This week, Microsoft announced they were allowing users to download new versions of their esteemed Office workhorses that would allow editing and creation without paying a subscription. Previously, these features would cost at least $6.99 a month with an Office365 subscription. Of course, me being the gadget fiend that I am, I jumped on this. My primary focus was, naturally, could I use this for writing projects? For the past few months, my workhorse has actually been Google Docs. I love how the writing projects scale nicely to my computer, iPhone, or iPad, without any fuss. I also love how the syncing and backing up is automatic and pretty much instant. I can work in front of the computer, jump on the iPad, bring it somewhere else, and it’s all there. Pages is supposed to do the same thing, but the damn program takes so long to load, hasn’t been syncing seamlessly, and is practically unusable on the iPhone. I hate to say that, being a big Apple fan, but with limited time, the last thing I want to do is to mess around with software and lose a minute or two waiting for something to load.
So? How is Word now that it is mobile? Can it work? Will it be a viable and realistic alternative to Pages, Google Docs, or any other writing program? Yes. In many ways.
First of all, Microsoft syncs with OneDrive, their cloud service, so your work is safe, and automatically backed up. Second? There are plenty of tools you can use to set up your document for a great writing session. The biggest benefit is that you can be sure that when you send off your manuscript, it’s an honest to goodness doc file that will be compatible. I once sent off a submission I’d converted through Pages, and somehow, all of the track changes edits were put back in the document. It was a huge mess. So this alleviates those fears.
Here’s how you can format a New file for a great writing project.
- Launch Word on the iPad or iPhone
- Click on ‘New’ –– choose ‘New Blank Document’
- On the HOME tab, you can choose a proper, submission worthy sans serif typeface, size.
- Select the proper LINE SPACING size. Default for submissions is 2.0, but check the guidelines before you submit.
- I usually type in my name and address in the upper left hand corner first.
- Hit RETURN a few times. Enter your story title, and your byline underneath. The new Mobile Word has a convenient Justification right up on top, just like the desktop’s ribbon.
- Here’s the BIGGIE for me: you can set your FIRST LINE INDENT! Go to the fifth tab to the right on the top that read VIEW. You’ll see a small window pop down. Slide the button to turn ON the RULER. You’ll see a ruler with two tab sliders to the left. If you slide the top one (downward arrow), you can drag it to the right. This will set the first line indent for you. (I like .25”, tastes vary) This is a mainstay of the desktop, and is sorely missing in every other mobile word processor. Previously, I’ve started documents on the desktop and imported them into mobile in order for the first line indents to work. Now? I no longer have to. To top it off? This is editable throughout your document, so if you want to turn it off, you certainly can.
- Your file saves just as it normally would, and you also now have the option to link your Dropbox account to mobile Word. In addition? You can email that file out, no problem.
Word also comes with some great built in templates if you’re doing more than writing stories or novels, so have at it.
I used this for a day of writing, my trusty Logitech bluetooth keyboard in tow. It was very similar to using a laptop running Word. Very responsive, and the interface was clean and simple, and as it should, soon made me forget it was even there, until I needed it to be.
Great job, Microsoft.
It’s available for iOS 8 and Android. Click here for more information.