What software should I use to write my book?

There is a myriad of programs out there for writing books, and they all offer different features and benefits. Unfortunately, though, the downside is they often don’t deliver the complete functionality you might expect. They might allow you to write, but lack formatting and proofing functions, or they may not be easily exported or used in other programs. Some programs are only available on Apple devices (Pages), and some require you to sign-up to access them (Google Docs). There are also plenty of writing-specific programs such as Scrivener—ideal for fiction manuscripts, and Tex and LaTex—for technical manuscripts.

If you need to utilise lots of diagrams, charts, and tables, there are programs such as Visio, Lucidchart, and SmartDraw. Documents from these programs can be saved as PDFs. We can edit PDF documents using the comments feature, but we prefer to use Microsoft Word’s track changes feature. Marking up a PDF is usually done only for proofreading, checking layout files and theses that are created in software we do not have.

It is not ideal to have to edit a manuscript in PDF format if lots of rewriting or rearranging of sentences and paragraphs is required. If you are writing a primarily text fiction or non-fiction based book, you can’t go past Microsoft® Word™ (Word). As book editors who have worked on hundreds of manuscripts, we believe there is no program more compatible, versatile, reliable, and user-friendly than Word.

The program provides templates for you to build your book, such as the ‘story manuscript template’. Word can make suggestions about spelling, grammar and punctuation and is especially powerful if you add a plugin like Grammarly. It is easy to use Microsoft Word to get your formatting and referencing done in an efficient and consistent manner that will be ready for book layout. You can also insert tables, illustrations, hyperlinks, and media into Word documents; and save styles, templates and preferences to increase efficiencies as you write.

We recommend Word because of our extensive experience using it to edit books. We utilise the ‘track changes’ function, within the ‘review’ tab to provide comments and suggestions, and to make changes and corrections when we complete our editing services. This function, allows the writer to review the document with the proposed changes and determine whether they want to accept or reject each change. The changes and corrections are only made permanent in the document when the writer accepts the changes.

Finally, we recommend Word because it’s compatible with both Apple and PC products and because you can easily export and convert content into other programs later in the publishing process, such as Adobe InDesign, our preferred method of designing books for print.

If you are considering using something other than Word, please advise PMBO what software you intend to use, so we can determine if we can complete the service you require and quote you accurately.

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