What do you use for layout/word processing?

Good morning Good People!

I’m always impressed with the experience and knowledge of the posters here. I was hoping someone might be able to advise me.

I’ve been looking around for alternatives to Word (anything to avoid actually writing, eh? :laughing:)

So far I’ve narrowed it down to Mellel. Apples Pages looks interesting but I can’t find a demo. (I’ve also looked at Nisus, Papyrus, Swift - but for various reasons was disatisfied with each of those.) I would use it mainly for formatting fairly large (75-100 pp) poetry manuscripts. (For playwriting I use Final Draft and I’m hoping to move to Montage; and for 3,000-5,000 word articles I still use Word because it’s so widely accepted, and formatting isn’t much of an issue.)

Is there anything else I should look at? What do you use? And why?

literatureandlatte.com/forum … .php?t=419

Thanks - woops, i guess I missed that thread. I’ll spend some more time with Papyrus and see if that works for me.

Do you have any experience with Pages?

I’ve been trying out Papyrus and there’s much to like about it. But it’s rather primitive outlining pane really won’t do for the way I work. I’m afraid Mellel has quite spoiled me in regard to managing large projects. I’m constantly moving things around via the outline pane. It’s a powerful tool. I don’t find Papyrus to all that much more intuitive in setting up styles either. I guess I’ve gotten used to Mellel’s rather convoluted methods. That’s the major complaint I have about Mellel–others seem to have that issue with it as well–it can be hard to figure out how to do even some simple things, like adding page numbers to footers, etc. And since I don’t use it all that often (since I use Scr. for most things), I have a tendency to set it up once, then work on my large project, then forget for the next one.

I would welcome more on why Papyrus is a better option than Mellel, if folks think it is. This is the one ‘weak’ spot in my workflow. I’m not totally sold on Mellel, but haven’t seen anything better as yet. Mellel also may continue to develop into a program I could truly embrace. And for the little I’ll likely be using any word processor once my dissertation is complete, it may be moot!!


Hey Alexandria, this is exactly it. I don’t have a lot of time to fool around with, say, trying to set up a simple TOC when I’m rushing to get something out (of course, always last minute!) As you say, Mellel does seem overly convoluted in this regard, as does papyrus. Maybe I just need to spend more time with them, particularly Papyrus. I’ll let you know how it goes. Pages 2 might work for me, but I can’t seem to find a demo. Cheers!

I tried Papyrus for about 30 seconds. It is an interface disaster, man. I don’t even feel bad about ditching it; everything felt terrible. Cocoa it is not, I tell you this.

As for setting up Styles, I actually quite like Nisus Writer’s support of that. Very intuitive, to my understanding: set your styles up by going to the Styles mode. Use the formatting drawer just as you would with regular text. Then, simply apply any style you like to any part of the document and they will reflect later changes you make. When it comes to word processors, I have absolutely no complaints with Nisus writer.

Yes, it’s quite nice in some ways; I was a little put off by the lack of TOC generation though. That’s something I truly need. I hear it’s in the works at Nisus though.

@ cruxdestruct: I really think Papyrus deserves more than 30 seconds of your time.

Nisus has some very strong points: open file format (RTF), good UI, good (= simple, understandable) styles management. But it still misses some features which for many will be fundamental. Katzenjammer mentioned the lack of TOC generation. I regret first and for all the lack of outlining. Yet Nisus, even as it is now, together with Mellel and Papyrus for me is the only wordprocessor for the Mac really worth considering.

Yeah, weird. I have an old demo on CD but I too couldn’t find one anywhere else. It’s a neat program if you want to do a lot with graphics, but it also lacks robust outlining capabilities, the kind Mellel offers, which is what I find I can’t do without since using it.

I don’t think Papyrus is the word processor I’m looking for either. :frowning: But I’m open to possibilities, if anyone comes across something that looks inviting. Like a new version of Nisus, etc., that offers the level of outlining and multiple note streaming, etc., Mellel gives me, but is much easier to use!


I definitely think the race is on between Mellel and Nisus at the moment. I sort of prefer the cleanness of Mellel and I like the outlining feature, but on the other hand, the programmers at Nisus are very helpful to other programmers and very active on the Cocoa-dev lists, it does feel robust, and many Mac users swear that the old (OS 9) Nisus Writer was the best word processor ever created - and the programmers seeing to catch up with themselves to get the Cocoa NWE as good as that one eventually. Either way, I own both, but I end up doing most of my word processing stuff in Word out of habit. :frowning:

I almost hate to admit that I use Word for formatting, final polishing, and text submissions. It’s the default choice throughout publishing, at least in the U.S. It’s kind of hard to get by without it, although it’s also kind of hard to actually write with it.

If only Mellel had the style management and the ease of use Nisus has …
If only Nisus had the outlining, the TOC and the multiple notestreams Mellel has …

Sooner or later, Nisus will undoubtedly have outlining and TOC, and perhaps also multiple notestreams. But will Mellel ever have a style management that’s as simple and effective as Nisus’? I hope so, but I doubt it.

The latest Nisus version (2.7) now has a full screen mode, but I haven’t found a way to create blank or toned down margins, to avoid having a literally ‘full screen’ with a column width of 327 characters! :open_mouth:


Ahab, I agree on both counts. Many of the Word alternatives, however, allow you to export into Word just before submission; I’ve just done so with Pages for a piece I sent off today, and it worked beautifully. So we still need the Great While Whale (Word), but only marginally.

I really like pages for Post-scrivener work - by this stage in a project, all I need is a good text layout program. And though I’ve only been using it for a day, I’ve found Pages to be a dream in this regard. Much better than word. Nicer to work in. Doesn’t even need a manual, it’s so intuitive.

Timotheus, just contacted someone at Nisus: they say the next update will include TOC among many other things sorely needed.

So true, Joey. They’ve gotten so many complaints about this, the next version will no doubt include a more configurable full screen mode. It’s useless, as is.

Hey Alexandria, yeah I’m surprised Apple doesn’t make more of an effort here - I mean, shouldn’t they have it up for demo download? I finally found it, though. Came with my Tiger OS. :blush:

For me, I’m just looking for a text layout, post-scrivvy program - so I don’t need much else than what Pages offers. I’ve been fooling around with it and kinda like it. At least so far. :slight_smile:

Yeah, I like Pages. But it just doesn’t do what I need it to, so I don’t have much use for it. I wish I did, though. I think it’s kind of neat! :slight_smile:

All this discussion of layout apps kind of does require a simple: ‘LaTeX?’

The average user (myself included) knows little of LaTeX. Most people use .doc and .rtf formats and therefore use rich text formats - for better or worse. Admittedly, this precedent has really been set by Windows, but then we live in a world where Windows has 90% (95%?) market share. Word and other such word processors are what people are used to and I really doubt that LaTeX will ever change that - even though I am implementing MMD and LaTeX support as we speak. :slight_smile: But then, I am introducing it for those who wish to create mathematical and academic documents or who just really like LaTeX etc - not for myself. To be honest, I really see no advantage in LaTeX and high-quality PDF documents created from it over rich text documents - for the stuff I write, at least. I know some people (hello AmberV and Fletcher!) are very passionate about LaTeX, but for me, having to install MacTex and then generate documents through mark up syntax as opposed to just getting a rough idea of what it looks like in my editor is a bit of a pain.
All the best,

Even if someone like me learned how to use LaTeX, what advantages does it offer for formatting text manuscripts?