What Is Microsoft Word Used For?

By Josh Fredman

Microsoft Word is a word processor, a computer application for electronically writing and storing documents of every kind. According to tech website PC Pitstop, Word is Microsoft's second-most popular software application, behind Internet Explorer. Word is available for traditional desktop and laptop computers, and also comes in a special version for mobile devices like tablets and phones as well, allowing you to get some writing done whenever and wherever you like.

Writing Documents

Almost anybody who has a writing task, including workers, writers, students and professionals, can benefit from the speed, convenience and reliability of a word processor like Microsoft Word. Some of the kinds of documents you can write include reports, letters, stories, poetry, essays and blog posts. With Word you can save your documents onto your hard drive or a remote server, and then return to them later. You can also check your spelling and grammar, insert special data structures like charts and tables, save your work in a variety of file formats and print them out on any kind of paper that your printer supports.

Formatting Documents

Microsoft Word offers many formatting tools to change and control the appearance of your documents. You can make newsletters with a column format, or create personal stationery with graphical headers. You can design envelopes and greeting cards. If you're writing a book, Word lets you insert a table of contents, page numbers and appendices. You can change the font of your writing, as well as the color and size. You can use formatting effects like boldface, italics, underlining and strikethrough. You can even adjust fundamental document settings like the size of the margins and the spacing between characters, lines and paragraphs. Word also lets you insert hyperlinks to other documents or websites, and internal links to move around quickly inside the same document. For many of the more common formatting tasks, Word offers templates that do some of the easy work for you, allowing you to work more efficiently.

Reviewing Documents and Commenting

Microsoft Word has several features designed for editing, reviewing and commenting on documents. For instance, with Word you can track changes between two versions of the same document to see what's different. You can make your own edits as well, and Word gives you the option of marking your edits in a special color so that others can tell them apart from the original text. You can also write comments in the margins.


Word doesn't work for everything. Word isn't good for databases and spreadsheets, nor for writing markup such as HTML, or computer code and scripts. For these applications you should use specialized software. Word also isn't optimal for documents that require extremely specific formatting and layout control, like a newspaper -- although you could write the articles in Word first and then transfer them to a layout program. Cost poses another limitation. As of 2014, the most recent version -- Word 2013 -- costs about $110 to the general public.