Microsoft Word is one of the most popular software programs in the world, used by millions of office workers, students and home users to create, read and edit documents. Many people don't use all the features of MS Word because not all of them are necessary for every user. It can be useful to familiarize yourself with the basic features and characteristics of MS Word, even if you don't need them all immediately, in case they ever come in handy.
Key Features of MS Word
Key features of the program include the ability to enter and format text, the ability to save and print documents, compatibility with older versions of Word and other software, support for cloud or local use and collaboration features.
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Newer versions of Word contain features that aren't present in older versions, so if there's a feature you want that's not available in the version you're using, you may want to upgrade your Word software if your computer supports it.
Working With Text and Styles
Microsoft Word is a word processor, which means that it's designed primarily for text-based documents. These can be business reports, student papers, informal notes from a call or a lecture, or letters to friends and relatives.
In Word, you type text and see roughly how it will appear on someone else's computer screen or on paper. You can change the font, color, size and other style settings for text using Word's built-in options. To style multiple sections of text the same way, such as to consistently style headings in a certain way, you can create styles that group multiple formatting options into one setting.
Saving and Printing
After you create a document in Word, you usually want to save it for later access, send to someone, print it out, or any combination of these uses.
With Word, you can save a document in a variety of formats for compatibility with other software. You can save the document locally on your computer or, if you're using a recent version, to a Microsoft-supported cloud system so you and others can access it remotely.
You can also print documents using most modern printers, adjusting settings such as whether to print in color or black and white, whether to print on both sides of the paper and what size and shape of paper you want to use.
Word and Compatibility
Microsoft Word has been designed for years to maximize compatibility between versions. Typically, versions of Microsoft Word can open files created in previous versions of the software and save files in formats usable by earlier versions. You can also save files in formats such as Rich Text Format, which is used by a variety of competing products.
Many other word processing programs can open files created in Microsoft Word. If you take advantage of newer features in a document, you may not be able to fully rely on them when you open the document in another program, including an earlier version of Word.
Cloud and Local Support
Microsoft Word offers a local version of the software that you can access on your computer and a version you can access through your web browser. In the past, Word was only available as a program you install locally on your computer.
With either version of Word in Office 365 or Microsoft Office 2016, you can save files locally or to a Microsoft-hosted cloud system where they can be accessed from any location.
Modern versions of Microsoft Word allow multiple people to edit the same document. This is an improvement on previous editions and some competing products, which require people to edit documents one at a time and email or otherwise share changed versions for review and further editing. In older versions of Word, collaboration tools are limited.