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writing a novel in...
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fisherKing
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Feb 15, 2005, 08:44 PM
 
yes, i know about microsoft word.

i may (key word:may) work on a novel this year.
i have been microsoft-free since forever, and wonder about alternatives.

what's a logical app to write a novel in...besides word???




thanx!
"At first, there was Nothing. Then Nothing inverted itself and became Something.
And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
MaxPower2k3
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Feb 15, 2005, 09:04 PM
 
Have you tried Pages? I haven't, personally, but it may do what you need.

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fisherKing  (op)
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Feb 15, 2005, 09:14 PM
 
hmmm...

and any preference, say...word over pages??

or other good apps...?
"At first, there was Nothing. Then Nothing inverted itself and became Something.
And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
cpac
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Feb 15, 2005, 10:04 PM
 
TextEdit is free, and works just as well, if not better, than those old typewriters people used to use.

Really though, it just depends what you want to get out of your word processor. If all you're doing is composing a manuscript that's going to be edited and whatnot by people later (and you don't anticipate writing your novel with footnotes) then TextEdit may well be the way to go.

you may want an outliner (I'd suggest OmniOutliner) if you need to do a lot of planning out of scenes and chapters and things before-hand; but if your focus is just on writing and composition, I'd suggest keeping it simple (and cheap) and going with TextEdit.
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Shades of Gray
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Feb 15, 2005, 11:32 PM
 
Mellel will more than meet the needs. I just finished with a 250 page book, using Mellel. The outlining capability is more than adequate, and the auto-numbering feature and styles (page, paragraph, and character) make it far ahead of any others. And the support team is great. I had a problem with styles that one of the two brothers doing the development exchanged emails with me several times over a few days until it was resolved. Was there a learning curve? Yes, but nothing like Word. It took me a week to fully understand Mellel styles and its nuances (which I think are far better than Word's and similar programs), and another week to work on the Mellel auto-numbering (very powerful feature for books, long documents), but only an hour with the outline to use it effectively.

To me there is no other choice, and for <$40 you get the best RTL word processor on the Mac, bar none (if you ever need that capability). And it will soon use XML as its default format, which means great potential in the future. Superb integration with Bookends (although I personally have not bought Bookends - that's my next project : ) ).
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Feb 15, 2005, 11:41 PM
 
What software you use in writing your book depends on (as cpac noted) what you want out of the software. Remember, if it's going to be a novel that's submitted for actual publication, you'll have to go with what the publishers want. That will probably mean converting your original file into some other format at least once or twice.

I would recommend that you "outline your writing" before you start writing. Do you intend the software to help with the story structure? Do you need to be able to expand and collapse outline levels? What about formatting help; do you want it to look like the final printed version, or will plain text do?

I wrote a number of training handbooks a few years ago, and the only reason I used Word (on a PC at work) was that Word was what we had. I did not use any of the automated "features" in Word; I had my writing fully outlined ahead of time, and I didn't trust the automatic indenting, lists, and so on to come out correctly when the manuscript went to the printer, so it was all manual (that's just using tabs and spaces instead of fancy tools). These publications came out fine. It's not the word processor that makes the book-it's the author.

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fisherKing  (op)
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Feb 16, 2005, 12:23 AM
 
great information, all thanx.
am a screenwriter (among other things) and use final draft for that.

will check out mellel, and maybe reconsider word...the standard, after all
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And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
markponcelet
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Feb 16, 2005, 12:25 AM
 
I use Word for my large (100+ pages) projects, any project that needs something complicated (such as a table of contents or an index), or for a project that has images or tables. However, simplicity has its place. I use BBEdit to wite many documents just because it's easy to read as you type, has plenty of features to count how many words I have written (or whatever), and it can still check spelling.

Still, I have to recommend Word. If I were writing a novel, here are the features that I would use:
  • Proofing. These tools allow you to save changes in a document, keep notes on a block of text (by selecting it and adding a note, for example) and other useful things. Let me tell you: once you start modifying vast blocks of text, changing your mind, and then changing it back again, being able to go back and forth through versions that you've saved on various days is beyond useful. And saving notes right on the text to which they refer is great.
  • Split Screen. If you save each chapter in its own document, you can include the outline for that chapter at the top of the document. Then just split the screen so that the outline is always visible while you type away. Not everybody prefers to write in such a structured manner, but the option is still there.
  • Margins, etc. This sounds like a gimmie. But it bears saying again: many publishers will require you to format your manuscript to very precise rules. Some, for example, want all margins at one inch except for the left margin, which they want at 1.5 inches. They'll often ask for it to be double-spaced. They'll want a specific font at a specific size, and they'll want the page number in the correct place. Since competition is so rough, getting these settings exactly right can be crucial.

Obviously other word processors can do these things. I'm just mentioning what I use Word for when I write.

Mark
     
brettcamp
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Feb 16, 2005, 02:05 AM
 
I second the motion for Mellel, although I didn't wind up buying it after trying (and liking) the demo. I found out I could get its outlining feature by using DevonNote, which you might also want to look at -- I use it as outliner, basic word processor, and note taker.

Others have recommended ZWrite (created by a novelist) and CopyWrite for novel writing. Both have features aimed at fiction writing, though nothing you can't create yourself in another word processor.

I also agree that TextEdit, augmented by OSX Services (including Nisus free Thesaurus), can handle most of the word processing needs you're likely to encounter. I use it or Devon for almost all my writing. When I need more formatting (which is rare), I prefer AppleWorks, which came with my iBook. And I do have Word X, but have not needed any of its functions in months, although the reviewing function is good.

I'm writing a play now, and found a Word playwriting template online, so I may use Word for that unless I can adapt it to AppleWorks or TextEdit. I'm too cheap to buy FinalDraft, although I probably would if I wrote screenplays. Can anyone recommend any playwriting freeware or shareware?
     
Randman
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Feb 16, 2005, 03:15 AM
 
There's a book template for Pages. I don't have the site on hand (at work) but if you search the threads, you'll find the link to the site.

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Phil Sherry
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Feb 16, 2005, 04:10 AM
 
i'm tied to using Word when i write, as my publishers heavily use change tracking and commenting. it sucks, but it's an incentive to write quicker.
     
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Feb 16, 2005, 07:50 AM
 
LaTeX can work decently for this sort of thing, though it's more geared towards academic papers. It's about as not-Word as you can get, though.
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Deimos
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Feb 16, 2005, 08:06 AM
 
I've pretty much settled into Final Draft for scripts, and Word for novels. Not much to complain about with either of those programs.
( Last edited by Deimos; Feb 16, 2005 at 11:50 AM. )
     
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Feb 16, 2005, 10:25 AM
 
I used a combo of tools over the years and now I am using Pages right now. It works great. TextEdit is great as well, it just lets you work without distractions.
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velocitychannel
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Feb 16, 2005, 01:51 PM
 
I've written 2 novels and dozens of articles and stories using Word. While it isn't perfect, nothing else has the features it has. Pages (choked on 500+ pages), Mellel(which I think sucks), Nisus (Can you say S-L-O-W?) and any of the free alternatives are just too stripped down or unstable for a serious writer to do anything productive. I'm sure I will take a beating for saying that, but hey, it works for me.

Besides, my agent and editor use Word and it is nice to not have to worry about going through 500 pages to make sure the conversion went smooth. If you do go with Word, make sure to turn off live word count and live grammar check to get the best performance. Otherwise, it should run fine for you.
     
JKT
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Feb 16, 2005, 02:03 PM
 
If you need many or most of the features of MS Word/Office but not the costs, then the free NeoOffice/J (native OpenOffice.org) is your best bet. It also includes change tracking that is compatible with Office, fwiw.
     
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Feb 16, 2005, 02:05 PM
 
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sminch
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Feb 16, 2005, 03:46 PM
 
i second JKT's vote for neooffice/j - depending on what writing you're doing, it could well be perfect (and free).

by 'depending on what writing you're doing' i mean that the formatting compatibility with ms word might not be perfect if you're doing really complicated stuff with equations and figures pasted in etc etc, but for what i do (everything in courier 12pt, nothing more complex than the occasional underlined word or centred line) i have had no problems at all. based on my experience, if you're writing a script i can't imagine any issues.

i'd suggest giving it a whirl and if it doesn't work out, no loss. just remember to dl the latest patch as well.

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fisherKing  (op)
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Feb 16, 2005, 04:06 PM
 
am impressed with all the options out there...

final draft has a text document option (i didnt even know it was there) that i am going to try...since i already own the app.

thanks again for so much good advice!
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And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
xMetal
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Feb 17, 2005, 10:59 AM
 
For those suggesting Pages, it's really not the right class of program. Pages is page layout, suitable for laying out the final form of a book, perhaps, but not really for writing it.

I'd list out the features that are most important to you and then just check out the software and see which one most intuitively covers your needs.
     
Randman
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Feb 17, 2005, 11:30 AM
 
Pages has a Book template. Not the most polished but it could do the job (unless 500+ pages as mentioned above).

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HOMBRESINIESTRO
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Feb 17, 2005, 11:52 AM
 
I think all the proposed apps miss the point except for Ulysses. If you really want to write a novel you shouldn't have to bother with styling and so on, but concentrate on the text.
This is where Ulysses has its strengths and is clearly the only recommendable tool for someone who seriously considers to write a novel.

http://www.blue-tec.com/ulysses/features.php

It would be nice, if you don't like it, to tell me why you don't like it, because I love it and see nothing comparable to it when it comes to writing prose.
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fisherKing  (op)
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Feb 17, 2005, 01:20 PM
 
i will check out ulysees...
but i already own final draft, and word (which i've yet to install!)

so for me, cheaper alternatives.

still, just d'L'd ulysees, & will look at it, thanx!
"At first, there was Nothing. Then Nothing inverted itself and became Something.
And that is what you all are: inverted Nothings...with potential" (Sun Ra)
     
markponcelet
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Feb 17, 2005, 05:33 PM
 
Originally posted by HOMBRESINIESTRO:
http://www.blue-tec.com/ulysses/features.php
Hm! Interesting! It looks like a writing tool intended for journalists or magazine article writers, though. I saw paragraph numbering, line numbering, etc. These things are big in those fields.

The layout was kind of neat. Not sure if it's my cup of tea, but only because I have used Word to such an insane degree.

Mark
     
antonio
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Feb 17, 2005, 10:17 PM
 
try CopyWrite

http://www.bartastechnologies.com/

i use it to organize raw writing projects (has a cool sidebar where you can add quick notes). really makes it easy for me to see when i modified a story, what stage it's in (new, rough, final).

then, when i'm ready to finalize it to send it off or print, i import into Word and do the final touch up.

the demo is worth a try, and the full version is only $29

good luck, and keep writing
     
Agent69
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Feb 17, 2005, 10:39 PM
 
Heck man, use a cocoa editor like Textedit or SubEthaEdit. If you are writing a novel, the last thing you really need to worry about is formating text (that can come later). Plus, both of those editors will work with Mac OS X's spell checker.
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markponcelet
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Feb 17, 2005, 11:07 PM
 
Originally posted by antonio:
try CopyWrite

http://www.bartastechnologies.com/

Hey, cool! A goal meter! What a cool little program! And cheap, too!
     
Mr Heliums
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Feb 18, 2005, 10:36 AM
 
Originally posted by markponcelet:
Hm! Interesting! It looks like a writing tool intended for journalists or magazine article writers, though. I saw paragraph numbering, line numbering, etc. These things are big in those fields.
Mark
I've never heard of journalists or magazine article writers using line numbering in a word processor. Care to enlighten me why this is 'big'?

I use Nisus Writer Express, for four main reasons - a nice drawer layout with a live word count feature (something that only arrived in Word four years ago), an unsurpassed find and replace tool, an excellent macro function and a tagging feature that allows me to mark up text easily.

But the most important thing is to be comfortable with whatever you choose. As long as the program suits the way you work you can work your way around just about any missing feature.
     
Randman
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Feb 18, 2005, 10:39 AM
 
As a journalist, I usually used TextEdit, then copied it into Word for cleaning up. Am trying to use Pages now to get more comfortable with it.

I have never used line count and it wouldn't matter if I did unless I used the specific font, size and width(s) that the story would run in.
Now, word count is pretty important. Luckily, long ago I found a freeware app that gives word counts in TextEdit.

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poocat
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Mar 7, 2005, 06:16 AM
 
which app do you use to give word counts in textedit?
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HOMBRESINIESTRO
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Mar 7, 2005, 08:36 AM
 
Originally posted by poocat:
which app do you use to give word counts in textedit?
Probably WordCounter: http://www.supermagnus.com/mac/Word_Counter/
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Amorya
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Mar 7, 2005, 08:47 AM
 
Originally posted by xMetal:
For those suggesting Pages, it's really not the right class of program. Pages is page layout, suitable for laying out the final form of a book, perhaps, but not really for writing it.

I'd list out the features that are most important to you and then just check out the software and see which one most intuitively covers your needs.
I disagree. It's not to say there aren't better tools, but Pages isn't just a DTP program - it's a word processor that has more DTP features than average. For writing a novel, I look for decent semantic styling (so I never have to bother about fonts), spellcheck (but NOT grammar check - it's an atrocity), automatic table of contents creation, some form of outlining, and things like footnotes, page numbering etc. Pages does them all except outlining AFAIK - so I don't see why it wouldn't be appropriate.

Having said that, I've only ever written novels in Appleworks. It was a case of better the devil you know... I didn't want to be struggling with an app that I didn't know like the back of my hand. I'm getting better at LaTeX now, so if I try again I may use that.

Amorya
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HOMBRESINIESTRO
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Mar 7, 2005, 08:55 AM
 
Originally posted by Amorya:
I'm getting better at LaTeX now, so if I try again I may use that.
I don't find LaTeX to be suitable for my own fictional writing, because it has so much meta language. For my scientific writing I use it exclusively because of the BiBTeX integration, but for writing prose it dosn't fit my needs.
I can only repeat: Ulysses is great!
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Mar 7, 2005, 10:10 AM
 
As a writer I've found this thread to be quite interesting. I actually mostly use AppleWorks, as I tend to do my outlining, whatever, on real paper or perhaps OmniOutliner. I'm sure I'm quite inefficient, as I just revise by printing the thing out and editing with a pen. Then I make my own corrections and keep going -- if necessary, I create a new copy, if not, I just re-save. So this thread has given me some intersting options for tracking changes in Word (which I do own -- I finally bought it because it was just easier that converting it via MacLink. It's really made my life easier in terms of sending documents to every body else. Just a fact of life, I guess.

I don't have to count lines, but word count is VERY important. And both AppleWorks (which I sure wish APple would update; Pages is not it, so far) and Word can, of course, handle word counts. I have my own keyboard shortcuts for that feature, in fact.

Very intersting possibilities here that I must investigate. Thanks for all the info.

BUt I did have to point out the existence of AppleWorks. It's not THAT bad.
     
Randman
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Mar 7, 2005, 11:40 AM
 
I don't remember the name but on versiontracker, there's a freeware app that does word count in apps including TextEdit and Pages.

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Amorya
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Mar 7, 2005, 12:21 PM
 
Originally posted by Randman:
I don't remember the name but on versiontracker, there's a freeware app that does word count in apps including TextEdit and Pages.
I don't know the name of it either, but it has the shortcut command-shift-i and is muchly useful!

The menu item is called Statistics, but I htink the service itself is not called that.

Amorya
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JKT
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Mar 7, 2005, 12:57 PM
 
It isn't an app - it's a Service that is available to all Cocoa apps (and Carbon ones written to support Services). It is part of the various text related options offered by WordService from Devon Technologies. Edit: scroll to the lower third of the list to see it - I also recommend Calc Service too.
     
Randman
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Mar 7, 2005, 01:02 PM
 
No, the one I was talking about is an app. Word Counter.

Freeware too.

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Love Calm Quiet
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Mar 7, 2005, 03:07 PM
 
Interesting: As of just today, Mellel has updated to 1.9...

Can anyone speak to ease of outlining in Mellel vs. Word? That's my main reason for having to write in word. Also: can Mellel <---> Word pass outlines back and forth and not screw up format?

No comments on 1.9 yet on VersionTracker (free upgrade for recent reg. users). I'd love to believe its worth trying Mellel (not just the $39 - but moreimportantly the time/energy to learn a new WP! ).
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Mar 7, 2005, 03:08 PM
 
Me too, I use Ulysses.
Great app to concentrate on your work. Not perfect, but really suit creative wrinting and it's a interesting experience, far from all other word processors.
     
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Mar 7, 2005, 03:13 PM
 
Originally posted by JKT:
It isn't an app - it's a Service that is available to all Cocoa apps (and Carbon ones written to support Services). It is part of the various text related options offered by WordService from Devon Technologies. Edit: scroll to the lower third of the list to see it - I also recommend Calc Service too.
I'll second the recommendation for Word Service. I never used services at all until I installed it, and now I use it all the time.
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Love Calm Quiet
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Mar 7, 2005, 03:30 PM
 
About Ulysses...

It's 100 Euros... more than what I paid for Word (special iMac edition) years ago. They don't mention a test-drive period. Is there one?

What does is lack compared to Word? How easy are moving docs back and forth with Word?
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Shades of Gray
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Mar 7, 2005, 10:33 PM
 
Originally posted by Love Calm Quiet:
Interesting: As of just today, Mellel has updated to 1.9...

Can anyone speak to ease of outlining in Mellel vs. Word? That's my main reason for having to write in word. Also: can Mellel <---> Word pass outlines back and forth and not screw up format?

No comments on 1.9 yet on VersionTracker (free upgrade for recent reg. users). I'd love to believe its worth trying Mellel (not just the $39 - but moreimportantly the time/energy to learn a new WP! ).
I am in the process of writing a book, and have settled on Mellel. I love the styles (although unique), and autonumbering. But what finally convinced me was the Outlining feature. It was enough to handle everything I needed. It wasn't overwhelming - I learned and used the basics in the book within 2 hours, although I had been using Mellel as my primary writing tool for the past six months.

This was all done with version 1.8.2. I am now downloading 1.9, which should be even better.
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Mar 8, 2005, 01:32 AM
 
Originally posted by Love Calm Quiet:
About Ulysses...

It's 100 Euros... more than what I paid for Word (special iMac edition) years ago. They don't mention a test-drive period. Is there one?
Yes there is. You can either use it in Demo mode, which lets you try out all its features, but not save and export, or you can use it in a full featured demo mode which will work for 30 days.


What does is lack compared to Word? How easy are moving docs back and forth with Word?
It is not comparable to Word, because it is especially made for writers and has no other purpose. It is focused on writing and organizing text. There are very costumizable export filters for rtf, plain text and LaTeX.
Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, "We DON'T demand solid facts! What we demand is the total ABSENCE of solid facts. I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!"
     
MOTHERWELL
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Mar 8, 2005, 01:55 AM
 
I heard Neal Stephenson say that he wrote his most recent novels (The Baroque Cycle) with emacs.

EDIT: emacs. Not an eMac.
( Last edited by MOTHERWELL; Mar 8, 2005 at 02:17 AM. )
     
HOMBRESINIESTRO
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Mar 8, 2005, 04:14 AM
 
Originally posted by MOTHERWELL:
I heard Neal Stephenson say that he wrote his most recent novels (The Baroque Cycle) with emacs.

EDIT: emacs. Not an eMac.
Did you know that you can even check your email with emacs.
Scarcely pausing for breath, Vroomfondel shouted, "We DON'T demand solid facts! What we demand is the total ABSENCE of solid facts. I demand that I may or may not be Vroomfondel!"
     
poocat
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Mar 8, 2005, 10:09 AM
 
Am currently using WordService, as the standalone app wouldn't download. This is quite a great thing, what with the Shift-apple-I shortcut. Much thanks.
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