Word processor preferences for DT

I’m curious which word processors forum members use and why. Bill’s preference for Pages raises the question. Currently I have Pages, Mellel, Nisus Write Express and NeoOffice on my dock. Is there a reason you use Pages, as compared to Nisus Writer express (NWE)? NWE saves in RTF format natively. True, it’s a basic program, but aside from the page layout features, so is Pages. I would have thought it a natural choice for a DT power users. Thanks!

Mellel, for it’s outlining capabilities and ease of creating multiple note streams. Especially the former, where I can manage large (250+ page) documents with ease. I have tried the others you mentioned (save NeoOffice) and none of them approaches Mellel in this regard, so I don’t use them.

I still use Word I guess because I know it well and it handles almost all of the various things I use a word processor for. Also, I’ve set up macros and such for my ways of doing things and most other wp programs don’t have that capability.

Since I also write fiction I have been looking at a number of alternatives out there:

Own or have beta ‘keys’ for:

Copywrite (takes me a while to figure it out if I haven’t used it in a while)
Jers Novel Writer (in-line notes are heavenly; chapter structure is a drawback, imo)
Scrivener Gold (free - see note below)

I think the SG was mentioned elsewhere on this forum and that led me to it. There’s a new version coming out in beta soon that looks very promising and I’m anxiously awaiting its arrival. Seems to have both notes/annotations inline as well as other features that seem to be just what I need. Hoping the actual beta lives up to the feature list. :slight_smile:

Demo’d but didn’t buy:

Ulysses ($$$ and no italics!)
Mellel (seems more geared to non-fiction)

There are others I can’t recall at the moment as well as aux programs like Writer’s Cafe that I’ve tried. I’m thinking a separate DTPro database for each project might be the ticket.

Can one link between databases?

Mellel, for reasons more or less identical to those mentioned by Alexandra:

  • excellent outlining
  • rock-solid stability (I have been working with Mellel since spring 2004, without experiencing a single crash!)
  • these two qualities together make Mellel an outstanding choice for those who like to put a book of hundreds (or even thousands) of pages into a single document.
  • the multiple note streams feature.

Moreover, there is something else, that only frequent users of Mellel might have experienced: Mellel ‘feels’ different from all other word-processors I know. It’s the difference between driving a Land Rover and driving a Beetle or a 2 CV, just to mention some oldtimers.

Of course I do have Word too, but I use it only when my students send me Word-documents to comment upon. I’m not against Word, which undoubtedly has its advantages; but I simply prefer Mellel, for the reasons mentioned above.

I own Pages too, but I never use it.

I tried many other wordprocessors, both ‘general’ wordprocessors and wordprocessors for writers, but found attractive only two of them: Papyrus, which I own too, and Scrivener Gold; that’s why, like WritingStudio, I’m anxiously awaiting Scrivener 1.0.


Mellel and – since several weeks – Scrivener Gold. Mellel for the reasons already mentioned and its unrivalled beauty in typographical layout, SG for its well organised but extremely flexible approach to fiction writing. I never had a wp that integrated so perfectly with my way of working.

I own NWE and update it frequently, it turns out that is is excellent for exchanging documents with Word users. I discussed about Nisus RTF with Christian a long time ago, and it seems that Nisus supports RTF features that TextEdit/Apple’s text engine does not. Like highlighting with colour. So I never tried to integrate it better into my DT work flow, too much gets lost in one and the other direction. Although I would like the styles feature and others for my dayly life in DT! It is a friendly and charmingly chaotic piece of software, I would like to use it, had it better autonumbering (chapters, etc.) and outlining.


People often have very personal preferences about a writing environment.

I find that I can write in a variety of environments without worrying too much about my writing “surroundings” as long as it’s easy for me to change environments quickly and easily to get something I need at the moment, such as checking a reference. That’s where DT Pro shines.

So I can be happy as a clam writing in the DT Pro rich text environment (but not in full screen, which makes it more difficult to look at a reference, for example). If I want to create a hyperlink to a URL, I can. If I want to create a list, I can do that. I can do all the basic character formatting and a few other things.

But to polish up I want more options. I usually need headers and footers, footnotes, endnotes, and perhaps some more bells and whistles.

There are lots of word processor and layout apps, many of them very capable. But I haven’t had a real feeling of excitement about any of them since the first version of ClarisWorks appeared back in the 1990s.

With only one recent exception, and for only one feature: PDF export from Pages 2.x. That’s because Pages now lets me export as PDF a document with working hyperlinks and bookmark links. I’ve waited for years to be able to do that easily in the Mac environment. (Open Office can do that, too. But it’s pretty ugly as a working environment.)

PDF is my favorite medium for sending stuff out, as it’s a universal format that anyone can read on a computer. Now that Pages 2 lets me handle links easily, I don’t have to gripe that Adobe short-shrifted the Mac.

I often need to send something out in Word .doc and/or PDF format. Pages does a very respectable job of exporting as Word, too. And moving my RTFD material with images into Word itself isn’t a pleasant experience, but my RTFD material copy/pastes into Pages 2 with ease, except for tables, which I either have to redo in Pages – a pain – or transfer as images. Images really transfer well. So it’s not hard to get professional-looking output from work that started in DT Pro.

Nisus Writer Express isn’t a bad writing environment and handles RTF and RTFD from DT Pro well. But it gets lower marks on PDF and Word conversion.

That’s just me. I’m not so picky about my writing environment as such and I love to write in DT Pro, but I want to get good final output as Word or, especially, PDF. So that’s why I use Pages for final output.

Thanks all for sharing your insightful responses. I didn’t appreciate many of the subtleties that the your posts highlighted. It’s much clearer now!

I used Mellel for awhile, and loved the outlining and footnoting. But I always struggled with the way Mellel handled styles, and finally decided that it wasn’t worth spending hours reading the tutorials to figure it (and other quirks) out.

That’s because the only project I needed footnotes for was a coauthored book, and my coauthor wanted to stick to Word, which – as much as I loathe it for well-known reasons – does have an unsurpassed comments feature that allows us to easily swap drafts back and forth. So for the book, I guess we’re gonna keep using Word. But for most long writing projects, I’d certainly recommend Mellel, even though I don’t use it anymore myself.

For my regular journalistic writing, I actually found it easier to just write short columns in TextEdit or DevonNote, because I don’t need outlining or footnotes or anything, and DN allows me to easily access all my notes. For those projects, simplicity is the priority.

For longer pieces that require outline and structure, I finally decided that it was easier to use OmniOutliner (which came bundled with my PowerBook) to organize the piece rather than use Mellel or the very worthy Jer’s NovelWriter (which works for nonfiction, too and also has excellent outlining and inline notes features. So, I do most of the writing in OO, then export it to a text edit document for final formatting. It’s not sold as a WP, but OO really works for most of my writing.

Then I learned from this forum about Scrivener and have been happily trying out Scrivener Gold and have just downloaded the first beta of the soon-to-be-sold version. At the moment, it looks like it might really be the answer for my jounrnalistic and possibly dramatic writing. It has great outlining and organizing and a host of other well thought out features.

So, assuming TextEdit isn’t enough for you, I’d recommend trying out all of them – Mellel, Jer’s, Scrivener. (I tried NeoOffice and admire it, but the interface is too clunky for me.) I’m leaning toward Scrivener but Jer’s is a bit simpler to use and learn and might be all you need.

It’s so great to have all these options now so you can find your own balance between elegant simplicity and power. The key is to save everything to rtf so you’re not locked into a proprietary format and can switch as needed as these apps evolve. Good luck – let us know what you decide.

I wanted to add that I use Mellel for larger projects with lots of footnotes, but for short monographs, fiction, and even longer projects with minimal footnotes I have started using Scrivener, which has just come out in beta form (started using the earlier version Scrivener Gold a few weeks ago). It’s a brilliantly conceived program in my opinion and works exactly the way I’d hoped a writing program would, with the ability to view all kinds of media and take notes easily, tags, footnoting, outlining, split view windows, solid full screen capabilities—all the things I need to work a project in a very intuitive, aesthetically pleasing package. And no, I have no personal stake in the program! I just like it that much!

I will continue to use DT as my ‘warehouse’ for mass data management (can’t imagine life without DT!), which is what it was really designed for, and Mellel as my ‘word processor’ for large, complex projects. But Scrivener is now my program of choice for idea development and all projects that don’t need Mellel’s word processing horsepower.