Screen Size - A question for writers

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by mattd77, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. mattd77 macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Hi everyone,

    I've been lurking for some time and can normally find everything I need and more by searching. But there doesn't appear to be any posts on this subject so I decided to register and ask myself.

    I am in the market to replace my 4yr old MacBook which is beginning to show it's age despite a new SSD. I'm pretty sure that any of the current MacBook models out there will be powerful enough for me, but my question is more one of ergonomics.

    I am trying to fulfill a long term desire to write. I have downloaded the excellent Celtx (it was both recommended and free) and am pretty happy with it, but do find that I don't seem to have a lot of room for the actual text. I wonder if this is a quirk of this type of software, or perhaps a common complaint for this size screen.

    So, my question to all the writers out there is what size screen do you write on/would you recommend?

    If it helps with recommendations; this is my main machine and only really travels from room to room in the house but I do not have anywhere I could set up a desktop. I have an iPad for when I am out about so have crossed the MBA11" off the list completely.

    Any help or comments greatly appreciated.

  2. stridemat Moderator


    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Im not a writer per say, however when I was writing my University dissertation a large screen was extremely useful. Not only does it make reading the screen much easier, it also means you can have multiple windows open alongside each other.
  3. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I hate writing on my 13" MBA. I write for a big technology site and usually when I write, it means I need to have at least two windows side by side (the document and browser/PDF for the data). On MBA this is pain in my ass because it's pretty much impossible. That is why I do almost all of my writing on my 24" iMac. Of course, I would prefer the new 27" :D
  4. wordsworth macrumors regular

    Apr 7, 2011
    I'm a freelance editor and writer. I do a lot of work for a music magazine. I don't have any real problem working with raw text in Pages and Word. I usually use Palatino 14pt at 150% and my eyes don't feel the strain. This is on a white MacBook.

    I suppose it depends on what you're planning to do and I acknowledge that, as I often shuffle around various folders and fact-check online, the desktop can get cramped. However, when it all gets too cluttered or especially when I'm proofing PDF pages, I switch on my 23 inch Hanns-G monitor and take advantage of the extra space available.

    It's good to have both options in screen size, though I used a 15 inch G3 iMac for several years and I got by pretty well. Working with raw text, editing it, formatting it and the like, is straightforward really. The extra screen size is very useful for proofing. I don't feel the need to use the larger monitor all the time, however. That's my experience at any rate.
  5. mattd77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Thanks everyone.

    From what I am hearing it sounds like I need a 15" screen as a 13" won't cut it and I found 17" laptops too big and bulky.

    Ideally I'd get a new MacBook (i don't need the power of a Pro) and just hook up to an external monitor but I really don't have the room for anything other than a laptop.

    Anyone who uses a 13" as their primary/only machine and strongly disagrees please let me know.

  6. FuNGi macrumors 65816


    Feb 26, 2010
    Hi Matt,

    I use a 13" Air, a 15" MBP, and a 24" ACD (at work office) to write and analyze data on. Obviously the external monitor affords ample space when I'm using multiple documents but if I had to pick just one of the laptops then I would go for a 15" with a high resolution screen. Look on the refurb store ( for yester-years model with a high-res screen.

    I am currently working on a scientific paper at home on my 13" and it is fine as long as I'm not having to have documents side by side. The 13" Air is currently the same resolution as my 15" MBP from late 2008 - that is why I said to get the high res 15" if you can.

    Good luck.
  7. mattd77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Thanks FuNGi

    I nearly pulled the trigger on a 15"MBP last night but part of me wants the 13" screen to be enough - it's the perfect footprint to me.

    Going to try an write a few pages on my MacBook and see how it feels. I can se me having a fully loaded MBP by the weekend though lol.
  8. durruti macrumors regular


    Mar 26, 2004
    don't forget to consider matte or glossy.

    I like matte.
  9. mattd77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Yep, that's another thing making it harder to decide. I've viewed them both inthe Apple store and still can't pick a favourite.
  10. harrisondavies macrumors 6502


    Nov 21, 2010
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    I am an author, and before switching to MBP from PC, I used CELTX (Still do as a matter of fact), but I also used MyNovel for PC, and was lost when I couldn't find a replacement.

    Then I found Scrivener which replaced the PC software. Now I can churn out my novel with ease.

    I certainly wouldn't drop below 15" Hi-Res. I actually wish I'd gone 17" just for pure screen real estate, but 15" does me just great.
  11. whooleytoo macrumors 604


    Aug 2, 2002
    Cork, Ireland.
    I'm still (unfortunately) just an amateur writer, but I love using OmmWriter. It's a fullscreen writing app (with relaxing visuals and sounds) so it makes the most of smaller screens.

    The only pity is it doesn't allow you to select custom visuals, but that's not exactly relevant to your question.. :p
  12. Young Spade macrumors 68020

    Mar 31, 2011
    Tallahassee, Florida
    I use OmmWriter as well; I don't really write anything "long" or full featured articles, just responses to various topics that I read in my Philosophy text. The ambiant sounds and unique backgrounds OmmnWriter offers is great.

    I use a 13 inch MacBook myself and love the screen size; I never have to really have two windows open though so I dont' really deal with size problems; I would definitely try a 15 inch though and see how that holds up.
  13. mattd77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Thanks again everyone for all the helpful replies.

    harrisondavies - did you go for the glossy or matte screen? I have heard that the matte can be a bit blurry and uncomfortable to use for long periods. Looked fine to me in the shop, but 5 minutes in a busy well lit shop is different to extended periods of real world use. Be good to hear what you think.
  14. benhollberg macrumors 68020


    Mar 8, 2010
    I am a writer with a 17" MacBook Pro. I am always wanting more screen space for writing. I like glossy displays personally.
  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor


    Jul 29, 2008
    The Far Horizon
    I suppose I could fall into this category too, as I have written quite a bit (books, reports, articles and edited the works of others).

    Since 2000, I have worked with laptops - I had a 15" Toshiba and a 15" MBP both of which were excellent. These days, I have a 13" MBA, which I love (I travel a lot and portability and weight are an issue). It is my sole computer and I am pretty happy with that, as I found I didn't need my MBP with the MBA.

    However, and it is a big however, for detailed and lengthy writing, the screen of the MBA - despite the excellent resolution - can be a bit small. I must admit that I rarely have two windows open at the same time when writing (or, I try not to), as that, too, can be a bit of a nuisance. Moreover, - given that I wear spectacles also - I find that sometimes I have to increase the font size, or actual folder/document on the screen in order to be able to read what is in front of me. So, yes, the 15" was probably easier to write lengthy pieces with, although thus, far, I have been more than happy with the MBA.

    Best of luck with it.

  16. mattd77 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jul 3, 2011
    Well a 15" MBP with matte screen is on the way. My work laptop is a matte screen and, despite being inferior in every other way to my personal machine, it is more comfortable to look at for extended periods of time.

    Got the SSD upgrade too (couldn't go back to HDD now).

    Bit of a shambles on the delivery options but hopefully I won't have to wait too long.

    Thanks again to everyone for your thoughts and advice.

  17. Lagmonster macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2007
    My SO is an editor/writer and it drives me crazy that she spends so many hours on such a small screen (14" dell). She turns out quite a bit of volume. Offers to set up a better workstation are rebuffed.

Share This Page