Text editing and word processing are an essential part of our everyday existence. Whether drafting an email, writing a blog, or programming code, text editors and word processors both provide you with the tools necessary to complete those tasks. Yet, despite our familiarity with these programs, many people need guidance to determine which one is best-suited for their needs.

This knowledge is certainly something that anyone who uses a computer for writing should investigate. Having a solid understanding of what tasks text editors and word processors do best will allow you to make the most logical choice as to which is best for your day-to-day writing needs. Read and apply the information provided here to enhance the quality and timeliness of your writing and make your time working with text editors and word processors more enjoyable.

Before diving into the breakdown of these programs, understand that determining which one is better is largely based upon what type of writing you are doing. These are two very different programs designed for different types of writing applications. On the surface, it may seem like they are essentially the same, but after digging a bit deeper, you’ll see that they each have their own unique characteristics. The goal of this article isn’t to crown a winner but rather to explain the pros and cons of each and to examine what tasks and writing habits they are best suited to.

The Technical Text

Text editors are, without a doubt, an essential tool for many modern computing applications. Simple text editors are commonly included with any computer or operating system purchase. The usefulness of text editors is most apparent through their applications in computer programming and coding. Some text editors include syntax highlighting of markup languages, like HTML code, and how software programmers and web developers use them to write and edit commands and codes by using plain text to create the txt files required for computer programming tasks.

If some of this jargon does not make much sense, don’t worry; we’ll go into more detail about how text editing software accomplishes this later. For now, let’s look at a few more things text editing software excels at.

  • Formatting computer code such as HTML code and many other varieties of computer code
  • Writing basic scripts (like batch files), formatting commands, GPU rendering for website design
  • Creating computer programs, source codes, and modifying configuration files
  • Automating tasks like internet searches and sorting, as well as statistic counting and number analysis

Of course, you can’t mention the pros without the cons, so here are a few things that text editing software lacks.

  • No special formatting options like bold or italic text
  • No choice of text sizes and fonts
  • Does not allow the user to format paragraph alignment or add pictures or tables

The Elegant Text

The Elegant Text

Word processors evolved from text editors to allow users more creative freedom with their document creation. Word processors allow users to alter any aspect of the document, making them much easier to read and more aesthetically pleasing than those made by text editors. Popular word processing programs like WordStar and Microsoft Word allow users to create high-class professional documents, research papers, cover letters, and résumés.

Unlike a text editor, word processing software like Microsoft Word utilizes spell check, grammar check, text and font formatting, file type save options, image support, advanced page layout, and plenty more.

More benefits of word processors include:

  • Copying, pasting, moving, and deleting text within a document
  • Ability to handle graphics, tables, and mathematical formulas
  • Predefined themes, page numbers, and outline editors
  • Multiple document formats

Word processors are not without their flaws. These are vastly outnumbered by the positive traits, but they deserve a mention. Here are a few drawbacks to using word processors:

  • Too many features and options make the learning curve steep
  • Data and documents are sometimes hard to import and files are often corrupted and lost
  • Word processor software is costly


Based on what we now know about text editors and word processors, it’s apparent that text editors are better than word processors when used for anything related to:

  • Coding
  • File configuration
  • Web design
  • Software programming/development

On the other hand, word processors are better than text editors when a writing project needs:

  • Professional formatting
  • Editing
  • Correct spelling and grammar

Although text editors and word processors appear to share many common features like the ability to create, edit, and save text documents, they aren’t necessarily interchangeable since each performs a very different function.



So, what exactly makes a text editor or word processor work better than the other at certain tasks? Since you can use both to create text, you might think each would be able to do what the other does without much difficulty. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case, as the type of text used differs between the two programs. Word processors incorporate rich text in their documents, while text editors use plain text.

The difference is that rich text allows formatting options, like bold text, special fonts, and font sizes, and many other text formatting options. Although this rich text formatting allows for wider freedom in how your document looks, you can’t use it for programming, file configuration, or coding. The added formatting convolutes how the computer reads the written commands that the text is attempting to convey.

The characters making up the text have special tags that tell the computer to add formatting to it. For example, formatted rich text is displayed and read as “<em>emphasized</em>” while the plain text is read and displayed simply as “emphasized”.

The extra values in the rich text of word processor documents make it impossible for other computer programs to decipher it. The only information that a txt file made in a text editor has are the values representing the distinct characters. Text created in this fashion is always understood by the computer, regardless of what is written, programmed, or coded.


As you can see, text editors and word processors serve different purposes, so choosing the appropriate text input program for your writing project is necessary to save both time and effort. Although some people tend to use text editors and word processors indiscriminately for all writing tasks, this isn’t a great idea because it makes accomplishing certain tasks very difficult, if not impossible.

We hope this article has provided you with some clarity regarding the proper and effective use of text editors and word processors. Both are very useful tools, but they serve very different purposes, so choose wisely.

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