Why use Microsoft Word?
I have worked in the accounting profession for twenty five years; over that time there has been a huge push to reduce administrative costs. One of the biggest changes the industry has seen is the removal of the typing pool.
As the word processor developed it allowed professionals to create their own documents such as letters, memos and even brochures, reducing the need for a dedicated secretarial section. The word processor has facilitated the integration of various documents (graphs, worksheets etc.) quickly and easily and has helped streamline many of the cumbersome tasks within the office.
I first used Wordperfect in 1987 and quickly recognized how much time could be saved by typing my own letters and memos. As an accounting professional I was constantly sending internal memos to various sections and not only did the word processor allow me to reduce typing errors thanks to the spell checker but it also reduced the time it took to get my typed letter or memo to the recipients.
I found Wordperfect to be a little difficult to use and therefore was very happy when Microsoft Office was released and our firm began to use it – Microsoft standardized the menus over the entire office suite and made sharing of different media a lot easier.
Today I use Microsoft Word daily; not only do I use it to draft out letters and memos, but it is also a very important tool in the creation of brochures and procedural documents. The ability to insert diagrams, worksheets and other media make it an essential tool for me in the office.
Example documents created using Microsoft Word
What is Microsoft Office?
Microsoft Word is part of the Microsoft Office suite. The whole suite also includes the following products:
- Excel 2013 - a powerful spreadsheet tool.
- Powerpoint 2013 - an intuitive tool used to create great presentations
- Onenote 2013 - a simple program that allows you to gather notes and information in one place
- Outlook 2013 - a great tool that allows you to manage all your email accounts
- Publisher 2013 - helps you design and publish great looking documents
- Access 2013 - a very powerful database tool
Advantages of Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word allows you to produce most of the documents traditionally created by a secretarial pool or by a marketing department. It reduces the time and cost to produce the document and reduces the bottom line as there is no requirement for an administrative pool dedicated to document production. Microsoft Word gives you the right tools to allow you to be productive.
The advantages of Word are wide and varied; here are the main advantages:
- Integration – one of the most powerful features of Word is the ability to integrate any document with other media available within the Office suite. It is easy to incorporate graphs, presentation materials, worksheets and any other media created in the suite. As the link is dynamic, any document you create can be instantly updated when other media changes.
- Mail Merge – Microsoft Word makes it very easy to create personalized documents by using a database list of names and addresses and merging them into your document. This is ideal for mass mailings of brochures or letters. The mail merge feature is intuitive and feature packed allowing you to create many different documents including mailing labels.
- Collaboration – one feature that is outstanding on Microsoft Word is the ability to markup the document for changes allowing for a series of editors to amend and update the document and allowing all users the ability to see the changes made to the document.
- Templates – the good thing about Microsoft Word is that there are thousands of templates available, so it’s very easy to create a brochure based on a template someone has already designed. Most templates are very easy to use and very customizable allowing you to produce some stunning end results.
Disadvantages of Microsoft Word
- Ribbon – Microsoft Office recently underwent an overhaul to try to stop the rot with competitor programs stealing market share. Part of this overhaul was to remove the tried and trusted menus and replace them with a simplified ribbon. While all of the functionality is there, and you are able to find most of the menu items, it simply is not intuitive. While experienced users will find what they want, new users will find it difficult to find all the features.
- Cost – while Word is the best word processor available, it is very expensive. You can get free word processors that are nearly as powerful that will satisfy the needs of most users.
- Large Files – many files created using word will take up a lot of memory. This may not be a huge problem for many but the size can become a problem on computers with limited local storage.
- Complexity – most users will probably never use 50% of the functionality of Word. The complexity can actually be a deterrent as some users will be overawed by the features available. The ribbon does present some of the more comment elements, but the lack of intuitiveness of the ribbon adds to the confusion.
- Not always intuitive – some functions are not always intuitive and often it can take a while to achieve the desired effects. Personally I have had problems trying to insert pictures and align text correctly around the pictures – the options available seem to offer what I need, but I don’t always get the desired effect.
What can Microsoft Word be used for?
Microsoft Word is very versatile and can be used to create almost any type of document:
Example documents created using Microsoft Word
How to learn Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word is a fairly complex program therefore it is important to learn how to use it efficiently. There are several effective ways:
- Learn by experience – the more you use Microsoft Word the more you will learn how to use it efficiently. Don’t be afraid to explore the ribbon and try out some of the features – with the Undo feature you can always revert back.
- Books – there are dozens of great books that cover every aspect of Microsoft Word. I suggest starting off with a beginner’s book and progressing to more advanced techniques once you have mastered the basics.
- Courses – Microsoft have a lot of free training course available on their website – they are a great resource for all level of users. Many professional organizations offer courses based on your level of expertise.
- Mentor – once you have learned the basics it’s a great idea to find someone who can mentor you on the best techniques for using Microsoft Word.
How to get help with Microsoft Word
There are going to be times where you are stuck and despite having read everything you can you will need to seek advice. There are several options:
- Search the Microsoft Support website – there is a large amount of help within the knowledge base and most problems you encounter will have a solution or workaround on their support site.
- Forums – there are hundreds of excellent forums on the web dedicated to Microsoft Office. You can search these forums for a solution to your problem or pose a question if you cannot find an answer.
- Word Processing Software Review 2015
Top word processing software with side-by-side comparisons. Contains in-depth product reviews and articles.
Microsoft Word Competition
Microsoft Word is the most popular word processor in the world but there are several very good alternatives:
- OpenOffice.Org – this is the most widely used free alternative and features a full office suite. The word processor is very good; it does not have all of the features of Word but it is ideal for the average user. It is a little more difficult to use than Word but can produce comparable results.
- Google Documents – this is a completely cloud based application that provides a decent word processing experience. It’s not as complex as Word but it does offer great collaboration features.
- Corel Wordperfect – Wordperfect is perhaps the closest competitor in terms of functionality to Word. It is very powerful and can produce excellent documents. I find it a little less intuitive to use but it does have some powerful feature that Word doesn’t have.
© 2015 Simon Cook
Yunus on April 17, 2020:
I thought Microsoft was only popular in South Africa. I love it and I really learn a lot more from you. I may consider joining professional training to become and expert like you.
StephenCooksey from Phoenix on April 04, 2020:
Thanks, Simon, for sharing amazing information on MS-Word.
Everything that you shared is very helpful for MS-Word users.
Md Shabuj from Bangladesh on November 18, 2019:
Thank you for sharing the information. I am very glad that i have read your article.Great information sir ji.
Sharon Lopez from Philippines on October 18, 2019:
Microsoft Word was the first program I learned in so far as computer operation is concerned. I have been using this since 2004. Even if I already know different programs and apps, I still use this every day. Thank you for sharing a comprehensive discussion of the program.
James Costansin on July 05, 2019:
Personally I prefer Google Docs as it allows collaboration in a much easier way.
Rumona on May 24, 2019:
Thanks for sharing
Adil Khan from Noida on July 06, 2018:
Thank you for sharing such type of article, it helps me to understand why Microsoft word is important to learn.
Mark Johann from New Zealand on February 06, 2015:
I remember from DOS before for word processing. It was the Wordstar. DOS was replaced by Microsoft and now we have MS Word. I love your hub about MS Word.
Ronald E Franklin from Mechanicsburg, PA on February 05, 2015:
I've used Word since it was Word for Windows. To me, the ribbon "upgrade" is an unmitigated disaster. I've stuck with Word 2003, which does a great job of meeting my needs without requiring me to basically relearn the program. Word 2003 is still available through E-bay and other sellers, and if anyone asked me (no one has) I'd recommend it over the newer versions.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on February 05, 2015:
I use Microsoft Word to mostly type letters and have inserted photos as in our Christmas letter each year. It is obvious from reading this that there are many more features available for business purposes, etc. Interesting and informative hub! Up votes and will share.
Marilyn L Davis from Georgia on February 05, 2015:
Good morning, Simon; excellent recap of your lengthy history with Word and the pros and cons. From your article, " While experienced users will find what they want, new users will find it difficult to find all the features." As a user since the early 1990s, I got used to things the way they were. With each necessary update, I still find what I need, just takes looking.
My grandson is now using Word at school in the 2nd grade, but still calls me for my input. At least someone thinks I'm an expert. I'm sending this article to him, so he can read a "real" expert. Good job. ~Marilyn
Debra Allen from West By God on February 05, 2015:
I liked the invitation! LOL I use word for documenst and that is about it. Occasionally I will make a flyer or some other document for my husband. Thanks for all ths information.
Marsha Cooper on February 05, 2015:
I really had no idea you could do this much with Word!