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50 Awesome Open Source Resources for Writers and Writing Majors

With the popularity of blogging and online journals, writers working in the online realm have a growing number of opportunities all the time to practice and refine their craft, and maybe even get paid for it. And if you’re a writing major, why not take advantage of all the opportunities to get great free and open source resources that can help you to write, edit and organize your work? Here’s a list of fifty open source tools that you can use to make your writing even better.

Word Processors

Why pay for expensive word processing programs when you can get high quality and open source alternatives for much less? Here are a few programs to try.

  1. yWriter: This word processor is designed especially for writers. Created and maintained by a novelist, writers will enjoy the features that are specialy tailored to their needs that help writers stay organized and focused.
  2. OpenOffice Writer: Part of the incredibly popular OpenOffice suite, this word processor is a great alternative to more traditional options like Microsoft Word. Writer is just as fully featured and easy to use, making it a powerful choice for writers.
  3. wikidPad: This tool is a wiki-style notepad that allows users to to quickly and easily jot down their ideas and notes. Perhaps one of the best features of it is that it allows you to easily cross-reference information, helping you more easily draw plot points and facts together.
  4. NeoOffice: Similar to OpenOffice, this open source suite contains a word processor that allows Mac users to enjoy great functionality and ease of use when typing up manuscripts or anything else.
  5. TiddlyWiki: Another wiki style notebook, TiddlyWiki allows users to take notes or jot down ideas anywhere they have an Internet connection. Users can easily link and organize their thoughts using the program.
  6. NotePad++: An open source version of Microsoft’s NotePad, NotePad++ has more features and functionality for users built right in. For writers looking for a very simple way to get their ideas written down, this can be a good, lightweight choice.
  7. Scribus: Scribus has much more than just word processing capabilities, it’s also a great open source desktop publishing solution. Whether you’re printing your own writings out or want to organize documents for online viewing, Scribus can be perfect tool.
  8. RoughDraft: Created with writers in mind, this free tool is a great way to organize a story or screenplay. Writers will enjoy formatting, instant backups and automatic generation of cover pages.
  9. AbiWord: One of the most popular open source word processors, AbiWord can be a great alternative to Microsoft Word. It’s available in a number of languages and for a wide variety of operation systems for writers of all kinds.
  10. Kword: Create great literary works using this fully-featured word processing program. You’ll be able to write and organize your writings easily in the program’s frame-based setting.
  11. Bean: Bean is an incredibly lightweight word processing program for Mac OS X that can make it easy to type up and edit your writings.
  12. WordIt: This small word processor is ideal for students or business writers. The program is simple to use and provides advanced features like PDF exports.


Everyone needs a little help with spelling and grammar now and again, and these programs can get you on the right track.

  1. JaLingo: This OS independent program allows users to easily look up words in a dictionary right from their desktop, whether they have an Internet connection or not. It has a sleek and easy-to-use interface.
  2. StarDict: StarDict is available on multiple platforms and allows you to easily look up words in a desktop dictionary, even if you are way off in your initial spelling.
  3. GNU Aspell: Get the best of the best of spell checks with this open source spell checker that can be used independently or with another program.
  4. WBOSS: This open source script allows users to paste text into the website and find any spelling errors so they can be fixed before you publish your work.
  5. WordWeb: Writers can take advantage of this free and easy to use dictionary and thesaurus program to help ensure their writing is clearly spelled and isn’t repetitive.
  6. GNU Style and Diction: Once you’ve checked that your spelling is all right, style and diction are next up. This program makes it easy to check to see if your writing is overly wordy or contains common cliches.
  7. Bibus: If you’re writing nonfiction, you’ll likely need to cite your sources. This program makes it easy to organize and maintain your citations without extra work.
  8. Graviax: Give your grammar a once-over with this free open source tool. It goes through your writing to ensure you’re using words correctly and forming complete sentences.
  9. Research Assistant: If you’re doing research for your next project you can organize your findings with this helpful research assistant. You can keep all your information in one place so you can easily access it later.


Working online isn’t always conducive to organization. Here you’ll find some helpful open source resources to keep you clutter free.

  1. Sonar: Getting published can be an uphill battle, but Sonar can make it a little easier. It helps you to track your submissions and who you’re waiting to hear back from.
  2. Celtx: If you’re writing a screenplay or another kind of specially formatted story Cletx can be an incredibly valuable tool for keeping all your writing straight.
  3. StorYBook: When writing a long story, it can be harder to keep storylines straight or get a general overview of what you’re writing. StorYBook takes care of that by helping you keep all your data in order so your story will be more coherent, organized and easier to write.
  4. EverNote: EverNote can be a great way to capture, store and organize information that you’re using in your writings. Best of all, you can use it from anywhere, even on your phone.
  5. SAMM: Another submissions tracking program, SAMM makes it easy to keep on top of where you’ve sent your writings and what they’ve said in response.
  6. LyX: Organize and format your writing with this convenient tool. It works to create easy-to-read scientific and mathematical documents as well as screenplays and novels.
  7. TreePad Lite: Writers can keep track of their notes, emails, texts and reference materials with this all-in-one organizer. Looking like Windows Explorer, the program is easy to use and can be a great way to keep everything you need for writing in one place.

Helpful Tools

Everyone loves a tool or resource that makes doing their job a little easier. Try these and see if they can help streamline your work.

  1. Prompts: Need a little help getting inspiration? This program can provide you with some helpful prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
  2. Launchy: Make opening all the programs you need to start writing super easy with Launchy. With just a few keystrokes you can start your word processor, web browser or anything else.
  3. ASuite: Take all your important documents with you on your USB drive or iPod with this helpful application. It launches files, folders and webpages from anywhere you need to access them.
  4. txt2tags: If you’re putting your writings up on the web, then you may well need to code them before they can go up. This program makes that super easy by adding html tags to your text documents.
  5. Inkscape: Unless you’re publishing a boring, lifeless blog or webpage, you’ll want to have some images or drawings on them. This program can make it easy to create original drawings or map out parts of your stories.
  6. Tellico: Tellico is a program that works to help you manage a collection, whether it’s of your short stories or of your favorite novels. It can help you keep track of anything writing related that requires database maintenance.
  7. Freemind: Brainstorm new ideas with this great open source mind mapping tool. You’ll get your great ideas down so you won’t forget them, and the format may help you come up with even better ones.
  8. PDF Creator: Don’t pay for a program that can generate PDF files: use this convenient tool instead. You’ll be able to create PDF files of all your best writings to show off to others and get published all over the Web.
  9. ZManda: Make sure you don’t lose your important files and writings by backing up all your information. ZManda makes it easy to create daily or weekly backups of all your stuff.
  10. Word Count Plus: Sometimes you need to know just how many words you’ve written, especially if you’re going for quantity. This simple tool can give you the answer and let you know if you’ve met your quota.
  11. Docvert: If you have old files saved in a Windows format and want to convert them to work with some open source programs more easily you can do so with this handy tool.
  12. EyeOS: Wanna bring your desktop with you? You can with this great mobile desktop. You can use your word processing programs from anywhere, letting you get inspiration even when you’re not at home.

Web Tools

Online writers need to not only be able to write well but to be able to publish quickly and easy to the Web. These tools can help you get your writing up where people can read it.

  1. Amaya: Amaya is a Web editing program that allows you to update or edit content directly on the Web, though it serves a dual purpose as a Web browser as well.
  2. MediaWiki: Easily publish and edit your webpages online without even using an FTP program with MediaWiki. MediaWiki is the software that powers the online encyclopedia Wikipedia and allows you to easily share and create content online.
  3. Sun Weblog Publisher: If you’re looking for a way to make publishing your blog super easy, then this program from Sun has you covered. Working with StarOffice and OpenOffice, this extension works with WordPress, Blogger, Roller and other blogging platforms to quickly put your content on the Web.
  4. TrueCrypt: If you want to send material to a friend or boss for editing but want to ensure it stays private, use this encryption program. It works to secure almost any kind of file and keeps them away from prying eyes.
  5. FireFTP: Those using the Web for storage or to publish a website will likely need to make use of an FTP program sooner or later. This program works directly with Firefox to make it easy and simple to get content up on the Web.
  6. GIMP: If you plan on putting images on your site you might want to have an image editing program. GIMP can handle everything from a simple crop to much more complex photo manipulation tasks.
  7. FileZilla FTP: One of the most popular open source FTP tools, this program will allow you to efficiently move your writing content to the Web, making it easier to publish and share your work.
  8. WordPress: If you’re into blogging at all you have to have heard of WordPress. This open source software allows users to create and maintain a fully customizable blog.
  9. Mozilla SeaMonkey: Want an all-in-one tool for your Web editing, browsing, chatting and email? SeaMonkey does that and more making it a great go-to for simple updates to your blog or for a little informative reading.
  10. NVU: If you’re in the market for an open source alternative to a product like Dreamweaver, then NVU could be just what you’re looking for. A fully featured Web authoring system, NVU makes it simpler to create great webpages to display your writing.

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