The Difference Between Wordpad & Microsoft Word

By Jenny Westberg

When you’re choosing a word processing program, think about how you’ll be using it. If you want to type letters and simple documents, WordPad may be perfect. If you need to process long or complex documents with footnotes, bibliographies, graphics or automation, consider Microsoft Word.


WordPad comes with Windows at no extra cost. In 2010, Microsoft offered the most recent edition of Word for $139.99.


Both Microsoft Word and WordPad allow you to create, view, edit and print documents, and both programs let you move, copy and paste text, change fonts and use color.


In WordPad, you can save documents as Rich Text Format (RTF) or plain-text files (.txt). The Windows 7 version also supports Word files (.docx) and OpenDocument Text (.odt). Microsoft Word lets you convert files to many other formats, such as PDF, WordPerfect and HTML.

Tables and Graphics

In Microsoft Word, you can perform calculations in a table or use WordArt effects for decorative text. WordPad lets you insert certain graphic objects and charts. To create a table in WordPad, use spaces or tabs to align the columns.


Microsoft Word offers a variety of other tools unavailable in WordPad, such as templates, styles, and the ability to automate repetitive tasks with macros.