Open Office for Freelancers

by tpaajanen

Open Office is a great (and free) alternative to the big names in office software, like Microsoft Word. It's fully-featured and is a great tool for freelance writers.

If you're like most freelance writers, you spend a lot of time typing. So having a good-quality and easy-to-use word processor is absolutely vital. Well, not completely vital. If you work directly online into a CMS than you don't need a word processor of your own. But let's not think about that for the moment.

The most popular word processor these days, or at least the most well-known one is Microsoft Word. Not only is a full-featured software suite, it's popularity means that most clients will also have it. Needless to say, you want to submit your work in a file format that your customers can actually use.

A screenshot of Open Office Writer in action
A screenshot of Open Office Writer in...

Personally, I don't like dealing with such huge monopolizing corporations and I find that programs like word are really large in terms of memory usage. So last time I was in the market for some new software, I didn't immediately jump back on the Word wagon. I ended up with Open Office and haven't looked back.

Open Office is an open-source freeware program that has all the main features that Microsoft Office has, and you can download the entire package at no cost. Their word processor is called Writer, and I use it exclusively in my freelance work. I can save all my files in a .doc format which makes them nicely compatible with all my clients. The package also includes OO's version of a spreadsheet, presentation package and drawing software. Basically, all the facets that come in MS Office.

And yes, it's really free. It's not some limited-functioning trial version either. It's simply a free program.

The interface is much like the older versions of Word, which I much prefer to the more current one. In any case, it's very easy to use and the functions are all very similar. It has several sophisticated tools built-in, like the PDF export and an entire collection of editing and track changes tools. Automatic tables of contents, photo insertion and spelling checks are all there too.

So if you want to get away from using Word for everything, I recommend going for the latest version of Open Office. Even if you only want the word processor, you might find that you get a lot of use out of the entire suite.

And in case you're wondering, I haven't been paid to write this up. I'm just a satisfied customer.

Updated: 04/08/2013, tpaajanen
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Guest on 04/08/2013

There's a version of Open Office, NeoOffice, designed specifically for the Mac, even though Open Office does work fine with Macs. I'm not sure I've seen any real differences, but Neo Office is generally recommended for Mac users.

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