It has several great features, but one of the most important is the “notes” option. You can create notes, edit them, and stick them into your document, allowing you to manage different chunks of your work independently.
- Allows you to collaborate with others easily
- Can handle a long list of file formats and styles
- Lacks many of the advanced features of other options
- Takes a while to learn how to use
- Does not create professional, finished products like other programs
Price: Free with in-app purchase options Best for: Those who like to write on multiple devices
When you work on a project, taking breaks from time to time is critical. Maybe you like to go to the gym. Perhaps you want to go for a walk. Regardless, what happens if inspiration strikes you and you need to write something down quickly?
Evernote can help you do that. It’s an ideal program for those who like to write on different devices because you can sync your work across all of them, allowing you to work from just about anywhere. In addition, you don’t have to worry about emailing your work to yourself anymore. Read our guide: What is Evernote?
- You can write while on the go
- Sync your notes across multiple devices
- The free version is very limited
- Can get clunky if you work on longer assignments
Price: Free trial available. $29 per year for the paid version Best for: Those who get distracted easily and have difficulty meeting their deadlines
Everyone has missed a deadline. It is a part of being a writer. However, if you regularly miss your deadlines, this program might help you. Freedom gives you access to a focus mode. It will block your biggest distractions, stop you from navigating to certain websites, and keep specific applications from opening for a certain amount of time. In short, use it in conjunction with a free writing app.
- Stay on track and meet your deadlines
- Works on computers and phones
- Schedule your writing times in advance
- Not a true writing application
- It can be difficult to use on mobile devices
- It can’t actually stop you from getting distracted if you want to do something else
Price: Free Best for: Those looking for in-depth stylistic analysis
There are a lot of tools that will help you improve your readability, but Slick Write goes the extra mile. It will do a deep dive, analyzing every aspect of your texts, and checking for repeated words, misplaced conjunctions, and sentences that are far too long. A convenient settings page allows you to customize this application to meet your needs.
- Contains a wide variety of analytics that you can control
- Can handle a lot of issues that most editors overlook
- Comes with a lot of advertisements
- The program is very slow if you want to analyze longer works
- The suggestions sometimes don’t take content into account
Price: Free Best for: Those looking for simplicity
If you are looking for a simple word processor that can help you out, you may want to consider Abi Word . It’s a simple, bare-bones word processor that includes the basics, including a grammar checker. It is also compatible with a wide variety of file types.
- Free to download and use
- Very simple and straightforward
- Compatible with multiple file types
- Software program looks outdated
- Can be a bit slow
- You will need another program if you want to print
Price: Free with a free Dropbox account Best for: Those who want to include multimedia in a group
If you have a free Dropbox account, you can use Dropbox Paper . On the surface, it is a simple word processor, but the application can do so much more. In addition to editing documents, you can include YouTube videos, audio files, images, and slideshows. It’s a great writing app if you need to work with others on writing and or multimedia.
- Free to use with Dropbox
- Can handle images and videos
- Strong collaborative capabilities
- Program can be a bit slow
- Requires Dropbox to use
- Can be difficult to learn
Price: Free Best for: Novelists
If you are looking for a program to help you write books, you may want to Shaxpir . It is available for Mac and PC and has a built-in spell checker. In addition, you can leave comments in the margins and set goals that help you track your progress.
- Manuscript Builder allows you to rearrange your manuscript
- Program can handle multiple chapters and scenes
- Compatible with Mac and PC
- The program can be a bit difficult to use
- The margins can be hard to read
- Gets a bit slow if your book gets too long
Price: Free Best for: Those who get distracted easily
Focus Writer is a simple program that can help you stop distractions from getting in the way of your work. The screen will look and feel familiar, but you can immerse yourself in your work by minimizing descriptions that are elsewhere on the screen. The program is compatible with various operating systems and allows you to focus on the task at hand.
- Distraction-free writing
- Easy to control
- Compatible with Mac OS, Windows, and Linux
- You won’t see your writing template
- You can’t see your previous versions
- You can’t share your content
Price: Free Best for: Those who struggle with Writer’s Block
If you have issues with writer’s block, you may want to give OneLook a try. This is a straightforward program to use. All you have to do is give a brief description, which can be as short as a single word. Then, you can see all related words, helping you develop ideas that you can use in your writing.
- Can help you overcome writer’s block
- Gives you access to a thesaurus for ideas as well as single words
- Not all suggestions directly related
- Program is limited and old
Today, I use Ulysses the most for free writing as it’s easy to use and works across all my devices. I also recommend Google Docs to writers and Scrivener.
In the end, these are just a few of the many free writing programs available. You need to think about the type of writing you do, what your technological prowess is like, and how you think the program might benefit you. Make sure you think about the benefits and drawbacks of each option before you decide.
There are lots of great writing programs out there, and it is difficult to narrow down the list to just a few choices. The criteria we used to pick our top free writing programs include:
- Features: The most important factor we considered is the features available. We took a deep dive into the numerous features of the program to ensure they were useful to a wide range of writers with various writing styles.
- Ease of Use: Then, we analyzed how easy the program was to use. While one program might have the best features, it might take longer to learn.
- Value for the Money: While this is a list of the top free writing programs, nearly every program has the option to purchase premium features.
Once we assessed these individual factors, we put together our list of the top free writing programs available.
Of course, you need to make your own decisions, as the best writing programs for one person might not necessarily be the best writing programs for your needs. However, some of the reasons why you should trust my reviews include:
- Experienced Writer: I am a very experienced writer myself. I know what writers like, what they don’t like, and what features will make you a better writer.
- Personal Use: I have used all of the programs on my list on my own. While I will look at what other people think about the program, I also rely on my personal experiences.
- Attention to Detail: When I put together my reviews, I am as specific as possible. My goal is to highlight a wide variety of specific points as I go down the list of programs.
How can I choose the best free writing software program to meet my needs?
First, you need to think about the cost. How much are you willing to spend, and what are you getting for your money? Then, you need to think about how easy the program is to use. Can you learn the program quickly? Finally, you should take a look at a few reviews and ratings
Is it safe for me to use free writing programs?
If you rely on a software program to help you write, you need to think about cybersecurity. For example, you might put some confidential information on your writing programs, and you need to use a program that will protect your information and value your safety.
Is it worth it to upgrade from a free writing program to a premium writing program?
There are some situations where springing for a premium program is worth it, particularly if you find yourself using premium features a lot. Start with a free trial, and try out as many premium features as possible. If you enjoy those premium features, consider upgrading to the full version
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Just Publishing Advice For Writers and Authors
Free self-publishing advice, how to guides and tips
50 Free Writing Software Tools And The Best Free Writing Apps
Writers are spoiled for choice when it comes to free writing software, tools, and free writing apps.
Are you a blogger, author, content writer, or student?
You want the best creative writing tools and software that will do the job for you.
But you don’t want to pay a lot of money to be able to write more effectively.
Your free writing software choices
There is no need for you to spend a penny to get some of the best free writing programs to help you write more productively and accurately.
You can choose and try so many terrific writing programs and tools today. You will find that most of them are unrestricted and will cost you nothing to use.
If you are looking for new apps and tools to improve your writing, you have come to the right place.
This page is regularly updated to bring you the biggest choice of free software and apps for writers.
It includes free writing apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux users.
You can find creative writing apps, grammar checking apps, word processors, mind maps, index cards, book writing programs, and productivity tools.
All of them will help you get on with what you do best, which is writing, of course.
There are also many lite versions of popular premium apps available that can offer you tons of fantastic features.
I have tried almost all the writing tools and apps in this article and use a lot of them every day.
Find the best free writing software and apps for you
You can find lots of free writing software online, but you want writing apps that work best for you and your writing process and style.
With online writing software, I always start with a free version to make sure a new app does what I want it to do.
Very often, a free app will do everything I need.
But yes, sometimes I opt for a premium version to get all the features if it is really a fantastic tool.
It doesn’t matter if you are an author, a blogger, or an article writer.
Choosing the best tools for your writing needs will save you time, effort, and lots of money.
Free apps and writing software for students are a huge bonus.
They will help you at school, college or university.
For every type of writer, here are some of the very best free to use and freemium apps for you to make your choice.
Scan through my list of the best free writing software and apps below.
See if you can find a few new favorites to download for your laptop or to use online.
Please note that this page contains some affiliate links. I may receive a commission if you purchase a product from this page.
6 Free writing apps for accuracy
The most essential writing app you always need must be a reliable grammar corrector and a spellchecker.
There are a lot of online apps to check, correct, and improve your writing.
For every writer, the options will be different depending on your writing style and needs. There is no one best or better choice.
Some writers might only need a simple online checker for blog posts, articles, or essays.
But for a content writer or author, it is different. You are probably looking for more developed programs and options.
In my case, I always use two programs to check my writing.
I use one for grammar and spelling and another for writing style and readability. It always pays to check and double-check your writing and sentence structure before you publish it online.
Here are six of the most popular free grammar apps to get you on your way. Each one will help you improve the quality and accuracy of your writing.
Try them all to see which one or two work best for you and your style or type of writing.
1. Prowritingaid – Free and Premium
Prowritingaid is one of my favorite writing checkers. I use it every single day of the week.
You can use the free version of ProWritingAid.
It offers you a lot of functionality to help you write more accurately online using a simple Chrome extension to check your grammar and spelling.
Are you an author? Then you should consider all the editing and checking tools that are available with this app.
It is a superb writing aid for authors and writers of long-form content articles.
There are over twenty different writing analysis tools and reports in the premium version. These will give you a huge range of suggestions to improve your writing.
There are also easy to use extensions available for Chrome, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Scrivener too.
It is my number one go-to editing tool when I need to work intensively on very long documents such as long-form articles or book manuscripts.
You can also read my full Prowritingaid review.
2. Grammarly – Free and Premium
Without a doubt, Grammarly is the number one online grammar checker.
For a lot of writers, it’s one of the best writing apps around.
I have used Grammarly for years now.
It is one online writing tool that I always have switched on in Chrome to use with my WordPress editor.
It works with so many sites, platforms, software, and applications. So it is always on and always helping me correct my writing in real-time.
Grammarly has a desktop app. It also has a plugin for Word in Microsoft Office for PC users.
You can use it in any web browser, with WordPress, and even on your social media sites. It also works on mobile devices as well as with an iOS Grammarly Keyboard app.
There is also support for Google Docs, but this feature is still in beta.
No matter what, when, or where you are writing, Grammarly is always helping you write better and more accurately.
The browser version of Grammarly works very well for most users. But for more advanced features to help you in your writing process, there is a premium version available.
You can read more in my Grammarly review .
3. Ginger – Free and Premium
Ginger Grammar is another very popular grammar checker.
There is a free Chrome extension, and it works similarly to most of the other popular online checkers.
There is also a sentence rephraser and vocabulary enhancement tools.
But where Ginger shines is in its ability to find and fix incorrectly spelled (or spelt) words depending on the context.
Try it to see how Ginger contextual correction works.
4. Hemingway Editor – Free
I have a love-hate relationship with the Hemmingway Editor app.
The love is due to how quick and easy it is to check my readability score and grade.
The negative is that it always tells me to simplify my writing. It hates the passive voice, but that’s a good thing.
It is also a great tool for finding overused adverbs and difficult to read sentences.
It’s a simple app. But if you are looking for a free writing assistant, it is one of the handiest tools a writer can have at their fingertips.
You can choose which Hemingway mode to use – either write or edit.
The online version is very convenient for checking up to a page or so of text. It gives helpful hints to improve your writing.
It’s one of the must-have free apps for any writer.
There is a paid version, but I am not sure it offers much value.
Read more about this app in my Hemingway Editor review.
5. QuillBot – Free
QuillBot Grammar Checker is a quick and easy free tool you can use to check your manuscript.
One of the best features is that you can use one-click corrections to fix your grammar, punctuation, and spelling very quickly.
Another advantage is that it has a generous word count limit. I tested it with a text of over 2,000 words, and it quickly analyzed all of my text.
You can probably check one chapter at a time with the tool.
You can check each underlined suggestion and make a quick correction. But it also has a “Fix All Errors” button.
I’m not sure I would trust it for a long text. But it could be useful for a shorter text.
To use the checker, simply paste in your text, or you can use it as an editor and type your text.
When you finish correcting your writing, copy and paste it into your word processor.
Quillbot has other features, but these are only available with the premium version.
However, the grammar checker is totally free to use, and it is an excellent tool to check and correct your writing.
There is also a free Chrome extension you can try.
6. Grammar Lookup – Free
Grammar Lookup is another good choice for an online grammar checking app.
I used 3,000 words from one of my book manuscripts to test the app.
It started checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors almost immediately. It is a good app for checking short-form writing, such as blog posts and short stories.
If you’re looking for a robust grammar app with a generous word limit, this one is well worth trying.
Again, like a lot of online writing tools, it is ad-supported.
12 Free word processors
The first name writers associate with word processing is almost always Microsoft Word.
It is the default writing tool for many writers, bloggers, and authors. But it is definitely not cheap.
Depending on your country, the annual license for Office 356 can range from $60 – $100.
If you want to buy the one-time purchase version, which is called Office Home & Student, it can cost you as much as $150.
Microsoft Office is, as its name implies, software for office use. It includes Outlook, Excel and PowerPoint, and other programs. You will never use these software programs for creative writing.
Do you need to pay for all these extra programs to have a word processor to write a blog post, article, or short story?
What is the best word processor for writers? Are there free writing software tools equal to Word?
Yes. If you want to write, you can always find great word processors that cost you nothing to use. Often they come with many other options and tools that are better suited for writers.
Most of them will be suitable for your writing goals and any form of short creative writing project.
But you should note that a word processor is not the best app for writing a book. You can find better programs for authors in the next section of this article.
1. Google Docs – Free
Like Microsoft Office, Google Docs is a suite of office tools. The big difference, of course, is that Google Docs is available for free online.
If you are familiar with Word, you will have no problem at all adapting to Docs, which is the word processor component.
All the formatting options are very similar, as is the user interface.
Unlike some word processors, Docs has a word count so you can keep track of your word count goal.
I know that many writers, particularly content writers, use Google Docs because of the simplicity of sharing documents online.
Writing projects can be quickly and easily shared using Google Drive, which comes with 5 gigabytes of storage. It is usually plenty of storage space for writers. You can also use Docs offline .
If you are writing every day and working with other writers, content editors, proofreaders, or editors, Google Docs allows you to collaborate with ease.
There is no need to know what file format or program others are using.
As long as each person has a Google account, and who doesn’t, working together is very easy.
2. Apple Pages for Mac Users – Free
If you are a Mac user and all you need is a word processor, Apple Pages can handle everything you could possibly need to do.
It really is the best free writing software for Mac.
Like Word, you can start with a blank document or use the template chooser.
Word processing in the page layout document view is easy to work with. All the text formatting, fonts, and writing tools are easy to find and use.
There is a spell checker, word and page count , and track change with an add comments option.
It also auto-saves directly to your hard drive or your iCloud drive when you are online. There is also the file duplicate function. It gives you very easy version control of your revisions and edits.
It is difficult to think of a standard feature or function in Word that is not available in Pages documents.
There is one other area where Pages shines. It has a lot more control over images compared to Word.
One other big plus with Pages for authors is that you can export directly to epub. You don’t need to convert your file formats into another program.
Pages is one of the best free writing software programs for Mac users.
There is also a mobile app for iPad and iPhone too. You can download it from the Mac App Store.
Related reading: Can Apple Pages Replace Microsoft Word For Mac?
3. MS Notepad and Mac TextEdit – Free
These two writing programs are already under your noses. They are installed by default on Windows and Apple computers.
They are both ideal little apps for writing blogs or short articles.
However, they are both worthy of mention because of their usefulness in converting to plain text.
Most word processors can add a lot of background code over the time you take to write a long document.
Cut and pasting, saving, deletions, forgotten tabs and spaces, and formatting changes all add up to a lot that can go wrong.
Because of all this code, there is a chance that the text might have issues when you use it online. It can be especially true if you use WordPress and also in publishing ebooks.
The quickest and easiest way to clean a document, big or small, is to copy all the text into a basic text editor such as Notepad or TextEdit. You can then convert everything to plain text.
Then you can copy back the clean text into your blog editor or word processor for ebook formatting.
4. Libre Office – Free
I used Open Office for many years. It is an open-source project and is still available.
However, many writers now favor Libre Office.
These two office suites branched from the same development stable, so they have a lot of similarities.
Learning to work with Writer, which is the word processor, is easy.
However, it uses traditional and straightforward menus, toolbars, and icons but does not have the ribbon function found in Word.
In some ways, this is a good thing because it lets you get on with the writing process instead of hunting in ribbons for buttons.
If you want a word processor, and that’s all, Writer in Libre Office won’t disappoint you.
5. AbiWord – Free
If you want simplicity, AbiWord is well worth trying.
It has been around for a long time now, and while it might look a little outdated, its functionality is not.
The best way to describe AbiWord is uncluttered. It is ideal if you are looking to write distraction-free.
There are all the basics, such as spelling and grammar checking and auto-saving.
Abiword also works with the most common file types, including docx.
Abiword is not fancy, but it works. It’s ideal for writing blog posts or article content.
However, due to its print limitations that require an external program to see a print preview, it might not be the best alternative to write your book.
6. WPS Office – Free Edition
If you have used Microsoft Word or Google Docs, then you can work with WPS Office immediately.
Like other alternative word processors, it has all the standard features you would expect, and it works with most file types.
One of its key features is that it allows drag-and-drop paragraphs, which can, at times, be practical.
Another time-saving yet straightforward feature of WPS is tabbed documents.
While Excel has had this for years, Word never has, so working on two documents at the same time is much more efficient in WPS.
WPS also has a cloud storage service with 1G for PC and iOS.
7. SoftMaker Free Office – Free
Free Office gets a mention because it can export .epub. It is a convenient tool for self-publishers.
TextMaker is the word processor in this office suite.
But it doesn’t come with the ability to save in docx format unless you opt for the premium version.
But you can open and edit docx files.
Apart from that inconvenience, it has all the advanced features you would expect in a modern word processor.
It comes with advanced formatting options, the ability to create databases for bibliographies and footnotes, as well as track change.
8. Dropbox Paper – Free
All you need is your free Dropbox account to use Dropbox Paper .
It is a word processor, but there is so much more you can do with this app.
The design is clean and simple, but there are so many features at your fingertips.
As well as being a text editor, you can add audio, images, Youtube videos, Slideshare documents, and Trello cards.
It really is a great free writing app for you to create documents and then share them with your team or online.
9. Focus Writer – Free
FocusWriter is a simple, distraction-free writing environment.
It uses a full-screen hide-away interface that you access by moving your mouse to the edges of the screen.
It allows the program to have a familiar look and feel to it. But by getting everything out of the way, you can immerse yourself in your work.
It’s available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
10. Calmly Writer – Free
Calmly Writer has been designed to help you focus on writing.
As you start typing, all the distracting options disappear from the interface.
Calmly also includes a “focus mode” option, which highlights only the paragraph you are editing at the time.
If you are a writing minimalist, it could be a good choice for you.
It is a browser-based app, and there is a Chrome extension available.
11. Zoho Writer – Free
Zoho Writer is an online alternative to Microsoft Word.
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.
You can import your existing Word documents and get to work.
There is also a plugin to link your Zoho documents to Word.
That’s not a bad deal for at all a gratis online writing tool.
12. Scribus – Free
Scribus is an open-source program for desktop publishing.
It gets a mention here because it is free, but also because it is such a feature-rich cross-platform program.
Scribus is a page layout and desktop publishing program for Linux, FreeBSD, PC-BSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, Solaris, OpenIndiana, Debian GNU/Hurd, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4, eComStation, Haiku, and Windows.
Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK colors, spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.
Perhaps it is not a choice for most authors and bloggers. But you might have a desktop publishing need one day.
4 Free book writing apps
Are you ready to start writing a book? You need to hunt a little to find good writing programs for writing books and novels.
A writing app or author software for a book is entirely different from a word processor.
The best book writing programs consist of many elements.
You need plot timelines, character builders, and event tracking. It should also include note-taking and research pinning tools.
Here are four of the best free book apps to help with writing, formatting, and publishing your books or ebooks.
There is a link to seven more free book writing programs at the end of this list.
1. Shaxpir – Free and Premium
For a dedicated book writing tool, Shaxpir gives you a lot of features in its free version.
The Manuscript Builder uses drag-and-drop tools to rearrange your manuscript. You can change the order and hierarchy of chapters and scenes. So you can find a structure that works for you.
You can set your goals and track your progress. You can also keep detailed notes about your characters, places, and events.
It also allows you to add margin comments as well as collect concept art.
There is also an in-built spellchecker.
As far as a book writing program or author app goes, Shaxpir offers you a huge range of features.
It is available for Mac and PC with offline and cloud access.
2. Scrivener – Free Trial
It is not free writing software, but I have to include Scrivener in this list of apps because there is a generous trial available.
Scrivener is one of the best book writing software tools for authors and screenwriters.
It has an outliner for chapters and scenes, a corkboard, and index cards.
There is also side-by-side viewing, word count targets, and a full-screen editor along with print, export, and publishing tools. It has everything any writer could ever need.
There is a 30-day trial period offered by Scrivener.
But it is counted by the days that you use the software. So if you use it every second day, your trial period will last you for 60 days.
If you only write at the weekend, it will last you for a good few months.
Scrivener is available for download for both Windows and Mac. There are also iOS apps for iPhone and iPad.
To access your trial, click the Download Trial link.
3. Calibre Ebook Tool
Calibre is often called the Swiss Army Knife of ebook formatting tools.
There is so much you can do with Calibre.
But for most new authors, you will use it to convert your Word manuscript to mobi, epub, and pdf.
If you have some technical ability, you can also edit the epub or HTML files of your ebook.
It really is one of the most powerful ebook tools for authors.
It is available for download for PC, Mac, and Linux.
4. Kindle Create – Free
If you are a self-publishing author on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Kindle Create is a must-have free writing software app for you to use.
The program has improved a lot over the last couple of years. Initially, it was a little unstable, and its primary function was to help you format a Kindle book.
But stability is much better now, and Amazon has been slowly adding new features since it merged Createspace into KDP.
Kindle Create can now format not only ebooks but paperback books as well. But this latest option is still in beta.
It is so easy to format beautiful ebooks using Kindle Create.
Do you want more free book writing software?
Are you trying to find the best apps for writing your book?
Do you want the best novel writing tool that can help you work on individual chapters and scenes?
Here are seven choices for apps and free writing programs for you that are specifically designed for writing your book.
Read our review of seven free book writing programs for authors.
7 Free apps for bloggers
Are you a content writer or blogger? You need to work with ideas, keywords, data, headlines, and images all day long.
It pays to stay one step ahead of your competition. You are continually working on improving your content, search engine optimization (SEO), and SERP rankings.
There is no way you can do all this work without having the best tools for the job at hand.
Make your life a little easier with some of these blogging apps to help you write and rank better.
Here is a choice of seven of the best blogging tools for busy content writers and bloggers. All of them will save you hours of work every day.
1. Fyrebox – Free and Premium
You’re writing lots of content for your blog.
But wouldn’t it be great if you could engage your readers a little more in your post topics?
Well, you can with Fyrebox by creating a free interactive quiz.
All you need to do is create your free account, and then you can start designing your quiz in a few minutes.
There are templates to help you get started with pre-made quizzes for you to personalize.
A quiz is a great way to keep your readers on your blog for much longer by letting them participate in your blog post subject.
2. Hubspot Blog Ideas – Free
Hubspot’s blog topic generator is an old favorite for many writers.
All you need to do is enter a few nouns, and it will produce a list of blog title ideas for you.
It is such a handy tool to have when you are looking for new writing ideas.
3. Portent’s Idea Generator – Free
Do you need a cure for writer’s block?
I adore this blog topic generator app.
Portent is an easy and clever way to find new writing ideas.
It is an app primarily designed for bloggers to find headlines and titles and not a genuine headline analyzer. But writers can use it to discover new ideas for any piece of writing.
All you have to do is input your base word or words, and then you can select a working title for a new writing prompt.
4. ShareThough Headline Analyser – Free
How engaging is your article headline?
Sharethrough must be my absolute favorite little blog post writing app. Once you have a blog or article title idea, run it through this app to see how effective it will be in attracting readers’ attention.
You can edit as you go, and the app keeps a record of your variations so you can choose the best one.
The app’s blurb says: “Like the lead paragraph in a news story or thesis in an essay, your headline is your one true sentence: the single most important asset for capturing attention in the feed.”
5. Website Grader – Free
Website Grader is a quick and easy app to help you improve your blog.
Checking and optimizing your blog’s performance is essential if you want to increase your site traffic.
You should make sure that your website is easy for users to discover and easy for search engines to understand.
It is a quick app to check your page titles, headings, and meta descriptions.
It only takes a few seconds to run this performance check of your blog to see if you need to make any improvements.
You don’t even need to register or give your email address.
It is a time and money saver for all bloggers.
Just add your basic information, and the app will create the full text for your privacy terms.
All blogs should have a policy page about privacy to make sure that your site is GDPR compliant.
7. Canva – Free and Premium
Now, this is not an article writing app. So it might not truly belong in a list of blog writing tools and programs.
But Canva is a fantastic tool for promoting your writing.
Canva is a free online tool for creating images.
Because using Internet images you find on Google images are very often copyright protected, it is a much better idea to create your own unique images.
You can find and use stock images to upload to Canva that you can then design and transform into a unique image.
You can use Canva to make images for social media promotion, images for your blog posts, Facebook headers, and even for quick and dirty ebook covers.
While there is a paid option, the free version offers more than enough images, graphics, icons, shapes, and backgrounds for almost any image creation project.
It’s so useful; I sometimes feel a bit guilty because I use this app almost every day.
10 Free productivity apps
There are so many facets to writing. It would be great if all you had to do were to write.
But we all know that a writer’s life consists of lots of tasks and distractions.
You have to be organized to be able to write. Just collecting and collating your ideas takes a lot of time in your day. Then there is your to-do list and probably a long list of pending items.
It would be great if there was an all-in-one help for a writer’s app. But until it ever eventuates, here is a selection of some of the best productivity apps for writers.
Hopefully, some of them will help you stay organized and perhaps save a little time that you can invest in writing.
1. Trello – Free and Premium
Trello must be one of the most popular apps for writers.
There is so much you can do to organize your writing projects, notes, and to-do lists. You can collaborate and assign tasks, start discussions, and so much more.
Trello is a beautiful as well as highly functional app. It is available for Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, iOS, and Android.
2. Evernote – Free and Premium
Evernote is a popular application for lots of writers. It is one of the most popular note-taking apps, but it is much more.
Never let an idea escape when you are not at your keyboard. You can organize your thoughts, create checklists and to-do lists.
There is also a handy web clipper that lets you save parts of web pages to help you with your writing research.
The free version comes with more than enough storage memory to suit most writers.
3. OneLook – Free
OneLook lets you describe a concept and get back a list of words and phrases related to that concept.
Your description can be anything at all: a single word, a few words, or even a whole sentence.
Type in your description and hit Enter to see all the related words.
This little writing app is a thesaurus on steroids.
4. Free Pomodoro Timer – Free
If you are a fan of the Pomodoro technique, to improve your productivity, you will need a Pomodoro timer .
There are many apps to choose from online.
But I like this one because it’s easy to set and to read. Nothing fancy, but effective.
5. Read-O-Meter – Free
How long will it take to read your article?
Find out with Read-O-Meter , and then you can add reading time to your blog post or article.
6. Wordcounter – Free
Wordcounter ranks the most frequently used words in your text.
You can use this browser app to see what words you are repeating too often and then make changes.
All you need to do is paste your text into the box. Then this little app will go to work and list all your repetitions.
7. Quetext – Free
Quetext is an online plagiarism checker.
Many paid apps feature checking plagiarism as a premium option.
But with this browser app, you can check your documents anytime you like.
8. Otter V0ice Notes – Free and Premium
Otter is a dictation to text app for iOS and Android.
All you need to do is hit the record button, start speaking, and watch your words appear in the app. It even adds in punctuation.
There are many paid and premium dictation apps, but Otter offers a generous free option of 600 minutes a month.
9. Freemind – Free
If you are into mind maps to develop story ideas, here is a software download for you.
Many authors use mind map apps to help write a book by keeping their ideas connected and logical.
Freemind is open-source mind-mapping software built in Java.
It is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
It has a wide variety of features, including location-based mind mapping, collaboration tools, restore sessions and more.
10. DiffChecker – Free
Do you sometimes get into a tangle when editing different versions of a text?
What and when did you make a change? Is it nearly impossible to remember every edit you make?
Well, with DiffChecker , it is easy to compare two versions of a text and find the differences between them.
It is a browser app, but if you want to save your revisions (Diffs), you will need to create an account to log in.
8 Quick mentions
The following free writing software and writing apps are recent additions to our list.
They are not categorized. But all of them could be worth a look to see if they are a match for what you need in an app or program.
As they are quick mentions, you will need to investigate for yourself to see if they might be worthwhile.
1. Kindle Previewer – Free
The Kindle Previewer application is a free desktop program that lets authors preview how their ebooks will appear on all Kindle devices.
It makes it easy to check your ebooks for different screen sizes, display orientations, and text font sizes.
2. Zotero – Free
Zotero is a free and easy-to-use program to help you with sources and citations.
You can collect, organize, cite, and share your research.
You can create references and bibliographies for any text editor and directly with Word, LibreOffice, and Google Docs.
3. Reedsy Book Editor – Free
It is also a writing program and editor.
4. NaturalReader – Free
It’s often a good idea to read aloud when you proofread a draft text.
But with NaturalReader , you can create mp3 files from your text and then play it back to you. It makes it much easier to check your text for accuracy as you listen.
There is a generous free daily limit of 20 minutes for access to premium voices.
But if you select free voices, there is no restriction.
5. Bubbl.Us – Free
When you want to mind map your ideas, it is easier with an app.
Bubbl.Us is a good choice if you want free mind mapping. You can share your maps with others and even on social media.
6. Pixabay – Free
You’re right; this is not free writing software. But I have to include Pixabay because I use it every day to find great free images for my blog.
There are a lot of free stock image sites, but this one is my favorite because the choice of images is enormous.
7. Pixlr – Free
Again, this is not a writing app. But when you need to edit an image for your blog or ebooks, then Pixlr might do the job for you.
There is a premium version, but you will find that the free version can do most of the basic photo editing tasks you would need to do.
8. DramaQueen – Free
If you are writing scripts, this program could be what you are looking for.
With DramaQueen , you can format your script yourself or according to the official rules of the Writers’ Guild.
3 Fun free writing apps
Writers can sometimes be a serious bunch of people. But everyone needs to have a bit of fun from time to time.
To end my long list of apps for writers, here are three little apps to put a smile on your face.
Have fun, and enjoy being a writer.
1. Hipster Sound – Free
Do you have time to go to a café to relax and write?
If you don’t, you can bring the sounds of a Texas or Paris café to you with this cute little app.
Go to Hipster Sound , click play, pop in your air pods, and you will have all the ambient sounds you need to get your creative juices flowing. As an extra bonus, your coffee is on the house!
2. FlipText – Free
Okay, you are not going to use Fliptext often. But it is a fun and funny little writing tool.
¡uoıʇuǝʇʇɐ ʇɔɐɹʇʇɐ oʇ ǝɹns sı ʇı ˙uʍop ǝpısdn buıʇıɹʍ ʎɹʇ ʇou ʎɥʍ ‘uoıʇuǝʇʇɐ ʇɔɐɹʇʇɐ ןןıʍ ʇɐɥʇ buıɥʇǝɯos op oʇ ʇuɐʍ noʎ uǝɥʍ
Yes, you can write upside down. Did you have to turn your screen upside down, or did you twist your neck in pain, trying to read it?
3. The Most Dangerous Writing App – Free
The Most Dangerous Writing App is a fun little writing tool with a mean side to it.
You start by setting yourself a writing time of, say, five minutes. Then you start writing. But if you stop writing for more than five seconds, you lose everything you wrote.
However, if you get through your allotted time without stopping, your reward is that you can save your work.
Yes, that’s a seriously nasty little writing app. It is a brutal yet brilliant idea.
If you treat it like a game, it is a fun challenge and maybe a clever way to help you overcome writer’s block.
Summary of free writing software
For all writers, there are plenty of writing programs, software, and tools.
You can also find free book writing programs that work very well for any book project.
You don’t need to spend any money at all to get some of the best free writing software and apps.
There are so many open-source and free software alternatives for word processors, book writing, short story writing, and spelling and grammar correction tools.
Are you ready to write your book or get started as a content writer or blogger?
Then the writing tools in the list above will be more than enough to get you off on the right foot.
All of them are user-friendly and quick, and easy to learn how to use.
Make your choices based on what you need and want to achieve as a writer and what you think you will need to succeed.
Then head off to the coffee shop with your laptop, or pump up Hipster Sound at home and start writing.
Related reading: Choose Your Writing Apps For iPad To Write Anywhere
- ← Draft2Digital Self-Publishing Platform – A First User’s Review
- How Much Does It Cost To Self-Publish A Book? – The Numbers →
A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.
26 thoughts on “ 50 Free Writing Software Tools And The Best Free Writing Apps ”
Thank you for this article. It’s very useful.
As an editor and writer for thirty years, I’m not at all fond of grammar and style programs. None of them work well at all for the people who need them most. Every one I’ve tied, including Grammarly, makes terrible mistakes, and if you follow the style these programs want you to follow, you’ll never be a good writer. I can tell in a page or two whether a writer has used and RELIED such a program, and it’s almost always an instant rejection.
These programs should only be used by writers who don’t really need them, except for those brain fart moments, or when a truly esoteric question of grammar pops up. As a writer, you MUST know grammar inside out, and you must know style inside out, or you won’t have a clue whether Grammarly, or any such program, be it for grammar or style, is lying to you.
At BEST, these programs produce cookie cutter style that may be technically correct, but that simply is not professional level writing. Such writing may make you a couple of dollars on a site such as Medium, and you may even sell a few copies of something on Amazon, but this is all you’ll do.
If you really want to be a professional writer, you MUST learn grammar inside and out. These programs can’t give you the grammar you need, and contrary to popular belief, it is NOT an editor’s job to correct a manuscript full of bad grammar. Ain’t gonna happen. Grammar is your job, not the job of a software program, and not the job of an editor. Period.
Nor can you leave style up to software, or to an editor. Software can’t give you professional level style, and an editor simply doesn’t have the time. An editor will correct minor mistakes here and there, overlooked brain farts, but that’s it.
If you really want to be a writer, forget such silly software. Plant your butt and learn grammar. For style, story, characterization, plot, and other such necessities, read five hundred novels and a thousand short stories, then write several novel or fifty short stories. If you have any talent at all, this will bring it out. If you lack talent, well, you need a new profession.
This era of digitization has changed the publishing industry completely and is still revamping it . The book writing software and industries are a true companion for writers and editors. They are just making our work more easy and accurate. Totally agree with your article.
I have a fixed income due to my disabilities. I plan to purchase a new computer but is Microsoft Home and Personal a very reputable writing program? Is a Dell computer highly recommended?
I write • plays • poetry • historical fiction • children’s picture books • essays • short fiction for children and adults
Thank you! :-)
Sorry, Tom. But I can’t help you with advice about buying a computer. You’d be better trying computer review sites.
Hi Derek, I hope someone is interested in my Scribis Project, a series o free online editors dedicated to those who want to work quickly moving between dictionaries, thesauri and databases of sentences selected from the great classics. Based on what you type in the editor, you will get synonyms, collocations, intermediate concepts, semantic fields, and dozens of sentences that contain analogies, similarities, emotions and images. With another tool, Scribis Matrix, you can generate word matrices from the same dictionaries and thesauri.
Why no YWriter? It does everything important that scrivener can do, but it is free.
We do feature yWriter in our listing of free book writing software. So, we haven’t missed it. https://justpublishingadvice.com/choose-your-free-book-writing-software-for-your-new-book/
PowerWritingAid and Grammarly are not free programs. You have to pay expensive monthly subscriptions.
StyleWriter will make you a better writer and does not get a mention in your reviews!
Prowritingaid and Grammarly both offer free versions. But I will investigate Stylewriter.
I use Grammarly on a daily basis and only the free version and I don’t feel I am missing out on anything. I also use the free version of pro writing aid, not as often but I’ve never encountered an instance where I have wished I had the paid version. A lot of paid apps have a really good free version of those apps too. This is a pretty perfectly crafted reply because of my free Grammarly lol
Very great article with many great Apps. Recently I discovered Neperos, it is very intuitive and gives you the possibility to style your article with multiple pictures.
I bought Prowritingaid for the Word add-in, but found one of the most important features, the ability to customise reports, doesn’t work. Contacting the Support team led to promises of an investigation followed by nothing. A reminder led to a promise the issue would be passed to a developer who,would be in touch, then nothing. If you want it work with Word, look elsewhere or you’ll pay for a non-functional product with no support!
Hi Peter, Lisa here from ProWritingAid. I’ve just been through our support inbox and can’t find any emails under the name Peter Caffrey.
So far, I am enjoying 3 out of your 10 recommendations. Your reviews seem honest and unscripted-thank you for that.
The only serious free option for desktop publishing right now is Scribus. It’s software, not web-based. I’ve used it a few times and it’s pretty decent. Of course, I also have QuarkXPress, which I prefer. Hope that helps!
It was informational and I liked it very much.
I found this article to be informative. In search of one thing, I happily stumbled upon much more. Thanks!
Generally in life you get what you pay for so you should expect limitations from anything free. If you’re serious about writing then Scrivener is what you need. Yes, you have to pay for it but it costs about the same as a couple of takeaways and once you learn how to use it you’ll wonder how you lived without it. I agree about Canva, but I wouldn’t bother with anything else on the list!
There is free Windows alternative for Scrivener named Quoll Writer. Of course, it has some limitations but is a lot easier to use and gives you all essential features writer or journalist needs. Chapters, characters, items, linking, tagging, annotating and more. It has Idea Board and stats and readability indexes. Text formatting is basic but hey, it’s software for writers not for editors. You can export your texts as .docx or .epub and format them with Sigil or Calibre. I’m using it for couple of years.
Good article, but you don’t mention StyleWriter – a powerful program to change the way y0u write. It shows you how to write and edit like a professional.
So thankful I found this site. All the info I need in one place and much simpler than what I was trying to work with. Especially great for a tech dummy like me.
Great post, informative and gives me some options to consider that I didn’t know about before. Thanks.
Great article, I love Canva, Couldn’t run my website without it! Thanks for this. I learned some things.
Thanks for this informative post. :) — Suzanne
This post is one of the best and most informative I have read in years on publishing for home-based writers. Through your post, I have discovered new resources that will make my writing life easier. Thanks!!!
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