- Why Choosing Software Carefully Is Important
- How To Choose The Best Software For Your Computer?
- The Function: The Universal Basic Features Of Word Processing Software
- What Are The Most Popular Software Programs?
- How To Choose The Best Apps For Your Computer?
- Your Feeling: What Do You Want To Use It For? And How Do You Want To Work?
IT for beginners is everywhere these days, all you need to know is which software to download or which website to visit, and you will be guided with tooltips through the software, app or website. Some pieces of software even give you a virtual tour of your software so that you can feel as though you at least know how to manoeuvre to achieve the basics.
Wanting some advice on where to start?
Why Choosing Software Carefully Is Important
Once you have had a look through the piles of software options how do you make the choice about which software is for you? It can easily be overwhelming and leave you feeling like either not making a choice or just choosing the first pc software within reach rather than what is best for you.
However, there are 2 points to consider; one is the cost of the software and the other is how intuitive you find it. There is no point in using free software if you aren't productive when using it whereas you don't want to pay to use something if you don't along with it either. But, remember, you don't have to limit yourself to just one word processor. Sometimes different tasks require different tools, even if the basic function is word processing.
For example, I use three word-processing softwares; MS word, MS OneNote and Google Docs. Each serves a different purpose for me depending on what it is that I want to do.
So as you see, pushing yourself to pick just one piece of software may not be the answer. Eventually, you could end up selecting software based on the things you like about it and how it fits into your lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some ideas of how you can choose the best software for you.
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How To Choose The Best Software For Your Computer?
When looking around at software you should, before even paying too much attention to the features, first:
- Consider compatible programs
Firstly, check that any word processor you are even thinking about buying is actually capable of running on your computer (consider age, operating system and so on). Secondly, if you require more sophisticated use of the product than just working from your home PC (i.e. you need to travel and work, using it on other devices), then a word processor that allows you to use the same files at home and at work is a must. Most advanced word processors allow you to store files in the cloud and have web or app versions of the software to download on other devices.
- Think about the type of work you do
Think about the kind of writing work you do (i.e. how much, how often, how basic or complicated the formatting is, etc...). For instance, if your writing is mainly web-based (i.e. you type content into WordPress or another online portal) or you simply need to type up letters for communication, then a simple tool will suffice whereas if you produce detailed reports with various pages and styles, you might prefer a more powerful, tool with more advanced features. More on features below.
- Set out your budget
If you don't have the money to pay for Microsoft subscriptions, which are undoubtedly the most common packages including a word processor, then rule that out instantly. Don't worry, though, there are many others on the market for a fraction of the cost or even free of charge. The following word processors are free to download and use: Google Docs, OpenOffice Writer, AbiWord, WordGraph, LibreOffice Writer, WPS Office Free, and Dropbox Paper. Obviously, you should research each one and look at tutorials or screenshots of the software in use to decide if any of these are suitable.
The Function: The Universal Basic Features Of Word Processing Software
When you are looking at the practical side of your decision-making process, you should try to be realistic. For example, if you have issues remembering to save then you need a program with autosave functionality, if the spelling is your weakness then you will need a tool that has a good spell checker, If you can’t type due to a disability, then you must ensure that your software has accessibility options. No matter what, especially before investing in new software make sure it covers your needs. Knowing what it is that you need and what it is that you want to use the software for can go a long way in helping you to fine-tune your selection.
Most software has the following features:
- Create text documents such as writing letters, reports, documents and articles with visual layouts.
- Live note taking such as taking notes during meetings or conferences,
- Multimedia presentations for seminars, visual presentations.or talks, using pictures, links, layout and text formatting.
These functions are relatively basic PC software standards but meet the needs of most users. However, depending on your level of PC skills, you may have additional requirements or fewer requirements. For example, to get started with word processing as a beginner on the computer you don’t really need to invest in expensive software as free software will meet all of your needs. You do not even need to have the latest version of MS Word.
But of course, your needs are only part of the story when selecting the best software as your preference actually makes up a huge part of your decision.
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What Are The Most Popular Software Programs?
So, what are the most popular software programs, how do they work and do I need to pay for them?
When choosing my software, I decided to buy the Microsoft office suite which also came with MS OneNote bundled in. It wasn’t cheap, but it was the software that I prefer to use, more importantly, it was software that allowed me to be extremely productive.
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MS Word (Paid)
Microsoft Word is the grandfather of all word processing applications. Additionally, it is the industry standard for word processing software in offices around the world. From the post office to the government, from the train station office to the bank. It has a stable infrastructure which has an intuitive menu which allows you to find things quickly, optimise for no distraction working, or collaborate with your team via the cloud.
The benefit of MS word is that it is suitable for everyone, it is feature rich, but those features don't have to be used. You can choose to create simple or complex documents learning the basics as you go. The downside is that while there is an integrated spell checker, it is not the best. But (another upside) because you can personalise your software with add ons. A tool like Grammarly integrates well. Which allows you to have software that will gently lead you into the word processing world and grown with you as you gain confidence and skills in your document creation.
MS Word is great for:
- Creating official or professional documents or letters
- Writing long-form content like blog posts or books
- Creating PDF documents
- Opening files from other software
- Formatting and editing
- Using templates
Key features of MS Word:
- Type and format text
- Open, edit, save and print a document
- Open documents from other software
- Cloud support and collaborative options
- Available for all operating systems
Other Software Like MS Word:
- Libre Office (Free, open source)
- Open Office (Free, open source)
- Pages (Free, Mac only)
- Google Docs (Free)
- WPS Office (Free, open source)
OneNote is an epic virtual notebook that I use more than any other office software. You can paste a picture into it from all over the web, print documents to it, create reports, write! No not type actually write (if your laptop has a touch screen) on it and use it as an actual handwritten notebook. You can open new notebooks which organise your content into themes.
Within your notebooks you create sections, and within your notebook's sections, you have pages. Each which help you further organises. The benefit of OneNote is that you can use it anywhere, online, offline, on your pc, on your tablet, your phone, on your friend's laptop. As long as you can log into your account which you can save in the cloud if you require multi-location access. OneNote also autosaves your work so you literally never lose anything. The only downside can be if you forget your log in and for some reason can’t log back into the software.
OneNote is great for:
- Creative text document creation
- Research and collating information
- Note taking
- Organising content
Key features of OneNote:
- Type and format text
- Open, edit, save as new file type and print notebooks, sections and pages
- Open multiple windows
- Cloud support and collaborative options
- Preview sections and pages
- Screen printing, web page clipping
- Auto reference inserted content
- Handwriting and drawing features
- Use on any device via Software and App
Other Software Like OneNote:
- EverNote (Limited free account, Paid premium account)
- Google Keep (Free)
- Laverna (Free, Open source)
The good thing about free software is that it is free and in many cases almost as good as or equally as good as its free alternatives. Paid software is good if you have specific requirements or if you need to use specific software. Also Paid software is likely to be maintained and actively developed. The decision here comes down you your wallet.
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How To Choose The Best Apps For Your Computer?
Note that when you pay for a program from Microsoft, that licence is also valid for the web version or apps. That said, your reason for using a app version might not be the same as your reason for using the word processor on the PC or Mac. For instance, does part of your work require you to write content for social media channels? If so, you might want a space for you to type out the outline of your post, with free reigns to edit and format before uploading the final text? The same basic principles apply as when you chose your word processor: is it compatible with your phone or tablet, what do you intend to use it for and how much does it cost?
Below are some of the most common apps used for word processing:
- Google Docs (free)
Fully integrated with Google Drive, this app offers various tools and features such as insert tables, charts, images and, what's more, it is compatible with Microsoft Word. Can be used offline.
- Zoho Writer (free)
This is a word processing app that lets you create, format and add images, tables, and more to documents. A web version is available so you can carry on working offline.
- WPS Office (free)
This software app integrates with Microsoft Office apps as well as Google Docs and Adobe PDF formats. With this, you can write, edit, and save files whilst also sending and receiving documents as attachments.
Notebooks (a paid piece of software) replaces several apps on your mobile device, with document creation and formatting at its core, but then allowing you to do lots of other things that some word processors can't offer you.
Your Feeling: What Do You Want To Use It For? And How Do You Want To Work?
Whether you want to do some Note taking, Write letters, manage collaborations online or offline, Write a blog or Write a book. You will be using word processing software. But the great thing is that you have lots of options and your final choice doesn't have to be one piece of software that does it all.
If you choose to you can pick one software platform to serve all of your needs. Or you can pick different software to suit each of the requirements that you have. Software to make professional documents, software for note taking, software for writing your book, You word processing is up to you, and you can be as creative about it as you want to be.
Maybe you will open MS Word and hate the layout and prefer Libre Office instead, Perhaps you want always to be connected to your documents over many devices, so you might choose Google Docs and install the app on your phone.
The feeling you have when you try the software is not something that you can be told about it is something you will know once you have tried the software.
In the end, the final decision about the software that you choose will not be down to the research that you do about it. But it will come from downloading, trying, liking it and deciding to integrate it into the software on your PC. Whatever you choose, happy typing and don’t forget to press save!