Word processing programs allow people to produce typed documents on a computer screen. Although the lines between word processing and desktop publishing have become increasingly blurred, the programs still differ in the way they produce documents. Word processing programs essentially produce documents as a stream of text, whereas desktop publishing produces them as individual pages. Despite this difference, most word processing programs allow at least some desktop publishing capabilities, such as inserting text boxes and graphics at any location on the page. Word processing features are listed below.

Feature Categories/General Benefits Word Processing Features Description
Basic features save time writing text and make changing text easier and more flexible.

Store documents for later use.

Store in many formats (e.g., RTF, PDF, HTML).

Erase and insert text.

Search and replace.

Move or copy text.

Allow word wraparound.

Documents saved to disk can be changed without reentering text.
  • Rich Text format (RTF) removes all or most formatting commands so other word processors can read the file.
  • PDF format allows files to be read as formatted documents with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • HTML format allows documents to be placed on the Internet.

Allows easy insertion of additional letters, spaces, lines, paragraphs, or pages.

One command allows all occurrences of a word or phrase to be changed as specified.

Allows cutting and pasting (deleting text and inserting it elsewhere) or copying and pasting (repeating text in several places).

Automatically goes to next line at end of a line without pressing Enter or Return (Also hyphenates words, as needed.)

Desktop publishing features make flyers, reports, newsletters, brochures, and student handouts more attractive and professional looking.


Change styles/appearance.

Insert automatic headers, footers, and pagination.

Insert graphics.

Insert colors and shading. Insert tables.

Insert text boxes.

Insert drawn figures.

Centers or right- or left-justifies text.

Allows a variety of fonts, type styles, font colors, margins, line spacing, tabs, and indentations in the same document.

Automatically places text at the top (header) or bottom (footer) of each page in a document with or without page numbering (pagination).

Inserts clip art or image files into documents and formats them; some programs allow image editing.

Graphics can be filled with color or degrees of shading.

Organizes information into rows and columns without using tabs or indentations.

Allows text blocks to be inserted in any location in or around a document.

Allows inserting shapes, call outs, and other figures to enhance documents.

Language features help teachers and students correct their work and do various language, spelling, and usage exercises.

Check and correct spelling.

Suggest words.

Check grammar and usage.

Spell-checker feature compares words in a document to those stored in the program's dictionary files.

Thesaurus feature suggests synonyms for any word.

Grammar checkers review documents for items such as sentence length, frequency of word use, and subject-verb agreement. Also marks phrases or sentences to be corrected.

Web features allow teachers and students to connect documents with Internet resources and create web page announcements, reports, and projects.

Insert "live" URLs.

Create web pages.

Allows person reading the document to click on text and go automatically to a website. (Nate: Web browser must be active.)

Acts as simple web page development software and creates HTML pages.

Support features make using the program easier and more flexible.

Use templates.

Offer voice recognition.

Merge text with data files.

Users can easily adapt preformatted models of resumes, newsletters, and brochures to their own needs.

Allows text to be received and entered via dictated words rather than as typed entries.

• Automatically inserts words (e.g., names and addresses) into documents such as letters.

• Lists of data can be stored within the word processing program or merged from a database.