10 free spelling and writing tools
There are a staggering number of free software tools out there. Here are my favourites which I recommend to my clients.
1. Ghotit (Windows, free online service)
This is a very helpful plugin for Microsoft Word which is written for people with dyslexia. It uses a contextual spell checker, which means that it will catch more mistakes than traditional spell checkers. Even if you don't use Microsoft Word you might also find this free online service of value.
2. Freemind (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Freemind is open-source mind mapping software. It is very useful to collect and structure ideas. I also recommend Inspiration. You have to pay for this, but you can try their 30-day trial for free. It is designed for younger users, but it is also used by adults because it is an excellent programme. One useful feature is that once the mind map is completed, you can generate a Word document which will give you a skeleton outline.
3. Firefox (Windows, Linux, Mac)
Firefox has a good spell checker built in. This can help highlight individually misspelt words.
4. Open Office (Windows, Mac, Linux)
This is a free alternative to Microsoft Office but has most of the same features as Microsoft Office.
5. Google Documents (Free online service)
Google Documents provides an online alternative to Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. You can create documents from scratch or upload them, then edit them through your web browser. (The online spreadsheet is very impressive). You can then download them as doc, xls or ppt files, or convert them to pdf for printing. It also allows you to share the documents with others online, which is very useful. Most importantly, your documents are online, which acts as a backup and also means that you can access them from any computer with a web browser.
6. Gimp (Windows, Mac, Linux)
Gimp is a free open-source image editing programme. It is useful for editing pictures that you want to include in documents. It has a slight learning curve, but it is well worth it. My pen logo was done with Gimp.
7. Inscape (Windows, Mac, Linux)
This is a free advanced drawing programme and an alternative to Coral Draw. Although it's still in its early stages, the software is remarkable.
8. scan2pdf (Linux, Windows)
This is a very simple and useful tool for scanning documents and saving them as a pdf file. It is as simple as using a photocopier and when you're finished, you save the pages as a pdf file. There is both a Linux and a Windows version.
There are many free online dictionary/thesauruses out there, but reference.com works well for me. Looking a word up online is much faster than using a book if you are working at a computer. One feature I particularly like is the tabs that allow you to switch between the dictionary and thesaurus.
Wordreference.com is a great tool for looking up foreign words. It has a wide range of languages to choose from and the forums are very invaluable. For German-English translation, the online Leo dictionary is excellent.