It’s been years since I’ve used Microsoft Word for anything other than opening documents that people send me over email. In 1996 and even in 2006, it was simply unthinkable to have a Mac without Microsoft Word. But today, there are so many other tools that do a better much job at specific functions than using only Word.
For writing long manuscripts, I use Scrivener because it stores your research and also makes it easy to focus on a particular part of your paper. If I need to prepare a document with some layout and defined styles, then I’ll turn to Pages. For a linear document where the content is more important than the layout, then I’ll use Byword.
For taking notes and preparing for class, I’ve been using OmniOutliner. If you think about it, a class lecture or a presentation is basically a sequential list of points you want to communicate. Outlining them allows you to list the major topics and to drill down to elaborate on those topics. The best part of the outliner is that you can easily rearrange any part of your outline. I’ve recommended it to students as a note-taking solution, but most starving students balk at the price.
Earlier today, I found Fargo, a free HTML outliner that stores its files in your Dropbox. It lacks a lot of features compared to OmniOutliner, although it works great for a web app. But Fargo has one feature that OmniOutliner doesn’t have: it publishes to your WordPress blog, which is how I posted this entry.
If you want to see how an outliner is superior to a word processor for certain tasks, try Fargo.