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What Is Microsoft Word?

Get to know Microsoft’s Word processing program

The Splash Screen for Microsoft Word
Tech Logical

Microsoft Word is perhaps the most well-known Microsoft 365 platform, and it is the go-to word processing app for many people.

Sometimes called MS Word, Winword, or Word, Microsoft Word is a word processing program created by Microsoft in 1983. Since then, Microsoft has released a slew of updated versions, each with more features and better technology than the last. Microsoft 365 is the most recent web-based version of Microsoft Word, but Microsoft Office 2019 includes Word 2019.

Word is still one of the best apps for writing in 2022, regardless of genre. It includes an extensive (and at times befuddling) set of features, a plethora of templates, and the performance and dependability that one would expect from a Microsoft product. In short, if you need to create or edit a text-based document, there isn’t much you can’t do with Microsoft Word.

All Microsoft Office application suites, including Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel, are also included in the most basic (and least expensive) suites. Other Office programs, such as Microsoft Outlook and Skype for Business, are available in additional suites.

Microsoft Word is available for Windows, Android, macOS, iOS, and iPadOS. It can also run on the Linux operating system with the help of WINE. Although it works best on desktops and iPads, its mobile apps help make last-minute changes to documents or jot down ideas while on the go.

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What is Microsoft Word used for?

Microsoft Word allows users to create high-quality documents, reports, letters, and résumés. Unlike a plain text editor, Microsoft Word has features like spell and grammar check, text and font formatting, HTML support, image support, advanced page layout, etc.

What does the Microsoft Word editor look like?

Below is an overview of a Microsoft Word 2021 document.

Microsoft Word document overview

Do you need Microsoft Word?

You don’t need to buy Microsoft Word if you only want to create simple documents with paragraphs, bulleted and numbered lists, and minimal formatting. However, if you need to do more, you’ll need a more powerful word processing program. You can use the WordPad application with Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

With Microsoft Word, you can format long documents with a single click by selecting from various preconfigured styles and designs. You can also import images and videos from your computer and the internet, draw shapes, and create and insert multiple charts.

Suppose you’re writing a book or creating a brochure. In that case, you can use Microsoft Word’s features to set margins and tabs, insert page breaks, create columns, and even configure the spacing between lines, which you can’t do effectively (or at all) in WordPad or an application like Abiword. Some features allow you to create a table of contents quickly. Add bibliographies, captions, a table of figures, and even cross-references. You can also include footnotes, headers, and footers.

If any of these sounds like things you’d like to do with your next writing project, you’ll need Microsoft Word.

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Do You Have Microsoft Word?

You may already have a copy of Microsoft Word on your computer, tablet, or phone. You should find out before making a purchase.

To check if you have installed Microsoft Word on your Windows or Mac device, do the following:

On Windows

  1. Enter msinfo32 into the Search window on the Taskbar (Windows 10), the Start screen (Windows 8.1), or the Search window on the Start menu (Windows 7).
  2. Next to Software Environment, click the plus (+) sign.
  3. Select Program Groups.
  4. Look for an entry for Microsoft Office.

On Mac

To check if you have a version of Word on your Mac:

  1. Open Finder.
  2. Select Applications.
  3. Locate Microsoft Office or Microsoft Word.

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How to open Microsoft Word without using a mouse

1. To start, press the Windows key.

Press the Windows key

2. Type Word in the “Type here to search” bar and select the Microsoft Word entry.

Type Word and select the Microsoft Word entry

3. If Microsoft Word does not open after selecting it from the search results, press Enter to open it.

What type of files can Microsoft Word create and use?

Early versions of Microsoft Word created and used the .doc file extension. In contrast, later versions of Word generate and use the .docx file extension.

Most recent versions of Microsoft Word can create and open the following types of files:

  • .doc.docm.docx
  • .dot.dotm.dotx
  • .htm.html
  • .mht.mhtml
  • .odt
  • .pdf
  • .rtf
  • .txt
  • .wps
  • .xps
  • .xml

Where to Get Microsoft Word

Suppose you are sure that you do not already have a Microsoft Office suite. In that case, you can obtain the most recent version of Microsoft Word through Microsoft 365 subscription. Microsoft 365, on the other hand, is a monthly subscription. If you don’t want to pay monthly, consider buying Office outright. At the Microsoft Store, you can compare and buy all available editions and suites. If you don’t mind waiting, you can get Microsoft Word 2019 later this year by purchasing the Microsoft Office 2019 suite.

Note: You can get Microsoft 365 free from some employers, community colleges, and universities to their employees and students.

The History of Microsoft Word

There have been numerous versions of the Microsoft Office suite over the years. Most of these versions ranged from low-cost suites that only included the essential apps (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) to higher-priced suites with some or all of them (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, OneNote, SharePoint, Exchange, Skype, and more). These suite editions include “Office Home and Student,” “Microsoft 365 Family & Personal,” or “Office Professional.” There are far too many combinations to list here, but it’s worth noting that Word comes standard with any suite you purchase.

Here are the recent Microsoft Office Suites that include Word:

  • Microsoft Word 365 is available and updated regularly in Microsoft 365
  • Word Online is a free limited version
  • Word 2019 is available in Office 2019
  • Word 2016 is available in Office 2016
  • Word 2013 was available in Office 2013
  • Word 2010 was available in Office 2010
  • Office 2007 included Word 2007
  • Office 2003 had Word 2003
  • Office XP included Word 2002

Of course, Microsoft Word has been around since the early 1980s. It has versions for almost every platform (even before Microsoft Windows).

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What can I do if Microsoft Word is not responding?

Microsoft Word may stop responding if a file gets corrupted or you use an incompatible add-in. You can resolve the issue by restarting Word in Safe Mode and disabling all add-ins. Another option is to navigate to Settings in Windows > Apps & Features > locate Microsoft Office (or Microsoft 365) > Modify and follow the on-screen instructions to repair Office applications.

What can I do when Microsoft Word isn’t responding and I haven’t saved my document?

Close and restart Word, then at the top left, go to File > Manage Documents > Recover Unsaved Documents to recover an unsaved document. Navigate to File > Open > Browse and look for a file backup if it isn’t listed. If the document is present, open it.

What does a macro do in Microsoft Word?

A Word macro is a collection of commands that you can use to automate everyday tasks like formatting, inserting tables, and adding watermarks. In Word, go to View > Macros > View Macros > Macros in > Word Commands to create or add a macro.

How do I check my writing grade level on Microsoft Word?

Go to File > Options > Proofing in a Word document. Click Check grammar with spelling and Show readability statistics. When Word completes a spelling and grammar check, a pop-up window with information about the document’s reading level will appear.