Which WP software? Mellel or NWP

With software being updated so often it is probably valid to pose the question which WP software should I buy? I have trial versions of both Mellel and NWP and would be interested in opinions on the strengths of each.


I can only speak for Mellel, since the last time I used (consistently) NWP, it was still on beta and very unstable.

I like Mellel. It’s a very solid application and very stable (it never ever crashed on me). The capabilities are wide and very useful, specially the TOC features and the bibliographic references (either with Sente, the app I use, or with Bookends, that some other folks prefer). It’s great for scientific articles and dissertations, mostly what I do.

For me, the unique cons are related with:

  1. A non-intuitive way of working. Meaning: there’s a learning curve that I always wished was smaller. In fact, every time I try to do something I haven’t done before, I have to dig out the Help and FAQ files (that are quite good) and search for it.

  2. The terrible Table features. Making tables in Mellel is a pain! Specially if they are not simple. That alone is making me rethink having Mellel as my main WP. I’m working around it by making tables elsewhere (Excel, mostly) and importing them as images to Mellel. (The images work quite well in Mellel, btw.)

  3. The looks. I’m not that pleased with the way Mellel looks. But, well, that’s only the cover, right?!

Nonetheless, I still prefer it to Word (although I’m curious about the Word 2008) and its stability is a must. You can be sure nothing gets lost in Mellel. :slight_smile:

PS. Let us know what you decided and why. Maybe we can learn something new. :slight_smile:

If you want more in-depth information you will find many references on various Scrivener threads. Just put the words ‘mellel’ and ‘nisus’ into the search function at the top of this page.


I’m not sure if it’s bad form to link to one’s own posts, but I think I’m the source of the most recent (though probably not the most cogent) commentary on the subject.

Here’s the link to the forum post

I’ve used nigh everything, so feel free to drop my a PM if you have any specific questions.


Thanks all your comments. I like both Mellel and NWP but I am leaning towards NWP as it does cross references and I think that I may find a use for the scripts and grep searchs sometime in the future. Mellel is cheaper and has a great paragraph numbering scheme. However, my documents often contain tables and Mellel tables are reported as being poor so it seems that NWP is winning.

I think Pages is very pretty but it does not do the numbering that I require (legal without a final point) without some XML style sheet editing.

I like both programs, but I have to say that one of the main developers of Nisus, Martin, is an example of a great Mac developer. He is very responsive to users and helps out other developers - I can’t count the times he has helped me out with sticky bits of code in the text system. Mellel’s developers may be just as nice, but I’ve never had any dealings with them, so I tend to recommend Nisus just on the basis of their dev team!

Never tried NWP. Used Mellel for about a year and loved loved loved its outlining capabilities, text rendering, footnoting, and a bunch of other nice touches. But in the end the interface proved just too confusing and frustrating for me. Others (perhaps not so conditioned by Word’s way of doing things, which is the only other word processor I’d used up till then) seem to really like it. I’d certainly recommend it to any academic writers who deal with extensive footnotes and references. Really, you should give the demo a try (and RTFM) and see how well it works for you. I haven’t used it in over a year so it could well have improved by now.

For me, once OmniOutliner was bundled on my new PowerBook, and then Scrivener came along and particularly after its annotation and footnoting features developed, Mellel became unnecessary. When I did need quick word processing, I’d go with TextEdit, iText Express and now Bean, which pretty much has everything I need, although I wouldn’t complain if the developer added basic outlining and footnoting capabilities. But then what I write seldom requires much if any formatting, so YMMV.

If I were looking for a real WP now, I’d certainly give Pages a go, especially now that it has a comments feature. For me, now that Scrivener has the organizational end of things well taken care of, simplicity, ease of use and interface elegance trump feature proliferation (e.g. Word, Mellel). But of course other writers will have different needs. Please do let us know what you find after trying the various options.

For ‘heavy’ academic writing (by which I mean writing of very long and complex documents, with many footnotes etc. etc.) Mellel is the only option. It is stable as a rock, it has superb outlining capabilites, and it can easily handle a book of many hundreds of pages as a single document. Try to do the same with NWP and you’ll see that it becomes very, very slow. And NWP lacks the superb outlining Mellel has.

Pages looks nice, certainly, but is no real option for academic writing. To give just one example: the newest version of Pages isn’t even capable of splitting a long footnote between two pages. Strange but true. Pages wasn’t designed (and will never be designed) for the purpose of academic writing.

So all depends on what kind of writer you are. For the ‘average’ writer both Pages and NWP will do well: between the two, I think I would prefer NWP, which has more options and is more versatile than Pages.

But for ‘heavy’ writing as defined above, Mellel certainly is the best option. It has its clear downsides, yes, both in terms of userfriendliness and in terms of lacking features; yet for a certain kind of writing it is an invaluable tool.

Timotheus, you mention speed of operation which is one of my complaints against pages on a G4 iBook. At approximately what point does NWP get slow e.g. tens, hundreds or thousands of pages. I have some large documents that I might wish to edit, they are presently split across several word files as word crashes with large documents.


Have you tried the latest betas? While NWP was indeed very slow before the official release (and maybe with the first official release?), the latest versions have been as fast as Mellel, if not more. Opening long documents in foreign formats takes a bit, but then everything flies.

I don’t see how NWP can be compared with Pages, since it is clearly targeted to ‘heavy’ writers, exactly as Mellel.


It handles long documents

It handles footnotes

It handles endnotes

Now under X-11 it is NOT as stable as on a windows or Linux environment

But it is free

Oh and I’d stay away from the MAC version… way, waaaayyyyy too beta and unstable and I could not find silly things like oh, footnotes, index or endnotes.

Oh and I have used it with fairly complex documents across now three platforms… and it does play well with office… except Office XP.

@ Paolo: some months ago I thorougly tested NWP 1.0, and then decided not to buy it, for two important reasons:

  • with long documents with many footnotes it was very, very slow;
  • the new features which made the difference between NWE and NWP (Indexing, Bookmarks, Cross-references, Table of Contents etc.) revealed themselves in many ways immature.

But I didn’t try the recent beta-versions; and I’m glad to hear that NWP has at least gained in speed.

I switched to Mellel from Nisus some years ago when Nisus began treating customers in a rather odd fashion with the arrival of OS X. One could never quite learn what program (Express, or the fabled but unseen Pro), or what version, might work. Upgrade fees were collected but what was sent out was rather meager.

The folks at Mellel have always (IMHO) treated users with great respect and fairness.

That said, unless I really need some bit of Mellel, I just use Bean or BBEdit. :smiley:

I have just tried Abiword which came with OpenOfficeX.

One comment - yuk!

I would love to see the results of a test from you. NWP and Mellel have diffeent ways of slowing down. Here, for example, on the same (~400 page) document with the same footnotes, Mellel is way faster with page scrolling, while sensibly slower when entering new text. I wonder how they act with different documents.


Hi all,

I have decided to go for Mellel. The main reasons are ones of stability. I had a document that required a tidy up that involved searching for line feeds and spaces and replacing them with text line feeds tabs and spaces. Both WPs offer the ability to complete the task but unfortunately NWP crashed whereas Mellel completed the task without a problem. I also had a problem with the legal paragraph numbering system I wish to use as the present version of NWP has a bug which prevents the last point from being removed. So based on these two very unscientific tests its 2 nil to Mellel.

thanks to all


Did you file a bug report - probably with the file concerned? If they can reproduce the bug, Martin and the Nisus people are very responsive to sorting them out. Even if you are going to use Mellel, it might help the rest of us…


I have not reported the bug yet, but I will do.

Nisus bug report was posted and fixed in the latest release. I was sent an email from the developer 10 minutes before I was going to purchase Mellel, so I’m now giving Nisus a second (or fith/sixth look) ho hum.


I often see observations (at various places, not on this forum specifically) that Mellel is the best word processor for “structured document creation”. I assume that that means things like lengthy software manuals or doctoral dissertations. How exactly is Mellel suited to this purpose, and how is it different from NWP in that regard?