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Updated: Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity

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Updated: Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity

It would be easy to be fooled into thinking that all you need to write is a word processor. While this is certainly a useful piece of software, there's far more to consider.

It's important that you use the right tool for the job, and there is plenty to think about besides the writing itself. Here we round up ten of best tools to help you out with every stage of the writing process, no matter what you're working on.

1. Sigil

If you've ever thought of making your own ebooks, you're going to need some great software to enable you to do that something much like Sigil. It's accessible to both novices and experts, with a WYSIWYG and code view to suit either experience level. It's also full of useful features, such as the table of contents generator, spell checker and book browser.


You can start from scratch by typing directly into the program, or convert HTML files into ebooks complete with embedded audio and video if you like that can be read on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

2. Evernote

Successful writing, from screenplays and novels to essays and papers, depends on research. And if you're conducting research or maintaining a list of notes and ideas, you need somewhere to store them this is where Evernote can help. You can create an endless list of notebooks to store information about different projects you are working on.


Evernote can be used to store text that makes its way into the final document, grab content from the web, and there's even scope for collaborating with others by sharing your notes. Best of all, Evernote syncs to the cloud, so it can be accessed from just about any computer or device, either online or through a dedicated app.

3. FreeMind

Storyboarding is a great way to try out ideas and see where a particular thread of a project is going. Mindmappng is something of an extension of this idea, letting you riff off your own ideas and see how things unfold.


It doesn't matter if you are working on a storyline idea and want to track what happens to individual characters, or if you want to map the main points you need to make in an essay so you can brainstorm sub-content, FreeMind is on hand to help. If you have a tendency to get lost and forget ideas before you have chance to get them on paper, this could be your saviour.

4. Scribus

Not every writing project is a simple case of filling the page with words sometimes you need an advanced layout tool. There are several expensive professional layout applications to choose from, but Scribus is an immensely powerful free alternative.


This is not a program that you'll pick up instantly as there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get to grips with it you'll be able to create stunning newspaper and magazine-style layouts. You can use Scribus to create advanced documents suitable for professional printing, or you can save projects as PDFs for electronic delivery.

5. LibreOffice Writer

For every day writing of all sorts, a word processor is all but essential. While Microsoft Office may be the most popular office suite available, you can get your hands on a similarly powerful suite, including a word processor, free of charge in the form of LibreOffice.

LibreOffice Writer

Its word processor is called Writer, which has all of the basics covered so you have full control over the look of your documents. There are also useful writing tools such as autocorrect and a table of contents creator, further helping your writing process. Documents you create are fully compatible with the likes of Microsoft Word, too, so you can share files with others without worrying about how they will look.

6. WriteMonkey

There are all sorts of distractions that can get in the way of writing. While interruptions from friends and family can't really be avoided, there are plenty of on-screen diversions that you can banish. WriteMonkey is a word processor that has been designed with the serious writer in mind. The interface is stripped back and basic so you can concentrate on the one thing that matters writing.


Don't be fooled by the sparse-looking interface, WriteMonkey is far from being devoid of features. Right click a blank area of the screen and the context menu gives you access to all of the tools you could need, whilst hiding them away when you want to remain distraction-free.

7. RapidTyping Tutor

The faster and more accurately you can type, the less time you will need to spend writing or the more time you will have for writing, depending on how you look at things. As with so many things in life, practice makes perfect, and RapidTyping Tutor guides you through how to use the keyboard correctly, and uses a series of lessons to help you increase your speed.

RapidTyping Tutor

This is an instantly accessible tool which is fun to use and brings genuine results. You can track your progress in the program so you can keep an eye on how much you improve.

8. GanttProject

When you're writing for other people, you need to think about deadlines, and GanttProject can help you keep on top of them. It is particularly useful if you are working on more than one writing job at the same time, as it helps to eliminate confusion.


It's an excellent project management tool that works equally well if you are working alone, or if you are collaborating with others. You can set deadlines and goals, break a large project up into smaller chunks, and easily keep an eye on the progress that's being made. It's a great way to effectively manage your time.

9. PagePlus

For those writing projects where you need more page layout control than you'll find in a regular word processor but don't need the advanced features of the likes of Scribus PagePlus fits the bill perfectly.


This desktop publishing tool is great for putting together newsletters, booklets and other documents that are a little different to the norm. There are all manner of templates readymade for you to work with so you don't have to spend time fiddling with too many settings. Like other Serif titles, PagePlus is incredibly simple to use, but this does not mean that it isn't highly powerful and versatile.

10. SimpleOCR

While the majority of your writing is likely to be penned by your own hand, there may well be times when you need to repurpose content from other sources. Rather than typing passages out by hand, you can use SimpleOCR to convert printed words into editable text.


As well as being useful for quoting lengthy passages from books, the program will also come in handy if you have a printout of a file but have lost the electronic version. The software is free, but you also get a two-week trial of a handwriting conversion component that can be used to make handwritten notes editable.

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