Difference between a Word Processor and a Text Editor. Working with documents has long been one of the priority tasks performed on home or office PCs. Today, computers are multimedia devices, but the basic utilities of any operating system include programs for creating and editing text. Their diversity can be divided into two categories, but if someone knows the difference between a word processor and a text editor, this knowledge is usually not used in everyday life. Both Microsoft Word, NotePad++, and Notepad are referred to as “editors,” so mentioning processors in this context usually confuses users.

A word processor is a program for creating, editing, and viewing a text document in an interactive mode with extensive capabilities for formatting and creating a layout for printing. Some of the most popular ones include Microsoft Word, OpenOffice.org Writer, and WordPad.

A text editor is a program for entering and modifying text, including program source code, and viewing text files. The most popular ones remain NotePad++ and Notepad.


If you open a .doc document in Microsoft Word (each processor creates documents in its own format), you will see a layout composed according to the creator’s preferences: margins, paragraphs, different fonts, sizes, colors, and inserted objects. A .txt file opened in Notepad will display only text without any formatting. The main difference between a word processor and a text editor lies in the formatting capabilities.

The interfaces of these programs significantly differ from each other. Here’s a look at the toolbar in Microsoft Word:

As seen, there are many tools for formatting and styling text documents. A word processor allows you to:

– Format pages and number them
– Adjust margins and spacing, align paragraphs
– Create lists
– Insert tables, headers, videos, images, and diagrams
– Change font type and style
– Apply various tools for visual text highlighting
– Use comments and notes
– Add hyperlinks
– Check spelling and create dictionaries
– Save formatting templates

An editor is intended for simple text entry. Its primary functionality is limited to standard clipboard actions (copy-paste) and find-and-replace. However, many of these programs are geared towards working with text arrays, so they can highlight syntax and default line numbering.

The difference between a word processor and a text editor when viewing a file is that the latter does not hide anything: documents created by it contain only text, so there are no problems using other programs. Due to the absence of any additional objects, .txt files have a minimal size and take up almost no space on storage devices.

A document created in a word processor contains formatting codes in addition to text characters. Attempting to open a file of one format with a program designed for another may lead to read errors, resulting in incorrect display or complete inability to view.

Word processors can be standalone software products or part of office suites. Due to their complexity and numerous settings, they can be demanding on system resources. Text editors are entirely undemanding.