word processing

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word processing,

use of a computer programcomputer program,
a series of instructions that a computer can interpret and execute; programs are also called software to distinguish them from hardware, the physical equipment used in data processing.
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 or a dedicated hardware and software package to write, edit, format, and print a document. Text is most commonly entered using a keyboard similar to a typewriter's, although handwritten input (see pen-based computerpen-based computer,
computer that uses software to enable it to accept handwriting or drawing as a form of input. A stylus, which may contain special electronic circuitry, may be used to write on the computer display or on a separate tablet.
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) and audio input (as for dictation) devices have been introduced.

Word processors have various functions that allow a person to revise text without retyping an entire document. As the text is entered or after it has been retrieved, sections ranging from words and sentences to paragraphs and pages can be moved, copied, deleted, altered, and added to while displayed. As word processors have become more sophisticated, such functions as word counting, spell checking, footnoting, and index generation have been added. In addition, a document's format—type size, line spacing, margins, page length, and the like—usually can be easily altered. To aid in these alterations, the text is displayed as it will appear when printed with indented paragraphs and lists, multiple columns, tables, etc; this is called a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) display.

Word processors are distinguished from text editors and desktop publishingdesktop publishing,
system for producing printed materials that consists of a personal computer or computer workstation, a high-resolution printer (usually a laser printer), and a computer program that allows the user to select from a variety of type fonts and sizes, column
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 systems. Text editors are designed for creating and editing computer programs. While they have features found in simple word processors, such as search and replace, that make the entry and editing of words and numbers easier, text editors provide only the most primitive facilities for text formatting and printing. Desktop publishers may include only simple word processing features but provide enhanced formatting functions, such as routines for merging text and graphics into complex page layouts.

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word processing

[′wȯrd ¦prä‚ses·iŋ]
(computer science)
The use of computers or computerlike equipment to write, edit, and format text.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

word processing

the composition of documents using a computer system to input, edit, store, and print them
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

word processing

This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)

word processing

The creation of text documents via computer. Except for labels and envelopes, word processing software has long since replaced the electric typewriter. Advanced word processors can function as elementary desktop publishing systems. Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing application (see Microsoft Word). WordPerfect and Google Docs are also widely used (see WordPerfect Office and Google Docs).

Basic Functions

Text Editing, Word Wrap and Centering
Text can be deleted, typed over or inserted, and words at the right margin wrap to the next line. Text can be centered between left and right margins.

Copy, Move, Search and Replace
Text can be copied or moved within the document, and any occurrence of text can be replaced with another block of text.

Layout Settings
Margins, tabs, line spacing, indents, font changes, underline, bold and italic can be set and reset anywhere within the document.

Headers, Footers and Page Numbering
Headers and footers are common text printed on the top and bottom of every page. Page numbering in Roman numerals may be available.

Templates/Style Sheets
A document layout (margins, tabs, fonts, etc.) can be stored in a template file (style sheet) and applied to a new document.

Print Preview
A document can be reviewed on screen to show exactly how it will print with page breaks, headers, footers, etc.

Spell Checker
Spelling can be checked on the fly, and common typos may be corrected automatically.

File Management
Documents can be duplicated, renamed and deleted, and folders can be created and deleted from within the program.

Advanced Functions

All word processors support columns with tab stops. However, true column capability for documents, such as resumes and theater scripts, wraps words within each column; for example, employer information on the left and work history on the right. Magazine-style columns are another structure that flows the words from the bottom of one column to the top of the next.

Desktop Publishing
Images merged into the document can be resized and anchored so they remain with that segment of text. Rules and borders can also be created on the page.

Footnotes and Endnotes
Footnote entries can be made at any place in the document, and the footnotes printed at the end of a page or document.

Tablesof Contents and Indexes
Tables of contents and indexes can be generated from entries typed throughout the document.

Math and Sorting
Columns of numbers can be summed and simple arithmetic expressions can be computed. Lines of text can be reordered into ascending (A-Z) or descending (Z-A) sequence.

Mail Merge
Creates customized letters from a form letter and a list of names and addresses. The list can be created as a document or can be imported from popular database formats.

A thesaurus displays synonyms for the word at the current cursor location.

Group Print
Documents can be printed individually or as a group with page numbers consecutively numbered from the first to the last document.

Graphics vs. Text Based

All software today is graphics based and shows an extremely close facsimile on screen of the document that will be printed. Graphics-based (GUI-based) software is essential for documents that contain a variety of font styles and sizes.

Earlier text-based DOS programs displayed the same type font and size all the time, and they were fine for typing letters and documents with a simple format. Even today, some authors still use DOS word processors running under Windows, because they are more responsive than GUI-based products and more than adequate for creative writing. See XyWrite.

Format Standards

Every major word processing program generated proprietary codes for layout settings. For example, in an old WordStar document, ^PB turned bold on as well as off. In WordPerfect, [BOLD] turns bold on, and [bold] turns it off.

Conversion programs translate documents from one format to another. If one does not exist for the required formats, multiple search & replace commands can be performed on the original. However, if the same code turns a mode on as well as off, as in the WordStar example above, the codes have to be changed manually one at a time.

The User Interface

Word processing programs have run from the ridiculous to the sublime, and some of the most awkward programs sold well. It may be difficult to tell a good one from a bad one in the beginning, because it takes time to explore a program's nuances. Also, what is acceptable to the slow typist can be horrendous for the fast typist.

Repetitive functions such as centering and changing display attributes (bold, italic, etc.) should be a snap. Changing margins, tabs, indents and fonts should also be easy.

The most important component in word processing has nothing to do with software. The keyboard is the primary interface between the user and the machine, and the feel of the keys is critical.

Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.
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