What Is a Word Processing Document?

by Aurelio Locsin; Updated September 26, 2017
What Is a Word Processing Document?

Text produced at the office used to come only from careful penmanship or fast typing. This required much care in creating a document and much time when corrections were needed. Today, business text is easy to change and quick to produce because of word-processing software and computers, both of which are common work tools.

Description

A word-processing document is any text-based document that looks the same whether it is viewed on a computer screen or printed out in a hard copy. Because you create these manuscripts using computer software, you can quickly enter text and interactively change the general layout or word appearance.

Software

The most common word-processing software is Word, which is part of the larger Microsoft Office Suite. Its main disadvantage is the high cost, though other commercial competitors such as Corel WordPerfect exist. Other free alternatives include the Internet-based Google Docs and the open-source program OpenOffice Writer, both of which can open and manipulate Word files. Note that among many supported file extension, Word commonly uses doc and docx.

Styles

Word-processing documents generally use styles, which enforce consistency among different elements of a long manuscript. For example, you can define a header style to appear with a specific font, color and size. You can then apply this style all the titles of the document. If you decide that you would like to change the appearance of the headers, for example by increasing the font size, you do not have to individually change each title. Instead, adjust the Header style and all the text to which the style is applied automatically changes as well.

References

References change text automatically depending on the circumstances. For example, you can generate a table of contents and index with page numbers. If you happen to change the number of pages, you do not have to individually adjust the page references. Instead, these numbers automatically adjust when you print the document.

Transferability

A word-processing document can easily exchange information with other types of software. For example, rather than laboriously redrawing a budget pie chart each time percentages change, you can import the chart from a spreadsheet program. Thus, by changing the number on the spreadsheet, you automatically adjust the chart in the document. Similarly, if the manuscript contains information like names and addresses that you would like to use in a separate program, you can easily export that data for further processing.

About the Author

Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.

Photo Credits

  • Adria Richards: Flickr.com