Section One: Microsoft Word

I honestly don’t see a way to be a writer these days without using Microsoft Word. It’s the prototypical word-processing software that has become a staple worldwide for both professional and personal uses.

It’s packed with tons of useful features and is a must-have for all writers, not just freelance ones.

I use Word to create all my drafts, as one of many layers of defense in editing, as a hub for Grammarly Premium, and so much more. Most editors work within Word too. However, for larger projects that involve several people, editors and clients might use Google Docs as it’s more collaborative.



  • Highly Customizable: You get a wide range of formatting and design options to meet the many writing needs of a freelancer.
  • Great Formatting Options: Includes styles, fonts, and layout choices to enhance the document’s presentation.
  • Widespread Use: It’s universally accepted, so document sharing and collaboration are a cinch.
  • Advanced Editing and Review Features: Tools like Track Changes, Comments, and Editing Mode facilitate thorough review processes.
  • Installation on Multiple Devices: This can be used on PCs, Macs, and all smart devices.
  • Cost: It requires a subscription to Microsoft 365 or a one-time purchase, which can be expensive for some users. (but worth it if you’re making a career of writing)
  • Complexity: With so many features, it can be overwhelming for new users to navigate and utilize the software fully.

Cost of Microsoft Word

It’s available through a Microsoft 365 tiered subscription, which includes other helpful Office apps, or as a standalone purchase. Prices vary based on the subscription plan or purchase option.

The most common Microsoft Office package comes with:

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • Defender
  • OneDrive
  • Outlook
  • Editor
  • Clipchamp
  • OneNote

As a professional writer, I use at least half of those programs, so I opt for the annual subscription, which costs less than $100 annually.

If you prefer a one-time payment to buy the software outright, it costs about $300 for the Home Office & Business package, which only includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. (Which, arguably, might be all you need.)

Key Features for Writers

  • Editing Mode: Allows for seamless switches between writing and editing layouts.
  • Read Aloud: A valuable tool for proofreading and catching errors you might miss when reading silently.
  • Track Changes: Amazing for collaborating with editors or clients, tracking each edit made to the document.
  • Thesaurus and Spell Check: This helps refine language use and ensures correct spelling throughout your document.
  • Grammarly Integration: Premium users can add Grammarly to Word, combining Word’s robust writing environment with Grammarly’s advanced grammar, style, and plagiarism-checking tools.

Tips for Writers

  1. Utilize the Review and Commenting Features: Take it from me. These are invaluable for receiving and incorporating feedback from clients or editors.
  2. Master Keyboard Shortcuts: Become an efficiency god with shortcuts like Ctrl+C (Copy), Ctrl+V (Paste), Ctrl+Z (Undo), and Ctrl+S (Save).
  3. Customize Your Toolbar: Tailor the Quick Access Toolbar to include frequently used tools for easy access.
  4. Use Styles for Consistent Formatting: Apply Heading, Title, and Body styles to ensure consistent formatting throughout your document. You can even customize your own!
  5. Try Out “Read Aloud” for Proofreading: Listening to your text can help catch errors that your eyes might overlook. (We also have a couple of great courses to help with proofreading!)

Common Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Ctrl + C: Copy
  • Ctrl + V: Paste
  • Ctrl + X: Cut
  • Ctrl + Z: Undo
  • Ctrl + Y: Redo
  • Ctrl + S: Save
  • Ctrl + A: Select all
  • Ctrl + B: Bold
  • Ctrl + I: Italic
  • Ctrl + U: Underline
  • F7: Spell check