Dwight Watt Georgia Kiwanian Article April 2004

What Word Processor do I need?

If you have a computer or are considering getting one of the three most common uses I see of computers is to type letters and documents. The other two uses are e-mail and Internet or Web browsing. If you are doing or going to do typing of letters and documents then the question is often asked which program should I get and what version.

The program used to do typing of letters and documents on a computer is a word processing program. There are a number of programs on the market that will accomplish this task. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.

If you are using Windows as your operating system, then a program that will do word processing comes with Windows. It is called WordPad and is normally found in Accessories of the Programs menu. WordPad allows you to type your information, format IT (MAKE IT LIOOK NICE) save the information and print it. However WordPad has no Spellchecker so if your typing is similar to mine it is limited. The advantage of WordPad is the cost.

Many people use Microsoft Word as their Word Processor. It has become the defacto standard of Word Processing. The current versions of Word available are XP (also known as 2002) and 2003. Both have many features that you may never use but are good sound products. There is an older version that many still use called Word 97. It does all the basic items (,most everything the average user needs) but it is no longer sold as a standalone product. However it is the Word Processor included in the current version Microsoft Works. Disadvantage of Microsoft Word is the cost. If the version that you are using does what you want there is really no reason to upgrade. Microsoft Works is much cheaper, and even comes as pre-installed software on many new computers so you may already have Word 97 and not know it.

There are several other programs also available. Corel WordPerfect is still available and continues to be updated just as Microsoft Word. There are lots of people who still use it, but when Windows came out, WordPerfect moved form the #1 position to a #2 position. This continues to be a good product but lacks the marketing and publicity of Word. There is a newer Word Processing program out there that is basically compatible with Microsoft Word that is part of Star Office sold by Sun. It is much cheaper, Sun gave it away for several years, and there are those whop point to it as the Word Processor and office suite of the future, but that time is not here and may never be. There are also several other products out there. WordPerfect is familiar to many people and is not very costly. Star Office is not quite as friendly but does offer an excellent price.

You may now discover that you already had a full feature Word processor. If you are going to buy Microsoft Word, look also at the price of the full Microsoft Office suite which includes Word. Many times I have seen it close in price. It is available at a discount if you are upgrading from a previous version or from some competitive versions. There are also discounts to students, who should check with their instructors or teachers on what discounts available to them at their institutions. Word processing has the capability to make you much more efficient in your correspondence.