Word processors like Microsoft Word and Google Docs are nearly everywhere and are OK if all you need is to jot some thoughts down. But they weren’t designed to deliver professional-quality writing.
The good news is that plenty of specialized writing tools are on the market to help your business succeed. The bad news? So many choices can feel overwhelming!
This article looks at the top 15 writing apps that can help boost your productivity and creativity. We’ll also offer advice on narrowing down the best writing apps for your needs.
- iA Writer
- Final Draft
- Day One
- Tips to help you choose a writing app
Scrivener is popular among novelists and other long-form writers, bloggers, scriptwriters, and translators. The writing software is designed to help you brainstorm, research, and write manuscripts. And while there’s a learning curve due to its many features, you don’t need to master everything to get your first project done.
- Supports non-linear writing (can jump between sections and track progress)
- Arrange sections and chapters with simple drag-and-drop tools
- Corkboard for brainstorming and plotting
- Split-screen for easy referencing of notes and resources
- Full-screen mode for distraction-free writing
Price: 30-day free trial, then $49 for Windows and macOS license or $19.99 for iOS license
Compatibility: Windows, macOS, and iOS
This app is best for: Fiction and non-fiction writers, screenwriters, academics, translators, and other long-form writers
LivingWriter has a monthly subscription model and is made for authors, novelists, and other long-form writers. Its non-cluttered interface makes it the go-to app for writers looking for something simple. LivingWriter is a robust word processing app that has organizational tools built for serious long-form writing but with a simple interface.
- Drag-and-drop functionality
- Plot board
- Note-taking space
- Dark mode
- Set chapter and story goals
Price: 14-day free trial, then $8 per month if paid yearly or $9.99 per month if paid monthly
Compatibility: Desktop app for macOS and Windows; a mobile app for Android and iOS; runs in web browsers
This app is best for: Screenwriters, fiction and non-fiction writers, and other long-form writers
ProWritingAid offers similar grammar and style checking as many other writing apps. But these are combined with writing reports, videos, suggestions, explanations, and quizzes to clear up concepts and strengthen your writing habits. It has over 20 reports that give granular feedback on writing. For example, it can report on the use of sensory words, cliches, alliterations, homonyms, transitions, repeated words, overused words, and plagiarism. You can also find reports on your content’s consistency, readability, style, pacing, structure, etc.
- Fix grammatical and style issues with a few clicks to save time
- Reports give you an overview of your writing style
- Create and save your style guide to ensure consistency among documents
- Easy Scrivener integration
- Has a lifetime-buy option
Price: $20 per month, $79 per year ($6.58 per month), or $399 for lifetime access
Compatibility: Desktop app for Mac and Windows; web editor works on all devices; browser extension for Chrome, Safar, Edge, and Firefox; Microsoft Word and Outlook add-in
This app is best for: Both short-form and long-form writers who need help with more technical edits
Grammarly highlights writing issues and offers suggestions backed with explanations to fix those issues. It can correct redundancies, passive voice, lengthy sentences, confused propositions, weak verbs, grammatical mistakes, and more. It also has features for teams to track their progress and style guides. For example, it offers a shared library of words, terms, and specific phrases, and even allows users to create rules to avoid using jargon and acronyms.
If you have a team, you can also track when they apply writing feedback and even identify trends with customized filters.
- Provides suggestions to eliminate redundancies, correct structural mistakes, and enhance vocabulary
- Offers both a free version and paid version
- Has a browser extension for convenience
- Runs 400+ checks
- Saves work automatically
Price: Free, $12 per month for Premium, and $12.50 per member per month for business
Compatibility: Windows (10 or higher), Mac (OS 10.2 or higher); web editor works in Google Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox
This app is best for: Both short-form and long-form writers who need help with more technical edits
The Mac-exclusive app Vellum is the perfect solution for authors who want to self-publish ebooks but find it difficult to format their books on Microsoft Word or other word processors. The normally steep learning curve of formatting, selecting a cover design, adding graphics, and creating a table of contents required for self-publishing can overwhelm some authors. Vellum can get you past these obstacles by automatically adjusting margins, headers and footers, and page numbers. It also automatically generates a table of contents and has templates for drop caps, ornamental breaks, backgrounds, and book styles.
- Style templates to format your book within minutes
- Add custom ornamental breaks or backgrounds
- Automatically generates a table of contents
- Option to format for paperbacks and ebooks
Price: Vellum Press for $249.99 (for creating ebooks and paperbacks); Vellum Ebooks for $199.99 (for creating ebooks only)
Compatibility: macOS Catalina (10.15 or newer)
This app is best for: Self-publishing authors
6. iA Writer
iA Writer is a minimalist writing software with Markdown language support for distraction-free writing. Think of it as a stripped-down word processor. No need to fiddle with rulers, margins, fonts, and other formatting options. The software also has a grammar checker, flexible content blocks, and syntax highlighting to help you write accurately. However, it might be inadequate for working on a big project like a novel or script.
- Supports Markdown language, like headers, typographical emphasis, lists, links, highlights, and basic formatting without breaking the typing flow
- Live PDF page preview
- Supports images, tables, and footnotes
- Syncs work with Dropbox
Price: $29.99 for Mac, Windows, and iOS (lifetime); $4.99 per month or $29.99 for a lifetime for Android; 14-day free trial for macOS and Windows
Compatibility: Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and iPadOS
This app is best for: Online writing, bloggers, poets, and short-story writers
Dynalist is a versatile outlining app. It lets you create lists infinitely so that you can map out the plot and characters of your novel or movie or a long-form blog post or cluster content. Dynalist also doubles as a scheduler and day planner. You can add dates to plan an event or break down your tasks into actionable, five-minute tasks to improve productivity or convert any list into a checklist to keep track of your progress.
Features like drag and drop, multi-select, color labels, and version history make outlining and planning extremely easy. Apart from simple text, you can insert images, formulas, codes, and links. And if you find the list getting too big, you can use the advanced item finder to locate items.
- Tons of features to improve efficiency and ease of use
- Supports Markdown language, inline code, images, and equations
- Has options for collaboration and sharing
- Guests can see your lists without signing up
Price: Unlimited free version; $9.99 per month (if billed monthly) or $7.99 per month(if billed annually)
Compatibility: Desktop app for Windows, Mac, and Linux; apps for Android and iOS; supports Chrome, Safari, Edge, and Firefox browsers
This app is best for: Content strategists, bloggers, journalists, authors
There are many AI-powered speech-to-text tools available on the market, but none of them match Rev’s human-powered accuracy. It’s a time-saver for journalists and writers who use interviews in their content. The transcribers keep the integrity of the speech. They don’t go as far as correcting grammatical mistakes; however, they can recognize hard words that can stump AI, such as “Croissants.” A 30-minute file is transcribed within 12 hours. You can pay extra to speed up the delivery. Rev’s services include transcriptions, captions, and foreign subtitles.
- Generates transcription, caption, and foreign subtitles
- Has a rigorous selection process for workers to ensure 99% grammatical correctness
- Can transcribe files with multiple speakers with diverse accents
- Transcribers can work with files with background noise
Price: Transcriptions are $1.25 per minute; captions are $1.50 per minute; and foreign subtitles are $3 to $7 per minute
Compatibility: Rev has a dedicated website; apps for Android and iOS
This app is best for: Video and audio content creators, journalists, podcasters, legal writers, surveyors, copywriters
Ulysses is a minimalist writing app designed to support long-form writing projects. Its features are more advanced than IA Writer, but it’s restricted to the Apple ecosystem. The first feature to jump out is its ability to handle large projects compared to other minimalist apps. Want to write a novel? No sweat. You can easily create different groups for your plot and characters of the story and seamlessly switch between each while you write. You can keep notes, images, and other inspiration at hand while working on your project, and track the structure of your work with the automatically generated outline.
Ulysses lets you set deadlines and daily goals to improve your writing habits and get things done. The built-in proofreader and editing assistant are good for minor grammar and style checks.
- Supports Markdown language
- Easily manage long-form writing projects
- Track productivity with word count goals and deadlines
- Makes publishing on Medium and WordPress seamless
- Sync your work with Dropbox
Price: $5.99 per month or $49.99 per year
Compatibility: macOS and iOS
This app is best for: Writers who are looking for a minimalist interface to help organize the material in a book.
10. Final Draft
Final Draft is specifically made for screenwriters, and its high utility has made it a standard in the film industry. The “Mission: Impossible” movie and plenty of other blockbusters were written using Final Draft. What makes it so fitting for screenwriting? For one, it has a solid beat board where you can throw all your ideas together, brainstorm your story, and collaborate with your team. Once you are done brainstorming, you can transfer the whole thing to the outline editor. The outline editor supports layered outlining. So, you can outline your acts, the scenes in the act, and what happens in each scene simultaneously.
Final Draft has some other well-thought-out features for scriptwriters. For example, it has a “dual dialogue” mode that highlights the conversation between two characters for easy editing. And in the “alternate dialogue” mode, you can save different versions of the same line. To assist you with writing, it has a focus mode, popovers for script note-taking, and speech-to-script.
- Has dedicated features, such as beat board, story map, dialogue editor, script note-taking, outline editor, index cards, and keyboard shortcuts to simplify screenplay writing
- Has 300+ templates
- Works offline and has collaboration options
- View documents side by side for easy referencing
Price: $199.99 (one-time purchase only)
Compatibility: Windows 10 or higher, macOS 10.14 (Mojave) or higher, iOS
This app is best for: Screenwriters, filmmakers, producers, comic book writers, graphic novelists
Evernote is great for taking notes and organizing research. While researching content, you can clip articles and webpages, highlight sentences in web articles, and make annotations and remarks. Folders and notebooks can be created to organize everything neatly.
The paid version of Evernote syncs across all devices and allows users to set notifications and reminders, search text in PDFs and images with OCR technology, and much more. However, if you work on only one device, the free version may suffice.
- Due date reminders and alerts for your to-do lists and notes
- Sync notes between all devices with the paid version
- Team collaboration
- Scan and store important documents
Price: Unlimited free version, $7.99 per month for Personal plan, $9.99 for Professional plan
Compatibility: macOS (10.14 and higher), Windows 10, iOS, Android
This app is best for: All types of writers and those with multiple projects
Ernest Hemingway is known for his concise writing style. The Hemingway text editor follows his lead and rigorously checks writing for fluffy wording, weak adverbs, long sentences, and other faults that can hold your writing back.
The colored highlights bring errors to attention, and you can deliberately work on fixing your mistakes and hone your skills as a writer. There’s not much to the Hemingway app other than writing and editing and a few formatting options.
- Has different modes for writing and editing
- Allows seamless publishing to Medium and WordPress
- Export to text, PDF, HTML, Markdown, and MS Word
- The free web-based app is equally suitable for editing
Price: Free for browser version or $19.99 for downloaded version
Compatibility: macOS, Windows; web app runs on all web browsers
This app is best for: Both short-form and long-form writers who need help with more technical edits
13. Day One
It’s no secret that great writers keep a journal, and there’s a good reason. Journaling spurs creativity. Having an unrestricted private space to spill out your thoughts can also serve as inspiration for your work. Day One is a journaling app aimed at being that kind of space. You can make entries of life events, conversations, and inspiration with videos, audio, pictures, and voice notes.
Day One works on all mobile phones and PCs, and voice recordings can be made in the Day One app for Apple Watch. Whenever something feels record-worthy, just zip out your phone, take a picture, or make a voice note, and edit it later—or not.
- Automatically adds time, weather, and location
- Unlimited number of text entries
- Rich text formatting with Markdown
- Supports voice recording on Apple Watch
Price: Free version, $2.92 per month with premium version (with seven-day trial)
Compatibility: macOS, Android, iOS
This app is best for: Bloggers and general writers who need to record notes on the go
Airstory is a note-taking tool with cards at its backbone. These cards allow bloggers, journalists, and copywriters to consolidate their research and include it in their content with simple drag-and-drop functionality. It’s a step further from textual note-taking and can cardify images, surveys, emails, and more, all stored in project-based libraries.
- Kanban-board for plotting, brainstorming, and note-taking
- Drag-and-drop to rearrange, outline view, team collaboration, one-click card-to-document conversion
- Automatically adds citations to research
Price: Seven-day free trial, $25 per month for Pro Writer plan, $125 per month for Heavy Duty Writer plan
Compatibility: Extension for Google Chrome
This app is best for: Journalists, bloggers, copywriters, content marketers, and authors
Freedom is an app that can block time-wasting apps, websites, and even the entire internet for unrestrained productivity. The paid version has scheduling features for recurring sessions so you can block distractions at the start of each session. It even comes with ambient noise to get you in the zone.
- Locked mode prevents you from exiting until you contact support through email
- Create blocklists
- Syncs across all devices
- Get reports on your online activity and correct bad habits
Price: Free trial; $8.99 per month, or $3.33 per month if paid yearly; $95.99 for lifetime access
Compatibility: Mac, Windows, iOS, Chrome OS, Linux
This app is best for: Any writer who’s easily distracted and needs help focusing
Tips to help you choose a writing app
Before you select and pay for an app, think about your writing needs. Are you a generalist, technical, fiction, or nonfiction writer? Will you be writing short-form or long-form content? Do you want to work in a distraction-free environment, or do you need a tool that corrects your grammar at every step?
Choose the apps that are designed for your needs—and consider mixing and matching. For example, if you’re working on a novel or a screenplay, you can use the Day One app to record interesting thoughts or incidents in your life and later incorporate them into your story. Or if you’re a technical writer and feel like your writing style is getting too formal, you can try ProWritingAid to add vividness to your writing style.
The following sections can help you shortlist apps by suggesting features to watch for.
Apps for novelists
Maintaining a bird’s-eye view of their work is as important for novelists, storytellers, and other long-form writers as perfecting the finer details of the plot. Many writers work on their stories non-linearly and continually revisit chapters to make edits.
So, choose an app that allows easy juggling between chapters, characters, narrative, and ideas. You should also be able to save notes in video and audio format, and the notes should be available at a moment’s notice.
Some apps that work well for novelists:
Apps for general writing
Distraction-free, minimalist apps with a grammar-checker tend to be a good choice for general writers. Apps with a “focus mode” can help you get things done fast, and after completing your first draft, you can enable the grammar-checker in the same app to weed out issues. You also don’t need fancy features for saving your work because you can simply copy-paste your documents into a Word file or any other platform you’re uploading your content to.
The best apps for general writing include:
Apps for emails and short-form
While writing a short-form story, email, or social media post, use an app that gets you to put words on paper and highlights any issues that might make your writing difficult for readers to understand. Other than that, it shouldn’t make you waste time on formatting, exporting, or organizing your content.
These are the best apps for email and short-form writing:
Apps for screenwriters
Screenwriting involves a lot of moving parts, so it’s good to have a platform that helps you visualize everything. There are layers and layers of outlines for each act and scene, so an app that calls itself a screenwriting app should have a brainstorming space, a beat board, and an outliner that keeps everything together. Extra points for having any other useful feature, such as a dialogue editor, collaboration options, note-taking space, etc.
Some of the best screenwriting apps are:
Apps for outlining
Outlining on a writing app is doable. However, if your job involves more outlining than writing, it can help to use a dedicated outlining app. Most writing apps have an outline generator that barely lists the headings and subheadings in your content. And if you decide to create an outline by yourself on an empty page, you’ll have to do a lot of back and forth with selecting and deselecting bulleted lists and adjusting alignments. Adding an image can also be inconvenient because it eats up a lot of space on the page.
Outlining apps give you the advantage of infinite nested lists, drag-and-drop section rearrangement, cross-linking between different outlines, Kanban boards, sorting features, inserting images without having to see the preview, and more.
These tools allow users to create and edit outlines quickly on a larger scale:
Apps for transcription
Some people get their video and audio files transcribed for personal use, while others post a transcription of their content for their website audience. If you don’t have the time or inclination to transcribe your work, you can get the help of human or AI-powered transcription services.
AI transcription services can be cheaper, but they’re not as accurate as humans, especially with difficult words, slang, and industry jargon. So, depending on the accuracy and professionalism required in your transcription, you can select among many services, such as:
Apps for editing
A good editing app should ease the entire editing process. It should highlight issues using hard-to-miss colors, and the user should be able to correct the issues with as few clicks as possible. You’ll also want a clutter-free interface, because getting lost when scrolling through content to make edits is easily done.
Here are some apps that facilitate smooth editing:
Apps for grammar-checking
When you copy and paste your content into a grammar-checking app or write directly into it, the software runs hundreds of checks to find issues, such as redundancies, cliches, fragmented sentences, passive voice, hard-to-read sentences, wrong article usage, punctuation errors, and more. Editing apps also suggest corrections for these issues that can stop you from making the same mistakes again.
To improve your writing and get better each time you create content, consider these apps:
Make the most out of your writing process
As you can see, there are plenty of writing apps that can help you get the most out of your writing process. However, if writing isn’t in your wheelhouse, it might be time to delegate it to a professional.
Ndiwano.com makes it easy to hire independent writing professionals who know all the right words for your next blog, script, or email newsletter. With the help of some writing tools, they can take your business materials to the next level.
Are you an independent writer wanting to propel your career forward? Look no further than Ndiwano.com for the best independent writing jobs.
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