Word processor programs like Microsoft Word have a number of powerful presentation tools, which can give your CVs, letters, faxes, reports and newsletters extra visual impact, to make them look as though they were professionally created. The trick is not to try and re-invent the wheel; you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by using the ready-prepared document and page templates that are included with your word processor. Some of them contain Wizards; they are simple helper programs that enable you to customise the template to your own specifications, so they can be easily reused.

All of the tools can be used retrospectively, which means you can concentrate on keying in the text first, and worry about what the document looks like afterwards. That’s important, always check spelling, grammar and anything else that may affect the length of the copy, before you go any further. If you make a lot of changes after the layout has been finished it can easily mess up your design.

Two of the most effective enhancements are to add bullet points, or numbers, to draw the reader’s attention to important items. It’s incredibly easy, just highlight the block of text you want to emphasise or itemise, click on the appropriate toolbar icon and numbers or bullets will magically appear. It is also easy to enclose a block of text in a frame or border; simply highlight the chunk of copy you want to pick out, select the Tables or Borders icon on the toolbar, specify line width and style then click OK.

One of the most powerful features in Word and Word Pro is the facility to illustrate documents with graphics and pictures. Your word processor almost certainly came with a library of clip-art images. There you will find a good assortment of general-purpose logos and illustrations, but there’s nothing to stop you designing your own, or use images filed on your PC and downloaded from the Internet.

There are several ways of importing an image into a document. The exact method varies from one word processor to another, but the basic techniques are usually the same. If you haven’t already done so you will need to select the word processor’s page layout mode; select a zoom or magnification setting that will allow you to see at least half to two thirds of the page. If you choose a full-page display, and you’re using a small monitor (14 or 15 inches), you won’t be able to read the copy or see the images clearly. This will also show you exactly what the finished page will look like when it is printed out.

Using the cursor or mouse pointer decide where you want the illustration to go on the page. In Word 7 images are chosen using the Picture option on the Insert menu. From there you can search through the Clip Art library. Incidentally, additional clip art can be downloaded free from the Microsoft web site by clicking on the browser button in the bottom right hand of the dialogue box and there’s tons more of it to be found spread around the Internet. Otherwise you can search for a specific image file, located elsewhere on your computer, using the familiar directory tree.

When the image has been found click on it and it will be imported into the open word processor document.  Initially the picture will be highlighted, so that it can be moved around the page using the mouse pointer, and if necessary re-sized, by clicking, holding and dragging on one of the squares on the corners of the picture.

Alternatively, load the image into the Windows 95 Paint program (filed in the Accessories folder) or any other paint-box or image manipulation software

program that you may have. From the Edit menu, copy the image to the Clipboard, then return to the word processor and paste it into the document, from where you can position and re-size it.

Word Processors like Microsoft Word have a powerful text wrapping facility that can run the words around the picture. On Word 7 it is located on the Format menu under the heading Object, though it only appears when an image has been highlighted. Click on the Wrapping tab, and from the selections presented, choose how you want the text to surround the picture. It’s actually a lot easier than it sounds; nevertheless, it pays to do a few dry runs, before trying anything too ambitious.

Having grasped the basics it’s time to do something useful with your word processor. Next week we’ll be looking at how to prepare a smart-looking newsletter. 



Clip Art

Copyright-free pictures, icons and cartoons supplied with your word processor, or available separately, that you can use to illustrate your documents.


A ready prepared document layout. Microsoft Word has lots to choose from, including simple personal letters, fax headers memos and invoices. To customise them to your own needs simply change the sample text.


A self-activating program that guides you through a simple set-up routine for a particular feature or application



A common cause of Windows 95 crashes or lock-ups is too many programs running at the same time. You might be lucky and get a warning that something bad is about to happen – a slow running program is a sign of impending danger  -- but you can keep an eye on what is happening, and possibly prevent a crash, using a simple utility called the Resource Meter. It is quite well hidden; From the Start button select Programs, then Accessories and click on System Tools. Double click on Resource Meter and a small bar-graph icon will appear on the Taskbar, next to the clock. Placing the mouse pointer over the icon will give you an instant readout of the percentage of resources being used, better still click on it and a set of three bar graphs will appear. Problems can occur when any of the three meters fall below 25%. If than happens you should close one or more programs, not forgetting to save any open files first.   

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