Microsoft Word

Updated: 11/06/2021 by Computer Hope
Microsoft Word

Sometimes called Winword, MS Word, or Word, Microsoft Word is a word processor published by Microsoft. It is one of the office productivity applications included in the Microsoft Office suite. Originally developed by Charles Simonyi and Richard Brodie, it was first released in 1983.

Microsoft Word is available for Microsoft Windows, Apple macOS, Android, and Apple iOS. It can also run on the Linux operating system using WINE.

What is Microsoft Word used for?

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

What does the Microsoft Word editor look like?

Below is an overview of a Microsoft Word 2010 document.

Microsoft Word document diagram

Tip

See our Ribbon page for further information on the Ribbon. For an overview of the tools contained on the Ribbon, see: Overview of the Microsoft Office Ribbon.

Where do you find or start Microsoft Word?

If you have Microsoft Word or the entire Microsoft Office package installed on Microsoft Windows, you can access Microsoft Word in your Start menu.

Keep in mind that new computers do not include Microsoft Word. It must be purchased and installed before running it on your computer. If you do not want (or cannot afford) to purchase Microsoft Word, you can use a limited version for free at the Microsoft Office website.

Note

There are also free word processing programs you can try that are very similar to Microsoft Word. See: Where can I get a free word processor?

If Microsoft Word is installed on your computer, but you can't find it in your Start menu, use the following steps to launch Microsoft Word manually.

  1. Open My Computer or File Explorer.
  2. Click or select the C: drive. If Microsoft Office is installed on a drive other than the C: drive, select that drive instead.
  3. Find and open the Program Files (x86) or Program Files folder.
  4. Open the Microsoft Office folder.
  5. In the Microsoft Office folder, open the root folder. Then open the OfficeXX folder, where XX is the version of Microsoft Office (e.g., Office16 for Microsoft Office 2016) installed on your computer.
Tip

If there is no root folder, look for and open the folder with Office in the folder name.

  1. Find and double-click the file named WINWORD.EXE to start the Microsoft Word program.

How to open Microsoft Word without using a mouse

  1. Press the Windows key.
  2. Type Word and select the Microsoft Word entry in the search results.
  3. If Microsoft Word does not open after selecting it in the search results, press Enter to launch it.

What are the uses of Microsoft Word?

Microsoft Word is a word processor, and, like other word processors, it's capable of helping users create a variety of different types of documents. For example, users can create a résumé, business contract, instruction document, or a letter to another person. We've included a list of the top uses of a word processor on our word processor page.

How many lines are there on a page in Microsoft Word?

By default, there are 29 lines on one page in Microsoft Word.

What type of files can Microsoft Word create and use?

Early versions of Microsoft Word primarily created and used the .doc file extension, while newer versions of Word create and use the .docx file extension.

More 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

Example of a Microsoft Word .doc file

We created a Microsoft Word document that you can download and open in most word processor programs, including Microsoft Word. Click the link below to download the example Word document and experiment more with a word processing document.

Why use Word instead of a plain-text editor?

Microsoft Word offers many features not found in a traditional text editor or a plain-text file. Some advantages include changing the formatting (e.g., center), editing the font type, size, and color, inserting pictures, and much more.

Tip

The features above are also available in a rich-text editor, such as WordPad, which is included with Microsoft Windows.

Why use Word instead of a WordPad?

A rich-text editor, like WordPad, offers many of the same basic features as Microsoft Word. Where Microsoft Word differs is the ability to do more advanced features. Some of the advanced features include mail merges, spellchecker, styles, tables, headers & footers, WordArt, columns, margins, and more.

What are the different versions of Microsoft Word?

Microsoft Word has had several versions throughout its history. The different releases with release dates are listed below.

Windows versions

Word 2016 and 97

Mac versions

Word 1.0
  • Word 2019, released in 2018
  • Word 2016, released in 2015
  • Word 2011, released in 2010
  • Word 2008, released in 2008
  • Word 2004, released in 2004
  • Word v. X, released in 2001
  • Word 2001, released in 2000
  • Word 98, released in 1998
  • Word 6, released in 1993
  • Word 5.1, released in 1992
  • Word 5, released in 1991
  • Word 4, released in 1989
  • Word 3, released in 1987
  • Word 1, released in 1985

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