Best free software for writing: 10 programs to unleash your creativity

Whether you want to write a short story or a full novel, these tools will help

Best free software for writing

It would be easy to be fooled into thinking that all you need to write is a word processor. While this is certainly a useful piece of software, there's far more to consider.

It's important that you use the right tool for the job, and there is plenty to think about besides the writing itself. Here we round up ten of best tools to help you out with every stage of the writing process, no matter what you're working on.

1. Sigil

If you've ever thought of making your own ebooks, you're going to need some great software to enable you to do that – something much like Sigil. It's accessible to both novices and experts, with a WYSIWYG and code view to suit either experience level. It's also full of useful features, such as the table of contents generator, spell checker and book browser.

Sigil
Creating an ebook is made as simple as possible with Sigil.

You can start from scratch by typing directly into the program, or convert HTML files into ebooks – complete with embedded audio and video if you like – that can be read on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android.

2. Evernote

Successful writing, from screenplays and novels to essays and papers, depends on research. And if you're conducting research or maintaining a list of notes and ideas, you need somewhere to store them – this is where Evernote can help. You can create an endless list of notebooks to store information about different projects you are working on.

Evernote
Evernote helps you store your notes and ideas in an organised fashion.

Evernote can be used to store text that makes its way into the final document, grab content from the web, and there's even scope for collaborating with others by sharing your notes. Best of all, Evernote syncs to the cloud, so it can be accessed from just about any computer or device, either online or through a dedicated app.

3. FreeMind

Storyboarding is a great way to try out ideas and see where a particular thread of a project is going. Mindmappng is something of an extension of this idea, letting you riff off your own ideas and see how things unfold.

FreeMind
FreeMind can help you to effectively plot your writing project with ease.

It doesn't matter if you are working on a storyline idea and want to track what happens to individual characters, or if you want to map the main points you need to make in an essay so you can brainstorm sub-content, FreeMind is on hand to help. If you have a tendency to get lost and forget ideas before you have chance to get them on paper, this could be your saviour.

4. Scribus

Not every writing project is a simple case of filling the page with words – sometimes you need an advanced layout tool. There are several expensive professional layout applications to choose from, but Scribus is an immensely powerful free alternative.

Scribus
You don't need to spend a fortune on layout software, Scribus is free!

This is not a program that you'll pick up instantly as there is a bit of a learning curve, but once you get to grips with it you'll be able to create stunning newspaper and magazine-style layouts. You can use Scribus to create advanced documents suitable for professional printing, or you can save projects as PDFs for electronic delivery.

5. LibreOffice Writer

For every day writing of all sorts, a word processor is all but essential. While Microsoft Office may be the most popular office suite available, you can get your hands on a similarly powerful suite, including a word processor, free of charge in the form of LibreOffice.

LibreOffice Writer
LibreOffice writer proves you don't need to spend money to get a great word processor.