One of the first commercially available software programs for personal computers was the word processor. As personal computers increased in popularity, typewriters quickly disappeared. And in time, the word processing program known as Word, manufactured by Microsoft, quickly became the most popular application for typing in any form.

Microsoft Word is proprietary software, which means it is owned by a company and you are required to purchase the software in order to use it. It may come pre-installed with your computer, or you can buy it at any retail store. While it has gone through a large number of versions over the years, the most current version is Word 2010. It may also come bundled as part of the Office 2010 software package. Office 2010 typically includes Word and a few other office-style programs (such as Excel and PowerPoint). The professional version of Office usually includes an additional piece of software, Microsoft Access, which is used to create and work with databases. 

Few other applications are able to work with documents created with Word. Therefore, if you create documents with Word and want to share them with other people in an electronic form, the other people will also need the Word application.


When you start up the Word application, you will see various areas around the application that have special meanings. Across the top you will see the title bar: the top bar, which has the Office button, the picture of the disk, and a few words, including the name of your document and “Microsoft Word.”

Below that line is the toolbar. This is the line that has the words Home, Insert, Table, and other entries. Each of the words is actually a menu. When you click on one of the words, you will load a number of options into the space below; that space is called the ribbon.

Each ribbon is separated into sections. Each section has a title at the bottom (e.g., Clipboard, Font, Paragraph). Inside this section there will be buttons, words, options, and additional menus (indicated by a small arrow). If the section has even more options than can be displayed, adjacent to the name of the menu will be another small arrow, indicating that clicking there will open up another menu with even more options.

Basic Formatting Font 

The simplest and most common formatting options are in the Font section of the main ribbon. All these options change the appearance of the text in your document. Font types and font sizes can be set. Below that are other options: bold, italics, and underline. All these options can also be applied with Ctrl-b, Ctrl-I, and Ctrl-u (press and hold down the Control key while pressing the appropriate letter key). 

There are also options to add superscript and subscript. In the lower right corner are options for setting the colors of the text, both background and foreground.

Below that is the option to expand the font ribbon into the font pop-up window. In that window, you can set all these options and more by using check boxes, and you can see a preview of what your font will look like if you apply the selected font. You can cancel at any time to reject any changes.


When working with paragraphs, there are a number of formatting options. The most common options are at the bottom of the paragraph box in the ribbon. These buttons set the horizontal alignment of the paragraph: left, center, right, or justify. Most text will be left-justified. Titles and headings can be centered. The “justified” option will automatically adjust the spacing and the text so that both the right and the left side of the paragraphs will be aligned, much like the style found in magazine and newspaper-style articles.

The top, left section of the paragraph ribbon lets you use bullets to add bullet points to your paragraph. Most documents will use the standard bullet point, but the tiny drop-down arrow will allow you to use different symbols or images for the bullet in your text. You can also let Word apply automatic numbering to complete a list.