software to write the thesis, except word and latex


hello all,

I would like to ask whether you can suggest any software (except word and latex) that i can use to write my thesis. I faced many problems using Word for a previous project of around 400pages and I dont wanna do the same mistake with the phd thesis. From what I have read I dont think I am willing to learn latex, but I am open to another software suggestion. A possible solution is Adobe Indesign, which i have used only for flyers, so I dont know how it works with large documents.

I use Windows 7, Zotero, and the thesis will have plenty of tables and figures. It is also necessary to provide great flexibility to create my own layouts and allowing me to put my personal signature (architect's idiocracy :$)

Anyone used Indesign for thesis writing ?
any other suggestion ?

thank you !!


======= Date Modified 14 Dec 2011 21:56:38 =======
======= Date Modified 14 Dec 2011 21:56:03 =======
Hi Catherine,

I've been using software - it's similar to MS Word, only free and has some different features.

Have heard great things about Scrivener and keep meaning to try it out:
It used to be just for Mac users, but they have recently released a version for Windows. They have a free trial and it is only 40$ after that. Thanks for reminding me to give it a go.


I used openoffice to write mine.


I used microsoft words on mac - bad idea. All the images would mess up if you tried opening it on a windows machine (which I had to in order to print my thesis out at uni). You could PDF it to print, but then if you flip between portrait and landscape, they'll come out as seperate files.... so lot of issues.

If you are using just one operating system, you'll be fine, but if you are flipping between windows/mac, just make sure that the software you use is actually truly compatable.


thank you all for your suggestions !

@Lughna: I downloaded scrivener. it seems very helpful for organising notes and text but not very flexible for page layout design. I think it can be very useful to others but I have already organised my notes in Onenote (btw I am in love with Onenote:-x I recommend it !)
Openoffice is very similar to word so my major problem of controling the images and their position in the text remains..thank you anyway !!

@cplusplusgirl: thanx

@pink_numbers: I am using only windows (fortunately or not.. :p ) thanx for reminding compatibility issue though

any other suggestions ?

Avatar for sneaks

======= Date Modified 15 Dec 2011 23:10:57 =======
isn't there a simple version of latex where you don't have to learn the coding??

ok found it - I think its free.


My other half uses lyxx and swears by it. It has a reasonably easy to pick up GUI an dyou don't have to learn all the LaTeX commands.

I would like to point out that I have LESS problems controlling the position of images in the text in word and open office than I do in LaTeX (which decides on the positions for you, initially, unlike word or office where you are able to specifically determine where they should go in the document. There are, however, commands you can use in LaTeX that will allow to specify positions etc).

My guess is that whatever you choose, you will have a learning curve to do your image manipulation.

Hope this helps.


@cplusplusgirl: I'd not try to control where your images are going to show up in the page; if you start doing that you'll just experience a painful death of frustration. But I can understand that you're unhappy with Word and its idiosyncrasies; plus learning LaTex is equally painful, especially since it's markup is so awfully designed!

Although I think Lyxx is not a bad option, I prefer the **reStructuredText** (rST) markup: It's a very natural system to write complex content, has almost no learning curve, and you get (with the right tools) the same quality PDF like with LaTex.

rST tools support:

My personal choice number one is, since it has a straight forward user interface and allows you to quickly export PDFs (or HTML; or even LaTex); one disadvantage has is that there is currently only one template you can choose from. It does allow you to change the layout, colors etc. but for that you need some LaTex knowledge.

Keeping the content in a *presentation agnostic* markup like rST has huge advantages: You can easily convert your thesis to PDFs, HTML, LaTex, EPUB (e-book format) and many more target formats; see also Pandoc (a universal document converter) which you can use for that purpose.

If you don't need a user interface and are a hard core *command line* girl, then you can directly use SPHINX with TexLive -- upon which relies on -- and create PDFs locally: The disadvantage is that you're almost required to work on a GNU/Linux distribution, have (very large) packages installed and configure/manage everything yourself.