word processor

A word processor is a computer program that provides special capabilities beyond that of a text editor such as the WordPad program that comes as part of Microsoft's Windows operating systems.

A word processor is a computer program that provides special capabilities beyond that of a text editor such as the WordPad program that comes as part of Microsoft's Windows operating systems. The term originated to distinguish text building programs that were "easy to use" from conventional text editors, and to suggest that the program was more than just an "editor." An early user of this term was Wang, which made a popular workstation system designed especially for secretaries and anyone else who created business letters and other documents.

In general, word processors screen the user from structural or printer-formatting markup (although WordPerfect and other word processors optionally let you see the markup they insert in your text). Without visible markup, it's possible to describe a word processor as having a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) user interface.

The most popular word processor is Microsoft Word, which is often purchased as part of Microsoft's Office suite. However, there are a number of other general and specialized word processors that have a user following.

This was first published in September 2005

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