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Preparation of textual documents on computer. A word-processing system typically consists simply of a personal computer linked to a computer printer, but it may instead employ a terminal linked to a mainframe computer. Word processing differs from typewriter typing in numerous ways. Electronic text can be moved around at will; misspelled terms can be corrected throughout the document by means of a single command; spelling and grammar checkers can automatically alert the user to apparent errors of spelling, punctuation, and syntax; and the document's format, layout, and type fonts and sizes can be changed repeatedly until a satisfactory design is achieved. Since all editing ideally occurs on-screen, word processing can result in decreased paper usage and simplified editing. When the final draft is ready, the document can be printed out (in multiple copies if necessary), sent as an e-mail attachment, shared on a computer network, or simply stored as an electronic file.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on word processing, visit Britannica.com.