Software Programs and the Writing Process


This page describes and provides links to information on software programs that can be used at various stages of the writing process. Many of these programs are shareware; some are commonly-used applications with helpful but underused features.

Notes and Outlines

Program:

Inspiration pick

OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
evaluation version: free
registered version: $73.00 (student price)
Order from:
http://www.inspiration.com/freetrial/
Suggested
Uses:
This brainstorming and outlining tool helps users create "Mind Maps," which are non-linear cluster diagrams. Particularly useful for students who dislike the rigidity of hierarchical outlining and for those who have a more visually oriented learning style.

Program:
MindManager pick
OS:
Windows
Price:
evaluation version: free
registered version: $99
Order from:
http://www.mindjet.com
Suggested
Uses:
Another good choice for a mind mapping program.

Program:
PowerPoint
OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
Approx. $159 as part of the Microsoft Office suite (student price)
Order from:
I recommend that you purchase a boxed version at your university bookstore or another authorized academic reseller.
Suggested
Uses:
While PowerPoint is known primarily as presentation software, it can also be a powerful outlining tool. Organizing information in slides can help students to boil their ideas down to a few key points, resulting in improved organization and focus.

Program:
TimeLiner
OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
evaluation version: free
registered version: $79.95
Order from:
https://www.tomsnyder.com/products/basket.asp
Suggested
Uses:
Lets students create and print timelines in various formats. Great for those writing history papers or other essays in which chronological sequences of events might be important. Also good for students who are preparing for comprehensive examinations.

Drafting and Revising

Program:
CommonSpace pick
OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
registered version: $29.95 (student price)
Order from:

No longer downloadable. To purchase, contact Dan Swanson by phone at (617) 351-5764 or by email at dan_swanson@hmco.com

Suggested
Uses:
CommonSpace encourages collaborative writing by splitting windows into multiple columns. Annotations appear in a column (or columns) next to an essay, and can include links to other documents or web sites. Fabulous tool for sharing drafts in writing groups or for commenting on student papers.

Program:
DeskNotes pick
OS:
Windows
Price:
evaluation version: free
registered version: $24.95
Order
from:
http://www.mindspring.com/%7Etmastran/
Suggested
Uses:
A program that lets users create electronic "sticky notes." Particularly helpful for those writers who like to keep ideas or short notes separate from their drafts.

Program:
Essay Punch and Paragraph Punch
OS:
Windows
Price:
"home" version: $29
Order from:

http://www.meritsoftware.com/software/

Suggested
Uses:
These programs prompt users with questions appropriate to various stages of the writing process. The "answers" to the program's tutorials become the building blocks of a student paper. Great for students who want to learn more about the writing process or for instructors teaching composition in high school or community college settings. However, there is a catch: the programs list a limited number of preformulated topics, so users have fewer choices in the topic generation stage.

Program:
Post-It Software Notes
OS:
Windows
Price:
"lite" version: free
standard version: $19.95
Order from:
http://www1.3m.com/postit/com_prod/psnotes/
Suggested
Uses:
The "lite" version of this program lets users create notes with pictures and hyperlinks, stick notes on their computer desktops, add alarms to notes as reminders, print notes, send and receive notes via Internet Mail, and attach notes to documents, such as Microsoft Word files. The standard version provides more options for printing, organizing, and sharing notes.

Program:
Word - Comment Function pick
OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
Approx. $159 as part of the Microsoft Office suite (student price)
Order from:
I recommend that you purchase a boxed version at your university bookstore or another authorized academic reseller.
Suggested
Uses:
Word's Comment Function lets users attach notes to specific portions of a document (view an example). Since Word is such a widely-used program, this function provides an easy way for students working on collaborative projects to exchange notes on drafts, for peer reading groups to share comments, or for instructors and tutors to give feedback on student writing.

Program:
Writer's Software Companion
OS:
Windows
Price:
evaluation version: free
registered version: $79.95
Order from:
NovaLearn's download page
Suggested
Uses:
An excellent tool for creative writers. Helps writers develop appropriate tone and approach, and facilitates familiarization with various generic conventions.


References and Documentation

Program:
EndNote pick
OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
evaluation version: free
full version: 109.95 (student price)
Order from:
http://www.endnote.com/endemo.asp
Suggested
Uses:
EndNote helps writers keep track of references and generate citations, but also lets users download search results directly into a database (not all libraries support this function, but Honnold does). Saves a great deal of time that otherwise would have been spent entering data!

Program:

ProCite

OS:
Windows/Mac
Price:
evaluation version: free
full version: $275.95
Order from:
http://www.procite.com/pcdemo.asp
Suggested
Uses:
Includes some powerful features, such as the ability to download electronic search results directly into the database and the ability to connect directly to full-text online articles. However, these perks might not be worth the extra money.

Program:

Scholar's Aid pick

OS:
Windows
Price:
"lite" version: free
full registered version: $74 (after student discount)
Order from:
http://www.scholarsaid.com/down.html
Suggested
Uses:
A quality reference database and citation generator.

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