Types of Word Processing Applications

By Louise Balle

Updated September 28, 2017

A word processor is an application that allows you to type in, edit, format, save, and print text. The text shows on screen the same or very similar to how it will appear in hard copy format. Word processors are commonly used by students, writers, authors, desktop publishing professionals and layout artists. Before you purchase a word processor, try several out. Some can be downloaded for free, and other can be downloaded for a trial period.

Microsoft Word

One of the most well-known and widely used word processing applications on the market is Microsoft Word. Word has more than 90 percent of the word processing market and more than 450 million users. Microsoft Corp. first released this program to the market in 1989, and since then there have been a number of upgrades to the software. Word can be purchased as part of the Microsoft Office suite of programs, which include Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Publisher. Word can be used to format text and build layout documents.


WordPerfect is a word processing application from Corel Corp.. WordPerfect was popular in the early 1990s. It is best for writing simple essays and articles. Though it isn't used as much today, WordPerfect is compatible with Microsoft Word, meaning that you can open and edit WordPerfect files in the Word program, then save them as WordPerfect files again. WordPerfect also can be used for formatting and laying out documents.

Lotus Word Pro

If you use Lotus Notes or Lotus 1-2-3--common in corporate environments--Lotus Word Pro is an ideal program for your word processing needs. This program works in concert with Lotus applications to allow you to create and distribute formatted text documents. It is produced and distributed by IBM Corp. Lotus Word Pro is also compatible with Microsoft Word and ideal for writing reports, memos and proposals.

iWork Pages

Pages is a word processing program offered by Apple Incorporated, so if you own a Mac computer this might be the ideal option for your needs. It is a part of Apple's iWork suite of programs. Pages allows you to perform basic word processing functions--writing and formatting--as well as more complex graphical layout actions. You can open and save Pages files in Microsoft Word.

And the Rest

There are dozens of word processors on the market. Other lesser-known word processors include OpenOffice Writer, Adobe InCopy, AbiWord, Microsoft Works and Scrivener. A growing number of online word processors are available and include Google Docs and Microsoft Office Web Apps.