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What is Microsoft Word?

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You may or may not be a Microsoft user. But it is highly likely that you have heard of Microsoft Word or even used it. It is a word processing program that is extensively used. In case you have not heard of MS Word, do not worry! This article will discuss everything you need to know about Microsoft Word.

What is Microsoft Word?

What is Microsoft Word?

Microsoft Word is a word processing program. Microsoft developed and released the first version of MS Word in the year 1983. Since then, numerous versions have been released. With every new version, Microsoft tries to introduce a bunch of new features. Microsoft Word is a necessary application for anyone who works with the creation and maintenance of documents. It is called a word processor because it is used to process (perform actions such as manipulate, format, share.) text documents.

Note: * many other names also know Microsoft Word – MS Word, WinWord, or only Word.

*The first version was developed by Richard Brodie and Charles Simonyi.

We initially mentioned that you might have heard of it even if you have not used it, as it is the most popular word processor. It is included in the Microsoft Office suite. Even the most basic suite has MS Word included in it. Although it is a part of the suite, it can be bought as a standalone product too.

 It is suitable for personal and professional use because of its robust features (which we will be discussing in the following sections). Today, MS Word is not just limited to Microsoft users. It is available on Mac, Android, iOS and has a web version as well.

A brief history

The first-ever version of MS Word, which was released in 1983, was developed by Richard Brodie and Charles Simonyi. At that time, the leading processor was WordPerfect. It was so popular that the first version of Word did not connect with the users. But Microsoft worked continuously to improve the look and features of their word processor.

Initially, the word processor was called Multi-tool Word. It was based on the Bravo framework – the first-ever graphical writing program. In October 1983, it was re-christened Microsoft Word.

In 1985, Microsoft released a new version of Word. This one was available on Mac devices too.

The next release was in 1987. This was a significant release as Microsoft introduced support for Rich text format in this version.

With Windows 95 and Office 95, Microsoft introduced a bundled set of office productivity software. With this release, MS Word saw a significant rise in sales.

Before the 2007 version, all Word files carried the default extension .doc. From the 2007 version onwards, .docx is the default format.

The basic uses of MS Word 

MS Word has a wide range of uses. It can be sued to create reports, letters, resumes, and all kinds of documents. If you are wondering why it is preferred over a plain-text editor, it has many useful features like – text and font formatting, image support, advanced page layout, HTML support, spell check, grammar check, etc.

MS Word also contains templates to create the following documents – newsletter, brochure, catalog, poster, banner, resume, business card, receipt, invoice, etc.… You can also use MS Word to create personal documents like an invitation, certificate, etc.

Also Read: How To Start Microsoft Word In Safe Mode

Which user needs to buy MS Word?

Now that we know the history behind MS Word and the basic uses let us determine who needs Microsoft Word. Whether or not you need MS Word depends on the kind of documents you usually work on. If you work on basic documents with just paragraphs and bulleted lists, you may make use of the WordPad application, which is available in all-new versions – Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10. However, if you want to access more features, then you will need Microsoft Word. 

MS Word offers a huge range of styles and designs that you can apply to your documents. Long documents can be formatted easily. With modern versions of MS Word, you can include much more than just text. You can add images, videos (from your system and the internet), insert charts, draw shapes, etc.

If you are using the word processor to create documents for your blog, write a book, or for other professional purposes, you would want to set margins, tabs, format the text, insert page breaks and change the spacing between lines. With MS Word, you can accomplish all these activities. You can also add headers, footers, add a bibliography, captions, tables, etc.

Do you have MS Word on your system? 

Well, you have now decided that it is better to use MS Word for your documents. Chances are, you already have Microsoft Word on your system. How to check whether you have the application? Check out the following steps to determine whether you already have it on your device.

1. Open the start menu and type msinfo32 and press enter.

In the search field located on your taskbar, type msinfo32 and press Enter

2. You can see a menu on the left side. To the left of the third option ‘software environment,’ you can see a small + sign. Click on the +.

3. The menu will expand. Click on program groups.

4. Search for MS Office entry.

Do you have MS Word on your system

5. Mac users can check if they have MS Word by searching in the Finder sidebar in Applications.

6. In case you do not have MS Word on your system, how to get it?

You can get the latest version of MS Word from Microsoft 365. You can purchase either a monthly subscription or purchase Microsoft Office. Various suites are listed on the Microsoft Store. You can compare the suites and then purchase whatever suits your work style. 

If you have installed MS Word in your system, but you cannot find it in the start menu, you can go through the following steps to launch the application. (These steps are for Windows 10 users)

1. Open This PC.

2. Go to C: Drive (or whichever drive Microsoft Office has been installed in).

3. Look for the folder named Program Files (x86). Click on it. Then go to the Microsoft Office folder.

4. Now open the root folder.

5. In this folder, look for a folder named OfficeXX (XX – the current version of Office). Click on it

In Microsoft Folder look for a folder named OfficeXX where XX is the version of Office

6. In this folder, search for an application file Winword.exe. Double click the file.

Main features of MS Word

Irrespective of the version of MS Word you are using, the interface is somewhat similar. Given below is a snapshot of the Microsoft Word interface to provide you with an idea. You have the main menu with a range of options such as a file, home, inset, design, layout, references, etc. These options help you in manipulating the text, formatting, applying different styles, etc.

The interface is quite user-friendly. One can intuitively figure out how to open or save a document. By default, a page in MS Word has 29 lines.

Microsoft Word interface to provide you with an idea

1. The format

As mentioned in the history part, documents created in the older versions of MS Word had the format. This was called a proprietary format because files of that format were fully supported only in MS Word. Although some other applications could open these files, all features were not supported.

Now, the default format for Word files is .docx. The x in docx stands for the XML standard. Files are in the format are less likely to get corrupted. Specific other applications can also read Word documents.

2. Text and formatting

With MS Word, Microsoft has given the user so many options in style and formatting. Specific creative layouts that previously could be created only using graphic design software can now be created in MS Word itself!

Adding visuals to your text document always creates a better impact on the reader. Here you can not only add tables and charts, or pictures from different sources; you can also format the pictures.

Also Read: How to Insert a PDF into a Word Document

3. Print and export

You can print your document by going to File à Print. This will open a preview of how your document will be printed.

MS Word can be used to create documents in other file formats too. For this, you have the exporting feature. PDF is the most common format Word documents are exported to. At the same time, you are sharing documents through mail, on a website, etc. PDF is the preferred format. You can create your original document in MS Word and simply change the extension from the dropdown menu while saving the file.

4. MS Word Templates

If you are not comfortable with graphic design, you can use the built-in templates available in MS Word. There are tons of templates for creating resumes, invitations, student project reports, office reports, certificates, event brochures, etc. These templates can be freely downloaded and used. They are designed by professionals, and thus their looks reflect the quality and experience of their makers.

If you are not satisfied with the range of templates, you can use premium Word templates. Many websites provide professional-grade templates for an affordable subscription rate. Other websites provide templates on a pay-per-use basis where you only pay for the templates you use.

Recommended: What is a Service Pack?

Apart from the above features, there are many more. Let us briefly discuss the other salient features now:

  • Compatibility is a strong feature of MS Word. Word files are compatible with other applications within the MS Office suite and many other programs as well.
  • On the page-level, you have features such as alignment, justification, indentation, and paragraphing.
  • On the text-level, bold, underline, italic, strikethrough, subscript, superscript, font size, style, color, etc. are some features.
  • Microsoft Word comes with a built-in dictionary for checking the spellings in your documents. Spelling mistakes are highlighted with a jagged red line. Some minor errors are automatically corrected too!
  • WYSIWYG – This is an acronym for ‘what you see is what you get.’ This means that when you shift the document to a different format/program or printed, everything appears exactly like how it is seen on the screen.
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Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

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