What Is the Function of a Word Processor?

By Bill Brown

Word processors have evolved from basic programs that emulated typewriters to software programs that would have boggled the minds of the inventors of the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, the first general-purpose electronic computer. In addition to providing document creation and storage tools, the editing and sharing options become more powerful each year.

Create Documents

Word processors create documents in digital format. Instead of typing onto a page, the information is stored in computer memory. Once text has been entered, formatting changes can be applied universally using a few simple steps, giving the user maximum flexibility.


Similarly to document creation, word processors speed up the editing process and give greater editing options. Changes are made on the computer, and when finished, the output is a clean, clear page. Changes to the document can be tracked, so multiple users can mark up a document, and those changes can be evaluated easily later, before the document is complete.


Since the word processor stores the document electronically, it can be output into a variety of formats. In addition to simply printing finished documents, the electronic version can be shared by email or other electronic transfer mechanisms. Most word processors now give the option of outputting a document to a PDF format, which allows nearly anyone to open it, and can prevent recipients from altering the finished document.


Many word processors give the option of making comparisons of documents. For instance, in the case where several users may be working on nearly identical documents, comparison features allow the differences in the documents to be easily viewed. This makes complex editing procedures much more streamlined.


In addition to conventional output options, word processors can take your document and turn it into a webpage. In essence, the software in the word processor writes the HTML code necessary to translate your text and formatting into a file that can be uploaded and viewed as a conventional webpage.