The three computer applications most widely used on personal computers are word processors, spreadsheets and databases. A word processor is essentially a program designed to create, print and store documents and letters. Microsoft Word and Lotus WordPro are examples. The term spreadsheet is used to describe a type of program that is designed to undertake financial, mathematical and even statistical calculations on rows and columns of numeric data. A spreadsheet program is useful for maintaining practice accounts, calculating simple statistics and trying out 'what if' scenarios on numerical data. A database is analogous to a card index system, and is used to store information in a format that facilitates rapid retrieval of data using a multitude of search methods. Many databases are capable of processing this information to generate data summaries, reports and charts based on the search criteria. In this article the basic features of word processing packages are described. Spreadsheets and databases will be discussed in a later paper.