Word Processing General

The information here applies to all word processing software, not just Microsoft Word.

What does a word processor do?

A word processor can view and edit formatted text. A formatted text document contains text which may be bold, italic, underlined, coloured, a different size, or a different font. All word processors can do all of these.

Microsoft Word can also do quite a lot more most of which you will not need to know about, as a beginner.

So how do I use a word processor?

Run a word processor, such as Microsoft Word (but any other, such as Lotus Word Pro will also work). Depending which word processor you are using you may get something asking for your username, or asking whether you want to load an existing file or use a template or whatever. Click Cancel to all of these.

You should now see a screen which is almost all white or grey. If it is grey, click on File, then on New. You may get another window opening, if so click on OK.

You are now ready to begin. Type a few words in, and they will appear, almost certainly in black on white, and in small serifed writing. Up the top left (probably) you will see some buttons, saying B, I, U, a number, and "Times New Roman". Try clicking on one of these and changing it, and type a few more words in to see what happens.

One of the most fundamental and important things about word processors is that you can change what you have already written (unlike on a typewriter, or writing by hand!) Click the mouse somewhere where you have written some writing, and you will notice a vertical black line moves to where you clicked. Type some more words and you will see they appear in this new place. You can also use the arrow keys to move this line. This line is called the "cursor".

Also try clicking and dragging over some text. You will notice it turns to white on either a blue or black background. This is called "selecting". Try typing now. You will find that all of the selected text disappears and is replaced by what you have just typed. If you press Delete instead, it would just disappear. There is more you can do with selected text than just remove it, however.

Cut, Copy and Paste

Type some more text, and select some of it. Now click on Edit, and Copy. Apparently nothing will happen. If you now click somewhere to deselect the writing, and click on Edit then Paste, the writing will appear at the new cursor position. If you paste again, another copy will appear. Try copying something else and then pasting again. You will find that the new thing you copied will be pasted, instead of the old one.

The way this works is that when you say Copy, it stores the writing in a special place in memory, called the Clipboard. This is used in all copy and paste operations in all programs. Different programs do not have their own clipboard - they all share the same one. So if you select some text in this window (in Internet Explorer) and click on Edit then Copy in the same way you did for the word processor, you can now paste the text into your word processor document.

Cutting works in the same way as copying, only it removes the selected text after copying it. This is especially useful if you want to move a piece of text from one place to another.

In some word processors, once you have selected some text you can simply drag it from one place in the document to another. This does not always work however, and can have unpredictable results.

See also:

Word processing index pageGo back to word processing index page


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