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Word processing guide

A word processor is an essential business application. It helps you write, edit, format, and print text documents. Many word-processing apps offer collaboration tools for sharing and working on documents with others. With Microsoft Word, for example, contributors can make comments and track editing changes to a document. Some come with prebuilt templates for adding a tailored look. A few, such as Google Docs, allow a team to collaborate in real time on a file shared via the cloud.

Word Processing

Because of Word's market dominance, its file formats are de-facto standards, and many non-Microsoft word processors are compatible with Microsoft's standards.


Free versus paid: Which is better?

If you want a full-featured word processor available across desktop and mobile devices, you probably will have to pay for it. For example, Microsoft Word's set of tools range from simple formatting settings to sophisticated collaboration choices, but the download version is available as a one-time purchase or part of a subscription. Google Docs is free and available via a browser for desktop computers and mobile devices via an app but lacks the depth of Word's collection of tools. LibreOffice and OpenOffice are both free, match up with with Word's tool collections but lack mobile apps.


Recommended word processors

Microsoft Word

The essential word processor, Microsoft Word is available across desktop and mobile platforms and comes with a collection of templates, design and formatting tools, and collaboration capabilities. An online version is available for free.

Google Docs

Web

Google Docs lets you write, edit, and collaborate in the cloud for free. Docs is part of the Part of the Google Drive collection of online apps, which includes spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, and survey tools.

LibreOffice

The popular and free LibreOffice productivity suite includes apps for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, vector graphics and flowcharts, databases, and even formula editing and supports Word, Excel, and PowerPoint file formats.

OpenOffice

The OpenOffice collection of free apps is comparable to Microsoft's Office productivity software, and like LibreOffice, offers drawing, database, and mathematical equation tools.


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Clifford Colby follows the Mac and Android markets for Download.com. He's been an editor at Peachpit Press and a handful of now-dead computer magazines, including MacWeek, MacUser, and Corporate Computing.