Top 5 free alternatives to Microsoft Word for students


Ask any student what programmes they use to write their notes or assignments and they might just say Microsoft Word. After all, it has been the go-to programme for students for years, but there are free alternatives to Microsoft Word that have risen in popularity.

While you could apply to access Office 365 Education for free as a student, here are five outstanding—and free — alternatives for you to consider if you are considering moving away from the blue box: 

free alternatives to Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a common staple among students, but these free alternatives can help you to save some cash as an international student. Source: Ethan Miller/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

Five free alternatives to Microsoft Word

1. Google Docs

Google Docs allows you to create, collaborate, and share documents, spreadsheets, presentations, drawings and forms. It is packed with cool features, which you can further extend with various add-ons, some of which are free while others are paid.

Once you start writing on Google Docs, it will automatically save the file online and store it in the cloud. You can also save the file in various formats; choices range from Microsoft Word (.docx), plain text (.txt), among others. You also can work on the document offline even when you are disconnected from the internet.

The best part is you only need to create a Google account to start typing on Google Docs. It’s easy, free, and convenient to use.

2. Dropbox Paper

Dropbox Paper is a free online word processor that Dropbox offers. Its minimalist interface is very intuitive, and its simplicity allows you to focus on creating the content that you desire.

Aside from creating a textual document, you can also add media such as audio, video and images. It also allows you to access apps that would enable you to embed Trello cards, YouTube videos, or SlideShare decks. Other collaborative features include:

  • Document link-sharing
  • Creating and assigning checklist items to members
  • Embedding one of your Dropbox documents

To use Dropbox Paper, you must create a Dropbox account.

free alternatives to Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word online is the free counterpart of Microsoft Word, which you can use if you have a OneDrive account. Source: Tim Heitman/Getty Images North America/Getty Images/AFP

3. Microsoft Word online

If you are a Microsoft Word enthusiast looking for its free counterpart, Microsoft Word online is an option to consider. Its cross-platform compatibility allows Chromebook and Linux OS users to use this word-processing document.

Although the free version is not a full-fledged version of its paid counterpart, Microsoft Word online still allows you to open, create, and edit Word documents. It also offers additional benefits of online software tools such as accessing and checking for updates from co-authors to your Microsoft Word documents in real time.

To access Microsoft Word online, you can access it through your Microsoft OneDrive account. Microsoft Word online is part of the Office Online suite.

4. Zoho Docs

Another lesser-known alternative to Microsoft Word is Zoho Docs. Personal users get free 5GB of storage space, and it has a straightforward and friendly interface. 

Its Word-style tabbed menu along the top of the screen gives this online office suite a professional feel. Unfortunately, it does not have an extensive selection of Google Web Fonts, but there is an adequate selection that suits the needs of most users. 

Like Google Docs, you can import and export documents in a .docx format, while collaborating on a document and reviewing changes is intuitive and seamless. Zoho Docs also automatically saves your document as you type, just like Google Docs. 

Click here to sign up for a free account.

5. LibreOffice

Despite a slightly old-fashioned appearance, LibreOffice is a solid replacement for Microsoft’s programme. LibreOffice Writer comes with useful features such as auto-save, track changes and comment. You can also open and edit the documents you made in Microsoft Word and save new files in that format.

The interface of this software is fresh and clean, with quick access toolbars that make it easy to edit and format your documents. There is also the option to export your documents as PDFs, and you can also find all the usual word processor mainstays in LibreOffice. 

Click here to download the LibreOffice package for free.

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