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Writing with iPad: Portable and Practical for Students and Professionals

iPad: An Effective Tool for Writing


Writers tend to be habitual folks. We like our usual coffee cup, a particular radio station playing in the background, and a specific brand of pencil. Still, in the age of word processing, even writers should try to keep up with technological opportunities for change. Case in point: using the iPad as a primary writing tool. The first iPad that came into my home didn’t have a word processing program, and I couldn’t understand what possible use it could be without one! Now, iPad has the same word processing capabilities as any other personal computing system. Whether a writer prefers an on-screen keyboard or a wireless keyboard, the iPad is no longer considered only an entertainment gadget, but embraced as a primary writers tool, especially for student essay writers and writers on the move!



The iPad is a perfect choice for writers who like to step away from a traditional desk and work in coffee shops, on airplanes, or anywhere that taking an unwieldy laptop is impractical. Even with a detachable keyboard, the iPad is still lighter and more compact than most laptop computers, and for those comfortable with the onscreen keyboard, it’s almost as portable as a phone. It’s worth attempting an on-screen keyboard. Even highly skeptical writers report positive experiences, and the unbelievable variety of apps available for iPad is another reason it is becoming an essential part of a writing tool-kit.




Applications for the iPad abound, and writers can choose from simple note-taking programs to intricate tools that allow detailed manipulation of documents. iA Writer is one of the least expensive and most functional writing apps on the market. This sleek app is intended for writing and editing. Its design is spare and functional and intended to produce clean text and little else. Its four modes: note, write, edit and read, exhibit only subtle differences in typography, but otherwise their functions are comparable. Also, documents in iA Writer sync with iCloud or Dropbox. This an essential feature for college students, who often share research essays and assignments back and forth with instructors numerous times. Syntax Control is another feature of iA Writer that is invaluable for students. It identifies awkward noun phrases and spots other structural and grammatical errors.


Penultimate is the app preferred by the pen and paper set. It allows writers to create notebooks and offers options including different paper styles, and highlighters. There are no forced page breaks with this app, which allows writers to continue with a topic ad infinitum!


Something to consider when choosing a writing app for iPad is how smoothly the app transitions between devices. Ulysses III is a text-editing app with organizational tools and menus that transfer easily and produces web-ready documents. It uses Markdown, which is the most prevalent text-to-HTML writing tool currently in use. The main critique of Ulysses III is that it doesn’t allow movement of documents to other programs. So, Ulysses III is for writers looking for an all-in-one program.


Other apps for iPad support writing with organizational tools, vocabulary building and brainstorming programs, audio and video feedback, image and illustration manipulation and etc.. In fact, the many available tools address all phases of the traditional writing process. Be warned! Using an iPad for writing tasks is habit forming. Compact packed with fun distractions and trendy writing applications; the iPad may become a writer’s new best friend.


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