Free Tools For Freelance Writers: Word Processing

by Alicia Sparks on September 15, 2011

Back when I was your age, I walked 5 miles to work, in the pouring snow and barefoot and uphill both ways, JUST TO OPEN FILES BY HAND.

Hey freelancer!

Welcome to Day 1 of the 7-Day Mini Course, “Free Tools for Freelance Writers: Save BIG While Starting Your Writing Business.”

Today’s focus is on free tools for the word processing aspect of your freelance business. I mean, let’s face it: Unless you actually live beside a library and have the energy to walk over there every single time you need to type or open a document, you need your own word processing program.


…whether for a PC or a MAC, word processing programs can be pretty pricey.

Need proof?

The 2010 versions of Microsoft’s Office Home and Student, Office Home and Business, and Office Professional cost $149.99, $279.99, and $499.99, respectively.

For some, even $149.99 is a lot to pay for just getting started – especially when there are completely free and just-as-useful programs available.

The two free options I’ve used – and recommend – are Open Office and Google Docs.

Open Office

I love Open Office. This free software bundle provides tools for word processing, creating spreadsheets, and making PDF documents. Too, it’s compatible with commercial word processing programs. (For example, if a client sends you a Microsoft Word document created with the 2010 version, your 2000 version won’t open it but your Open Office software, will.)

Even if you have an older version of a word processor (say…Microsoft Word 2003 or something), having the capabilities Open Office provides will allow you to open documents from clients who have the newest super fancy-schmancy versions (and save you the embarrassment of having to ask them to send it in another version, please…).

Google Docs

Similar to Open Office, Google Docs allows you to create word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and other products for free; however, all you need to use Google Docs is a Google account. There’s no download involved like there is with Open Office.

Plus, Google Docs allows you to access your documents from any computer with Internet access as well as take advantage of real-time collaboration with employers, clients, and other freelance or contract team members.

Need Both?

For these, I say yes, get both. Open Office is a free download and Google Docs just requires a Google account, so, no major commitment.

What Now?

Spend some time today or tonight checking out Open Office and Google Docs. Start your download, or set up your account, and then play around with all the things you can do – for free!

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