written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 2/4/2011
If you need to write and create documents, word processing software is absolutely essential. Microsoft Word is one of the world's most popular word processing applications, but is it the best program for you? This article introduces you to several examples of word processing software beyond Word.
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What Is Word Processing Software?
Many companies use Microsoft Word for their word processing needs, but it is not the only product on the market. Review these examples of word processing software to learn about your options including free programs and web-based word processors.
Many word processors have additional functions and features to manage graphics, create advanced formatting or perform desktop publishing. Word processors should ultimately focus on their core function, which is editing documents and making the writing process painless.
Whether you need to take notes, write office memos or pen books, there is a word processing application that suits your needs. Try out a few different programs to see which one is best for you.
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Microsoft Word: The World's Most Popular Word Processor
Microsoft Word is the one of the world’s most popular word processing programs and for good reason. In use for more than twenty years, Word has a number of valuable functions beneficial for any writing tasks including spell check, grammar check and numerous fonts. The built-in templates help writers create attractive resumes, letters, memos and other documents quickly. The Review features (e.g. Track Changes, Comment, etc.) are vital for people who need to track the input and changes from editors and colleagues. Word has only a few drawbacks: cost (usually over $100), technical requirements, and complexity (the sheer number of features can be overwhelming to a novice).
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Open Office Writer: A Free Word Processor For Your Desktop
Compatible with Microsoft Word formats, Open Office Writer is a free application that can be installed on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The layout of the program is similar in some respects to Word, but the functionality is less sophisticated. If you need to write a book, documents with sophisticated formatting or require a variety of templates, Writer is not the best choice. If you a limited budget and have basic needs, though, then Open Office Writer may be the word processing software for you.
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Google Docs: A Basic Web Based Word Processor
Google Docs is a free suite of office productivity applications that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program and other programs. Collaboration and offsite storage on Google’s servers are the main advantages of this program. You can easily invite other people to work on a document with you without worrying about your hard drive failing and destroying your documents. Unfortunately, the disadvantage to this free word processor is the very basic functionality. You cannot easily create footnotes, tables of contents, and other features. In addition, font choices are comparatively limited. Finally, some organization restrict the use of web based applications for security and privacy reasons so check your IT policies before using this kind of application. To use Google Docs, you need to sign up for a free Google account.
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Zoho Writer: Replacement for Microsoft Word?
Like Google Docs, Zoho Writer is a web based word processing application that is free to use. Unlike Google Docs, Zoho specializes in office applications so there are more features available to users. Zoho’s best features include document templates, integration with other Zoho office applications and over 1 GB of free storage. One final feature will be of interest to online writers: Zoho Writer can directly post to WordPress, LiveJournal and other blog platforms.
Now that you have reviewed these examples of word processing software, you are ready to try them out and see which one you like best. Many writers use more than program - some prefer web based word processing software for note taking and brainstorming but use traditional desktop-based software to write longer projects.
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Word Processing Software Resources
The examples of word processing software in this article introduce to some of the industry's leading programs. Writers with specialized needs - such as publishing and scientific work - may find these examples of word processing software fail to meet their needs. However, the popularity of these examples means that support is easier to find than it would be for specialized programs. So try out the programs described here first before you move on to programs that are more specialized.
Google Docs - http://docs.google.com/
LaTeX - http://www.latex-project.org/ (a free program often used for technical and scientific writing)
Microsoft Word - http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word/
Open Office Writer - http://www.openoffice.org/product/writer.html