Linux Productivity

What Is the Best Word Processor for Linux?

Joel Lee 12-05-2016

Even after all these years, no one has yet dethroned Microsoft Word from its kingly position. Sure, a few alternatives have been playing a great game of catch-up and innovation, but there’s no doubt about it — Word is still the best.


But unless you use some kind of emulation or virtualization software, there’s no way to run Word on a regular Linux setup. Which leaves us with a tough question: what’s the best word processor to use on Linux?

There are a handful of worthy options out there. Let’s take a brief but thorough look at them to see all of their pros and cons. By the end, it’ll be up to you to pick the one that works best for your needs.

Note: We’ll only be exploring native desktop programs, which means no cloud-based word processors like Google Docs Word Processing In Google Docs? 5 Important Tips To Keep In Mind For the majority of my life, Microsoft Word was the word processing tool to use if you were going to do any serious work. Sure, there were alternatives like Corel WordPerfect and later on OpenOffice,... Read More . Those are still valid options though, so you should look into them too if you can.

1. LibreOffice Writer

LibreOffice has truly come a long way since it debuted in 2011. A lot of people wonder what the difference is between LibreOffice and OpenOffice — LibreOffice was forked from OpenOffice Open Source Software and Forking: The Good, The Great and The Ugly Sometimes, the end-user benefits greatly from forks. Sometimes, the fork is done under a shroud of anger, hatred and animosity. Let's look at some examples. Read More , in case you didn’t know — and the simple answer is… not much.

Feel free to use either LibreOffice Writer or OpenOffice Writer. We just prefer LibreOffice because it has a more enthusiastic team of developers and it seems like the LibreOffice community is more active.



LibreOffice is the most notable software on this list for one reason: it’s the only desktop office suite that can really contend with Microsoft Office these days. In fact, even though Microsoft is still the clear king, LibreOffice is starting to come out on top in some aspects Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More .

New document wizards and templates make the learning curve easy. The interface is straightforward and intuitive yet customizable for advanced users. LibreOffice can open and save to Microsoft file formats, including DOC and DOCX.

There are advanced features too, like “master documents” that group multiple documents together, built-in drawing tools, tracking changes and revisions made to documents, the ability to import and edit PDFs, and more.


2. WPS Writer

WPS Office is the set of office applications formerly known as Kingsoft Office, which you may recognize as one of the best mobile office suites for Android users The 8 Best Office Suites On Android For Getting Work Done It is possible to get real work done on Android, but you've got a lot of options now when it comes to office suites. Let's examine the best of them. Read More . The desktop version is notable because it emulates the look and feel of Microsoft Office.

WPS Office is named as such because it contains three applications: Writer, Presentation, and Spreadsheets. All of their developmental efforts are focused on these three only, so rest assured that they aren’t wasting time on other, less important applications.

Note that WPS Office for Linux is a separate community-maintained build that’s free to use on a personal basis.



The last time we looked at WPS Writer, we were quite impressed by what it could do WPS Office For Linux Looks As Good As MS Office, Performs Even Better Read More — and it has only gotten sharper and better since then.

If you prefer the Microsoft’s Ribbon interface, then you’ll like WPS Writer. Once you learn how to use it properly, everything is just significantly easier. And when you combine it with WPS’s ability to open multiple documents with tabs, you’ll fall in love.

WPS can do what most word processors do, including format paragraphs, autosave and back up files, create templates, and more. It also supports the main Microsoft file formats, including DOC and DOCX, but does not support the ODT file format.

3. AbiWord

AbiWord is a simple but effective word processor that’s part of the GNOME Office. It doesn’t come installed by default on Ubuntu, but you can easily install it by using the built-in Software Manager.


Do you remember Microsoft Works? It was a smaller, less expensive alternative to Microsoft Word with fewer features. In much the same way, AbiWord can be considered as the lighter, faster alternative to LibreOffice with fewer features.


This isn’t to say that AbiWord is worse than LibreOffice. Not at all! In many cases, you don’t actually need the full power of a gargantuan application and can settle for something less resource-intensive. In other words, for most home users, AbiWord is more than good enough.

AbiWord supports all industry standard file formats (including Microsoft and WordPerfect), comes with advanced document layout options, and is extensible through separate plugins.

4. Scrivener

Most people know of Scrivener as a “novel-writing tool”, and while it’s true that Scrivener is mainly used by novelists, it’s also used by researchers, bloggers, and even office workers for non-fiction writing.

In short, Scrivener is basically a run-of-the-mill word processor that’s wrapped up in a whole bunch of organizational features. It’s overkill if you’re only working on a single document, but for bigger projects it can be a lifesaver.

What a lot of people don’t know is that there is an unofficial build of Scrivener for Linux, and it’s completely free to use. However, packages are only available for Debian-based distros.


Scrivener can’t directly open document files, but you can import document files into a Scrivener project. Supported formats include DOC, DOCX, ODT, PDF, RTF, and several others (even Final Draft FDX). Scrivener projects can be exported to these formats as well.

In terms of actual word processing, Scrivener can do a lot: format text and paragraphs, insert tables and lists, highlight selections, track revision histories, add annotations and footnotes, and more.

Scrivener can be really efficient once you learn all of its quirks and tricks. We recommend starting with our guide to Scrivener Your Guide To Scrivener Read More and these power tips for Scrivener Power Up Your Writing Workflow: Make Better Use Of Scrivener When it comes to getting a research paper, ebook or novel completed, Scrivener can help you stay organized and motivated — that is, if you know how to use some of its best features. Read More .

Note: If the build of Scrivener for Linux does not work for you and you really want to use Scrivener, you can always buy the Windows version and run it through WINE How to Run Windows Apps & Games with Linux Wine Is there any way to get Windows software working on Linux? One answer is to use Wine, but while it can be very useful, it probably should only be your last resort. Here's why. Read More .

5. Calligra Words

Back in 2010, a bit of disagreement led to a split in the KOffice community, resulting in the inception of Calligra Suite. While most KOffice applications were brought on board, KWord was completely replaced by a new program called Words, which launched in 2012.

As is always the case with from-scratch applications, Calligra Words is still playing catch-up after all these years. It’s much better now than it was back then, but it still feels primitive and incomplete. The interface is also a bit unusual.


My main gripe about the interface is that Calligra insists on a sidebar toolbox and doesn’t provide a way to use the more traditional method of having toolbars — even though Calligra does support toolbars for other stuff. If this doesn’t bother you, great! It bothers me though.

In terms of features, Calligra is very basic. It’s not lacking anything per se, but it doesn’t offer anything interesting beyond what you’d expect from a word processor. And while it does support DOC, DOCX, and ODT, it doesn’t support many others.

All in all, I’m happy that Calligra exists — competition is always good — but it doesn’t inspire me with confidence or excitement. I’d only use it if I couldn’t use any of the above options.

Which Word Processor Do You Use?

If you’re looking for a powerful word processor that comes as part of an office suite, there’s really nothing better than LibreOffice Writer at this time. It sits in the number one spot by a huge margin. WPS Writer is close, but not that close.

However, if you’re dealing with dozens or hundreds of related documents and you need a lot of help staying organized, then I think Scrivener is a valid option to explore. It’s overkill for simple stuff, but absolutely fantastic for heavier-duty stuff.

Now it’s your turn: Which one do you like the best? What features are missing from these? Are there any other free Linux word processors that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

Related topics: LibreOffice, Word Processor.

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  1. Larry
    March 23, 2020 at 8:02 am

    Thank you for the article. I enjoy hearing other people's opinions of software.

    For myself, I sincerely do wish that there was a good word processor for Linux so that I could use Linux fulltime. However, for those of us who work with keyboards all day (coding as well as authoring), and also work with large files of 50k to over 1m words, at present it appears that no word processor will ever meet nor exceed the quality of Word 2003 and 2010. Word 2013, 2016, and 2019 have all gone downhill, and in numerous comparisons - such as speed, crispness, stability, and the absence of a contrasting skin (white and light gray are not color choices for many of us who use computers with monitors and keyboards) - the latest versions of Word are now much inferior to 2003 and 2010.

    One example says it all: a typical day of work for me can be typing over 20k words while working with several different word processor documents. I gave lengthy and dedicated efforts to force Linux-based word processors to work (such as Libre's Writer), but every test had similar results: no less than an hour is lost each day when using any Linux-based word processor. Losing 7 to 10+ hours of life each week to use a Linux word processor is unacceptable.

    Word 2010 has the 'Find' column, which enables a typical search to be completed within about one minute, but the same search in Writer can take an exhausting 15 to 30+ minutes. Word can load a 250mb file into memory and remain stable; loading the same file into Writer resulted in 1.5gb of RAM use, and the RAM consumption continued to increase until Writer was exited. Word has predictable cursor placement after the end of a page; the cursor in Writer jumps 3 to 8 lines when going to a new page, making it exhausting and annoying to have to repeatedly search for the cursor each page. Word has excellent hiding of end-page white space; the latest versions of Writer have attempted to enable hiding white space, but Writer is not yet stable doing so. Character input into Word is crisp, stable, predictable, and fast; Writer is not any of the above. Word is coded with fast computer languages; Writer is coded with slow computer languages.

    If a person does not need the 'Find' column in Word 2010, then Word 2003 might be the better choice (legit CDs of Office 2003 can be found for $5-$10 on Ebay, and Word 2003 runs a little faster than Word 2010). If hiding white space is unimportant, then even Word 2000 is hugely superior for word processing than anything coded for Linux. At present, even WordPad is superior of the qualities of crispness, stability, and speed than any known Linux word processor.

    Geany, Kate, and BlueFish are very good text editors, but unfortunately they cannot format text, else I might seriously consider them as a replacement word processor.

    For those of us who use keyboards and do a lot of word processing, we simply have no other choice but to use Word.

    I am not a Microsoft fanboy; I stopped buying Microsoft products about seven years ago, I have no plans to ever again buy anything Microsoft, and I fully refuse to ever use Windows 10 (especially not online). I would use Linux fulltime right now if there were a good word processor for Linux, and I would smile wide even if paying hundreds of dollars for the word processor. The absence of a quality word processor in Linux is the one and only reason why I still use Windows.

  2. Ed Campbell
    September 2, 2019 at 2:40 pm

    Libre Office is fine if you like sloooooooowwwwwwwww.

  3. Gene
    January 11, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Softmaker Free Office is very good. Find it at

  4. Jon
    December 18, 2016 at 3:44 am

    I prefer WPS Office for Linux and Android. I'm trying out one called OnlyOffice and so far so good.

  5. Sete
    December 17, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    If I could use WordPerfect X6 in GNU Linux I would use Linux.
    I don't want any other one.

  6. Anonymous
    June 23, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    I'm a writer and published author (and why this comment is really long). When I began writing in the late 1980's, I hand-wrote everything and hired a girl to type all that onto 3.5" floppy disks (that I still have, all in .rtf): Man have times changed! I finally got a brand new laptop with a newly released OS called Windows XP. Then I taught myself to index-finger type (and I'm still doing it that way on keyboards), and so I used only MS Office products; even got certified at one point-in-time. MS Word was my go-to for 2 decades.

    Nowadays of course, I merely talk to my computer, and it types into Google Docs for me, so that I only have to spend a fourth of the time cleaning that up. I had every MS OS that came out (from XP to 10), and once my older slim-form PC's motherboard fried, that was the last Windows OS (10) for me. Now I only use a Chromebook laptop, an Android tablet, and Linux Mint 18 on my PC; an Intel NUC-6i3SYH w/16g ram & 128g ssd that I self-built: Yep, I became a geek!

    The logic behind using G-Docs (besides it being OS-neutral) was that I could edit any of my G-Drive synced Docs (or excel, powerpoint, etc.) from any computational device on Earth (preferably but not necessarily w/a Chrome Browser), and you can download G-Docs into the following other formats: .docx .odt .rtf .pdf .txt .html .epub. The original file remains the same in G-Doc; downloading the current copy of any file, into any other format, does not change the original file.

    That way, you can send anyone an email attachment of your document in any (or all) of these file extensions. By keeping it in your synced G-Drive, in the Google format; it does not count against your free 15G of storage (which you'd be hard-pressed to use up). You can also share the G-Doc as it is, via a web-link (Google how to do that). And there's so much more you can do, but that's all I do, concerning this articles content.

    MS is slowly but surely acquiescing to all that is open-source; it has lost chunks of its market-share since the XP days. That's why MS Office Suite is now online too, even with limited versions availed for free (with an MS account like Hotmail): And since Linux tops all other's due to it being free and open-source, it's only a matter of time before MS goes in another direction entirely as a corporation.

    MS Office is geriatric, but the learning-curve is what's at issue for most. I've used them all (office suites), and they're all nearly the same to me. But everyone's not a geek; I know people that spent much time learning one program, and cannot easily adapt to something new, or too different from what they'd learned. Nevertheless, the times they are a changing!

    Search Wikipedia for "supercomputer operating systems" to get the gist of what's happening in the Industry. In short: If you tallied all computational power on Earth, today, most of that's being processed via Linux (variation). We on the consumer-side only see the OS on our personal device, but globally (and internally) it's another animal entirely. My advise (a 58 years old man)? Learn to use open-source now: Operating systems, programs, and so forth, because one day, sooner or later, that's all there will be. Why? Cause you can't beat free!

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 2:02 am

      When you say "talk to my computer", do you mean dictation? If so, that's so cool that you write that way! I may give that a try, but I'd feel silly speaking to my computer like that haha.

      Anyway, thanks so much for sharing all of that, Paul. Sounds like you have a wonderful workflow that works well for you. The synergy between Google Docs and Google Drive is really great, and I'd recommend it if it weren't for the fact that many Linux users seem to hate Google (privacy reasons mostly).

  7. Rusty
    June 21, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    If I send a LibreOffice document to a person using Word they can open the document?

    I am setting up a computer to use Linux Mint and I need to use my word documents for work and I am seeing that LibreOffice can open my Word documents so I am assuming (hoping) LibreOffice will be my solution because most of my associates will still be using Word for now.

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 1:59 am

      Yes LibreOffice can read and write in Microsoft formats (DOC and DOCX) so there shouldn't be any issues with opening files. However if those documents involved advanced formatting and layouts, it may not display properly in LibreOffice.

      • Rusty
        June 24, 2016 at 2:50 am

        Thanks for the reply. That is great news. So to confirm I can open my simple word documents in LibreOffice and if I need to edit them I can. I also realize I can save and send the original word documents in word. Making new documents are ok in LibreOffice if I keep them simple no problem. If I need to I can send them to my windows computer and transfer them to word if I ever have too. Cool. I AM REALLY TIRED OF WINDOWS. Great news thanks again.

  8. Eric
    May 30, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    I'm looking for Scrivener alternatives on Linux. Scrivener is in eternal beta for linux and doesn't look that dependable. I'm looking for something that is similar than Scrivener but offers much more than a standard word processor.

    • Joel Lee
      June 2, 2016 at 1:50 am

      The eternal beta does suck (not in terms of quality, it's just unfortunate). I've been looking for a good alternative to Scrivener for several years and haven't found one yet, let alone one that works well on Linux. If a reader knows of one and could shed some light, that'd be great. Sorry Eric!

      • Anonymous
        June 21, 2016 at 2:22 am

        Joel, I now use Scrivener on Windows (soon to try it through Wine on Mint), but there's always a prequel. Mine was Plume Creator by M. Cyril Jacquet. You may examine it at: [Broken Link Removed]

        I found it a couple or three years ago, as a replacement for another writing aid I'll mention below, and (for me) it's only a few steps away from being a full-on Scrivener replacement. In fact, in some ways it's better: it's free. It's available for Windows and Linux.

        Now, my prequel to Plume Creator :-) was yWriter, also free, by Mr. Simon Haynes, found here:
        Simon mentions here: that yWriter isn't specifically ported to Linux, but will run in Wine.

        Both these programs are well worth a look. Happy day!

      • Anonymous
        June 21, 2016 at 2:24 am

        Joel, my previous comment disappeared when I posted it, probably due to some arcane combination of symbols I typed, or because it had web addresses within. If you don't receive it for review, please let me know and I will repost something.

    • Nathan
      October 13, 2017 at 12:29 am

      Plume creator is an alternative to Scrivener available in Linux you may want to try.

  9. nuno
    May 23, 2016 at 11:14 am


    Could you write a review about Polaris Office? Polaris now has a PC version, which is actually similar to the ribbon interface, but it look simple.

    Could you do a review on that please? I'm eager to know if it's worth.

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:33 am

      Can't make any promises but it's something we will look into. Thanks, nuno!

  10. David
    May 16, 2016 at 10:38 am


    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:31 am

      Thanks for sharing, David. Maybe there's room for a roundup of LaTeX document editors. :)

  11. Rengab
    May 13, 2016 at 4:10 am

    There's also the Softmaker Office and its FreeOffice sibling. And it's also good

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:30 am

      Thanks Rengab. I recently found out about FreeOffice and I quickly fell in love. :)

  12. Anonymous
    May 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Softmaker Office Textmaker. I love it. I was able to survive using Linux in a Windows-centric office because Textmaker can import and export Word documents better than the other programs listed in this article. Pretty good fidelity, especially in the document layouts.

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:30 am

      Good choice. I recently found out about FreeOffice, which is really awesome. The only downside is that it can read DOCX but can't save DOCX. Softmaker Textmaker can, though!

  13. Anonymous
    May 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    "What Is the Best Word Processor for Linux?"
    The one that you have used the longest and whose intricacies know the best. With the free word processors mentioned above, I wouldn't give you a plugged nickle for MS Word.

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:29 am

      I agree 100%. The best tool is the one you feel most comfortable using. It doesn't matter how many features MS Office has if you hate it so much that you dread launching it! What do you use, fcd? LibreOffice?

      • Anonymous
        May 25, 2016 at 12:20 pm

        Yes, I use LO. I am a creature of habit. I started with StarOffice 1.0 and used it through all its iterations and incarnations.

      • skan
        July 11, 2017 at 1:27 pm

        Yes, but some are too basic, some are too buggy.

  14. Pete
    May 12, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    Google Docs is all you need. Best part? It's free!

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:28 am

      I'm a big fan of Google Docs, I just wish they had a desktop version!

  15. Anonymous
    May 12, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    i use linux most of the time, but i switch to windows when i really need to.I'm not a fan of Microsoft or it's products at all, and i hate to admit it, but MS Office is the best word processor i have ever used. and i also hate to say it, but most of it's alternatives on linux are not that good actually

    • Anonymous
      May 12, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Since MS Office (I assume you mean WORD) does not run on Linux, it cannot be the "best word processor". Libre Office Writer is better because it runs on more platforms than MS Word.

      • skan
        July 11, 2017 at 1:40 pm

        LibreOffice runs on more platforms but has fewer options and it's slower. If we compare Excel instead the difference is much bigger.

        • anonymous
          July 11, 2017 at 3:48 pm

          And if we compare the database, which is not standard on MS Office but is standard on LO, Libre Office comes out ahead. So there.

          I'm sure we can find features that MS Office has that Libre Office does not and vice versa. It does not make either one 'the best' in absolute terms. 'The Best' is the one you like the most and are used to, no matter how good/bad it is in terms of features.

    • Joel Lee
      May 25, 2016 at 2:27 am

      Thanks for sharing Meena. You're right, not many alternatives can compete at the same level as MS Office. LibreOffice is close, FreeOffice is closer, and Google Docs is just a different beast. I wonder if Microsoft will ever port Office to Linux? That'd be amazing. :)

      • Anonymous
        May 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm

        " I wonder if Microsoft will ever port Office to Linux? That’d be amazing. :)"
        It would be a miracle! It would require a MAJOR change in Microsoft's top management or Linux taking over as the most used O/S. Neither of which is likely to happen. :-)