by C.K. MacLeod
Are you unhappy that Microsoft Word 2013 is available only through subscription? Consider this alternative: WPS Writer* (formerly Kingsoft Office).
A New Tool for Editing?
Until now, Microsoft Word has been the best tool for editing, but I'd like to suggest that WPS Writer is a close contender. The lite version is free and loaded with features, and it's part of an office suite that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, and presentation software (also free). The Office Suite Pro version is reasonably priced at $69.95 USD, and it has some additional features—including the ability to run macros—that you'll want for your self-editing toolkit.
If you're happy to forego using macros in your writing process, the lite version will provide you with most of the writing and self-editing features you'll need. Don't hold out on macros for too long, though. Macros can help you to pinpoint difficulties in your writing, so you can fix them.
WPS Writer is also available for iOS and Android tablets (free)—for authors who like to edit on-the-go. If you use Dropbox to store your files, moving back and forth between the desktop app and the tablet app is relatively seamless.
WPS Writer and Word: A Comparison
Below is a table that compares Word 2010—the last non-subscription version of Word—with WPS Writer. I've listed all of the features typically used by authors and editors. If I've missed a feature, be sure to let me know in the comments below.
Note: The table was created in WPS Writer using Table tools.
WPS Writer also comes with a comprehensive user manual. Pretty impressive, huh? So if you haven't been one of the lucky editor-sorts to scoop up one of the remaining copies of Word 2010, WPS Writer may well be worth a look.
A special thank you to Adam Santo for inspiring me to look into this software further.
*For those who are curious: WPS stands for Writer, Presentation, and Spreadsheets—the three components of WPS Office.
Are you a technical writer? Check out Ferry Vermeulen's technical writing tools picks in Technical Writing Tools: The Ultimate Choice of 83 Experts.
Image by Harald Hoyer