Based on my experience working in the education system for about half my life I can state the obvious– writers come in all shapes and sizes (not to mention backgrounds and dispositions). Just as writers vary, so do their writing tools.
Most, but not all of the writers I know, use Macs. Why? The reasons vary, of course, but ease-of-use and security usually top the list. Macs tend to be productive devices that don’t get in the way of what writers want to do. Write. So, other than the Mac, what writing apps do writers use?
Tools For Writers
The private school where I work also has an affiliate with a private college but both are home to published writers in a variety of fields. I see teachers, faculty, and research staff using Microsoft Word, while others use the Mac’s Pages app, but combined, they’re in the minority.
In fact, there must be two dozen or more different writing apps in use just within my small circle of influence. One of the most popular is also one of the oldest. It’s called Mellel, and the app is billed as the choice for scholars, writers, and anyone who works on lengthier documents.
If you think Microsoft Word is overkill, take a look at the Mellel feature list. Except it’s not overkill. It’s productive, though there’s a learning curve.
Mellel has an auto-titles feature to create multi-part headings which show up in an outline, so organizing a longer, more complex document is made easier. Tables are built-in, too, but not as complex or as easier to format as Word.
The options to track changes are so-so compared to Word, but cross references from headings, images, captions and more is top notch; none better. If there’s a writer’s app that has more statistics than Mellel I haven’t seen it yet. Paragraph and character styles are built-in. So is the option to create a document within right-to-left languages (Arabic, Persian, Hebrew, Oh My!). Try that in some of the less expensive word processors that have cropped up in recent years.
Minimalism is merely a euphemism for fewer features.
Mellel has full screen support which is something like distraction free. If you don’t mind all the distractions Mellel’s tool palettes bring. Fide and replace, as well as line numbering, all all among the best I’ve seen, as is hyphenation.
Where Mellel has improved in recent years is making the adjustment to something of a page layout app that doubles up as a large document or research paper creation tool. Bibliography and citations are especially robust yet Mellel can appear as WYSIWYG as Pages.
Mellel seems to have benefited from a large and loyal base of customers and an ongoing effort to upgrade and add features that writers need. The latest version has built-in text boxes which are highly configurable, and text within a document can flow around the text boxes as it does graphics.
I’m called on to support Mellel less than Word or Pages, though that may not be because Mellel is less complicated. The app requires more effort from the writer to master, and, well, ‘teach a man to fish…‘ Considering the lengthy list of professional writer-specific tools, Mellel is affordable, but true to the 21st century need to go mobile, there’s also an iPad (not iPhone) version at half the price.
Mellel is tops with lengthy, complex documents (according to those down the hall who swear by it), but if there’s a grumble I hear more frequently, it’s the shortfall in tables. Otherwise, highly recommended if you’re serious about what you write.