13 Browser-Based Tools For Writers

Portability and accessibility are important for writers. You never know when inspiration will hit, and when it does you don’t want to be caught off guard. Professional software suites can be nice but often times are overkill, localized, and more hassle than they’re worth. Browser-based writing tools are available no matter where you go.

Whether you need help with organization, a way to kill distractions, or a clean slate on which to write your words, these tools will prove useful to all of you who write on a regular basis. Don’t miss out!

Organizational Tools

web writing tool organization   13 Browser Based Tools For Writers

Organization is the key to effective writing. Without it, your words will jumble up and only serve to confuse readers. Or worse, you’ll lose those awesome ideas you had the other day simply by nature of forgetfulness. A little bit of organization can go a long way towards staving off frustration.

  • Mindmappers. I wasn’t much of a believer in mindmaps but eventually the benefits grew too useful to ignore. A good mindmap isn’t just an organizational tool. It can be a great method for exploring, developing, and refining ideas — an essential for any writer. Get started with one of these web-based mindmapping tools.
  • Wiki-style notebooks. Wikis are absolutely fantastic for recording and developing ideas, either by oneself or with collaborators. A personal wiki can work great as a notebook since various terms and pages can be interlinked for easy navigation. I highly recommend CherryTree (our CherryTree review) but if you don’t like it, you can always try these free personal wikis instead.
  • Idea management. Try Wridea which describes itself as an “idea management service” and “collection of brainstorming tools.” In layman’s terms, it’s a quick and easy way to jot down ideas and organize them in the future. It’s great for those moments when inspiration strikes but you’re too busy to entertain it now, so you can save it for later.

Writing Tools

web writing tool editors   13 Browser Based Tools For Writers

Writing is not a high-maintenance activity. To start, all you really need is a pen and paper (or even a rock and chisel). Some people can type hundreds of pages on Microsoft Word, but others require a more streamlined alternative. Here are some tools to help you with the actual act of writing.

  • Distraction-free editors. One of the most difficult aspects of writing is that distractions exist around every corner. Therefore, a text editor that’s simple, to the point, and free from clutter is highly valuable. We’ve covered some great ones in the past, including WriteApp, Quabel, and WriteSpace.
  • Edit-lock editors. There are text editors out there that will prevent you from editing what you’ve written until you’ve reached a predetermined time limit or word count goal that you set for yourself. Common writing wisdom says that you should “write first, edit later.” An edit-lock editor helps with that. I recommend ilys for something simple, but if you’re willing to pay money, Write or Die is the de facto standard.
  • Screenwriting editor. This is for those of you who want to write screenplays. Plotbot is an online editor that automatically formats your scripts according to industry standards, allowing you to write freely without worry of whether you’re doing it right. On top of that, you can collaborate with others on the same script.

Productivity Tools

web writing tool productivity   13 Browser Based Tools For Writers

It’s easy to write. It’s hard to keep writing. For people who write for a living (or as an obsessive hobby), productivity can be extremely difficult to keep up. Even the most motivated writer will suffer days when writing one word seems impossible. Thankfully, productivity tools exist to help curb that problem.

  • Pomodoro Technique. I’m a big proponent of the Pomodoro Technique, which is a simple method of approaching work in a way that minimizes burnout. There’s a reason why it’s such a popular technique: it just works. Tomato.es is my recommendation for a web-based Pomodoro timer.
  • Site blockers. Websites can suck your time away and leave you full of regret and disappointment. When your willpower just isn’t strong enough to stay away from those sites until an appropriate time, website blockers can prove tremendously useful. For Chrome I recommend StayFocusd (our StayFocusd review) and for Firefox I recommend LeechBlock (our LeechBlock review).

Utility Tools

web writing tool utilities   13 Browser Based Tools For Writers

In addition to all of the above, there are a slew of writing-related tools on the web that are unique enough to warrant their own categories. These tools are more specialized in what they offer but they’re good at what they do.

  • Wordcounter. Most office suites and text editors have a function for counting the words you’ve written and measuring related metrics, but if you ever find yourself without a way to measure word count, Wordcounter will get the job done.
  • Writing prompts. Writer’s block can be a real demoralizing factor in any writer’s life. One way to get over that hump is to free write in response to a writing prompt. You can get started with our list of creative writing prompts that you can find online.
  • Cliché Finder. Clichés have their place in language but overuse can lead to writing that sounds juvenile, full of filler, or just plain lazy. Thankfully, the Cliché Finder tool will mark every instance of cliché that it finds so you can cut them out. Unfortunately, it only supports the English language.
  • oTranscribe. If you do a lot of writing that involves transcribing audio into words, oTranscribe can make your life a lot easier. It supports audio files (e.g., MP3, OGG, WAV) and video files (e.g., MP4, WEBM). Straightforward and no fuss.
  • BibMe. Compiling a bibliography or works cited page can be a big drain of time, especially for publications that are hundreds of pages. BibMe automatically generates a bibliography for you according to whichever standard you choose (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago, etc.) and it can handle media ranging from books to newspapers, websites to films, and more.

Did you find any of these web-based writing tools to be useful? What other tools are out there that you’d recommend? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image Credits: Organization Folders Via Shutterstock, Writing Pad Via Shutterstock, Stopwatch Via Shutterstock, Up Graph Button Via Shutterstock

17 Comments - Write a Comment

4 votes
Reply

Mike

I recently came across an online tool called Hemingway (http://www.hemingwayapp.com/). It rates sentences based on difficulty of reading. It also highlights adverbs, passive voice, and phrases that you can simplify.

1 votes

Saikat B

Yes. They also recently put Hemingway through the Hemingway test using the app :)

Interesting read on the New Yorker.

0 votes

Joel L

Ha, very cool! Always interesting to see these kind of tools.

1 votes
Reply

Jeff Palmer

Nice one. I’d add grammarcheck.net to this list, a third party grammar and spell check can be useful at times. Cheers!

0 votes

Joel L

Definitely! Spell check and grammar check are so ubiquitous but grammarcheck.net does work in a pinch.

2 votes
Reply

Bill Marcy

I am using MyChain at http://www.suicidescribes.com/ Very motiovational and the daily word count keeps me jazzed for the next days work.

0 votes

Joel L

Whoa, never heard of Suicide Scribes but it looks pretty neat. Daily word counts are the way to go!

1 votes
Reply

Jeff Howe

I am fond of AutoCrit, which:
* finds cliches
* marks word and phrase repeaters
* notes use of dialog tags
* highlights proper name/pronoun sentence openings
* runs a number of readability tests
* tells you when you use any of the more common “problem” words (sense filters, filler, inactive verbs et al) too often

It offers both a free (500 word) and subscription (up to 100,000 words) version.

0 votes

Joel L

It’s a shame the free version is only up to 500 words. That feature list is impressive, though.

1 votes
Reply

Dharmesh

Really informative article got much of new ideas and solution for my some problems.
Thanks you

1 votes
Reply

solostand

I really loved mentioned above Quabel, It is really awesome tool…but then I just found that chunks of my text are just missing… But I guess it is just because I write eith Cyrilllic characters… So thank you for mentioned alternatives, will try them now. Hope that they will work fine. It quite hard to find online tools for writers if you are non-English speaker, sadly… =)

0 votes

Joel L

I’m sorry to hear that. Non-English languages do get it rough when it comes to cool web tools, unfortunately. I hope you find some good alternatives that work!

1 votes
Reply

Caroline W

Now This is a Fantastic article (I would say that because I write a lot!). Your suggestions are totally awsome! Cherry Tree, what can I say, it looks like just what I was looking for and by looking at the downloads available, there is a “Microsoft Windows Portable Archive” (cherrytree_0.32.0_win32_portable.7z) which I am hoping means I can run it off a USB as a Portable version… Is that right??

To add to the list of Distraction-Free Editors, today I found “Writebox” available in the Chrome Store; I’ve tested it and it works well. It’s not as intensive as “Write Monkey” which too is in the same category. But I had heard that people use it (Write Monkey) for writing their novels; the right-click menu is extensive but I cannot say exactly what’s on it as I’ve only been using it for 750 word journal entries.

“Write or Die” is something I am considering purchasing. I’ve had a brief look at it and not only does it sound fun, it’s productive and perfect for me, who starts stories by free-writing, but my editor is still, even though marginarily, on and I like this idea.

“PenFlip” https://www.penflip.com/ is Git Hub for Writers. Loren Burton created it with writers in mind; it’s not that old at all and he is improving it all the time. Any writer has got to check it out. Basically you can create a Text Document right up to working on a Novel – it’s that good! And, it is Browser based, saves your work and it is minimalist and simple, a bit of markdown to learn, which is explained in simple terms and it’s just the basics. It’s highly useful for collaboration. You are essentially creating an E-Book (in whatever type of document style) which you can publish straight from PenFlip as ePub, HTML, PDF. Honestly, there’s nothing I’ve seen like it.

I’m also getting into Mind Maps, totally could not get on with them, but as MUO has hilighted it so much, I’m jumping on board and finding them useful now.

I cannot thank you enough, Joel, for taking so much time and effort to pull out such a great article! Originally it was saved to Pocket and I just went through it today when I had a bit more time.

Keep the writing articles coming! Thanks again :)

0 votes
Reply

Joel L

Whoa! GitHub for writers? That’s such a cool concept. I’m going to have to look into PenFlip more when I have the time! As for CherryTree, I believe the portable can be run straight from a USB, yes.

Thanks for the kind word, Caroline. I’m glad you found the article helpful! :)

0 votes

Caroline W

Yeah, GitHub for writers! It is really, really cool!! I pray it keeps going, but, from the update emails I’m getting, feature requests are being put in regularly. I’m getting a Chromebook (just for simplicity sake and as a 2nd device) and I want to use it to write my book. I’ve thought about using Docs but as Penflip’s around, writing it on there would make sense, though the two may be used as they both export to PDF. In comparison to Scrivener and yWriter though, only ‘Chapters’ are available as separate sections at the moment. However, because you can use Penflip to write Documenets as the other option, perhaps the book can be cut into sections that way. Penflip’s still in its infancy, but if updates are being made, then hopefully it will carry on and grow into something that’s massive and permanent!

0 votes
Reply

Andy T

Some great tools on the comment pages. I found the ‘Hemingway’ app fascinating and fun (Thanks Mike for the link). The New Yorker article that Saikat B linked to was pretty cool also.

0 votes
Reply

Paul

checkvist.com is a great outliner…and it can double as a task and to-do list as well

Your comment