Human fascination for some sort of device or software that allows them to format text documents goes back to the days when even computers did not exist. From hardware that existed with the sole purpose of taking input from the writer in the form of keystrokes, storing it in some kind of memory, processing, and then outputting/printing it either on a screen or on paper, to software with features as basic as word wrapping, that did away with the typist’s need to give a carriage return when the line was exhausted, and now sophisticated word processing packages that are sold for hundreds of dollars, there has been an evolution of word processors, in the truest sense, from then to now.
Ask the layman today what the term ‘word processor’ means to him, and you will immediately get the reply, “Microsoft Word”. Truly, Microsoft Office products have become so widespread that people in all corners of the world find it difficult to function normally if their computer does not have this software installed. But did you know of the many word processing alternatives available to Microsoft Word? While Microsoft Word was largely unmatched for a very long time, today there are various categories of word processing software; free-to-download, open-source, web-based, professional suite packages, to name a few. Below, we have featured some of the best word processing software that you could use for all your formatting needs.
Top Alternatives to Microsoft Word
Compatible With: MD DOS, UNIX, Windows (since 5.1), Mac OS, Atari TOS, AmigaDos
The Reveal-Codes Feature:- One of the earliest features of this software, and unique to it, WordPerfect allows you to optionally see the exact point where the formatting begins and ends for your file.
The ability to combine left-aligned, centered, and right-aligned text on a single line with ease.
The parallel-column feature that lets you create side-by-side text without needing to bother with table formatting.
Recordable Macros:- Additional Macro management interface to easily view which macros are available, and conveniently debug and modify them too.
Mail Merge:- Revamped look to the Mail Merge feature allows for easy coordination.
The ability to save files in any format, including even the standard ebook format and PDF forms.
Price: USD 249.99, upgrade at USD 159.99
Website: WordPerfect OFFICE X7
Compatible With: Windows, Linux, Android devices
Compatibility with Microsoft Work; opens .DOC and .DOCX files without any problem, including password-protected files. Also opens WordPerfect, OpenOffice.org, and PDF files.
Smart Text:- A feature that allows one to enter short forms, which will be automatically completed.
Format Brush:- Formatting can be automatically transferred to other parts of the file with this feature.
It allows you to track all the individual changes made to a complex document, and to either accept or reject them afterwards.
Features like spell check, synonyms, and hyphen-correction, are available in more than one language. Spell check can be done in real time, just like with Microsoft Word.
Additional features like support for creating mathematical equations, macro programming, and database management, are also available.
Price: Standard version, USD 79.95
Pro Version, USD 99.95
Website: SoftMaker Office 2012: TextMaker
Developer: Google Inc.
Compatible With: Web-based. Apps for Chrome, iOS, Android
Auto-Save:- The ability to save the file as and when it is typed
Easy sharing of files, and ability to edit them in real time.
Compatibility with Microsoft Word documents.
All sorts of formatting, ability to add images, and links, from the browser/app itself.
Offline editing is also possible.
Integrated with Google Drive, therefore files can be accessed and edited from anywhere, or saved on the system too.
Copy-pasting over different systems, because the clipboard is located on the server
Price: Free, web-based service, but a Google Account is required.
Website: Google Docs
Kingsoft Writer 2013
Compatible With: Windows, iOS (iPhones and iPads), Android, Linux (in development phase)
Compatibility with Microsoft Word; opens .DOC as well as .DOCX files.
Drag-and-Drop:- This feature allows easy dragging and dropping of styles, and to easily change the dimensions of various sections, including paragraphs.
Section Navigation:- It is possible to easily switch from the new interface to the classic interface, and also, Section Navigation lets you browse through various sections of your file.
Initial backup of the first save is created, and auto-saves repeatedly happen throughout the editing process.
Price: There is a free version of WPS Suite for PCs, and a Professional Suite that costs USD 69.95. For mobile/tablets, the app is free to download.
Website: Kingsoft Office Free 2013: Writer
Developer: Sun Microsystems, and later Oracle Corp.
Compatible With: Windows, Linux, OS X, Solaris
Compatibility with MS Office
Multiple pages can be displayed at the same time, and one can easily navigate from page to page.
Language Selector:- Different languages can be applied to different paragraphs with ease by selecting and changing this option in the Tool Bar.
Notes:- The Notes feature allows for notes to be inserted in the document, of different colors, that can also be displayed on one side of the page.
Price: Free, and it is also an open-source software.
Website: Download OpenOffice.org Software
The Best Free Word Processing Software
Microsoft Office Online: Word ☛ For users who love Microsoft Word, genuinely feel that it is impossible to work with any other word processor but do not wish to purchase the whole Microsoft Office Suite, there is a great alternative.
☛ Since 2010, Microsoft has launched the freemium version of their Office Suite, in the form of browser-based web apps.
☛ All of the essential features of Microsoft Word are available in the word processing app of Office Online. One can open and edit documents on the go, including PDF files, and save them in the Microsoft (Open) Office XML format.
☛ Files can also be shared and real-time editing and auto-saving is also supported.
☛ Microsoft’s answer to Google Docs is a wonderful, free-of-cost alternative that allows one to have the Microsoft Word experience online.
Visit the official website for Microsoft Office Online here.
IBM Lotus Symphony Documents ☛ A free-to-download suite of Office applications, that are compatible with Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org, and many others, Lotus Symphony was developed by IBM, with its most recent update in 2012.
☛ The development of this software has now been discontinued in favor of IBM’s other endeavor, taking over a thread of Oracle’s OpenOffice.org open-source suite of office programs, called Apache OpenOffice.org.
☛ It has a very friendly, easy-to-use interface, which can be used efficiently even by beginners. It was designed to increase productivity in the business environment.
☛ Any file format can be opened with this software, and easily edited, from .DOC or .DOCX files to .ODF files, Open Office XML files, and even PDF files. It is also compatible across operating systems.
☛ It has an interface that is similar to a browser, because it allows every different document to be opened in a separate tab. It can also function as an actual web browser.
Check out the official website, and download IBM Lotus Symphony 3.01 here.
Jarte ☛ Jarte is a word processor that was developed by Carolina Road Software, that uses the same word processing engine as Windows WordPad, and it is essentially a dramatic improvement on that software.
☛ It is a lightweight alternative to Microsoft Word and comes in two versions; free and paid, where the paid version is available at a price of USD 19.95, and has a few advanced features in comparison to the free version.
☛ The free version includes features such as the ability to open different documents in separate tabs, dictionary and thesaurus (it is linked to the free online portal, WordWeb), the ability to bookmark favorites, repeatedly-used features, including fonts, and even complete documents, and using the mouse’s scroll wheel to copy and paste.
☛ The chargeable version has features such as auto-correction, auto-capitalization, word count, notes, the ability to view more than one document at a time by using the split-view mode feature, and the ability to save a theme, called ‘personality’, with formatting as per one’s preferences.
☛ This program works with all versions of Windows, and opens various formats like DOC, DOCX, TXT, RTF, and can export to HTML or PDF. It is also mobile-compatible.
Here, you can download the free version of Jarte.
NeoOffice Word Processing Application ☛ An open source software suite exclusively for Mac OS, NeoOffice was developed by Planamesa Software to integrate OpenOffice.org, which was not available for Apple users unless they downloaded an integrating app with the native OS X interface.
☛ It is very convenient for Mac users to use this suite, because its interface contains features that resemble OS X, such as, for example, pull-down menus, and the same shortcut keys that are used with Mac OS X.
☛ The word processor of NeoOffice can open a wide variety of document formats, including .ODT, .DOC, .DOCX, .XML, .SDW, .FODT, .RTF, .TXT, and even .HTML. It also supports PDF documents. One can open files in their original format.
☛ This software uses Mac OS native file locking to prevent a collision if a file is edited simultaneously across different platforms.
The entire NeoOffice 2014.5 can be downloaded for free here.
AbiWord ☛ Developed by AbiSource, and written in C++, AbiWord is another open-source word processing software that is compatible across multiple platforms and has a mobile version for Android too.
☛ It can read a variety of different formats of documents, from .DOC and .DOCX of Microsoft Word, to OpenOffice.org documents, WordPerfect documents, and many more. It can also read and export HTML files. It also supports different languages.
☛ It allows you to organize letter-format documents by using the Mail Merge feature.
☛ In general, AbiWord is quite lightweight. However, its functionality can be extended by using the plug-in features that allow you to imtegrate external features to this software too.
Click on the link to download AbiWord for free.
The Best Word Processing Software for Tablets
Pages ☛ A word processor that can do a lot more, a lot of Pages users will vouch for this app, simply because it allows you to create extremely beautiful pages.
☛ A number of templates are available in this app. Apart from simply making text documents, one can design flyers, invitations, and a lot more using Pages. Pages lets you select the exact color you are looking for, with a very complex color picker.
☛ It allows you to add images (which can be dragged and dropped anywhere), change fonts, and apply other kinds of formatting to your document, with superior professionalism.
☛ The app comes with many tools that help make writing documents easy, including one that helps you build a list. One can add notes, track comments, and there are helpful pointers that can be referred to at any point during the page-creation process.
☛ With Apple’s love for platform integration, a file being designed from scratch on one device using this app can be completed using Pages on another device, say, your Mac computer.
☛ Documents can be easily shared on various social media platform, or as attachments and can also be converted to formats like PDF and Microsoft Word document formats.
Click here to visit the official website of Pages. The app costs USD 9.99
iA Writer ☛ Developed by Information Architects Inc., iA Writer is a minimalistic word processing tool that is available for Mac, iPhones, and iPads. It allows you to write and edit text documents.
☛ On the iPhone and iPad, the toolbar vanishes once you start writing, so as to allow the writer to focus without being distracted. In the iPad version, there is a feature named Focus Mode, which allows only the current line, along with the previous and next line, to be in clear focus, while the rest are blurred.
☛ No settings need to be specified beforehand in line with the minimalistic premise. It allows you to navigate left and write within the text using the navigation keys built into the keyboard.
☛ Documents can be ported to iCloud or DropBox, or any other cloud server, and also, they can be printed directly from the app. The app for Mac allows one to convert documents to the Microsoft Word formats as well.
☛ A professional version of iA Writer is available for both Mac as well as iOS, with advanced features, such as Syntax Control, which highlights various parts of speech in the text, like the adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, nouns and so on, and another feature that allows you to organize your workflow, and first outline your ideas, write, and later format the document.
iA Writer costs USD 4.99 for iOS, and USD 9.99 for Mac. iA Writer Pro costs USD 9.99 for iOS, and USD 19.99 for Mac. Click the link to visit the official website of iA Writer
Documents To Go ☛ A handy Office Suite that comes in versions for iOS, Android, and even BlackBerry, Documents to Go is a highly recommended free-to-download alternative to Microsoft Office, for the mobile environment.
☛ It allows one to open Microsoft Word documents and other files of various formats (Documents to Go is not merely limited to a word processor, but the entire suite of office applications, including spreadsheet and presentation viewer), and to edit them, but one can retain the original formatting as well. It is also compatible with PDF files.
☛ One can connect to and save documents on various cloud servers, including DropBox, Google Drive, and many others.
☛ One can also download a desktop version for this app that will improve portability of documents further.
Check out the official site of Documents to Go right here.
Of course, it is unnecessary to say that while some of these software are absolutely mind-blowing and come with perks like being less expensive (or even free), web-based, more lightweight, or loaded with features, most of us would give them up for Microsoft Word in the blink of an eye. It is no surprise that Microsoft Word enjoys worldwide popularity and is the most widely used word processor in the world. Yet it is reassuring to know that if one does not have access to it, all these superb alternatives are readily available.