Writers today have an abundance of word processor options. One that’s been around for some time is Nisus Writer, a powerful writing and editing tool. While you may not be familiar with Nisus, the software company has been around since the 80s.
The biggest question when it comes to writing software will always be; why use this program over something like Microsoft Word or Google Docs?
For Nisus Writer, the answer is actually pretty simple. It’s cheap and packed with useful features for authors without being ‘bloated’ or distracting.
What Is Nisus Writer?
At it’s core, Nisus Writer is a word processing tool. The focus is on helping you write, collaborate, and edit effectively. It also features some simple and useful page layout features.
The team at Nisus offers their software at two tiers; the Express version and Pro version.
As you can see, the Express version comes in at $26 and Pro at $65. You should also note the Nisus is Mac only—there is no PC version and judging by their long-time focus on Mac, I doubt there ever will be.
Comparing Nisus Writer Express And Pro
What exactly does Pro bring for that extra $39? Well, there are a few notable features, but the most important are the File Format options and the Advanced Tools.
The most relevant things Pro gives you are rich PDF and EPUB exporting. Which for authors that create EPUB or PDF ebooks, might be very relevant! You’ll also notice there is a ‘LIMITED’ applied to the DOCX export options. I couldn’t find details on their forums about the limitations, but from a few simple tests, I couldn’t find anything major that was lacking.
Here’s the biggest difference between Express and Pro. Track changes, commenting, Table of Contents tools, and Find and Replace Formatting are all gated behind the Pro version.
Since the Pro version is still very reasonably priced, I think the extra features are worth the expense. But if you were going to use Nisus Writer to write and then use something like Google Docs or Word to collaborate on edits, the Express version is probably sufficient.
Fortunately, you get a free Nisus Writer download for 15 days! I suggest getting Nisus Writer Pro to try the powerful find and replace tools that supplement the text editor before you decide to purchase.
Features I Love About Nisus Writer
I downloaded my free trial of Nisus Writer Pro and drafted a couple of short stories using it. Here are the features I liked the most:
I first fell in love with this feature while using Scrivener. While you type with Typewriter Mode enabled, the line you’re writing is held to the center position on the screen. It means you don’t have to write to the bottom of the screen and shift all the text up. If you’ve never tried a word processor with typewriter mode, you should.
Nisus’s style sheets are a great hybrid of Word’s basic styling and Adobe’s in depth decisions. You’ll get a few preset styles, but you can full edit each style as a Character or Paragraph style, create a unique style sheet for various parts of your manuscript. It takes a little work to set up your sheets, but once you have them, managing text styles within a document becomes a breeze.
I’m a huge fan of using a Thesaurus. Apparently, the developers at Nisus agree, because they built an English Thesaurus right into their word processor! There’s not much more to say about it; I appreciate having my thesaurus at the ready when I need it.
Find And Replace
As I mentioned elsewhere, the Pro version of Nisus Writer has an improved Find And Replace tool that works with formatting as well. I think the Find And Replace function is great, though it’s not that much more useful than Word’s. The thing is, you’ll only rarely need the most potent features here, but when you do, you will be glad you can search by formatting or scripts.
This one is pretty cool; you can edit text you’ve saved to your clipboard. I know some other word processors offer this too, but it’s worth mentioning because it is quite useful when you are editing documents.
Full Screen Mode
All great word processors have to include a focus or full screen option. Nisus Writer doesn’t disappoint in that. What I really like is the option to go ‘Full Screen’ and ‘Full Screen Minimal’; one just blocks out other applications, but keeps your sidebar tools. Minimal though is just a canvas to write on and is great when you just need to focus.
Nisus Writer For Publishing
As I sat and wrote with Nisus Writer, I found the user interface and full screen options lovely. And editing went smoothly as well; the software runs fast and typewriter mode makes writing with Nisus Writer very comfortable for me.
Likewise, editing was nice. The commenting and track changes were on par Microsoft Office’s—which in my opinion is the best feature in Word.
All of that said, I ran into one speed bump. Exporting a PDF was problematic.
The first issue I had was that I used some of the fonts built into Nisus Writer. While the PDF properties recognized these as embedded, Lulu’s review of the PDF after uploading couldn’t validate that. So be very careful if you use any uncommon fonts!
Fortunately, Nisus Writer does a good job of differentiating ‘safe’ fonts for a variety of different uses. You just have to be careful about the fonts you use.
Aside from that, preparing a manuscript for publishing worked just fine. I did find the experience better than working in MS Word; the menus and options were easier to locate and I always had a clear sense of how my pages would look after I exported.
Nisus Writer Final Review
As a Mac based word processor, Nisus Writer seems like a solid investment if you want a feature rich writing tool that can also perform most of the formatting and page layout functions you need to publish. It’s not as potent as Scrivener for research or plotting out a story, but Nisus Writer’s focus on being a writing tool shows.
Paul is the Senior Copywriter at Lulu, writing weekly blog posts and helping guide content for the company’s marketing. When he’s not deeply entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person, but considers himself cat tolerant.