BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 1998

  

 

BOOT CAMP 014

WORD PROCESSING PART 1, THE BASICS

If pressed you could probably come up with several good reasons why you’ve brought a personal computer – games and the Internet figure prominently on many people’s list  -- but the one application that really makes sense of all that expensive and baffling technology is word processing.

Windows 95 PCs has a very useful built-in word processor program though few users realise they have it, let alone use it. Nowadays most new PCs come with a software suite that includes a powerful word processor like Microsoft Word or Lotus Word Pro. Nevertheless Windows 95 WordPad is well worth getting to know, it shares many key features with MS Word and other more grown-up WPs. If you haven’t yet taken the plunge with Word, or been thoroughly confused by the vast array of complicated looking features, WordPad is a very good place to begin. It can be found by clicking on the Start button, then Programs and Accessories and you’ll find it at the bottom of the list.

WordPad has more facilities than most users will ever need for creating everyday documents, like letters, reports or faxes. You could easily use it to write that book you’ve been planning, in fact it has more features than many top-of-the-line word processors from the late 1980s, and it’s a darn sight easier to use.

We’ll start with the basics, and look at some more advanced operations next week. The biggest advantage a word processor has over a typewriter is the facility to manipulate text, before it is committed to paper. In other words, if you make a mistake, or change your mind, you can easily alter what you have written.

Changing a single word or letter using the backspace key is easy enough but when it comes to editing whole sentences, paragraphs or larger blocks of text the most useful feature is highlight. Highlighting text is easy. Use the mouse to place the cursor in front of the first letter of the word or words you want to work on, click, hold, and move the cursor to the last letter in the block and release the mouse button. In WordPad and most variants of Microsoft Word you can highlight a single line, a whole paragraph or the entire document, by putting the mouse pointer into the space before the beginning of a line and clicking the left mouse button once, twice or three times. To remove a highlight, left-click into an empty part of the page area.

Once a word or block of text has been highlighted you can do all kinds of interesting things to it, including moving it around, copying it, altering the font, font size, alignment and changing it to bold, italic or underlined characters. To move text to another part of the document put the pointer into the highlighted area, click and hold the left mouse button, drag the highlight to the new location and release the mouse button. To copy a word or block of text highlight it, click and hold the mouse button, press the Ctrl key, then move the cursor to where you want it to go and release the mouse button. Should you want to repeat a highlighted word or text block more than once, put it into the Clipboard by clicking on the Copy icon on the toolbar, or click on the Copy option in the Edit drop-down menu. Place the cursor where you wish the repeated text to go and click on the Paste icon (it looks like a small clipboard in WordPad and Word), and click the left mouse button. Copy and Paste options can be accessed quickly by pressing the right mouse button.

If you want to erase highlighted text simply press the Delete button or click on the Cut (scissors) icon. Should you change your mind about an action click on the undo icon, it looks like an arrow curving to the left. MS Word also has a re-do feature (an arrow curving to the right) to change it back again.

That’s really all you need to know to get going, but before you start work on that opus you must organise your filing system, so you don’t end up with documents all over the place. Start by creating some empty folders, where you can store your files. It’s up to you where you keep them, some word processors will create a work folder for you but it’s just as easy to make your own using Windows Explorer. From Explorer select New, then Folder from the File drop-down menu; you can add a work folder to the list of programs on the C: drive, or create several inside your word processor directory, using names like letters, personal etc.

You should customise your pages and screen presentation (see also Tip of the Week). This includes items like page width, paragraph layout, font, font size and zoom settings, which are normally located on the tool bar or listed under menu items, such as Format. Experiment with the various styles and settings on offer. Once set the word processor will allow you to save your preferences as the normal or default ‘New’ document, before you exit the program. In future that’s what you will get every time you open a blank page. Finally, get into the habit of naming and filing each new document. As soon as you’ve written the first line click on the File menu and select Save As, give the document a title and make sure it is filed in the correct folder.

Next week, word processing bells and whistles

 

JARGON FILTER

ALIGNMENT

The spaces between words can be microscopically adjusted so that text completely fills each line, this is known as justified text. If standard sized word spacing is used, each line will have a variable length; this is called ‘ragged’. A column with ragged lines on the right side is ‘aligned left’ or ‘ranged left’; if the left side is ragged it is ‘ranged right’. Centred text is ragged text that is symmetrically opposed about a notional line running down the middle of the column. 

CLIPBOARD

Clipboard is a section of a computer’s memory where you can temporarily copy chunks of text, data, graphics or pictures. Once on the clipboard the item can be pasted into another part of the document, or transferred to any other application running on the PC, that has a copy and paste facility.

FONT/FONT SIZE

Text style and size

 

TOP TIP

The bright white text area of most word processors can become a quite tiring on the eyes after a few hours. You can of course jiggle the brightness and contrast settings on your monitor but a far better solution is to give your blank pages a light grey tint. Open your word processor and load a page of text, so you can judge the effect. Next, from the Start button select Settings, Control Panel and the Display icon. Select the Appearance tab and click into the area marked Window Text. Next click on the Color box and choose the Other option. This will bring up a colour palette, select grey or white from the block of colour options and use the slider to the right of the multi-colour panel to adjust the level. Click OK and if necessary re-adjust until you are satisfied with it. The tint only applies to the display and will not affect the way documents look when they are printed. 

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