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Writing on a tablet: secrets and the best apps

Writing on a tablet: secrets and the best apps

We all know that tablets are the greatest thing to happen to mankind since Shakespeare. But he never had to write on one. And though everyone agrees that tablets really have made life better, if there's one thing that we also agree on, it's that they'll never replace the desktop or laptop when it comes to writing. Society also said no one would want to read a book on a tablet but that proved false.

There's a good reason why. Whenever anyone makes a statement about something not being possible in computer technology, the world's software manufacturers see a challenge. There's nothing like throwing down the gauntlet to get the computing giants to don their battle gear and start competing for the crown. It's happened with eBooks, and now it's happening with tablet writing tools.

Gone are the days when we thought the tablet would never work as a word processor. A huge range of apps and software is constantly being developed to make sure we never go back to the dark ages. Not only are these making note-taking easier and more accurate, they also give you the capability to produce professional documents from the comfort of your own tablet. So here are a few secrets and some of the best apps — good enough to make Shakespeare wish he was a 21st century freelance writer.

Go sideways

The best secrets are the simplest ones — when you open your writing software, take your tablet and turn it sideways. It may seem obvious but it's amazing how many people overlook the basics. On its side, your tablet screen gives you a touchpad keyboard that is roughly the same size as a laptop keyboard. If you're still struggling to type on the smaller models, just make sure you choose one of the bigger-screen tablets. They range from around 7" to 11" and the bigger they are, the easier it is to type.

Hidden accents

Another great little secret that makes the touchpad so user friendly is you don't have to waste time searching for special characters. If you hold your finger on a key it will provide you with all the variations you need such as accents or other options. And once you get used to this function, you'll find it a far more easy and efficient system than that provided by the traditional keyboard.

Invest in accessories

For those of you who are still anti-touchpad, or for anyone working on more than the usual number of office emails, the second simple solution is to invest in a compatible keyboard. Keep in mind that a good Bluetooth® keypad keeps things tidy and uncluttered. Many models out there come with a docking station so you can rest your tablet on the keypad and — hey presto — you've got yourself a mini laptop. (But don't worry — it's still a tablet!)

The apps for writing

So now that you know the basic tricks of the trade, let's talk about what software you need to use them on. Evernote® is pretty much the gold standard and offers constant updates and developments. It's a whole new generation of software compared to the original iPhone® app. Not only can you write and add photos, audio and video images, you can also attach Web sites and text notes. Not to mention the fact that it's free and has inclusive Web sync, so any notes or documents will automatically be updated on your Mac® or PC, or any other device you choose.

If you're looking for a more formal approach to writing, it's worth investing in Docs To Go®. This allows you to create, read and edit Microsoft® Office docs on your tablet (even if you're not on a Windows® OS). All the usual functions are in place like font, paragraphing and color options. And it also works with online storage systems like Dropboxreg;, which means you can sync your docs with your desktop.

A final must-have app is for long-hand writing and comes in the form of Windows Journal, which is included with the Windows XP Tablet OS. This allows you to do more than simply take and organize long-hand notes; it also lets you hand-annotate anything from a PDF file to a Web page. On top of this you can then share your notes and annotated docs with anyone who has the free Windows Journal Viewer — great if you're part of a team. As with all the other writing programs, the providers are working hard to come out with new upgrades that include the latest handwriting-recognition software.

So if you haven't already begun, now's the time to start writing on your tablet. Because with all the newest software innovations, this isn't a renaissance. It's a revolution.

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