Microsoft Word Vs. WordPad

By Jason Artman

WordPad is a free word-processing program included with all Windows computers. Microsoft Word is not free; it is sold as a standalone program and as part of the Office productivity suite. Because your computer already has a word processor, you might wonder whether you need to spend the money to purchase Word for your document creation needs. Word has many advanced features that WordPad lacks, but those features may not be necessary for everyone.

Document Styles and Templates

Microsoft Word allows you to add advanced formatting to documents using predefined layouts that include fonts and color selections for document titles, headings and body test. You can download additional document templates from the Office website, allowing you to use Word to create documents such as business letters, invitations and note cards with a minimum of effort. WordPad does not support document styles.

Mail Merge

Microsoft Word allows you to create fields in a document that reference a database such as a mailing list. Using this feature, you can create a single form letter with fields for the names and addresses of the recipients. Word automatically prints a copy of the document customized for each each entry in the database. WordPad does not have this feature.

Document Collaboration

Microsoft Word allows multiple people to collaborate on a document. Each time one person makes a change to the document, Word marks the change and allows all members of the team to see it along with the name of the person who changed the document. The Revisions feature allows you to revert the document to a previous version if needed. If your office network has the required back-end software, you can even send instant messages to other collaborators from within Word. WordPad has no collaborative features.

Text Effects

Word allows you to add effects to text such as giving the letters glowing outlines, bevels and color gradients. Although WordPad does allow you to perform basic text formatting such as changing fonts and text sizes, it has no advanced visual effects.

Password Protection

Microsoft Word allows you to password-protect a document and prevent it from being opened or modified. WordPad lacks this feature. However, you can encrypt or password-protect WordPad files using third-party utilities.