So while Word, Google Docs, and Pages all have word count features, they don't have the same options for setting and tracking goals over time. Some writers need to keep exhaustive notes regarding plot points and characters, and possibly even visual references, such as an image of a shoot location or faces that inspire characters. The best writers' apps include tools that make it easy to see reference material and notes whenever the writer needs, and then get back to writing quickly.
Finally, the word processors in suites are generally heavy-duty apps that can do everything from formatting and footnoting to headers, footers, and special pagination. That's handy for many kinds of business and academic writing, but for the average creative writer, all this may just be a major distraction. Writers who find themselves in the less-is-more camp will want a writing app that strips away anything that could possibly be the least little bit distracting. Distraction-free writing apps are a dime a dozen; the trick is to find one that also offers the tools you need when you need them.
The best distraction-free writing apps hide the tools you need until the appropriate time, rather than omitting them altogether. A well-designed interface makes Ulysses easy to use and easy on the eyes.
It has good tutorials and help menus for newcomers, including a cheat sheet for Markdown language. Markdown is a very lightweight set of codes that can be used instead of the rich formatting options that are common in word processors.
It's very simple, and takes no time at all to learn, especially when you have a cheat sheet to guide you. The idea behind Markdown is that you can apply basic formatting, like marking titles and subtitles, bold and italic text, without moving your fingers from the keyboard. It's also less distracting than having a panel with 50 alluring typefaces that you're dying to try.
Ulysses is only available for Mac and iOS. Windows users might also try yWriter. Note that we have reviewed Focused for Mac , but it didn't score well enough to make this top-ten list. If you're curious why, please feel free to read the review. Book authors spend a lot of their time simply organizing their manuscript. Whether it's fiction or nonfiction, the work doesn't always shape up as the author originally intended. Stories aren't always told in a linear fashion.
And scenes sometimes become more effective when their order changes. To facilitate the shaping of a story in this way, you need a library, or a pane within the writing app showing file folders and their organization. Not all writing apps have one, as you can see from the chart above. Book authors and screenwriters aren't the only types of writers, of course. Many writers create shorter pieces that they publish online directly, without ever passing through the hands of an agent, publisher, or movie producer.
If you're publishing on Medium or WordPress, it sure is handy to have a writing app that can export each piece directly to your platform of choice. Ulysses and iA Writer both have integration options for those two platforms. Like Ulysses, iA Writer is a distraction-free writing app, but it's much more pared down.
It has some neat functions, such as text transclusion, that can be fun to learn for people who think more like programmers than traditional writers. Text transclusion allows you to create a final document of many smaller pieces by, essentially, giving commands about which files to pull together and in what order. Next add an image. Then include my argument.
Finally, show my author bio. Every writer has unique needs and desires. Do you need an app that works on both Windows and macOS? Is learning a new way to format text a deal-breaker? Does your final submission need to meet industry standards the way screenplays and teleplays do?
The range of software dedicated to writers is impressive. If nothing tickles your fancy from the full reviews linked below, you should also read our short synopses of many other apps for writers , as well. Finally, if you decide that a dedicated writing tool just isn't for you, and you'd rather just use a plain old word processor, we've rounded up the top office suites , too. Featured Writing App Reviews: Well tailored for screenwriters.
Powerful tools for both writing scenes and crafting the larger story. Plenty of view options. Offers a variety of templates. Collaborative editing restricted to one person at a time. Inadequate default auto-save and revision history. It has all the tools you need to get the script right, both from a story perspective and a technical one. Excellent tools for organizing writing. Ample collection of templates. Also available for Windows and iOS.
No native collaboration features. Beautiful and clean interface. Excellent selection of distraction-free modes.
Filters help organize content. Can publish directly to WordPress. Now sold as subscription. Requires some learning, especially for those unfamiliar with Markdown. No audio file uploads. It's ideal for writers who prefer a minimal interface and total flexibility, rather than a lot of structure and hand-holding. Screenwriting and preproduction in one app. No mobile apps or desktop apps; online only.
Monthly subscription makes it expensive over the long run. Helpful sample scripts included. Attractive and organized interface. Also available for Windows. Some crashes in testing. Very good templates for scripts. Includes tools for storyboarding, outlining, character sheets. Supports importing and exporting many formats. Uses distraction-free style with Markdown language. Offers transclusion method for embedding images, tables, and so on.
Can export directly to Medium and WordPress. Few tools for organizing and arranging files. No templates for genres. Not ideal for code-phobic writers. Rich tools for story and character development.
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