BOOT CAMP 035
After Windows 95 the next most popular application for PC
users has to be Microsoft Word, and it's not difficult to see why. We're not
plugging Microsoft products, Word is simply the best and since the very
earliest versions this sophisticated word processor program has set the
standard by which other WPs are judged. If there has to be a criticism it’s
that it is too powerful and we suspect most owners never use more than a small
fraction of its many features.
This week we have a few tips and tweaks to help you get Word
up and running, and tailored to suit your needs. In part two we'll delve a bit
deeper into some of the more interesting and useful facilities. We're focusing
on the two most popular variants of Word, Version 7, which is part of the Office
95 suite of programs, and Word 97, which is sold as a stand-alone product. They
look very similar but there are several quite significant differences, however
as far as possible we'll stick to the common features.
Word is reasonably intuitive and even complete novices are
usually able to start writing and printing letters or documents straight away.
We'll skip the basics and assume you are familiar with the concepts of making
things happen by pointing and clicking on menus, highlighting text, and making
simple style changes.
The first thing most users want to do is customise the blank
page that appears when Word starts, this is called the Normal Template. If you
don't care for the default typeface or font, and the size of the characters,
simply click Format on the menu bar and select Font. Choose your preferred
font, size and style -- even the colour if you wish -- then click on the
Default button, and that's what you'll get every time you open Word.
You can have as many, or as few Toolbars on show as you
like, however most of them just waste valuable screen space, with functions
you're unlikely to need more than once in a blue moon. The two most useful ones
are Standard and Formatting; they're worth keeping on screen all the time. The
Toolbar display option is on the View menu, or put the mouse pointer into a
toolbar, right click and the selection menu appears. The Toolbars and Menu bar
can be shifted around by pointing at the border, clicking and holding the mouse
button and then dragging it to where you want it to go.
The paper-white screen in Word can become quite tiring on
the eyes after a while, you can adjust the screen brightness or better still,
give it a light grey tint. Go to Windows Control Panel (Start, then Settings),
click on the Display icon then select the Appearance tab. Click in the Window
Text box and go down to the Colour box, which should show white. Click the down
arrow on the box and the Other button. Use the vertical slider next to the
multi-colour panel to select a light tint and click OK.
First time users often get themselves into a tangle when it
comes to saving documents, so get organised as soon as possible. By default all
of the files you create will be saved in a directory called My Documents, which
exists outside Word, on the main C: drive directory tree. The first job is to
work out the various types or categories of documents and letters you'll be
creating, 'Personal', 'Bank', 'Letters to Bill Gates', that sort of thing. It's
a good idea to put the year, i.e. '98' after each one, (and resolve to create a
new set of folders every year). Now go to the Start button, then Programs and
Windows Explorer and scroll down the list in the left hand window until you get
to My Documents, double click on it and select New from the File Menu and click
on the File icon. Create as many folders as you require, re-naming each one as
you go. Get into the habit of naming and saving a document in the appropriate
folder -- using the Save As command in the File menu -- as soon as you've written
the first line or two.
Word can help you with your spelling, highlighting words it
doesn't recognise in red and correcting simple mistakes, as you type. Word also
checks grammar and punctuation; this can be a bit hit and miss but it keeps you
on your toes and anything it disagrees with is underlined in green. Going to
Options on the Tools menu and selecting the Spelling & Grammar tab enables
both facilities. This menu decides how the checks work; there's a more in-depth
selection of options under AutoCorrect, also on the Tools menu. Spend some time
with these menus, ticking the features you consider worthwhile. Don't rely on
AutoCorrect, always run a complete spell check when you've finished a document
by placing the cursor at the beginning of the text and clicking the 'ABC'
button on the Toolbar.
Word Count is something you'll want to access time and
again. You can save time by assigning this and any other frequently used
functions a simple keyboard shortcut. Select Customize from the Tools menu, click
on the Commands tab and then the Keyboard button. In the left-hand window
locate and highlight Tools, and in the right window scroll down the list until
you come to Tools Word Count and highlight that. Click a flashing cursor into
the 'Press New Shortcut Key' window and choose a simple two-key combination,
(Ctrl + backslash -- next to 'z' on most keyboards -- is normally unassigned
and simple to do with the left hand), click Assign and it's done. While you're
at it have a look through the lists of commands and see if there's anything
else you want to have a shortcut to, but not too many or you will have trouble
remembering them all.
Be creative with your letters and faxes, there are plenty of
embellishments in Word so get to know them. You'll find a useful assortment of
ready-made templates in Style Gallery under the Format menu; these can be
applied when you have finished writing keying in the text. Try adding borders,
you will find a good selection of styles on the Format menu, under Borders
& Shading. The same menu bar also has options for drop capitals, plus
bullet points and paragraph numbering, though it's easier to use the buttons on
the Standard toolbar for the latter two features. Don't forget you can add
pictures and graphics to your documents, a good way to learn about this feature
is to experiment with the Clip Art facility, it's accessed from the Picture
option on the Insert menu.
Next week, labels, tables and macros
Text style and size. Virtually all word processors have a
‘wizzywig’ display (actually WYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get…), so
what appears on the screen is what ends up on the printed page.
graphic representation of the way folders and files are
stored on your PCs disc drives. In Windows Explorer, clicking on the
'+' sign next folders opens up 'branches' of sub-directories
containing files and folders
A template is a page that contains embedded instructions
concerning typeface and size, page layout and style features. Word processor
like word contains a wide selection of ready-made templates, or you can create
The Dictionary and Thesaurus in Word are okay for day to day
use but there's an even better option and that's Bookshelf British Reference
Collection (yes, another Microsoft product…). It is a large collection of highly
respected reference works, including Chambers Dictionary, Hutchinson Concise Encyclopaedia,
Encarta World Atlas, the Bloomsbury Treasury of Quotations and an Internet
Directory. Providing the CD-ROM is kept in the drive Bookshelf can be directly
accessed from Word, a small control box appears on the screen whilst you're
working, simply highlight a word and click on the appropriate icon and
Bookshelf opens automatically. Text and graphics can be pasted from Bookshelf into
Word in just a couple of button clicks. Shop around, it's currently selling for
less that £30.