With modern technology advancing at breathtaking speed (computer watches, seriously!), there are online apps and resources that provide a helping hand for just about everything. But what about writing, that old school, pre-Twitter, tricky to master skill?
We did the research to find out how far modern technology can take your writing. And while we couldn’t find anything that will necessarily turn you into a twenty-first century Dickens, we did find some incredibly useful apps and resources for all types of writers and editors.
What is it? You’ve probably heard of Grammar Girl before. She’s insanely popular (this podcast has been downloaded over 7 million times) and for good reason. This podcast offers short one-topic English grammar lessons at no charge to subscribers.
Why we love it: Whether English is your first language or your second language, these grammar, punctuation, style, and business tips will make you a better and more successful writer. Highly accessible, short and simple to understand.
2. A novel idea
What is it: A phrase and tablet app for plotting your story and recording any sparks of inspiration. Perfect for writers who want to keep track of and organise their ideas.
Why we love it: It provides an easy-to-navigate interface where you can jot down any information related to your characters, location, scenes and general story ideas. What’s awesome about this app is that it allows you to link ideas, no matter how disparate they are. Great for creativity when you’re writing a novel.
What is it? A text editor based on the style of author Ernest Hemingway, one of the greatest writers who have ever lived. It uses an algorithm to find problems in your writing. Long sentences will show as yellow, green indicates passive voice, and red means you’re trying too hard.
Why we love it: Unfortunately, a computer can’t tell you when using the passive voice is okay or not. However, it can point out things you may want to reconsider – such as whether your sentence is too long or whether there might be a smaller, more appropriate word.
What is it? We know how clear, consistent and simple The Economist likes to keep things. Well, this could be the reason why. This style guide gives practical tips on writing concisely and guidance on consistent use of punctuation, abbreviations, and capital letters. It also includes an exhaustive range of reference material you can turn to whenever you get stuck.
Why we love it: A handy guide to make your writing clear and understandable. Its opening phrase “clarity of writing usually follows clarity of thought” is the perfect description of what this style guide will do for you. If you are writing an article, report, or even a job application, you will benefit from having this style guide as your companion.
What is it? An app specifically designed for writers in mind. The aim is to provide an environment that is “enjoyable and productive” for writers. You can use it to write, but it’s really designed to improve your writing by allowing you to arrange text and offering advice for what you could change (like the Hemingway app).
Why we love it: It provides some pretty great statistics on the reading ease of your writing, word occurrences, and parts of speech that you’ve used and root word counts. While not perfect, it certainly can be useful.
6. Spice Mobile
What is it? A nifty, little phone and tablet app that takes a thesaurus to the next level. By keying in a phrase or keyword, it will come up with similar phrases used in classic literature.
Why we love it: A perfect app for when you’re unsure of how to say something and need some creative inspiration. There are over 22,000 phrases in the database and if you’re worried about stealing a famous literary icon’s sentence, don’t worry; this app will show you how it has been commonly used before. At least you’ll know if you’re likely to get away with it!
What is it? Daily tips on grammar, punctuation, spelling and fiction writing. Every day, they publish a new article (or tip), with topics ranging from grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage and vocabulary.
Why we love it: With the rise of the internet, writing has become more important than ever. From social networks to emails to blogs, you need to write clearly and correctly if you want to be taken seriously. Follow these tips and learn something valuable every day.
8. Store House
What is it? A free iPad-only app that lets you easily create beautiful visual stories with writing. Upload photos from Instagram, Flickr, or Dropbox, add a heading and some writing and begin telling your story.
Why we love it: Writing and reading stories is easy and intuitive. Swipe left-right to scroll through the stories, swipe down to read the story and pinch in with two fingers to go back. If you write great text to go with images, your story may shine in a way you never could imagine.
What is it? Ideapod is a new social media platform dedicated to sharing ideas. Ideas can be on anything, from personal feelings to religion to technology or politics.
Why we love it: The best thing about Ideapod? A 1,000-character limit. With writing, like many things in life, “less is more”. This will teach you to write sharply and cut out fluff. Plus, it’s a great platform to get feedback on your ideas.
What is it? Ommwriter is a desktop and tablet app that helps writers avoid distractions that inevitably come from working on the internet.
Why we love it: The perfect app for when you want to get into that Zen writing mode. Ommwriter goes full screen, reducing the chances of being distracted by the internet. It’s like your own private writing room. It also comes with a package of soothing sounds and backgrounds to get you in the writing mood.
11. Novel in 30
What is it? An iPad-only app that provides a distraction-free writing environment, with some nifty features for goal setting and encouragement.
Why we love it: If you’ve got an idea for a novel, but you’re struggling to get the words down, then this app might just be for you. A beautiful, full-screen distraction-free writing zone isn’t even the best thing about this app. It’s the goal setting and day-to-day breakdown of what you’ve achieved that makes this app shine. It might just give you the motivation you need to finish a novel. Another cool feature is the ability to share with your friends on Facebook when you’ve reached a goal!
12. Dragon Dictation
What is it? Press record, speak and Dragon Dictation will write down everything you’re saying.
Why we love it: If you think faster than you type, this app could be your salvation. It’s quite accurate, and once you’re done, it’s incredibly easy to share on social media or paste it into a word document.
13. Self control
What is it? Lets you block access to anything on the Internet. For example, set it for four hours and your computer will behave as if it’s offline for four hours. You can also white label certain websites that you need to use to complete your work.
Why we love it: Being mentally present and focused matters a lot when it comes to writing, and this is a great online tool to eliminate the distracting force of the internet.
14. Help me write
What is it? This app connects writers with a community of critics. Write a few descriptive sentences about your current writing project and then see how many people click the “I’d like to read this” button. If you receive enough likes, you’ll be able to publish the URL and instantly invite thousands of new fans to enjoy your work.
Why love it: It’s hard for writers to get traction in a crowded marketplace (having your book edited and proofread helps!). This is the perfect app to help you build a community of fans and gain traffic to your new writing project (as long as it’s interesting!).
15. Visual Einstein
What is it? A free visual manager information app. It allows you to store, classify, cross reference, retrieve and collate information in a rather sophisticated way.
Why we love it: While it won’t make you think like the genius himself, it makes notes incredibly easy to store and find. Perfect for academics, researchers, investigators, or students writing a thesis who deal with bundles of information.
What is it? This guide by Marya Zainab of Writing Happiness provides a 15-point checklist to go through after you’ve finished writing.
Why we love it: Whether you’re writing an essay, a thesis or an article, follow this checklist and your writing will come alive. You’ll also feel comfortable knowing that you’ve done your very best.
What is it? An iPad-only app that combines handwriting, photos, drawing, and typing with a variety of colours and fonts to bring your ideas to life. It also shares directly to Google Drive, AirDrop, Email and Dropbox.
Why we love it: Beautiful design and interface, easy to use, and it allows you to sketch with ease. Hands down the best note taking app we have tried. Unfortunately for android users, it’s only available in iOS.
What is it? A writer’s tool available on iOS devices that offers style guidelines as well as information on the basics, including spelling, punctuation, grammar, and usage. Even includes dedicated information on various topics including sports, business, religion, punctuation, social media and more.
Why we love it: Offers easy to access style guidelines as well as other tools, like audio pronunciation. The basic interface is easy to use and is very thorough in reference materials. Unfortunately, it is only available to iOS users with iOS 7.0 or later.
19. Hanx Writer
What is it? Ideal for those old fashioned writers, this app allows users to experience the use of a typewriter, but directly on their iPhone or Android device. While the typewriter style is mimicked, the app is actually much faster and ideal for those who want to write poems, short quotes, or short stories.
Why we love it: Brings back an air of nostalgia, and often works to key off a writing idea. It makes taking notes while on the go easy too. The old school typewriter feel is downright fun.
What is it? A versatile reference tool that allows you to type or speak a word to look up. Thorough definitions are available, including synonyms, root, and word origins. App is available on Android and iOS devices, including the new Apple Watch.
Why we love it: A dictionary at your fingertips, this ultimate reference tool makes it easy for you to look up words with just a couple of taps of the finger. Additionally, the mobile compatibility means any user of a smartphone or smart device will have access to it.
What is it? A diary app that allows for multimedia use, including writing, typing, pictures, links and more. This paid app is available for iOS devices that have iOS 6.0 or later. Allows you to take notes on the go.
Why we love it: Perfect for stream of thought writers, this app makes it easy for you to take notes right when you think of them instead of having to wait until you get to a computer or pen and paper. Unfortunately, this app is only available for iOS users and not Android.
22. Textkraft Pocket
What is it? A professional writing app designed to make it easy to share documents as well. Features an in-app document reader. An analysis of writing will give thoughts and ideas on making the writing better. Includes four offline dictionaries with synonyms included as well, online dictionary access and 16 languages.
Why we love it: Offers an all in one tool for writers. The better writing suggestions are fantastic for improving on the go. Easy text selection tools for choosing synonyms or to look up words. Share documents to get other readers’ opinions. Unfortunately, only available for iOS devices using iOS 7 or greater. Available for Apple Watch as well.
What is it? A private journaling app, Momento can integrate with social media so that ones news stream shows everything from your private thoughts to anything anyone has shared on Twitter or Facebook. Compatible with iCloud photo library and features a customisable timeline.
Why we love it: You’re able to put everything in one place instead of having to go to different apps or sites for your social media and your own private diary. Momento streamlines it all into one app for ease of use. Available for iPhone or Android.
What is it? A website that essentially offers a compilation of sources for grammar and style. Includes a full, alphabetically organised list of grammar and style rules, as well as a list of further resources for writers.
Why we love it: This is an extremely thorough alphabetical resource that puts things in very plain forms, offering definitions, explanations, and even examples. Readily available to anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone with an internet or data connection.
What is it? A PDF document offering a very detailed explanation of technical writing, including structure, planning, and rules. Explains everything in detail, so that technical writers can use a step-by-step process.
Why we love it: This guide breaks down technical writing into very simple, easy to digest details including step by step guides for planning, preparing and writing. Available online, but the PDF can be saved to a device as well.
What is it? A website and resource designed specifically to help writers get inspiration. It goes beyond just writing prompts, though, including a creativity portal that features refresher courses, creativity tips based on the specific type of writing, and even access to Google+ Groups to connect with other writers.
Why we love it: One of the biggest problems writers find is getting stuck before they even get started. This website is full of writing prompts that will give any writer direction no matter the type of writing they want to complete.
What is it? A resource for understanding everything to do with statistics, covering everything from the basic (mean, median, mode, and percentage) to the more detailed like standard deviation, regression analysis and more.
Why we love it: Every writer will likely use statistics in one way or another. This website makes it easy to understand those statistics in all of their forms, from very basic to very detailed. The source even includes a list of further resources to help writers find out more.
What is it? Not what it sounds like, this tool serves a much bigger purpose than just counting words. It analyses a document that can be cut and pasted and then gives a list of the most frequently used words in descending order.
Why we love it: Avoiding overuse of words is vital for any writer, especially students with a thesis or essay word limit. However, actually knowing when a word is overused can be difficult. Wordcounter makes it easy to track word usage for better results.
29. Writer’s Cafe
What is it? Software designed to help fiction writers specifically. Includes planning tools, document reporting, screenwriting support, a research scrapbook, writing prompts, inspirational quotes, and a backup tool so that you do not lose anything you have written.
Why we love it: This is a downloadable tool that is desktop accessible and allows writers to store everything in one place, allowing for easy access whenever needed. Resources help prompt writers to get started.
30. Ulysses III
What is it? An app designed to compile a great deal of information into one library that is both intuitive and easy to use. It can create formatted documents for writers including PDFs, web pages, and eBooks that are ready for publication. Ulysses III works with Mac computers or iOS devices.
Why we love it: Makes organising and formatting documents much simpler. The tool will actually format documents for writers, saving them time and hassle. Two different versions are available specifically for Mac users and those who use iOS devices. Not available for PC or Android devices.
What is it? An iOS app that allows writers to create their documents, edit them with built-in tools, use keyboard shortcuts, and keep up with word usage as well. Designed to sync with iCloud and Dropbox. Works with iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Why we love it: Editing has never been easier than with this simple to use platform. Includes complete Markdown support too. Additionally, Byword allows for publishing to WordPress, Blogger, Scriptogram, Evernote, and Tumblr. Designed to work specifically with iPad, Mac, or iPhones.
What is it? A very basic and easy to use word processor for those who need to write on the go. Includes basic tools, but is quick and light enough that writers won’t get bogged down. Provides all of the most commonly used text editing tools and features font controls, word count, and editing functions as well.
Why we love it: Makes on the go writing much easier since it doesn’t get bogged down with too many tools and controls. However, everything that you actually need for quick writing is available. Available for iOS devices with iOS X 10.8 or higher.
What is it? A Mac or iOS app designed for easy word processing. Includes an aesthetically pleasing interface that allows writers to organise their documents and work on more than one thing at once. Controls allow for changes in fonts and styles and photos can be integrated as well.
Why we love it: Simply beautiful, this app keeps everything organised in a pleasing way. Controls are available to make changes when preferred and templates can be used for ease of creation in a variety of different documents. Available for Mac computers only, though.
34. Day One
What is it? A diary app that keeps all of your information in one place. Syncs with Dropbox or iCloud. Includes calendars, weather, photo capturing, location information and even writing prompts. Multi markdown allows you to handle modern syntax. Can be integrated with social media.
Why we love it: It’s an easy to use journaling app that allows you to do what you want with your information. You can keep it private, post it to Facebook, or even export it as a PDF. An auto backup feature even makes sure you never lose your thoughts. Day One is available for Mac or iOS devices.
What is it? A rich markdown editor designed to integrate right in your web browser. Includes WYSIWYG controls, a refined text editor and visualization to better see fully rendered documents. Also includes live preview with scroll synchronisation as well as built-in spell checking and customisable tools.
Why we love it: This great tool is designed with web writers in mind. It is fast and very effective. It can publish directly to your blog and even allow for collaborative control of documents. While StackEdit is a web browser tool, it also lets you write offline through a simple desktop application.
What is it? A note-taking app with numerous different uses. It includes automatic syncing to iCloud or to the company’s proprietary Junecloud. Can be docked to your menu bar so that it can easily be accessed and minimised whenever needed or when you want to put it away.
Why we love it: It’s simplistic enough to take basic notes like a phone number or address, but it is also detailed enough to take notes on a project or even write down creative writing prompts. Unfortunately, it is only available for iOS devices and not Android.
37. Rescue Time
What is it? A background desktop tool that will help you keep track of how you spend your time. Runs in the background and gives you a full report on what apps, tools, and programs got your attention through the day. Features include blocking distracting activities, logging accomplished highlights, and setting alerts when you have spent too long on one app or site.
Why we love it: If you have ever wondered where all the time went, this is an ideal app for you. It will actually tell you where you spent your time. That way, you can start adjusting your day to be more productive. Handy features like alerts make sure you don’t find yourself lost on an unproductive website.
38. Brain Wave
What is it? An app that uses binaural sounds for ultimate brainwave relaxation. Includes different music and binaural combinations for best results including relaxation, de-stress, and sleep. 32 different programs included in this app for iOS devices.
Why we love it: This app is designed to help you relax. As long as you have a good set of earbuds or headphones, it will do just that. And, it includes a whopping 32 different options for you to choose from.
What is it? An app that includes guided meditation aimed specifically at people who deal with insomnia. Includes instructional guides, induction of sleep, repeated therapy controls, and controls so that you can decide how long it lasts. Available for iOS and Android devices.
Why we love it: This app can be used all through the night or you can set it to cut off when you choose. You have complete control over how long it lasts and how often it repeats. Additionally, it is available for iOS devices and Androids alike. Getting the rest you need today could mean better writing tomorrow.
What is it? A unique inspiration tool, this website includes random questions that will get you thinking and help you come up with new things to write about. Every day, the website lists a new writing prompt or question.
Why we love it: It’s creative. Instead of just listing a ton of writing prompts, it directly asks you something interesting. You can look back through archives for even more ideas too.
What is it? An article that goes through the nine most important questions you need to ask yourself to flesh out your novel. It also helps you determine the best way to outline your novel so that you can decide on the best way to approach coming up with a fiction storyline.
Why we love it: It essentially asks you everything that you want to know before you start writing a novel and it helps you come up with the information you may not have even thought of before.
What is it? A compilation of writers and editors’ hashtags on Twitter. Designed to help writers connect with other people in the same area by suggesting hashtags to use or to search for as well.
Why we love it: Hashtags can be confusing, and instead of trying to figure them all out yourself, they are all listed right here. This makes it so much easier to connect and network with people.
What is it? An online workshop designed specifically for writers and editors of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Allows people to learn from others how to dissect their work in order to make it better. Essential for beginners.
Why we love it: It’s a fantastic tool for a niche market. Allows you to get advice from other writers and editors who understand what you are trying to write. Makes it easy for beginners to learn from more skilled veterans.
What is it? A compilation of writing courses available online for no charge at all. Ideal for people who have decided to pursue a freelance writing career. Includes links to high-quality courses well as details on what can be expected from those courses as well.
Why we love it: Instead of having to go through the whole Internet in order to find the right online writing course for your needs, you will find them all in one place.
What is it? An app designed to make writing quick and easy. This writing environment lets you create new work, review what you have already written, and make changes no matter where you may be. Includes a nostalgic typewriter look to the text.
Why we love it: Storyist is very clean and straightforward. It doesn’t include many bells and whistles so that it can do its job: give you somewhere to be creative whenever the mood strikes you. Available on iOS devices.
What is it? An article designed specifically to help you break the procrastination speed bump. Whether you are procrastinating from writing or just getting started, this article gives advice on how to handle the problem with quick and simple steps.
Why we love it: We know how procrastination can kill any writing project. Now, you don’t have to deal with it on your own. This article helps you get control of your own self-starting so that you will have no problem moving forward. A student would never procrastinate when they’re proofreading a thesis, after all.
47. Fact Browser
What is it? This self-titled “research discovery engine” allows you to access a variety of different facts based on topic, sources, companies, consumers, regions, and technology. Includes searchable information as well as featured facts of the day.
Why we love it: All writers need access to facts, and this research engine makes it easy to either get factual information or check facts that you have already used. Since information is broken down by subject, searching is simple.
48. PDF Expert 5
What is it? An app to give the user more control over PDF documents. Allows for filling out PDF forms, annotating documents, editing them, saving them and even exporting them to other file types.
Why we love it: This app lets you take control of your PDF documents. No longer do you just have to read them. Even when you are on the go, you can access apps and edit them as you need to. Unfortunately, it is only available for iOS devices and not Android.
What is it? An iOS app that makes text editing, note taking, and writing documents more straightforward. Designed to streamline the writing process. Syncs directly to Dropbox so that documents can be accessed and shared easily. Statistics such as word count are available.
Why we love it: There’s no clutter to this app. It is designed to be a writing interface and that’s exactly what it is. It allows you to focus specifically on writing. The automatic syncing with Dropbox is ideal for multi-device use as well.
What is it: Poetica is a text editor allows your whole team to work on Word, Gmail, WordPress and even PDF documents. You type into a blank window and see everyone’s editing as it happens.
Why we love it: Poetica show everyone’s changes in real time using standard editing marks, and makes it incredibly easy to edit, accept, or reject changes. Most importantly, it provides an intuitive and clear view of what your writing and what changes people make. It’s the perfect app for any writing collaboration projects.