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Word Processor

A word processor is a program used to type documents. Documents can be saved, closed and the opened again to continue working on them.

The term word processing was invented by IBM in the late 1960s. By 1971 it was recognized by the New York Times as a "buzz word". A 1974 Times article referred to "the brave new world of Word Processing or W/P. That's International Business Machines talk... I.B.M. introduced W/P about five years ago for its Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter and other electronic razzle-dazzle."

Word processing is the creation of documents using a word processor. It can also refer to advanced shorthand techniques, sometimes used in specialized contexts with a specially modified typewriter. The term was coined at IBM's Boeblingen, West Germany (at that time) Laboratory in the 1960s.

The keyboard of a word processor is similar to that of a typewriter, but its capabilities extend far beyond the typewriter's. For example, you don't have to press the Return or Enter key at the end of every line - in word processing, the line "wraps around" when it reaches the margin you've set and allows you to continue typing without stopping, you only press Enter (or Return) when you want to start a new paragraph or insert blank lines. If you make a mistake while typing use backspace or delete to erase it.

There are many commercial word processing programs including Open Office Writer , Microsoft Word , Corel WordPerfect and others. Windows comes with WordPad to edit and format documents and NotePad to edit text.

Word processing typically implies the presence of text manipulation functions that extend beyond a basic ability to enter and change text, such as automatic generation of:
  • batch mailings using a form letter template and an address database (also called mail merging)
  • indices of keywords and their page numbers
  • tables of contents with section titles and their page numbers
  • tables of figures with caption titles and their page numbers
  • cross-referencing with section or page numbers
  • footnote numbering
  • new versions of a document using variables (e.g. model numbers, product names, etc.)

Most current word processors can calculate various statistics pertaining to a document. These usually include:
  • Character count, word count, sentence count, line count, paragraph count, page count.
  • Word, sentence and paragraph length.
  • Editing time.

Errors are common; for instance, a dash surrounded by spaces — like either of these — may be counted as a word.

Within the business world, word processors are extremely useful tools. Typical uses include:
  • legal copies
  • letters and letterhead
  • memos
  • reference documents


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