When you write a dissertation, you spend a lot of time staring at text on a computer screen. Writing, and doing dissertation formatting and editing takes a long time.  One way to make the process easier is by using writing software or a word processor that is easy to use, that feels good to you, and that helps you be more productive.

Writing Software that Helps With Your Dissertation

Many of us use Microsoft Word or Apple's Pages, since they're the default word processors that come built into PCs and Macs, respectively. Word and Pages are full of useful features. But there other writing software options out there, many of which have distinctive tools and features that are particularly useful for dissertation writing, dissertation editing, and dissertation formatting.


Scrivener is available for Windows and Mac, and is designed especially for writers who are working on long documents, like dissertations.  It's full of amazing tools that I never knew that I needed until I had them.  Scrivener includes a text editor, which you can enlarge to full-screen to minimize distractions from other areas of your computer – a huge help when you're working on that dissertation! In addition, it has a corkboard feature where you can make and store virtual notecards of ideas, and use them to restructure sections of your dissertation. You can create collections of documents that you can use to store your dissertation research materials.  Scrivener also has great outlining tools, and a feature that allows you to take a “snapshot” of a document in case you need to return to an earlier version.  It's a wonderful tool for dissertation writers and Thesis Editors.

Focus Writer

Focus Writer, for Windows, Mac, and Linux, blocks out distractions. It's a full screen text editor with no bells and whistles.  You can't do your dissertation formatting on Focus Writer, but you can write in a distraction-free environment, and when you're trying to work through a tough section of your dissertation, sometimes distraction-free is all that you want.  There are a number of other programs that are similar to Focus Writer, including Write Room, Dark Room, and Q10.

Libre Office and Open Office

Libre Office and Open Office, for Windows, Mac, and Linux, are full office suites, like Microsoft Office, but they're based on open-source code and are available for free.  Grad students are often strapped for cash, so having a low-cost or free word processor for writing and formatting your dissertation can be a huge help. Both Libre Office Writer and Open Office Write offer many of the same features as Microsoft Word, and they're great to use for dissertation formatting. If you're concerned about compatibility, never fear – you can save documents in open document format, in word document format, in rich text format, or in pdf, so you'll be able to share documents with your dissertation advisor, dissertation consultant, or Thesis Editor no matter what word processor they use.

Google Drive

Google Drive lets you store your dissertation documents online, in the cloud, and has a web-based text editor and other office tools.  The Google Drive text editor is fairly basic, but extremely useful if you often find yourself working on your dissertation at different computer stations.  By having your dissertation work in the cloud, you know it will be there when you need it.  You can also access your files on mobile devices. Of course, Google Drive doesn't work if you don't have an internet connection, so plan accordingly.  I find it useful to make folders in my Google Drive where I can store all of the dissertation research material related to a dissertation chapter draft.  It's useful to keep everything in one place.  Google Drive is also great for sharing documents with your dissertation advisor, Thesis Editor, or dissertation consultant, as you can give people access to a file with a simple click.


Evernote is a mobile app that works kind of like a cross between Scrivener and Google Drive.  It lets you store things in the cloud, and gather collections of documents and ideas that you can move around and re-structure.  Evernote was specifically designed for mobile devices, and stores all of your documents and notes in the cloud.  It may not be the best writing software for sitting down and working on your dissertation for a long period of time – you wouldn't want to write an entire dissertation in Evernote - but it's great for jotting down quick ideas, doing outlining, or storing and keeping track of your dissertation research materials.


Scapple, for Windows and Mac, is from the same developers as Scrivener.  It's a tool for outlining jotting down ideas, and creating maps that show connections between ideas. Scapple is useful at the beginning stages of a project, like when you're working on your dissertation proposal and trying to get a sense of what the entire dissertation might look like.  It's also good for outlining and testing out ideas when you get stuck on a section of your dissertation.  It's a fun switch from typical writing software, as it lets you play around with your ideas in a free-form way.

No matter which writing software you choose, you need to make sure that your dissertation formatting is accurate so that it will pass your institution's standards.  Our dissertation formatting experts can help you format your dissertation in APA Style, Chicago/Turabian Style, MLA Style, Harvard Bluebook, or in any other style you need.  Our Thesis Editors will help you deliver a well-written dissertation that will pass muster.  You don't have to write your dissertation alone – drop us a line today.
< Self-Care During COVID-19 EndNote: An Introduction >

Tagged under: Uncategorized  

I cannot sing the praises of Thesis Editor highly enough.

I am a third year PhD student and I had been struggling for months with my quantitative analysis (both running and interpreting my tests). Any support I had sought out from my institution ended up leaving me more confused than when I arrived. I came across Thesis Editor whilst I was searching online for some stats help, and I am so thankful that I did.

If like I was, you are struggling with an aspect of your PhD, perhaps do not seem to be able to get the help you need from your institution or outside, you will not regret using Thesis Editor.

Dawn, the Director, was absolutely brilliant from beginning to end. I was contacted promptly after my initial enquiry, and there was a very quick turnaround to which a quote was given after assessing my work. I was then assigned a statistitian, Dr Musicha, and received extremely comprehensive feedback within one week. This was then followed by a 1-hour consultation. My consultation with Dr Musicha was nothing less than phenomenal. Honestly I cannot even put into words how much I gained in the hour together. He not only helped me built my knowledge but practically had me share my screen and walked me through my challenges on SPSS so I had a thorough understanding - something that has not been done with my university throughout my PhD. I was taught more in that hour about my quant stats than I have by anyone else. He was also just so kind, and encouraging and really boosted my confidence.

Using Thesis Editor has been an invaluable investment, and I can only thank Dawn and Dr Musicha so dearly.

- Beth

Read More Client Testimonials

Unlock Doctoral Success with our #1 Best Selling Book