The ultimate goal of any word processing software is to make it easy to create and edit text documents. The best solutions also let you print and export documents into various formats. A word processor makes it possible to digitally write paragraphs, pages, and papers. You can also store your documents electronically and share them on other screens.
But are all the solutions on the market created equal? Or are some better than others? Poised explores what constitutes a great word processing software here.
What Is Word Processing Software?
Word processing software is a specialized program or app that allows you to perform word processing. You can get a text editor for Windows and macOS devices, including tablets like the iPad, iPhones, and Android smartphones. To fully understand word processors, you must precisely understand the act of word processing.
Essentially, word processing is the function of creating, editing, saving, and printing documents on the computer. This act requires you to use Microsoft Word, Google Docs, Word Perfect, FocusWriter, LibreOffice, Apache Open Office Writer, or other software.
Most popular word processors will let you create a range of documents that include but are not limited to:
Word processing software allows you to type and edit text and add charts, tables, pictures, and other content to your documents. You can even use borders, clipart, and other decorative elements.
The true power of a word processor lies in its editing and formatting capabilities. Great software will let you easily insert, edit, copy, delete, spell check, and move text within your document.
You’ll also be able to format the appearance of text, make spelling and grammar corrections, and search words in a built-in dictionary. Many word processors include other tools to help you create well-written and insightful documents.
5 Features That Make a Good Word Processing Software Great
You can perform many jobs without software that lets you manage spreadsheets and slideshow presentations. If you work in an office setting (even remotely), chances are you rely on text documents to one degree or another.
There are plenty of free word processors on the market that can help you easily and quickly generate written documents, but you typically get what you pay for. Most paid solutions provide a wealth of features to make your documents more advanced.
Consider compatibility when moving document formats between different platforms and applications; some of the free products may cause formatting issues.
The key is to know what to look for in your word processing software. Some solutions are cloud-based, while others are designed for offline use to help writers work with minimal distractions. Some provide better editing tools, while others include collaboration features to foster productive teamwork.
Let’s take a look at the five most critical characteristics that distinguish the best word processors from the rest:
1. Intuitive User Interface
A distraction-free, intuitive user interface is crucial when choosing word processing software. If you’re new to word processing, this characteristic might be the single most important one. After all, if you can't figure out how to navigate an application and find the tools you need, the application won’t do you much good.
Microsoft Word is among the most comprehensive word processors on the market, but the wealth of built-in options and features can be challenging to navigate. There are quite a few toolbars and ribbons. Unless you know where to look, it can be time-consuming to find what you need. Some people find Microsoft Word courses to be helpful.
Some other solutions for those looking for an intuitive user interface. Google Docs offers one of the simplest layouts to help you easily manage your workspace. Apple Pages, LibreOffice, FreeOffice, and Apache Open Office are also user-friendly.
2. Cloud-Based Document Storage
For most business-related tasks, using a cloud-based word processor is sensible. Some writers use offline word processing software to cut out distractions for longer content like novels, biographies, and reports. Considering how convenient and secure cloud storage is, you might benefit from one of the many cloud-based programs or office suites available.
The specific software you choose should depend on your or your organization's cloud storage service. For example, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Office 365 allow you to store your documents on Microsoft OneDrive.
Google Docs and Google Workspace automatically store and sync documents on Google Drive. If you’re committed to the Apple ecosystem, you can use the iWork suite (e.g., Pages, Numbers, Keynote) and keep your documents on iCloud Drive.
Another popular option is Dropbox. The company is known for being one of the premier file-sharing platforms.
Dropbox Paper is a word processing application that seamlessly integrates into Dropbox for secure and smooth file-sharing in the cloud. Dropbox Paper also provides a top-notch user interface; though it's quite different from Microsoft Word, it's still intuitive and a breeze to use.
3. Quick and Simple Formatting Changes
Your documents can be just as engaging as fantastic speeches and exciting conversations. That's where formatting options come in. These options include customizable fonts, pre-made formatting templates, and more.
Modifying the text format helps readers find critical information when they need it, emphasizes main points, and makes documents scannable for effortless viewing. Text formatting refers to many different actions, but it most often involves altering the appearance (e.g., bolding, italicizing, underlining), size, and location of the text within a document.
The greatest word processing programs allow you to make quick and simple formatting changes through keyboard shortcuts and accessible toolbars. It's hard to beat Microsoft Word and Google Docs when it comes to fast formatting. Both applications offer a wealth of shortcuts for Windows and Mac operating systems. Over time, writers can memorize the shortcuts to create attractive and easy-to-read documents at record speeds.
Still, many other paid and free word processing solutions allow you to change formatting relatively easily, assuming you are comfortable with the application’s layout and interface.
4. Affordability and Subscription Options
Let's not pretend like cost doesn't matter. We live in a time when there are many free and affordable word processing solutions. What matters most is what you need from your word processor. If your current application is holding you back, you may want to consider a paid product or version.
It's no secret that Microsoft Word is among the most expensive options, whether you purchase it as a standalone program or as part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite, which also includes Excel, PowerPoint, and more. If your company pays for Office 365, then the cost of MS Word is a non-factor. But you'll need to determine whether it's worth the price of a subscription if you’re paying your own way.
If you need Word’s extensive catalog of editing, formatting, design, and collaboration tools, then the time and energy you save from using the application could be worth the investment.
However, let's look at some of the best free word processors on the market:
- Google Docs
- Apache OpenOffice Writer
- LibreOffice Writer
- SoftMaker FreeOffice
- WPS Office Writer
- Windows NotePad
5. Collaborative Features
Collaboration capability is perhaps the quality that most distinguishes Microsoft Word from its competitors. The word processor provides a long list of collaboration features when operated as part of the Office 365 suite, many of which are available at every subscription level.
Here are some of the features to expect:
- Modern attachments
- Microsoft Teams video conferencing
- OneDrive file storage
- Offline syncing
- Auditing and reporting
- Migration tools
Word Processing Software vs. Speech Communication Software
Word processing software is strictly for creating, editing, managing, and sharing text documents. While voice recognition can play a part in this process, you will only use a word processor to deal with written documents. On the other hand, speech communication software helps you optimize your speaking performance during video presentations, meetings, and calls.
What Is Speech Communication Software?
Speech communication software uses personalized feedback to help meeting participants communicate effectively with team members, supervisors, and clients. It's a vital tool for anyone who operates in a digital-first workplace.
In addition to verbal metrics like filler words, confidence, empathy, and energy, the right speech communication tool can even help you adjust your non-verbal language for better results.
How Can Poised Help?
Poised is the premier AI-powered communication coach. It's free for Mac and Windows users and provides real-time feedback for your communication performance during virtual meetings. It also helps you track your progress and analyze your speech over time.
So, instead of stressing out about your recent meeting, you can see precisely where you need to grow. Plus, you can also access personalized lessons and other learning content from Poised experts.
Clear, Clean, and Concise Communication
There are plenty of word processors worth considering today. If your job or hobby requires you to create, edit, and share written documents, it’s essential to find a solution that fits your needs.
Straightforward, user-friendly software can allow you to securely store documents in the cloud and quickly modify the formatting. Review the affordability and collaboration features that can help you perform better.
In addition to flawless documents and text, round out your professional toolbelt with next-level virtual public speaking techniques. If you need a boost to your communication skills, look into the Poised communication coach today.