What are Novel Writing Software

Embarking on writing a book is no easy feat. In fact, it is a colossal task that will require copious amounts of your time, energy, creativity, money, and patience. Each writer has a writing and story-development process of their own. While the creative process of novel writing is to each his own, formatting a book requires general, standardized guidelines.

While novel writing software cannot be used as a crutch for the more creative aspects of book-writing, such software can definitely ease the burden of the heavy formatting and allow you more time to meet your daily writing goals and milestones.

MacBook Pro near white open bookPhoto by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

What are Novel Writing Software?

Novel writing software are platforms that aid in the creation, organization, formatting and editing of manuscripts. The process of pitching your finalized manuscripts to agents or publishers requires for your work to be formatted along industry-standard book formatting guidelines. The tedious formatting is often a hassle that writers have to maneuver. Book formatting software help writers with the meticulous formatting required, and gives writers the freedom and time to pay more attention to their story-crafting instead.

Drafting your manuscript on regular word processors or simplified note-taking platforms does not give you access to specialized formatting tools or features. The constant and manual back and forth that you may need to do on these platforms, all while trying to focus on your book, can get tiresome. Book writing software can equip you with productive and efficient tools that can help you stay organized and on-task with your writing.

The Benefits of using Novel Writing Software

Book writing software are equipped with specific formatting tools and elements that allow for you to generate industry-standard formatting as easily and as efficiently as possible. Some of these formatting aspects include proper page numbering, headers, generating front and back cover pages, book title and subtitling, chapter titles, chapter differentiation, generating a cover page and so on.

Regular word processors or note-taking platforms do not offer specialized or automated formatting features like the above-mentioned. Manually formatting an entire book becomes more and more tedious as you write.

To help writers along with this, multiple writing software are available, each offering varied features that can facilitate writing processes in different ways. Some of these platforms include JotterPad, Scrivener, OneNote, Evernote, iA Writer, Ulysses, and iOS Note. This article takes you through what these interfaces offer and how they fair in relation to their counterparts.

man sitting while writing on notebookPhoto by Alejandro Escamilla on Unsplash


JotterPad is a user-friendly, plain-text editor that gives writers access to a plethora of writing tools that can be used across multiple book genres and writing project types; novels, blogs, academic or research papers, script-writing etc. JotterPad was founded a little less than 10 years ago, and has quickly developed to become a well-equipped app that writers of all kinds, novice or professional, can explore. JotterPad serves as both a WYSIWYG Markdown and Fountain editor, while being a text editor at it's essence.

Some tools that the app is equipped with include :

  • Cloud Synchronisation : JotterPad has a cloud sync service that allows you to automatically back up your work to multiple cloud services such as Google Drive, Drop Box and OneDrive. This enables your to access and continue writing anywhere, both offline and online.
  • Multi-format Export : Your writing can be exported to multiple formats, such as .fdx, .pdf, .docs and .fountain on JotterPad, and your formatting will not be altered in the process because of this compatibility.
  • Markdown and "WYSIWYG" : Markdown is an easy to navigate, lightweight markup language that enables you format your work. This tool allows writers to pay more attention to the creative writing needs instead of the formatting. Moreover, this app has both Markdown and a “What You See Is What You Get” (WYSIWYG) element for writers to benefit from. You can easily switch between plain text and rich text through syntax or manually through a few clicks.
  • Dark and light theme : The dark and light themes that you can toggle between turn the white background and black text into a black background and white text and vice versa respectively. The dark theme mode makes it especially easier to read and edit at night or in low-light conditions.
  • Dictionary and Thesaurus tools : The built-in dictionary and thesaurus allow you to search for definitions or words in-app accurately.
  • Typewriter mode : This tool facilitates you writing and reading seamlessly by drawing attention and focus to the few lines that you are looking at at any given time.
  • Readability Inspector : The inspector tool on JotterPad can help you polish up your writing by eliminating unnecessary words and make your writing more concise.
  • Publishing : JotterPad allows you to conveniently upload or publish whatever you’ve written to Wordpress, Ghost or Tumblr as drafts or published posts.
  • Customizable typography : You can change the font family of your text in JotterPad settings, allowing you to to customize or format your work to your liking.
  • Word/character count and phrase search : These tools allow you to keep track of your writing and your progress easily.
  • Templates : JotterPad has a wide array of templates for writers to choose from to guide their writing endeavors. From novels, to screenplay, articles, reports, letters, and even presentation slides, these templates provides a visual representation of how your writing and it's vital structural elements would look like once strung together. The templates have pre-determined fields for their respective formatting, making it the perfect starting grounds for your wriiting.

Price : $29.99 USD per year


Dubbed by some as the ultimate organization tool for writers, Scrivener was designed to aid writers with their writing processes, be it an academic paper, to novels, blogs and even screenplays. This word-processing has been compared to other popular writing software such as Microsoft Word and Evernote for its simplicity and organization tools respectively.

Some writing tools that Scrivener offers include :

  • "Binder” view : This tool allows you to categorize your book into chapters and sections from the get go. You can access all your material; drafts, character sheets, background research, webpages all in one place. You can also efficiently re-organize these sections with a simple "drag and drop" interface.
  • Virtual corkboard : A common tool across many book writing interfaces, this virtual corkboard gives you a macro view of the sections in your book; be it the chapters, sections, or scenes in the form of index cards. You can re-organize , add, or delete these cards easily as well.
  • Project targets : You can set manuscript or session targets to guide you towards your goals for the day. This tool allows you to set word count goals and also track your progress as you write.
  • Split-screen : This split-screen features allows you to view two documents side-by-side on your screen. You can open up a draft that you are working on, and any research or notes that you would like to reference right next to it, making this referencing so much more efficient.
  • Templates : The interface offers templates for multiple book genres and writing types such as novels, non-fiction books, and screenplays. You can use these as reference or a starting to point to build upon on your own.
  • Cloud Sync : Similar to JotterPad's cloud sync tool, Scrivener automatically saves your writing progress across multiple devices, and writers can return to the files they were working on anywhere and anytime.
  • Collaboration : Scrivener also offers collaborative tools that allow for more than one person to work on a project at the same time.
  • Statistics : Scrivener allows you to keep track of multiple statistics such as word and character count, average sentence length, and how many times a certain word has appeared in your text.

Price : Mac OS - $49 USD, Windows : $45 USD, and iOS (iPad) : $19.99 USD

Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is, undoubtedly, a very widely used writing platform. It is a classic, commercial word processor that is a part of the larger Microsoft Office suite. Since it's launch 40 years ago, it has been updated and developed over multiple courses. Microsoft Word was initially launched in 1983 by Microsoft, and has since been revised numerous times. It is compatible with both Windows and Apple operating systems.

The ability of users to copy and paste MS Word content into many other platforms without significant formatting loss is one reason the software has stayed so popular in the last two decades.

  • "WYSIWYG" : Word's "WYSIWYG" display has been a plus-point for users. Everything IS displayed on the screen, allowing you to view how exactly your work would look like when saved, exported, published, or printed.
  • Built-in dictionary : Built-in tools such as the dictionary, word and character count, spel-chec words are marked with a red squiggly underline.
  • Text features : Your text, that can be of multiple typefaces and sizes, can be formatted in multiple ways by underlining, italicizing and striking through.
  • Page features : You can easily format your pages by adding indentation, paragraphing and justification.
  • Export to almost any file type : Word is compatible with numerous file types, and you can create and export into file types such as doc, .docm, .docx, .htm, .html, .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .wps, .xps, .xml, and so on.
  • Templates : Similar to multiple other writing platforms, Word also provides numerous templates for writers to choose from. These templates can be used as guides and are very customizable as well.
  • Compact files : Initially, the documents produced on Word were large and tricky to store on devices. In 2007, Word's new DOCX format allowed for the files to be reduced in size and therefore much easier to create, edit, and store.
  • Collaborative tools : Word allows for multiple people to amend and update, and see these changes being made live, on a single document.
  • Multi-platform : Word is available on Microsoft Windows, Android, Apple macOS, and Apple iOS

Price : Between $70 and $100 every year for subscription access across devices (Microsoft 365 Family - $99.99 USD per year, Microsoft 365 Personal - $69.99 USD per year, prices for different Microsoft 365 Business programs such as Basic, Standard or Premium vary)


Another writing interface from Microsoft, OneNote is a digital note-taking app where writers can jot down notes, store research, make writing plans, overall consolidate information in one place. It has developed to be one of the world's most well-known note-taking platforms, and offers to advantages of the Microsoft ecosystem for it's users.

  • Notebooks and Differentiated sections : Every notebook is organized into different sections with pages and subpages. This gives you the freedom to choose how you want to go about arranging your notes.
  • Extensive menu : OneNote has a menu that boasts multiple tools, and resembles the toolbar on Word. You can add images, tables, links, and audio files that you can record in-app you can record and upload, amongst other things.
  • Extract text from images : As long as you have a relatively clear image, you can extract text from it and use it in your notes without hassle.
  • Multi-device and synchronization : OneNote is available on a range of devices; desktop, web, and mobile. You can sync your writing across these devices and operating systems and access your writing from anywhere.
  • Note-taking page : The note-taking pages on OneNote provide multiple tools that can aid your writing and planning processes. You can create to-do lists, highlight important information for your easy reference, and even set reminders for you to stay on task.
  • Text search : By pressing the "Ctrl" and "E" keys, you can open up a search panel to search your text for specific words.
  • Drawing and design tools ("Digital Ink") : If you are a visual planner, you can storyboard and draw using a stylus, add various media, and add tags on your research and information for any future reference.
  • Convert from written to digital : You can efficiently convert handwritten notes into text on OneNote.
  • Collaboration tools : One OneNote, you can share your notebook with other individuals and give them access and permission to edit the writing. Multiple people have the space to edit a single file simultaneously.
  • Multi-platform : OneNote is available on all operating system; Web, iOS, Mac, Windows, and Android.

Price : Free download, but 50GB of OneDrive storage - $23.88 USD annually


Evernote has been a popular writing interface for many, where tools are available to manage ideas, projects, create detailed to-do lists, write robust notes, store documents, keep images, or save clips from the Internet. Evernote enables you to consolidate all kinds of writing projects and tasks, big and small, in one place, but makes your work accessible to you from anywhere and anywhere at the same time.

Evernote offers the following tools :

  • Multi-device synchronization : Evernote assures security by saving and syncing your notes across multiple devices. You can access your work anytime and from anywhere. You can either hit the sync button manually, or even set a synchronization frequency on the app for automated and hassle-free saving.
  • Organizational features : Similar to OneNote, Evernote has a 3-tier organizational structure; note, notebook, and notebook stack. This gives you space to organize your notes in a detailed and customized manner.
  • Advanced Search : This search tool on Evernote allows you to find information or notes through any content they contain; be it words, numbers, dates, audio, or images.
  • Text formatting : You can format your text multiple ways: making it bold, underlining, choosing typefaces, highlighting text, adding checkboxes etc.
  • Internal note links : Internal note links enable you to create a link and connect a note to another note. By simply copying the internal link of a note and pasting it in another note, you would have created a hyperlinked title in that note for your use.
  • Staying on task : Evernote can be of help to writers by keeping them on task with tools to set due dates, flags, and reminders.
  • Collaboration tool : Similar to multiple other writing interfaces, Evernote allows you to share notes and notebooks with other people within the app, through a public link, or via email
  • Chat box : Evernote even allows users to communicate with others through the Work Chat. Even if the other party doesn't use Evernote, you can still send them messages and share your noted via Evernote with them.

Price : Free download, Premium - $5.98 USD a month, Professional - $7.78 USD a month, Teams- $17.00 USD per month

iA Writer

Created in 2011, iA Writer was designed to be an uncomplicated, straightforward writing interface that would put writing at the forefront for writers of all kinds. It is not packed with copious features and presents itself as a minimalistic platform for writing, justified by the need to encourage focus.

  • Focus mode : One of iA Writer's key features, focus mode blurs or blinds everything on your screen out, except for sentence or section that you are working on at any given point.
  • Auto-Markdown : This tool automatically formats your work as you move along. Apart from the need to learn a handful of characters, there is no need to manually click anything to format your writing. You focus and attention can stay on the keyboard, and on your writing instead.
  • Syntax Highlight : This tool reflects different parts of your writing in different colors; adjectives, verbs, highly repetitive words etc. This gives you a clearer and more structural view of your writing and the language you have used, and helps you identify errors and patterns much faster.
  • Custom fonts : Nitti, iA Writer Duo, and iA Writer Quattro.
  • Supports Markdown : Similar to JotterPad, iA Writer also supports Markdown and is user-friendly. With simple keys like "*" and "#", you can format and preview your text efficiently.

Price : Mac, iOS, Android, Windows - $29.99 USD


In the list of minimalist writing platforms, Ulysses clinches a spot as a distraction-free writing interface that writers from all fields can use. Released about 11 years ago, it has been recognized for its design and user-friendly interface

  • Designed for Apple : Ulysses has been developed for Apple users only; for the Mac, iPad, or iPhone. While this leaves Windows and Android users out, people who use the Apple ecosystem can greatly benefit from an app that's designed for the devices they are most used to. You can expect a specially crafted and frequently updated app.
  • Supports Markdown : Like iA Writer and JotterPad, Ulysses also supports Markdown; a simple and easy to maneuver formatting language that uses characters and hashtags. This takes the burden off of writers when it comes to heavy and tedious formatting by simplifying the formatting process to a few short, keyboard commands. Ulysses also offers an easy to learn cheat sheet in-app for new users,
  • Setting writing goals : You can set writing and progress goals on the app through a target word count that you would ideally like to reach at the end of your session.
  • Differentiated left and right sidebars : The left sidebars are used to navigate from one document to the next and manage the document library, while the right-hand sidebar allows you to maneuver different headings, images, notes, words in a single document
  • Typewriter mode : This tool focuses the sentences you are working on to remain in the center of of your screen, encouraging focus and a distraction-free writing experience.
  • Export and publish : From Ulysses, you can export your work to .docx, .pdf, or .md, and publish directly to WordPress, Ghost, and Medium.

Price : $4.99 USD per month for desktop, $49.99 USD per year for access on all devices

iOS Note

iOS Notes is a notetaking app that was created by Apple. It can be utilized on both the iOS and macOS operating systems, and the platform enables writers to create short text files.

  • Uncluttered : Users who are a fan of Apple's minimalist design would look forward to this platform's white writing space and the limited but essential writing tools. Most of the writing tools on iOS Note and arranged at the top of the screen.
  • Minimalist menu : On the left of your screen, you can find the all your folders, the contents of the selected folder to the right, and that being followed by the note.
  • iCloud synchronization : You can access your notes from this platform on any device; your Apple laptop, desktop computer, mobile or web browsers with the web version of iCloud.
  • Security : The two layers of security for iOS Notes; biometric, (Touch ID or Face ID on my iPhone), and the "lock" tool that requires a password. This data privacy ensures that your work will always stay private and secure if you choose for it to be so.
  • Minimal tools : You can add tables, simple checklists, and images to your work on iOS Notes; minimal, but arguably essential tools.
  • Sharing : Although it does have a robust security aspect, you can still choose to share your notes with anyone.

Overall Comparison

SoftwarePriceMulti-platformCloud SyncStrengthsDrawbacks
JotterPad$29.99 USD per year.Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Chromebook & Web.Google Drive, Drop Box, OneDrive, and iCloud available.Cross-platform and Cloud based, with an online web app. Serves writers of varied backgrounds at an affordable price.Collaborative tools are unavailable, but will be available in the future.
Scrivener$49 USD (macOS) and $45 USD (Windows).Compatible with iOS, Mac, and Windows.Cloud Sync service available to sync projects between devices.Adaptable for multiple kinds of writers and projects.Does not support Android, no web app available.
Microsoft WordBetween $70 and $100 every year for subscription access across devices.Compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Web.Cloud sync on OneDrive available.WYSIWYG Element, and the ability to export to the most types of formats.Tedious for novel formatting on mobile devices.
OneNoteCompatible with web, iOS, MacOS, Windows, Android.Cloud sync on OneDrive available.It is multi-platform and a good short note-taking app.Not suitable for longer writing works, book writing templates and formatting unavailable.
EvernoteFree download, premium versions start at $5.98 USD a month.Compatible with Web, MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android.Evernote Cloud sync.It is multi-platform and a good short note-taking app. However, there is a usage and storage limit.Not suitable for longer writing works, book writing templates and formatting unavailable.
iA Writer$29.99 USD for Mac, iOS, Android, Windows (desktop and mobile).Compatible with MacOS, iOS, Windows, and Android.iCloud, Google Drive, and DropBox available.Popular plain-text editor.Better for writers working on shorter works, not novels. Cannot differentiate chapters/sections and lacks a wide array of features because of the nature of the app.
Ulysses$49.99 USD per year.Compatible with MacOS and iOS.iCloud available.Supports Markdown and it is specially curated for Apple users, where you can expect constant updates.The downside of being created for Apple users only is Windows and Android users being ruled out.
iOS NoteFree on Apple devices.Compatible with Apple.iCloud available.Minimal, and user-friendly, no steep learning-curve.More apt for creating shorter text files instead of longer manuscripts, minimal tools that are not apt for planning or story-developing.

*Information is accurate as of May 2022

The various writing software offer different writing tools that might suit different writer to different extents. Some common tools we see across these interfaces include in-built dictionary and thesaurus functions, multi-format export functionalities, and cloud-sync features; pointing to the acknowledgment for the need for accessibility and the freedom to work on writing from anywhere and anytime.