This subclause introduces the overall form of a WordprocessingML package, and identifies some of its main element types. (See Part 3 for a more detailed introduction.)

A WordprocessingML package has a relationship of type officeDocument, which specifies the location of the main part in the package. For a WordprocessingML document, that part contains the main text of the document.

A WordprocessingML package’s main part starts with a word processing root element. That element contains a body, which, in turn, contains one or more paragraphs (as well as tables, pictures, and the like). A paragraph contains one or more runs, where a run is a container for one or more pieces of text having the same set of properties. Like many collection element types, each run and paragraph can have associated with it a set of properties. For example, a run might have the property bold, which indicates that run's text is to be displayed in a bold typeface.

A WordprocessingML document is organized into sections, and the layout of a page on which the text appears within a section is controlled by that section's properties. For example, each section can have its own headers and footers.

One relationship from the document part specifies the document’s styles. A style defines a text display format. A style can have properties, which can be applied to individual paragraphs or runs. Styles make runs more compact by reducing the number of repeated definitions and properties, and the amount of work required to make changes to the document's appearance. With styles, the appearance of all the pieces of text that share a common style can be changed in one place, in that style's definition.

A series of paragraphs can have numbering applied to them via a numbering definition instance or a numbering style.

Data in a WordprocessingML document can be organized in a table, a two-dimensional grid of cells organized into rows and columns. Cells and whole tables can have associated properties. A cell can contain text and paragraphs, for example.

Text within a WordprocessingMLdocument can be determined dynamically via the use of fields. Fields consist of field instructions (the text that dictates the field's dynamic behavior) and the field result (the text resulting from the dynamic calculation of the field instructions. For example, page numbers are represented as fields. A hyperlink consists of two pieces of information: the hyperlink itself—the text the user will click—and the target for the link. Potential targets include external files, e-mail addresses, web sites, and bookmarks within the document itself.

A WordprocessingML document can also contain custom markup, user-defined semantics applied to arbitrary document content.

A WordprocessingML document is not stored as one large body in a single part; instead, the elements that implement certain groupings of functionality are stored in separate parts. For example, all footnotes in a document are stored in one footnote part, while each section can have up to three different header parts and three different footer parts, to support headers and footers on odd-numbered pages, even-numbered pages, and the first page.