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Running a business

4 Open-Source Alternatives to Word Processing Software

Word processing software is an essential tool for most businesses. Thanks to open source software initiatives, small business owners working on a bootstrap budget can download free or low-cost alternatives to more expensive word processing software such as Microsoft Word.

Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is a multi-platform office suite that lets you create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and even databases. It's available in multiple languages, including English and French. The word processor component in this office suite is known as Writer. It offers common word processing features such as formatting and autocorrect. If you need additional functionality such as grammar checking, you can install one of the extensions available in its extension library. Apache OpenOffice supports most common document formats, so you won't run into compatibility issues. For example, if a client sends you a document created in Microsoft Word, you can open it with Apache OpenOffice, edit the file, and save it in Microsoft Word format before you send it back to your client.


Like Apache OpenOffice, LibreOffice is available for most platforms including Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It allows you to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and databases. LibreOffices full-featured word processor comes with a wide selection of document templates, including letters, meeting agendas and minutes, and faxes. Its AutoComplete feature saves you time by completing the words you’re typing automatically, and its large extension library allows you to expand its functionality by installing additional extensions. LibreOffice supports most common file formats so you can transfer documents between word processing software without having to worry about compatibility.


NeoOffice is based on Apache OpenOffice but is available for Mac OS only. It allows you to view, edit, and save documents created by most word processing software, including OpenOffice, LibreOffice, and Microsoft Office. NeoOffice takes advantage of many native Mac features. For example, it supports Mac text highlighting and grammar checking. If you have OS X Lion or later on your Mac, NeoOffice also keeps track of multiple versions of your document so you can restore a previous version if necessary. The free version of NeoOffice doesn't let you edit documents. If you need editing capability, you must buy the Classic version or the Mac App Store version. As of February 2017, the Classic version is priced at US$15, while the Mac App Store version costs US$29.99.

Calligra Suite

Calligra Suite is a split-off of KOffice, which is an open source office suite that is no longer in development. It is available for Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and FreeBSD. Calligra Suite is different from traditional office suites in that it is more graphic-focused. Its word processor component, Calligra Words, combines word processing with desktop publishing and lets you create graphic-intensive documents easily. Most open source office suites have all the features you need to support office productivity. You might want to consider trying some of them to see which one works best for you.

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