Here is a collection of popular word processing tools (this is not a ranked list):
1. Microsoft Word/Libre Office ($46.99/Free)
Most people are familiar with the Microsoft Office suite, which includes such things as Word, Powerpoint and Excel. As far as Word goes, it works well for typing documents, and is generally user friendly. However, I found that as soon as I tried to do more complicated things (like pagination) and wanted to add notes, or have additional information that wasn’t necessarily going to make it into the main document, Word had a few issues. As a basic word processing tool, it works.
Libre Office is the Unix/Open Source version of Microsoft Word. It is a free software, which is a huge point in its favour. And it has pretty much all the same features as Microsoft Word, with a few things being much easier to do, in my opinion. I have used Libre Office for years and it worked well for shorter documents of about 4K words up to larger documents of full novel length. The reason that I list Libre Office and Microsoft Word together is that they have the same problems when you try to do something out of the usual, such as pagination or adding information that isn’t going to make it into the final product (which requires separate documents).
Both are good, but fairly basic.
2. Google Docs (Free)
As far as easy, user-friendly and basic word processing programs go, Google Docs is a great one. It allows you to do pretty much everything that you would be able to do with Microsoft Word or Libre Office (minus a few of the more complex pieces that most people don’t use all that often). The big bonus with Google Docs is that you can sync documents easily across devices, thereby allowing you to work on your document just about anywhere. You don’t necessarily need internet access to work on the document, but if you want it to save or sync, you do, which is problematic for people who want to work on the go and don’t want to use data.
Another feature of Google Docs is the ability to share easily. You can invite people to work with you on the document, give them read-only ability or just have them comment. As user-friendly as Google Docs is, I find it a bit simplistic for putting together a full novel or outlines. Again, you run into issues when trying to do some of the more complicated formatting when preparing for publication.
That being said, you can apply add-ons to Google Docs, such as grammar checkers, quite easily that allow you to work more efficiently. The effectiveness of these add-ons is variable.
3. Scrivener ($46)
Scrivener is a word processing program designed to be everything you could possibly need. It allows you to prepare outlines, add images, notes, front matter, references, and much, much more. It is a useful program, designed for writers. It also has pre-made templates that can easily create a novel, novel in parts, plays, non-fiction pieces in various citation styles, or blank. Scrivener allows you to upload documents into the system, so you don’t have to copy/paste or retype anything outside the program. It also allows you to export your projects into a number of different file types (including PDF, .docx, .odt, and more) with formatting already in place according to the template you chose.
As all-encompassing as Scrivener is, it does require a bit of a learning curve. Going through the tutorial is extremely useful, but will likely take a full afternoon. After that, you just have to play with the program for a while. There is a more advanced tutorial if you really require customisation, but for most of the features, that is not required.
Scrivener does allow you to store extra information without necessarily requiring it to be in the final project. This can eliminate the number of document you have open when working on a project. It also works with the other Literature & Latte tool, Scappel, which allows you to create mindmaps and plan out projects on a large scale.