ASCII files are those composed of simple text information with no formatting. Word processors differ from text editors in that they store formatting information with the text. They usually have a proprietary or native file format that makes them incompatible with other products. File conversion utilities allow some transfer of information between formats, but usually only preserve basic formatting.
Recently, it has been recognized that there is a need for a standard to govern structural information as well as content. Microsoft's Rich Text Format (RTF) and SGML are two such attempts. Recent trends towards electronic document delivery have also increased interest in this area.