Which word processor to use?

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Which word processor to use?

Postby Dennyvm » Sat, 16 May 2015 12:50 pm

Greetings Folks,
I'm a newbie to this forum. Currently my wife and are touring the great highways and byways of Eastern Australia. Been on the road for around two months and having a ball. Now I've been recording our adventures in Word, but you get to a certain point when the photo's you post won't stay still and it becomes frustrating and extra slow. I switched to Publisher. That seemed much better, at least the photos stuck where you wanted them to be stuck. But as the story grows, the slower the program seems to come. Maybe it's the size of the photos I've downloaded from my camera.

My question is - Are there any alternatives to Word or Publisher? Free and easily accessible and can handle large photos and can be saved and printed off later?

Many thanks


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Peter McLennan
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Re: Which word processor to use?

Postby Peter McLennan » Sat, 16 May 2015 2:34 pm

Welcome Denny. Word is the standard choice for submitting to publishers, but you're right that it's cantankerous with pictures. Reducing the pixel density of the pictures would certainly help with speed, but then they won't print out or display as nicely.

There are definitely free alternatives to the Microsoft stuff. One of the most prolific writers here relies on one such (but I forget which one). Off the top of my head, you could look into Apache Open Office, LibreOffice and NeoOffice (all of which share a common origin, I think). I've also used TextMaker and found it to be very good.
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Re: Which word processor to use?

Postby Rath Darkblade » Sat, 16 May 2015 6:15 pm

Peter, you are right about the common origin of OpenOffice, LibreOffice and NeoOffice. In a nutshell: OpenOffice was originally developed by Sun MicroSystems, then bought by Oracle and abandoned, then sold by Oracle to Apache. The people who originally worked on OpenOffice then created LibreOffice. NeoOffice is made by the same people who created OpenOffice, but it is meant for Apple OS X.

Being a poor writer who can't afford to splash out hundreds of dollars for an office package, half of which I'd never use, I decided to try OpenOffice back in 2007. I've been using it since then, and it's great! :) Two thumbs up.

The one difference between Apache OpenOffice and MS Office is that although OpenOffice can save your documents in the .doc format (i.e. Word 97/2000/XP), it cannot save it in the .docx format (anything later than Word XP). It can save your file as a Word 2003 XML file (i.e. in the .xml format), but the .docx format is proprietary to Microsoft and they're not sharing, so there's no way for other companies to do this. Shame. :(

LibreOffice does support the .docx/.xlsx/etc. formats to a degree. It also offers some features - like font embedding - that don't appear in OpenOffice. (Font embedding means that whatever fonts you choose to use will show up when you email the document to someone else, even if they don't have your fonts).

Here is an article from HowToGeek that compares OpenOffice with LibreOffice. Have a read - it's very interesting and may help you to make up your mind. :)

Finally, if you don't need a database tool, you might like to consider Kingsoft Office. It is smaller than any of the other Offices, which means it loads quicker. It also has all the usual features you'd expect from an word processor (spell check, ClipArt, tables etc.) though it lacks a thesaurus. However, it has some features that Word does not - such as moving paragraphs around with your mouse, opening multiple documents at once (under tabs), built-in conversion from document to PDF, and support for all the Microsoft Office formats - .docx, .xlsx and .pptx.

To be honest, I'm thinking of switching to either LibreOffice or Kingsoft Office. But any of the three suites I've reviewed will do the job for you. :D
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Re: Which word processor to use?

Postby MichelleL » Thu, 21 May 2015 12:47 am

While it's in draft form, it might be a good idea to just use placeholder text (eg. <insert image0001.jpg here>) and then once you've finished writing and editing, import the pictures in. That will keep the file size down and use less system memory so will load faster.

If you're submitting to publishers, they will want the images separately. If you plan to self-publish, you might consider Scribus (open source) to do the book layout as DTPs (desktop publishing programs) are much better at handling complex layouts than a word processor. I haven't used MS Publisher since 1997, and at that time it was good for simple DTP like newsletters and flyers, but not intended for book publishing. It might be different now in later versions, but I still wouldn't use it for drafting.
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Re: Which word processor to use?

Postby timhume » Thu, 21 May 2015 10:59 am

I think I've used almost every word processor around. Each time I try a new one I think it is suddenly going to make writing much easier - but guess what, it doesn't. For scientific writing I use something called LaTeX because it can handle things like mathematical equations well. But for fiction writing, I suspect it's best not to get too worked up about whether you use a word processor, typewriter or pen and paper. The important thing is to write a good story, not what tool you use to write it.

For the record, I'm now using a plain text editor - vi (not even vim for those that know the difference).

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