Through the years I’ve written often about minimalist word processors for writers; relatively inexpensive apps with few features and a focus on distraction free (often a euphemism for few features but a price tag).
My word processing teeth, if there is such a thing, were cut the old fashioned way. Microsoft Word. That means everything else I tried to write with was compared to that feature bloated behemoth. Following a recent a review of yet another minimalist word processor trying to become a writer’s tool, a reader suggested I try Nisus Writer Pro. I’d hear the name, but considered typical word processing to be a relic from the past. You know, like Microsoft Word.
Here’s the deal. After two weeks of using Nisus Writer Pro and only Nisus Writer Pro to write, I can say that minimalism is overrated, Word is over burdened, and if you write for a living, this app may be as good as it gets.
First things first. Nisus Writer Pro is not a skinny, feature free, minimalist text tool. It’s a full featured word processor, but with a focus on the tools and functions that writers prefer.
What you see in the screenshot above is typical Nisus. General tools at the top, sidebar pane with specific formatting tools. WYSIWYG. As you can tell from the toolbar and sidebar, Nisus Writer Pro is packed with tools.
You get quick access to Style Sheets and a Document Manager which also tracks Document Versioning. Comments can be added as quickly as Tables. That’s right. Tables. Each line of the document can be numbered which makes it easy to find sections. Even easier is the automatic Table of Contents creation. Changes to a document can be tracked.
Beyond the basic writer’s tools for formatting and organization, there’s search tools including a robust find and replace, and options to add footnotes and end notes. Need to mail merge a gazillion addresses with a customized letter for each recipient? Nisus Writer Pro can do with built-in Mail Merge.
Good grief. There’s even an option to add a watermark to your document. The pop out sidebar pane isn’t in vogue as much these days, but it’s always there which makes formatting a breeze. Just click on the tabs on the top to open up format options in the document.
One of the more interesting and useful features for me is Macros. Sure, they’ve been around in many apps for a few decades, but once this tool is mastered writers can write more in less time, and more accurately. The native file format is RTF so documents are easily transportable about everywhere words need to go, but Nisus Writer Pro all opens and saves Microsoft Word files and a few others.
If you still seek distraction free there’s a fullscreen mode which helps, but the Nisus approach is to make tools available that writers want, need, and use because there are still many writers who prefer to format what they write, rather than just spill words all over a blank page.
Nisus Writer Pro is a surprise; capable, fast, loaded with features, but with a learning curve far less than Microsoft Word. There’s also a try-before-you-buy option.