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Writing Tools & Software for Genealogists


Many genealogists turn to their handy word processor or favorite genealogy software program when writing everything from a client report to a case study or family history. But for those of you looking for a different way to write, or a little more help with the organization and structure of your writing, one of these writing tools may be just what you need. As with genealogy software, these writing software programs each work a bit differently, so you'll need to try them each out for yourself to find the one which best suits your research habits and writing style.

1. Scrivener

Mac OS X & Windows
Scrivener is as much a project management tool as it is a word processor, allowing you to write in bits and fragments, and then shuffle index cards, documents and ideas around into organized structure. Outlining tools, a corkboard for organizing notes, templates (plus the option to create your own), and other tools help you get from the research to the writing phrase. Multiple windows allow you to view your research or images alongside your writing, and Scrivener will do footnotes too.



2. PageFour

This software aimed toward creative writers allows you to edit and organise your writing in a tabbed interface. PageFour for Windows offers word processing, outlining, organization and versioning (called “Snapshots”), plus a tool for scanning your work for over used words and phrases. PageFour and Scrivener are both very similar in concept.

3. Writer's Cafe

Windows & Mac OS X
Like most of the rest of the tools listed here, Writer's Cafe was developed for fiction writing, but works well for project-based writing such as genealogical writing as well. The program's Storylines feature is similar to the corkboard feature of Scrivener, allowing you to easily post and rearrange notes and ideas on virtual index cards. Notebooks and other tools also help you organize and write as you go, and then reassemble into a finished project.

4. SuperNoteCard

Windows & Mac OS X
SuperNoteCard functions primarily as stacks of virtual note cards for taking notes, reorganizing, and dividing into infinite piles that represente separate parts of a writing project. Color coding of cards and a word count function are also available. When you've got everything arranged to your satisfaction just export into your favorite word processer to do the rest. The SuperNoteCard.com Web site allows you to easily add notes to your project while on the go as well, such as from an iPhone.

5. DEVONthink Pro

Mac OS X
Think of it as a brain dump for your research process. DEVONthink is an information management tool that allows you to import all types of documents (including websites), and then organize the information in a variety of ways for printing or exporting to a word-processing program. You'll still need to do the final writing and polishing (including footnotes) in another program, but for storing and organizing your genealogy search, DEVONthink Pro is a very powerful solution. The DEVONthink To Go app lets you take your notes and documents on the road on your iPhone or iPad.

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