Hi, this is my first post here so pleased to meet you all.
I got my first Mac for Christmas (yay! :smiley: ) and can finally use Scrivener (double yay! :smiley: :smiley: ). I’m looking into which word processor to use and came across a free programme called OpenOffice. It looks exactly like Word but at zero cost I can’t quite believe it’s as good. Do any of you use it, and what do you think?

It depends what you want it for. It isn’t 100% compatible with MS Word, so if you are moving documents between the two you may get some issues. These are mainly in formatting, such as laying out tables or positioning of graphics. Plain text with simple formatting is usually fine. You also have to be aware that if you want MS Office users to be able to read your documents then you must save them in an MS Office format, rather than the default Open Office format.

As a word processor in its own right, it is perfectly usable; I’ve knocked out hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles using Open Office with no issues whatsoever. Having said that I can’t comment on how well it works for longer documents - typically I am working to limits of 1,000 to 4,000 words.

I use OpenOffice/NeoOffice to regularly transfer documents with others who use MS Office, and over two years, no problems. We do not use complicated formatting, but style sheets seem alright. Occasionally tables have to be reformatted; a problem if you have a lot of them.

Actually I use Nisus Writer Pro for much of it now; it had been a work horse for me along with Mellel. Transferring .rtf files work fine.

Mellel (first choice) and Nisus Writer (second choice) are definitively better than Microsoft Word, and OpenOffice, also. Nisus is preferable if your principal aim is to exchange files with Word (for Windows or Mac). In this field, also OpenOffice works well, very well (nothwithstanding the caveats above mentioned relating to tables etc.). If you are working in academia, I think that the better choice is Mellel with Bookends (for bibliographic management), but very interesting (and totally free) is the combo OpenOffice with Zotero.
I suggest to download and try these free projects, because it is very important to support initiatives as such, but, in my opinion, the commercial apps (Mellel/Bookends) worth the money spent.

Welcome into the Mac World :smiley:

I agree with the previous poster that if you’re in Academia, Mellel used in tandem with (bibliographic managers) Bookends or Sente is the best choice. It takes a while to get used to Mellel’s way of handling styles, but as soon as “you get” what the application is all about, you have a very tight control over the styles and appearance of text while still maintaining a WYSIWYG interface. Some people prefer Bookends as their bibliographic manager, but I’d vote for Sente. In the end I think it’s a question of personal taste, so if academia is your area, give both apps a try.

For all other uses, including shorter writings, I use Pages (from iWork 09). Pages handles graphic layouts excellent, and letters, CVs etc look a lot more professional than when done in Word or OpenOffice/NeoOffice. Pages isn’t too happy about importing footnotes form Scrivener, but the stuff I send to Pages rarely has any footnotes at all anyway.

OpenOffice/NeoOffice is absolutely usable, and the price is hard to beat. :wink: But if you have already spent a fortune on getting a Mac, isn’t it a shame not to get the best software for it?

Sente is very good, indeed, with an astonishing taking note feature that lacks in Bookends. But if you are in literature and not in “hard science” field, Bookends is the only choice for you, because the lack of citing in footnotes in Sente. :cry:

Thanks very much for your detailed replies, I really appreciate it. I initially tried exporting my draft into OO and saving as a Rich Text File, which was fine until I tried sending it as an email attachment. When I tried opening in Word at the other end some of the formatting was disrupted. I’ve since heard this is a common problem. However it seems to work better saving as a Doc file, so problem solved.

I haven’t heard of these other programmes but I will certainly take a look. Thanks again. :slight_smile:

OpenOffice is slower, less polished, less capable, and a pain in the neck. That said, MS Office isn’t exactly Miss Congeniality either.

If you’re relying on Scrivener for your writing and only need an office environment for reviewing your exported files, it’s probably more than capable.

OpenOffice sucks rocks. (Word for Mac ain’t that great either.) I think Microsoft funds development of OpenOffice just so that people will run from it screaming for Word to rescue them.

I’ve played with the other word processors, and I keep returning to Word for the heavy lifting.

NeoOffice is the better OpenOffice. Only MS-Word itself is more compatible with its own file formats. If you do your actual writing elsewhere (Scrivener comes to mind) and need only an application to stay in tune with the MS-obsessed rest of the world, NeoOffice will do the job.

Are you sure? In version 5 as well as 6 footnote citations have worked just fine. I’m in the humanities myself, and have found that Sente has improved improved significantly in terms of generating citations and bibliography over the past few versions. Bookends bibliography format are, on the other hand, more solid, but Sente’s bibliography formats editor is easier and more logical to operate. Perhaps it’s time to give Sente’s newly released version 6 a go?

I guess this is getting a bit off topic. florestan, I really like the note-taking functions of Sente, but when I tried it, it seemed to have a few frustrating gaps: no unique IDs, so there are always ambiguous citations; no author suppression function (essential in MLA, which is the style I use along with Chicago footnotes); and in Chicago notes, the ibid. function works oddly (Ibid. 34 and Ibid. 34, rather than Ibid. 34 and then Ibid.) I also have the sense that their developers are also not as responsive as those of Bookends. OF course, these inconveniences might be completely worth their notes function, but let me know if I’m mistaken about Sente’s capabilities.