The 10 Best Writing Apps of 2020

Useful tools for novelists, playwrights, editors, and other wordy types

Photo of woman looking at computer screen and writing in a notebook

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If you're serious about writing, you might want to consider getting serious about your writing tools as well. The following applications offer features that make your tasks easier, whether you write for a newspaper, a movie studio, or just for yourself. These programs also put your words into the right format, adding polish and professionalism to your creations, so you can be proud to turn them in, come deadline time. We hope you find one or more tools here that will help you do your best work.

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Best Word Processor for All Genres: Microsoft Word

Screenshot of Microsoft Word on desktop
What We Like
  • The hundreds of templates make creating any document or work simple and fast.

What We Don't Like
  • Microsoft Word doesn't offer the same distraction-free writing environment as other programs on this list.

No writing tool list is complete without Microsoft Word. This word processor is the best option for all genres, complete with hundreds of templates to choose from, endless formatting tools, and a robust online support system. From a poem to an e-book to a novel, Word can help you do it all.

Word is available for macOS, Windows, iOS, and Android, devices. You can start with a free trial of Microsoft Office, which includes other Microsoft applications as well. If you choose to purchase, packages range from $69.99 a year to a one-time payment of $149.99. If those prices are too high for you, no worries, you can also use Word for free.

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Best Organizational Companion: Evernote

Screenshot of Evernote on iPhone
What We Like
  • Your notes aren't limited to text. You can add photos, audio snippets, and so much more.

What We Don't Like
  • Only 60 MB of monthly upload space is available for free.

To electronically capture ideas on the fly, you can use a text-based note app on your device. But, for an enhanced organizational experience, we recommend Evernote. It enables you to collect many types of input, including whiteboard photos, website screenshots, different document formats, audio recordings, and even your handwriting. You can separate items into different notebooks for multiple projects.

Evernote is free to download for both Android and iOS devices or you can use it online. Users can upgrade to Evernote Premium for $7.99 per month or Evernote Business for $14.99 per user per month.

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Best Writing Software for Bloggers: Google Docs

Screenshot of Google Docs on desktop
What We Like
  • Changes to your documents save automatically - no more lost work.

What We Don't Like
  • The Google Docs app for your mobile device is slower than the desktop version.

One of the best things about Google Docs is how easy the program makes it to collaborate with others. No more "version shuffle" as you send drafts and revisions back and forth in email. When you share the document with your blog editor, they can insert suggestions, comments, and changes right there. Then, when it's time to implement the changes, you can easily accept revisions and close comments about issues you've resolved. You can even use Google to work on Microsoft Word docs.

Google Docs is a free online tool that's also available as an app for Android and iOS devices.

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Best Tool for Long-Form Content: Scrivener

Screenshot of Scrivener novel creation template on desktop
What We Like
  • Keyboard shortcuts make writing a breeze, plus the templates are ready-made to jumpstart your creativity.

What We Don't Like
  • Scrivener does have a learning curve and is best for users who have intermediate understanding of word processing.

Do you write long-form works like novels or non-fiction books? If so, you need a tool that performs some of the low-level tasks for you. Scrivener offers ready-made templates that eliminate the need to spend time on tedious formatting tasks. This application also includes features for storing details about your characters and other critical background information, writing sections and placing them in your manuscript later, and viewing a detailed outline built from synopses that you write for each chapter. If you don't like the flow, you can easily move chapters around. When you're ready to publish, Scrivener makes it simple to compile and export a completed manuscript.

Scrivener is available for macOS, Windows, and iOS. You can try it free for 30 days. After the trial, a standard license costs $45.00 or $38.25 for students.

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Best Writing App for Novelists: Werdsmith

Screenshot of Werdsmith on iPhone
What We Like
  • It keeps track of your writing goals and tells you how close you are to reaching them.

What We Don't Like
  • To use the novel and screenplay features, you must purchase a membership.

Werdsmith is a portable writing studio, complete with instant formatting for novels and screenplays. You can even use it to publish to your online writing portfolio. Werdsmith features a clean design, it's easy to use, and it's the perfect place for keeping your notes and finished work. The goals and stats function helps keep you motivated.

Werdsmith is free to download and use for iOS devices. In-app purchases are offered through a membership for $4.99 per month. Members receive four new themes, novel and screenplay writing tools, hundreds of writing prompts, and more.

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Best Screenwriting Application: Final Draft

Screenshot of Final Draft on desktop
What We Like
  • It has everything professional screenwriters need to meet industry standards.

What We Don't Like
  • May not be great for beginners due to the hefty price and steep learning curve.

Final Draft is used by 95% of film and television productions. Why? There are hundreds of templates to choose from and Final Draft automatically paginates and formats your script to the industry standard, allowing you to focus on writing. With advanced tools, the program allows you to easily brainstorm and collaborate as well as plan set pieces or store character research with customized visualizations.

Final Draft offers a free 30-day trial. After that, the cost is $249.99. The program works with both macOS and Windows and also offers a mobile app for iOS devices.

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Best App for Journalists: Dictation

Screenshot of Dictation app on iPhone
What We Like
  • It's designed for one thing: dictation. This simplicity makes it an easy tool to use on the go.

What We Don't Like
  • Without the pro version, you'll see an ad after each dictation you create.

For journalists who interview individuals for news stories and features, a good dictation tool is a must-have. The Dictation - Speech to Text app is meant for translating voice to text for mobile devices. However, it can also be used to dictate any voice while on the go. It's perfect for capturing your brilliant ideas as well.

Dictation is free to download for iOS devices. Dictation Pro, which costs $12.99 per year, removes ads and allows you unlimited app usage.

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Best Application for Editors: TextEdit

Screenshot of TextEdit on desktop
What We Like
  • When the full-scale capabilities of a word processing program are unnecessary, TextEdit fills in the gap.

What We Don't Like
  • Only available for macOS devices.

This simple tool is perfect for editing documents, including Word files, on the fly and converting them into other formats seamlessly. Need to change a Rich Text Format (RTF) document to another format quickly? TextEdit is the perfect app for that. You can also easily create and edit HTML documents for the web.

TextEdit comes standard with macOS.

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Best App for Song Writers: Lyric Notepad

Screenshot of Lyric app on iPhone
What We Like
  • You can record yourself performing and attach the file to your song.

What We Don't Like
  • The interface is a bit clunky.

For poets, rappers, songwriters, and lyricists, inspiration can strike at any moment. That's why it's important to have a tool available at your fingertips. Lyric Notepad goes beyond typical word processing tasks to track rhyme and syllable schemes, help you find new words, and record your lyrics, all in one app. The built-in notepad allows you to add notes about your songs as you write and the metronome helps you easily keep time.

Lyric Notepad is free to download for both iOS and Android devices.

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Best Application for Distracted Writers: FocusWriter

Screenshot of Focus Writer on desktop
What We Like
  • The tool is extremely easy to use and ready to use as soon as you download.

What We Don't Like
  • There are no editing functions outside of cut and paste. You'll need to copy your writing to a word processor for editing purposes.

Given all the distractions in the world and especially online, it's easy to get off track during your precious writing time. FocusWriter was designed specifically to allow you to focus and get your work done. The interface is basic, with all the tools hidden beyond a screen until you need them. So, it's just you and the document in front of you. Hidden timers and alarms alert you when it's time to stop.

FocusWriter is free to download and use for macOS, Windows, and Linux.