Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is the most popular program in the Microsoft Office software suite. It is a word processor commonly used to create all kinds of written documents. While it is the "standard" word processing app, it is not the only one. Apple makes the "Pages" app, and many other commercial word processing apps also exist. There are many free apps as well; for example, in your LCJ / GMail account, there is a free web app very similar to Microsoft Word.

This unit will go over many of the basics of word processing, and many of the features found in Microsoft's word processing application.

Word Processing vs. Desktop Publishing

Before personal computers became common, creating printed materials was a very difficult and expensive process. In addition to designing the product, you would have to hire a professional printing service—something very expensive to do. The kind of job we do today as a matter of course used to take weeks, even months, and could cost thousands of dollars.

When computers became a household item, printing became somewhat easier. Even with the new computers, home users were still limited by the old and messy dot-matrix printers; printing professional-looking documents was still out of reach.

Most people instead used their computers simply for word processing, which is littel more than just typing and editing what was typed.

However, new software allow us to begin designing special documents; especially after the GUI became popular in the 80's, anyone could use software to create a document that was ready to print. This was called desktop publishing, which is more complex, involving precise typography, layouts, graphics placement, and other considerations. However, unless you had access to a laser printer—still very expensive in those days—you still had to go to a professional to print.

Today, printing is easy and cheap, relative to the old days. Laser printers are now easily within the price range of ordinary computers, and desktop publishing is easy to access. Some evean have access to color laser printers and other more professional-style printing devices. Even professional printing shops have far lower prices than in the past.

Today's word processing programs, such as Google Docs, Apple's Pages, or Microsoft Word, have many desktop-publishing-style features added to them, but they are still best just for typing straight documents. Desktop Publishing apps, most notably Adobe's InDesign software, still allow for far greater control and precision.

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