For many of us, writing is a daunting proposition that easily leads to brain-freeze, confusion, and frustration at the sheer magnitude of the task.
But take heart! Modern computing and the Internet have joined hands to make the process easier, whether you’re creating a brochure or business plan, researching a paper, or writing the world’s next great novel.
The tools, apps, and resources below are loosely categorized into different groups, though some encompass several categories. But every tool has the potential to be a helper and guide along the way. So experiment, choose your favorites, and let your writing journey become an adventure in discovery and creativity.
The categories are:
- Inspiration and Creativity
- Brainstorming and Mind Mapping
- Productivity and Focus
- Editing and Proofreading
- Publishing Your Work
Most of the websites listed below have links to purchase pages. Where that’s not the case, we’ve included them in the product description.
Note: This is an independent guide and we are not affiliated with anything listed below.
Pages is Apple’s answer to creating beautiful, professional documents. And collaboration is not limited to Mac users. Work with people across the globe, tracking both changes and users in real time, with the same high-quality view whether your co-workers are using a Mac, iPhone, iPad, or PC through iCloud. Compatible with Microsoft Word.
Price: Mac – $19.99; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – $9.99
OS: OS X 10.12.0 or later; iOS 10.0 or later
Word has many useful features and templates that can make your life easier and offer lots of choices. Customize fonts; insert charts, smartart, images, and special characters; use templates for everything from term papers to brochures; customize your view; and much more. Now available as a mobile app.
Price: Available as part of an Office 365 subscription. Price varies with version, type (home, business, or academic), level, and payment plan. Mobile app is free but requires an Office subscription to access all features.
Also available as an independent software program (pricing varies).
Writing Outliner is a Microsoft Word add-in designed for managing long, complex projects such as books, research papers, technical writing projects, and more. Among other things, it offers a corkboard view with index cards, an outlining feature, statistics and target-setting, a synopsis box, and tags.
Price: $49 (introductory promo; normally $79)
OS: Compatible with Word 2013/2010 and earlier; Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP, 2000
Google Docs is another program with lots of possibilities. Choose from different formatting and styling options; insert links, photos, and drawings; use a variety of templates; enjoy easy access from anywhere; share and collaborate in real-time; and sync across devices. Easy Word file conversion, plus optional add-ons.
OS: Windows Vista or later; OS X 10.7 or later; iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Android 4.1 or late
Not just another word processor, Storyist was designed with novelists and screenwriters in mind. Have trouble keeping track of your characters, plot, and setting? Storyist will do it for you, along with organizing and storing your project in the cloud, providing an overview, and formatting your manuscript for submission.
Price: Mac – $59.99; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – $14.99
OS: Storyist 3 – OS X 10.9 or later. Storyist 2.4.6 – 10.4 through 10.10; not compatible with El Capitan. iOS 8 or later
Designed for long documents, Scrivener lets you write, organize, and edit your manuscript in a way that appeals to the writer’s imagination – like posting your notes on a virtual corkboard, allowing your ideas and overall manuscript to take shape organically, and writing from wherever you want. Not just for creatives, Scrivener is used in a variety of professions.
Price: Mac OS – $45; Windows – $40.00; iOS – $19.99
OS: OS X 10.6.6 or later; iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
yWriter simplifies novel writing by organizing your draft into chapters and scenes. Automatically saves your work so that you can easily search, move, retrieve, or discard. Also produces reports like chapter synopses and overall summaries to help with overview and plot design. Can even suggest a work schedule for meeting goals.
Price: Free, with no ads or unwanted frills
OS: Windows Vista or later
A novel-writing program for Windows, NewNovelist provides start-to-finish guidance along with templates, a specially adapted word processor, a visualizer for that all-important overview, note management, storyboarding, import and export, formatting for publication and submission, and more.
Price: $29.99 (sale – 1/3 off regular price)
OS: Windows 8, 8.1, 7, Vista, XP
Reedsy’s goal is to get self-publishing authors from A to Z, with the help of the site’s curated publishing professionals. The Book Editor is part of that aim, but don’t let the name deceive you: the Reedsy Book Editor includes a distraction-free writing interface, formatting and typesetting, and export to a variety of print-on-demand (POD) services.
Price: Free. Paid professional services (editing, ghostwriting, designing, marketing, publicity) available on an individual contract basis.
Designed by book fans to help novelists create “beautiful” books through deeper involvement, Bibisco is a text editor that gives you an overview of your work, provides tools for creating full-fledged characters, and lets you structure, revise, export, and more.
OS: Windows, Linux, Mac
Final Draft is professional screenwriting software with automatic screenplay formatting and pro tips. New features include a story map, beat board, alternative-dialogue feature, structure points and templates, and scene numbering options. Plus all the regular features, like index cards, character highlighting, text to speech, Mac and Windows enhancements, scene view, and more.
Price: Upgrade Edition – $99; Academic Edition – $119; Pro Edition – $199
OS: OS X 10.9 or later; Windows 7 or later
An online collaborative screenwriting tool with public and private project settings, Plotbot lets you work on your screenplay by yourself or with other writers. Tracks individual contributions and offers copyright or Creative Commons license options.
A minimalist text editor for the serious creative writer, JotterPad includes such features as a regular and extended keyboard, rhyme dictionaries, a thesaurus, local and cloud storage, Markdown preview, syntax highlighting, snapshots for retrieval of previous versions, and export and sharing capability.
Price: Free; in-app products – $4.99 each
OS: Android 4.1 or later
TinyWord is like an uncluttered version of Word for Mac, with many of the same word-processing capabilities but streamlined to be “lightweight” and efficient. Want to insert a table or image? No problem. Edit, format, import, export, and work with many of the same file and image types – without the burden of extra trappings.
OS: OS X 10.8 or later
Inkwell for Dropbox provides iPad users with a no-clutter, ad-free environment and fluid typing experience so they can focus on their writing, including longer works. Sync to Dropbox for storing and sharing, reorganize your work with the cut-copy-paste feature, and track statistics like word count.
Price: $0.99 (on sale for a limited time)
OS: iOS 5.0 or later (iPad)
A plain text editor designed to help you focus on your words, IA Writer can also create templates; insert images, tables, and blocks of text; sync with other devices; and export your files to different formats.
Price: Mac – $9.99; iOS – $3.99; Android – Free
OS: OS X 10.11 or later; iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Android 4.0 or later
As its name suggests, Word Counter counts your words and characters as well as your sentences, paragraphs, and pages. It also calculates keyword density, reading level, reading and speaking time, and more. Customizable. Sign in for more features.
A personal journal app, My Wonderful Days makes it easy to capture the wonderful moments of our days in spite of our fast-paced lives. Includes iCloud syncing, photo insertion, sound effects for that realistic touch (like crinkling paper), personal statistics, and passcode protection for privacy.
Price: Mac – $9.99; iOS – $2.99
OS: OS X 10.10 or later; iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
Another journaling app to help you live your life to the fullest by chronicling the best and most interesting times, Day One Journal lets you insert multiple photos for a single entry, maintain multiple journals, view maps, set reminders, and more. The beautiful interface will inspire you to appreciate every moment.
Price: Mac – $39.99 (limited-time sale – 20% off); iPhone (Apple Watch available), iPad, iPod touch – $4.99
OS: OS X 10.11.0 or later; iOS 9.0 or later
Writing often involves research and notes. Vizual Einstein organizes your notes, even giving you the option to link them to each other and to web sources. Its organizing system, which includes headings and subheadings, makes for easy categorization, retrieval, and cross-referencing.
OS: Mac, Windows
Index Card mimics the good, old-fashioned corkboard with index cards. Write your ideas as you think of them and then rearrange as you see fit. You can also export to most word processors, share, email right from the app, print from your iPad, and sync with Scrivener for Mac OS X.
Price: Version 4.0 (iPad) – $4.99; version 3.0 (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch) – $2.99
OS: Version 4.0 – iOS 8.0 or later; 3.0 – iOS 8.2 or later
Another app that captures your inspiring ideas and moments, Evernote’s loose definition of “notes” – as images, text, and more – brings note-taking to a new level. Access your notes across devices, search for handwritten words, and share with friends, family, and colleagues. Higher subscription rates include more features, space, and syncing ability.
Subscription Prices: Basic – Free; Plus – $34.99/year; Premium – $69.99/year
App Price: Free
OS: iOS 9.3 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch)
Designed for quick, no-fuss note taking, Notefile lets you search and retrieve; calculate math right in your notes; share, open and export plain text files; sync across your iOS devices and also with iCloud and Junecloud (by the app’s creators); and create a shortcut for easy access.
OS: OS X 10.10 or later; iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
Drafts simplifies the note-taking process by eliminating the need to worry about filenames, saving, and organization, while also giving you a variety of useful tools. These include multilingual dictation, restorable versions, fonts and themes, extended keyboard, Markdown and HTML previews, social media posting, email and messaging, and much more.
OS: iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch )
An accessible note-taking app with Markdown support, Write also allows you to sync to Dropbox, share, import notes, and publish to the web. Clean design, customizable fonts, and passcode protection are a few more of its features.
Price: Mac – $9.99; iOS – $1.99
OS: iOS 7.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
Another minimalist note-taking and writing app, Monospace offers a focused experience, formatting options, a hashtag folder organization system, export using Markdown, syncing with Dropbox, a touch-sensitive user interface designed for Android, and more. Optional Pro upgrade.
OS: Android 4.0.3 or later
Originally designed for Linux, Tomboy lets you create, organize, link, and list your notes. Uses wiki style for easier searching and organizing. Highlight, underline, and italicize; also export to HTML, check your spelling, set your preferences, and customize.
Price: Available free at
OS: Linux; Mac OS; Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8
Zim uses text files and wiki markup to help you collect and organize your notes, lists, ideas, and other data, either for their own sake or as the basis for larger projects. Add and edit images, link pages, add plug-ins for more features, and export to HTML.
OS: Ubuntu; Mac OS X; Windows
OmniOutliner helps you structure your notes and ideas, collapse or drag for easy reading, use templates for efficiency and consistency, add links and images to your text, and share and sync across devices with OmniPresence. Mac versions include additional features, such as workflow automation, Word export, and advanced formatting.
Price: Mac – Standard $49.99, Pro $99.99; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – $29.99
OS: Mac Standard and Pro – OS X 10.10 or higher; iOS 9.0 or later
Strictly speaking, Notability is a note-taking app. Boring? Not really. Notability has put the fun and flexibility back into note taking by enabling you to draw, write, or type your ideas and then combine and refine them however you want. So let your genius fly. Then organize it, share it, and get feedback. You can also annotate photos and PDFs.
OS: iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
A note-taking and PDF-annotation app, GoodNotes lets you make and search high-resolution handwritten notes; type, draw, and insert images and PDFs; reorganize your pages; choose from a variety of templates; fill, sign, and write notes on PDFs; correct, resize, and move your work; and more.
OS: iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
If you’re stumped or having trouble starting, Unstuck helps you define the issue, adapt your thinking, and take action – maybe even try something new. How? By analyzing your stuck moment and giving you tailored tips and encouragement, though you may have to go through the process several times to get the answer that truly matches your situation.
Price: Free. Also offers interactive life courses ($49.99 each) and (physical) tip cards ($25 per deck or $100 for the complete set).
OS: Web-based; iOS 9.0 or later (iPad)
The makers of Brainwave have created a large range of “brainwave entrainment” programs that guide your mind into various states by playing two frequencies, one into each ear. This produces another frequency that matches the ideal state for attaining your goal, whether it’s to study smarter, meditate more deeply, improve your athletic prowess, or any number of other possibilities.
Price: From $.99 for individual programs to $9.99 for the ultimate bundle of 5 apps and 70 programs.
OS: iOS 5.1.1 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
Spice is a comprehensive source for unique and inspiring English-language phrases from 2 to 10 words long. The phrases, which include no idioms or clichés, are from published print works that span centuries of English-language history. The idea is to help writers become more creative in their own use of the language.
Price: Professional $19.95/year; Mobile $.99/month or $6.99/year
OS: Professional – Mac, PC; Mobile – iOS, Android
Part of the website Creative Writing Solutions, the Creative Writing Prompts are a list of potential story ideas. Use them as a springboard for your own creative ideas and story development.
Part of the Creativity Portal website, this online tool does just what it says: create prompts to jog your imagination and get you writing. The site also has a Writing Prompts page with more prompts and exercises to give you ideas and unleash your creativity.
Designed to fuel the creative writing spark, the Brainstormer app consists of three wheels of carefully selected words and phrases that, when put together in different combinations, should get your imagination flowing. Comes in four versions: classic, plus the character, creature, and world builders.
OS: iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch ); Android 2.2 or later
Fiction writing requires imagination and inspiration, but even with tons of research, you may sometimes still get stuck. Lists for Writers provides ideas and category lists to help focus your attention on the many important elements that go into a good story.
OS: iOS 7.0 or later – iPhone, iPad, iPod touch; Android, Nook, Windows phone, Blackberry
Aside from finding matching rhymes for words, RhymeZone will search for a whole slew of other things, such as synonyms, antonyms, Shakespearean and Biblical quotes, poetic contexts, near rhymes, definitions, and images. Available in English and Spanish. Includes links to other useful sites and tools.
Price: Web – Free; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – $2.99; Android app – $2.49
OS: Web-based; iOS 8.0 or later; Android 1.6 or later
Writing Aid was designed to help combat writer’s block and provide ideas for more elegant, expressive writing. Essentially a thesaurus without the usual ads, it also includes a reverse dictionary.
OS: iOS 8.0 or later (iPad, Apple Watch, iPhone, iPod touch)
Mindnode is a clean-looking, colorful mind-mapping tool that lets you play with your ideas in visual form so you can contemplate, organize, and reorganize them until your project starts to take the shape you want. Use across devices, share on the web, and export your mind maps and tasks.
Price: Mac – $29.99; iOS – $9.99
OS: OS X 10.11 or later; iOS 9.3 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch)
Mindly helps you to capture, collect, and organize your thoughts with its visual interface, essentially a mind-mapping and planning tool. Sync to all devices and share with those who matter.
OS: iOS 8.1 or later (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch)
Mind42 (a play on “Mind for Two”) is based on the idea that brainstorming and mind mapping are best done with others. Create your own mind map, or browse what’s gone before. Insert links and images, collaborate in real time, publish and export, and more.
Mindmup 2 lets you structure your writing with notes and attachments; organize ideas into storyboards; store maps in the cloud and on Google Drive; plan and track projects, collaborate, attach documents, and add images. Added privileges for paid users.
Price: Basic – Free; Personal Gold – $25/year; Organizational Gold – $100/year
Another web-based tool based on the power of visual mind mapping, Mindmeister lets users create, plan, and brainstorm with greater ease, either singly or as a team. Features include a presentation mode and project management tool.
Price (per user): Basic – Free; Personal – $6/month; Pro – $10/month; Organizational Gold – $15/month.
Pricing for educators and students (per user): Personal – $3/month; Edu Pro – $5/month; Edu Campus (20+ users) – $1/month.
Mobile app: Free
Bubbl.us uses differently colored boxes to structure ideas and map out projects. Same general idea as above, also with different privileges for different tiers. Usable across devices, with no need to download.
Price: Basic – Free; Premium – $4.91/month, $59/year; Team (per user) – Less than 50 users $6/month, $59/year; More than 50 users Starts at $3/month, $29/year per user, with large discounts for more users.
A flexible mind-mapping tool (though it’s not mind-mapping software) based on the idea that creative thinking has its own organic flow and that mapping ideas doesn’t always require a hierarchy or connection between ideas. Simple to use. Customizable and exportable.
OS: OS X 10.6.8 or later; Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1, 10
Like the other mind-mapping tools, SimpleMind lets you organize, analyze, and make creative connections between ideas. Especially suited for use across devices, you can also add images, audio, and video on your mobile device. Use presentation mode or share with friends, family, and colleagues.
Price: Mac/Windows – From €23.99 to €798; pricing varies with number of users. iOS app, Android – SimpleMind + Free; SimpleMind Pro $5.99.
OS: OSX 10.10; Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10; iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Android 3.2 or later
Apparently based on mind mapping, Visuwords creates word maps that let you visualize how a word or phrase relates to other concepts. Seems better suited to technical terms; for the moment, anyway, words and phrases like “love” and “vocal music” are missing a lot of nuances and important associations. Best used as a springboard for your own creative word mapping.
Not a tool in the usual sense, Protagonize is an online community of writers (all levels) and readers. Write, browse, collaborate, critique, promote your work – all in a community of likeminded people.
oTranscribe makes transcribing downloaded or online recordings a lot more efficient with its easy-to-use interface. Includes simple standard shortcuts for italics, boldface, and pausing as well as time-stamp insertion. Also features autosave, limited export capability, privacy guarantee, and video file support.
OS: Web-based. Supports Quicktime and YouTube; includes link to online audio converter for MP3 and WMA audio files.
Dragon Dictation significantly speeds up your work by doing the typing while you speak. Use for memos and notes or with Facebook and Twitter. Supports a variety of languages and provides editing options. Nuance also offers more advanced Dragon speech recognition software for desktop (PC and Mac) and mobile. Large price variation.
Price: Free; Dragon Anywhere (pro-grade/individual) – $15/month or $150/year; contact for group pricing
OS: iOS 4.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Android 4.4 or later
Even with all the dictation and handwriting tools out there, typing is still a useful skill. An online typing tutor, Keybr.com helps you learn to touch type or simply improve your skill level with its typing exercises and competitions. View statistics and track your progress. Supports multiple language and keyboard formats.
For those with fond memories of typewriters, Tom Hanks has invented Hanx Writer, which mimics the typewriter keyboard so you don’t have to forfeit that experience when using your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. Available in different styles.
Price: Hanx Prime Select – Free; Hanx 707 (bold) – $2.99; Hanx Golden Touch (elegant) – $2.99
OS: iOS 8.0 or later; iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Word processors are wonderful tools with a variety of capabilities, but sometimes that same variety can get in the way of focusing on your words. The OmmWriter text editor restores simplicity to the act of writing and enhances your mood with a choice of backgrounds, audio, and keystroke sounds.
Price: No fixed price; suggested minimum $5.11
OS: Mac, PC, iPad
Another minimalist text editor with full-screen mode for eliminating distractions, Zen Writer creates a peaceful, uncluttered writing experience. Also features editing and proofing capabilities, keyboard sounds, musical tracks, back-up archiving, and search and replace.
Price: Mac – $14.99; Windows – $14.99. May be on sale: previous pricing listed as $39.99. Free trial and 30% educational discount.
OS: OS X 10.7.4 or later; Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 or 10
If the last few text editors didn’t appeal to you, maybe Q10 will. Same full-screen, uncluttered experience, along with formatting and theme customization, portability, easy note access, timer, target-setting, autocorrection, typewriter sounds, autosaving, and more.
If an uncluttered environment isn’t enough to keep you focused, Cold Turkey Writer will block you from accessing anything except the text-editor screen until you’ve reached your target word count or specified working time. The Pro version comes with soundtracks, light and dark themes, and added settings to boost your productivity.
Price: Basic – Free; Pro – $10; Bundle (includes Cold Turkey Blocker Pro) – $29
OS: Stand-alone (no installation required)
This open-source app for Mac OS X will force you to focus on your writing instead of surfing the net, checking your email, or playing your favorite time-sink game. Just set the timer and decide which sites to avoid – and then just try and access them. Nothing you do will work!
OS: Mac OS X
Anti-Social helps you stay focused and productive by blocking those distracting sites that keep you from concentrating on your work or studies. Choose which sites to block and for how long. Hard to stop. Comes with support and a guarantee.
OS: Mac OS X 10.5 – 10.11; Windows XP – 10
Another app for blocking those distracting sites but with many other features besides. Stayfocused also lets you schedule your days, customize your screen, automatically open task-related files from other programs, track your time on activities, and generate reports.
Price: Standard (limited use) – Free; Pro 1 – $19.99, prev. $39.99; Pro 3 – $34.99, prev. $59.99
OS: Window XP, Vista, 7, 8
If distraction is your problem, then Cold Turkey can lock you out of websites, web pages, applications, the whole Internet, and even your computer. You can also schedule breaks, track your progress, and create exceptions.
Price: Basic – Free; Pro – $25; Bundle (includes Cold Turkey Writer Pro) – $29; Android – Free
OS: Mac OS 10.11 or later; Windows 7–10; Android 4.0.3 or later
Another site blocker, LeechBlock is a Firefox add-on that lets you customize exactly how and when to prevent yourself from spending too much time on time sinks. Set up specific hours, time limits, or even time limits within specific hours. Track your time, create exceptions, and slow yourself down with a password.
OS: Firefox Add-on
The Tomato Timer is based on 25-minute work or study periods followed by a 5-minute break after the first three work units and 15 minutes after the fourth. The idea is that this improves your focus and concentration.
In addition to the standard pomodoro (Italian for “tomato”) timer, marinaratimer.com lets you customize your times or just use a simple virtual kitchen timer. Also lets you choose from a variety of sounds for the alert. I had issues with the timer sound on my Android, even though the preview sound was fine. Works fine with a laptop.
Be Focused Pro is a pomodoro-style timer app that works across Apple devices. Customize your work and pause times, transfer tasks by pasting from other apps, export to a csv file, and more. Syncing between your Mac and iOS devices requires both Be Focused Pro apps.
Price: Mac – $4.99; iOS – $1.99
OS: OS X 10.9 or later; iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch)
Great for journalists, travel writers, bloggers on the go, and anyone else who regularly publishes to the web, Byword is a plain-text editor and Markdown app with syncing capability, Markdown support, and the ability to export to different file formats and publish to a variety of platforms, including WordPress, Medium, and Blogger.
Price: Mac – $11.99; iOS – $5.99
OS: Mac; iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad)
Editorial is another plain-text app for Markdown users. Preview your text, hide document sections, extend your keyboard to view markdown characters, create templates, automate your workflow, and more. Includes Python scripting and Fountain mode for screenwriters.
OS: iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
MarkMyWords works with a variety of markup languages, making it a useful tool for regular web article writers. It features a clutter-free plain-text editor, preview before publishing, background and formatting customization for an enjoyable writing experience, plug-ins and bundles, and more.
OS: OS X 10.6.8 or later
A text editor for Mac, Clean Writer Pro frees your creative writing instinct by providing you with a minimalist, clutter-free interface. Also features paragraph focus, Markdown preview, conversion to HTML, full-screen mode, and autosave.
OS: OS X 10.7 or later
Write Room is a full-screen minimalist text editor created to be the ultimate in distraction-free writing, an environment that focuses you 100% on your words. According to the app’s creator, the effect is subtle but sure. Choose from a variety of background themes.
OS: OS X 10.7 or later
Based on Write Room, which is solely for OS X, Dark Room was created as the Windows alternative. Just you and your words for maximum writing productivity without the distracting features.
Price: Free (donations accepted through Paypal)
OS: Windows XP, 2000, 2003; .NET Framework 2.0
Novel in 30 pushes you to turn that novel in your head into a reality. An iPad-compatible text editor with pleasant visuals, it lets you focus on your writing, set targets, use an on-screen or physical keyboard, track your progress, share with friends, sync to your computer, and back up your work. Use it on your own schedule or with that fabled writer’s challenge, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
OS: iOS 5.0 or later (iPad)
Write or Die turns your writing goals into a game, with consequences for procrastination and rewards for achievement. Customize both positive and negative audial and visual incentives as well as background noises and imagery. The web version includes writing prompts, personal and leaderboard statistics, links to other sites, project news, and interesting quotes.
Price: iOS app – $9.99; Windows, Mac, Linux – $10.00; Web-based version – free
OS: iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Windows, Mac, Linux
With more and more people traveling and working remotely, mobile business tools have become an essential aspect of life. Toggl is a time-tracking and productivity tool that works both on and offline, for individuals and teams. Boost productivity, organize projects, track progress, generate and share reports, export timesheets, and work from anywhere, with or without other project management tools.
Price: Basic – Free; Starter (per user, for teams of 5 or less) – $10/month or $9/mo. (annual billing). See website for Premium and Enterprise plans.
OS: Mac OS X 10.8 or later; Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10; Linux; iOS 8.0 or later (iPod, iPad, iPod touch); Android 4.0.3 or later
A pocket-sized app with an amazing array of functions, Textkraft Pocket lets you organize, store, and share your files; dictate and transcribe; edit and search; import and export; format your documents; search Wikipedia and 22 language dictionaries; post to social media; use password protection; and much more. The latest version (4.1) also lets you import and export in ePub format and create your own complete e-books.
OS: iOS 7.1 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch)
Another app with an astounding variety of useful features, Ulysses lets you focus on your words no matter where you are. But that’s just the beginning. It will organize all your writing in a unified library, format and export to different file types, publish to the web; edit, share, sync, and more.
Price: Mac – $44.99; iPad, iPhone – $24.99
OS: Mac OS X 10.10.0 or later; iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
Similar to Outlook, with many of the same features (calendar, notes, tasks), EssentialPIM is a secure information manager that syncs with other devices and cloud services, in addition to fitting on your flash drive. As with many of these apps, the paid version has a lot more features. Also available for teams.
Price: Basic – Free; Pro license (one year) – $39.95, Pro license (lifetime) – $79.95; Pro Business license (one year) – $59.95, Pro Business license (lifetime) – $99.95. EPIM Cloud – $1.99/month or $19.99/year.
OS: Windows; iOS 6.1 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch); Android 4.0.3 or later
Trello is a teamwork and organizational tool designed to help you bring your project from A to Z. Create overview boards and specific project pages, keep track of teams, sync across devices, and integrate apps. Visual interface. Upgrade options. Compatible with Slack.
OS: Web-based; iOS 9.3 or later (iPhone, iPad; iPod touch); Android 4.2 or later
Feedly helps to customize and organize your different information feeds so that you can spend more time on what’s important. Set keyword alerts, protect your private company information, save, share, take notes, collaborate, and use boards and other tools to discuss, curate, and ultimately produce the best and timeliest stories.
Price: Basic – Free; Pro – $7/month or $65/year (approx.); Team – $18/month per user
Diigo is most useful at the higher subscription levels, which allow single users unlimited cloud bookmarks, PDF and webpage highlighting, image and PDF storage, cached pages, and outliners. Team subscriptions include collaborative web and PDF annotation plus unlimited library storage.
Price: Basic – Free; Standard – $40/year; Pro – $59/year; Business – $10/month per user
Dropbox is a secure cloud-storage, sharing, and collaboration solution for small and large files. Sync to all your devices, send files quickly, collaborate, and keep files safe and together even if you lose your device. Also available for businesses or as Dropbox Pro, with different pricing and features for different levels.
Price: iOS app – Free
OS: iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
An app for writers who are serious about pitching and selling their stories, Story Tracker allows you to do just that: track you story submissions. Maintain a list of submissions guidelines and other market info, check the status and details for different categories (stories, markets, submissions), review your income, and more.
OS: Mac, PC; iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
An open-source e-book management tool, Calibre lets you manage your collection; convert to different e-book formats, such as mobi or ePub (useful with publishing platforms); access your library from anywhere; edit an e-book or create a new one; improve your style and structure; and download your favorite news or transfer it to your computer and/or USB drive with Calibre Portable.
OS: Compatible with virtually any e-reader, PC, laptop, or tablet. Calibre Portable works with Windows Vista or later.
OS: Android (version depends on device); iOS 9.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
The Purdue Owl, associated with Purdue University in Indiana but available as a public online resource, is an excellent writing, grammar, and reference/style-guide resource for students, job seekers, aspiring writers, and writing professionals alike. Lots of helpful information for all types of writing as well as business basics and query advice. Links to such resources as the Chicago Manual of Style.
Great for journalists or anyone who regularly needs to access AP guidelines. The app lets you connect to AP’s online stylebook from anywhere, even without an Internet connection. The app itself is free, but you’ll need an annual subscription to access the stylebook.
Price: Mobile app – Free. AP stylebook individual annual subscription – $26/year; subscription prices increase with the number of users.
OS: Web-based subscription; App – iOS 7.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
One of the most sought-after types of writing these days is copywriting. With all the competition and information on the web, businesses now have to find a way to capture people’s attention and convince them to act. Copyblogger teaches you how with its free e-book content. Also useful for writers’ websites.
OneLook is a search tool with a number of options. Possibilities include finding a word in multiple dictionaries; searching different letter/word combinations; and finding related ideas. The homepage shows examples of different searches. Also includes a thesaurus and reverse dictionary.
In addition to being an English-language (UK and US) dictionary and grammar resource, Cambridge Dictionaries Online has a number of dictionaries in world languages as well as a translation feature. Stay informed with the site’s blog, keep up to date on new words and phrases, or learn a word a day. Also offers a variety of apps.
Price: Free; prices for apps vary
OS: Web-based; most apps compatible with iPhone, iPad, and Android
Oxford Dictionaries is more squarely focused on the English language, although it’s working on multi-language dictionaries, with the Spanish-English/English-Spanish version already in place. In addition to a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar resource, the site offers writing help and explores word origins, English-language developments, types of English, and more. Also features a blog, word of the day, trending words, and word lists.
The Free Dictionary already had a plethora of tools, including legal, medical, and financial dictionaries, an encyclopedia, a grammar resource, and the Free Library, all in multiple languages. Now it’s added even more features, such as the weather report, this day in history, and hangman. But no need for overwhelm: you can customize your homepage to suit your own needs
Merriam-Webster has been around since 1828, and in addition to being a respected dictionary, the online version offers a thesaurus and a variety of educational tools, like the word of the day, trending words, answers about usage, plus challenges and word games. With the Merriam-Webster app for iOS, you can also access definitions both off- and online.
Price: Online Version – Free. App – Free; $1.99 per year to eliminate ads
OS: iOS 7.0 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch)
The Dictionary.com app offers the same variety of features as the online version: definitions, synonyms, word of the day, word stories and quizzes, different wordings and phrasings, and tips on grammar – now all literally at your fingertips, even when you’re on the go.
Price: Online Version – Free; App – Free
OS: iOS 7.0 or later (iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, iPod touch); Android (depends on device)
WordWeb is an up-to-date international English-language dictionary and thesaurus with a “one-click” feature that can search any Windows program or the web. Additional features for the Pro version include audio pronunciation and the option for added dictionaries such as Chambers, Collins, or an abridged OED.
Price: WordWeb is free for those who take no more than two flights per year (i.e., two one-way or one roundtrip flight). All others must upgrade to the Pro version.
Windows – Basic $19, with upgrade and bundling options for up to $99. Mac – $4.99;
iPhone, iPad, iPod touch – Free (standard), $3.99 (audio); Android – Free (standard), $3.99 (audio)
OS: Windows 10, 8.1, 10 Mobile; Mac OS X 10.9 or later; iOS 8.0 or later; Android (2.2 or later for audio version)
In a fast-paced, increasingly specialized world, it can be hard to keep up with all the new abbreviations and acronyms. Acronym Finder is a dictionary for just that, with categories in IT, Science and Medicine, Military and Government, Organizations and Schools, Business and Finance, and Slang and Pop Culture.
The Hemingway Editor literally highlights stylistic issues, with different colors for different issues, such as overly complex sentences, passive voice, or weak phrasing. It can also format, publish to the web, export as HTML or Markdown, import and export to other editors such as Word, and share highlighted suggestions with others.
OS: Mac OS X 10.9 or later; Windows 7 or later
Designed for fiction writers, Autocrit helps with pace, dialogue, word choice, and repetition. It highlights common stylistic problems and lets you compare your own writing to published fiction works. Includes a writer’s library with articles on the business and craft of writing as well as the writer’s soul.
Price: Limited free use; Unlimited – $29.97/month, no contracts
Grammarly is a grammar and spelling checker, including those pesky contextual spelling errors. But more than that, it improves your writing by making it clearer, suggesting alternate word choices and showing you how to improve. The premium version includes all features plus a plagiarism checker.
Price: Basic – Free; Premium – $29.95/month, $59.95/quarter, $139.95/year
OS: Web version; MS Office for Windows; Mac
Designed for iOS, Phraseology is a text editor with features like an extended keyboard for the iPad, iCloud backup and syncing, style and spelling checkers, an arrange feature for reorganizing text, readability and other statistics, and sharing and integration. The creators consider it a good educational tool for kindergarten through college, and they welcome feedback.
OS: iOS 8.1 or later (iPad)
A multilingual spellchecker that catches the kinds of mistakes that a regular spellchecker tends to miss (“an” instead “and” or “to” instead of “too”). Adjustable for different types of English and a few other languages.
OS: Firefox, Chrome, and Google Docs add-on; available for Android, MS Word (Windows), LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and more.
Goodreader is an advanced PDF-reading app that also lets you annotate, highlight, mark up, rearrange, merge, and sign PDF documents. Maintain your files with ease, access different servers, download attachments, and transfer documents.
OS: iOS 6.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch)
The PDF Expert app for mobile devices enables you to read, edit, annotate, merge, fill, write notes, sign, copy, share, sync, password-protect, open PDFs from other apps, and more – all on your Apple mobile devices. Available for Mac as well at a higher price. Free 7-day trial for the Mac version.
Price: iOS – $9.99; Mac – $59.99 (special offer for students and teachers)
OS: iOS 8.0 or later (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch
Aimed at issues related to publishing, Agent Obvious is true to its name by giving brief, (mostly) obvious and accurate tips for authors, editors, and agents, three roles the app creator knows from firsthand experience.
OS: iOS 7.0 or later (iPad, iPhone, iPod touch)
Copyscape offers different levels of plagiarism checking. The free version checks whether your web content has been copied online; Premium checks your writing for originality before publishing; and Copysentry checks your pages on a weekly basis, while Copysentry Pro does so daily. Paid versions include additional features, such as creating exceptions and tracking your plagiarism cases.
Price: Basic – Free, Premium $.05 per search, Copysentry (Standard) $4.95+, Copysentry (Professional) $19.95+
Windows Live Writer lets bloggers add pictures and videos and then preview their blog before publishing, complete with all their formatting choices. Also lets you put together a photo album to complement your writing, or you can add plug-ins for more capabilities.
OS: Windows (see website for details)
CreateSpace is Amazon’s platform for print and e-book self-publishing. Provides authors with tools and guidance for everything from formatting and cover design to uploading and marketing. The platform itself is free, but there are paid professional services for those who want extra help.
Price: Basic site use is free; publishing costs vary according to your choices and whether you use paid professional services.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing focuses on self-publishing e-books and, like CreateSpace, gives you A-Z guidance on the whole process. The more advanced KDP Select program offers greater marketing and earning potential, the catch being that you have to market your e-book exclusively through Kindle.
Price: Free to use. Extra cost for advertising.
OS: Web-based. Free downloadable programs such as Kindle Previewer are compatible with Windows and Mac OS X; KindleGen is also compatible with Linux.
To ePub converts your PDF files to different e-book formats, including ePub and mobi, important when using tools like Kindle Previewer, which supports a limited number of file types. Upload up to 20 files at once, select your e-book format, and download the converted files.
110. Book Design Templates by Joel Friedlander
Joel Friedlander, an award-winning book designer, has created a large variety of customizable templates for print and e-book, suitable for different genres and tastes. Now available for Apple Pages as well as MS Word and Adobe InDesign, these templates let you create beautiful, professional-looking books without the guesswork. Works with CreateSpace, Lulu, and other self-publishing platforms.
Friedlander’s site thebookdesigner.com also has a wealth of information and tools for self-publishers.
Book License Price: Single – $59; Multiple – $119; Commercial Use – $249
OS: Windows, Mac OS X