Writing is just getting pen and paper and then jotting down your thoughts. No, not really. In a perfect world, maybe that would be acceptable. But the thing is there’s a lot more to writing. Many people would probably like to come up with the best journal entries, articles, books, etc. In fact, even as students, each of us has the burden of writing the best essay, book report, term paper, research paper, etc. In earlier years, in addition to enrolling in writing classes, you have to go to the library to do research if you want to come up with a written masterpiece.
Today, thanks to computers and the internet, anybody can go online and avail of a wide array of tools to help improve their writing skills. Following are just some computer software available that can help all writers in polishing their skill:
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Google Docs: Most of the time, writers need to share documents with other people. They need to do this because they need feedback or they want these people to edit the documents and/or add to them. With Google Docs you can add tables, images, comments, formulas, etc. It accepts most popular file formats including DOC, XLS, ODT, ODS, RTF, CSV, PPT, etc. The best thing about this software is that it’s free.
Writeboard: Just like Google Docs, Whiteboards are web-based text documents that you can share online. You can edit and compare changes easily. This software is also free.
Microsoft Word: Microsoft Office Standard 2007 has the core Microsoft Office applications but it has been updated, enabling it to produce faster and better results. It is comprised of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. You can create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations of excellent quality. It also enables you to manage your email, calendar, and contacts with ease. Microsoft Office 2007 Standard version can be bought for $324.99 while the student version costs $109.99.
Word Viewer: This is also free software from Microsoft. It allows the user to “view, print and copy Word documents, even if you don’t have Word installed.”
Open Office: This software can be used as an alternative to Microsoft Office. It is also a whole office suite so it is can replace other programs like Excel and PowerPoint. It “is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.” Open Office is available in several languages and it works on common computers. It can also be downloaded from the internet, free of charge.
AbiWord: Abiword is a famous open source word processor that is perfect for the writer who is looking for a light and compact software. This free software has all the basic features of any word processor and it supports that different language and operating systems.
Wordpad: Some people find the sounds coming from a full word processor too distracting. Wordpad is easier to use compared to Word. It also allows formatting. This software comes free with your computer if you are running Windows.
WriteRoom: This software was developed for Mac and iPhone users who want to write without distractions. WriteRoom is a full screen writing environment. Some people feel that word processors are just too cluttered. WriteRoom lets you focus only on your writing. This program has a retro feel because of the green text on black background. This software can be downloaded from the internet for $25.
Dark Room: This is basically the Windows version of the WriteRoom. Just like the WriteRoom, it has green text over black background. However, with WriteRoom you can change the background. But the good thing about Dark Room is that you can get it for free.
JaLingo: If English is not your native language or if you are not that good with its correct usage, this software can help you with your grammar and writing style. Spelling and grammar checks in word processors do not really help the user. This program will give you a dictionary on your desktop where you can confirm the spelling of words and you can check the definitions of the words. This software is OS independent, making it work smoothly on most computers. Best of all, it’s free.
WhiteSmoke: “WhiteSmoke performs advanced and context-based English grammar, spelling, and punctuation checking, as well as text enrichment to enhance your writing.” This software is good for the more advanced writing such as business and executive writing. The “General” version costs $79.99; the “Business” version is $99.99 and the Executive writing version costs $250.
StyleWriter: This software comes with a “Software for writers” CD and retails at $160. It was developed by editors, journalists and business writing tutors. By simply clicking the StyleWriter button in the Microsoft Word toolbar or the WordPerfect toolbar or any other clipboard text, you will launch a check for several faults and bad habits that are usually found in writing. This program will give you the skills of a good editor.
Kaz-Type: It’s not all about the writing style, typing speed, believe it or not, is a big factor in bringing you success as a writer. Kaz-Type will help you learn to type and master your keyboard fast. You won’t have to go through repetitive typing drills and games because this is an interactive multimedia tutor software. Kaz-Type has been tested and proven with more than 1 million users. You can download the software for $19.95 or you can buy the CD for $34.95.
Miracle Type: This software costs $19.99. It is said that “Miracle Type will teach you to Touch Type faster than any other typing software. It uses a unique learning method to dramatically reduce your learning time to just ONE HOUR!” This software is good for users who have given up on being able to type fast.
Q10: Q10 is a free alternative for WriteRoom and Dark Room. It gives you a full-screen word processor without the distractions that regular word processors have. You focus only on your writing. Compared to WriteRoom and Dark Room, however, it has added features like paragraph styling and lives statistics about your articles.
Scrapped: Scripped is a free online service that you can use to work on your scripts from different locations and from different computers. It allows you to write, edit and print your scripts right there on their website.
These are just some of the available software that writers can avail to help improve their writing skills. Just do the research, study everything, find what works for you. Just like anything that you want to accomplish, as long as you focus and work on it, nothing will stop you from being a good writer.