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
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 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
Text style and size
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.