What Is the Difference Between Microsoft Word & Word Processing?

By Elaine Petersen

The difference between Microsoft Word and word processing is that word processing is a generic term that refers to any program that allows you to edit and format text. Microsoft Word is a popular brand of word processing software.


Although word processors were originally similar to typewriters with word processing functions, most word processing occurs today through software such as Microsoft Word.


According to the University of Illinois at Chicago’s academic computing website, most word processing programs use a WYSIWYG format, which allows you to see the document as it appears in print.


Online applications are the newest form of word processors. You accesses the software through a web browser. You can print or save the document to your computer or the application’s user account.


Most word processing programs allow you to input and edit text, format the document, and insert graphics, Internet links and objects.

Fun Fact

According to the University of Maryland's History of Word Processors, in 1964, IBM's Magnetic Tape/Selectric Typewriter was the first machine to allow the typist to edit and save text before printing.