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How To Do Effective Word Processing On Your Computer?

By Jess, published on 29/08/2019 Blog > Academia > Information Technology > IT For Beginners: A Guide In Word Processing!

IT for beginners build with support in mind because there is so much to learn about the PC. Because devices and computing have become integral in our society. Every job you apply for will see it as a bonus if you have some computing skills. If you are studying and handing in homework, you may be surprised that your handwritten notes are refused. Need to write to the local council to ask them about a service, it is best to type it. Not to mention if you want to write a book, do some research, type up your notes, make a business plan for the bank, or create a multi-page presentation for the board of your company.

IT and word processing are used in all parts of our daily lives from government office to child’s homework. IT serves to make your life more convenient (once you know what you are doing) and also to open doors for you professionally as computing counts as an important skill.

Let’s take a look at how to get started with word processing.

A geat skill for professional development Every job you apply for will see it as a bonus if you have some computing skills. Photo Source: Unsplash

What Is A Word Processor

A word processor is essentially a digital notebook in your PC. So why not just use a notebook? Well, the more advanced software can do much more than you would be able to do in a notebook by hand.

  1. You can write and create: presentations, write books, prepare reports or just write a letter
  2. You can format your text into 100s of font styles, you can use 100s of predesigned templates, you can use colour, add pictures, charts, table and do other kinds of formatting
  3. You can share online, print, save, upload, download, collaborate with a member of a team and even track changes, or lock change by creating a PDF.

This kind of software can be used in the most basic way or in the most complex. It is suitable for the ultimate beginner or for the digital veteran.

Now that we know what the software is let’s take a look at the brands of software on offer for Windows and Mac users.

What Is A Word Processor Used For?

As its name suggests, a word processor is primarily used to process words. But what are key purposes and who tends to use them?

Using a PC, laptop, Mac or even a tablet and smartphone, text is entered via a keyboard or a dictation device and the word processor formats this text and provides pagination. Most word processors offer a range of other tools so that users can play with the design and formatting of their text, including various font options, colours, highlighting tools, line spacing choices, numbering and bullet points, comments and even the ability to add in shapes or clip art images. For those who need to create texts with headings and subheadings, a word processor is absolutely necessary.

More advanced word processors offer some more sophisticated tools and features. For example, some smart word processors let you insert images, tables, columns, headers, footers, bookmarks, links and more.

Word processors are so versatile that there are uncountable reasons why someone might use one. Nevertheless, word processors are generally used in most offices for administration purposes (i.e. reports, manuals, guides, communications, etc), by authors writing novels, and by people all across the world writing shopping lists, to-do lists, CVs,  applications and other personal documents.

How To Decide Which Word Processor To Use?

It’s worth taking some time to find the right software for your needs as once you find your favourite software. It will be unlikely that you will switch between other software. Because we tend to get comfortable with how things look and work in the software we are using. Personally, I really love Microsoft (MS) word; MS OneNote and Google Docs. I have tried so many other kinds of software, but I always feel like I am just visiting, never like I am really at home. I use each of the three pieces of software for different things, MS word is where I do my long-form writing, MS OneNote is for my notes, organisation and planning and Google docs is where I do draft work when I am on the road using my phone or tablet devices.

The best way to decide which software to use is to consider what you want to use the software for. Match your requirement to the functionality of the software and then try it to see how you feel. Even paid software tends to come with a trial, and of course, there is also a large variety of free software available.

Useful skill to have even if you don't often use the PC IT and word processing are used in all parts of our daily lives. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Most Suitable Text Processing On Windows?

There is so much available for windows, you will also find a good range of software and prices available. Starting at free to hundreds of pounds, with the defining factor only being what it is that you are interested in doing on your pc no matter how basic. However, the software has really developed and even free software these days can be enough to create impressive presentations for your professional career or write a business plan for your company.

Microsoft Word

The most popular software and the industry standard for most office on the planet is Microsoft (MS) Office suite. Part of that suite is MS word, which is a powerhouse software that covers the needs of the novice and advanced user alike.

The feature of this software is too many to list but here are some of MS words robust features:

This popular Word processing software allows you to :

  1. Do all basic document creation, editing, formatting and production.
  2. Format any advertising, reports, presentations or communication material,
  3. Turn your full-text document into a PDF document, which allows people to view the document but not make any changes. Great for better distribution,
  4. Type as much or as little, and you like with spacing and syntax correction,
  5. Open a file from your documents or other folders.
  6. Some advanced features can be used, such as the Word GUI or the toolbar.
  7. MS word also had cloud, collaboration and sharing capabilities
  8. If the primary feature is not enough, you can extend the features with add ons. Which allows you to create truly personal software that suits the way that you use it.

What Do You Need For Word Processing On A Mac Computer

If you have a MAC PC, you have a number for great options available to you for your pc. There are great free and paid options, the software also has the option of being very basic or having all of the bells and whistles. Which software you choose is your choice, here are some options for you to choose from:

TextEdit

Text Edit is suitable for the total word-processing beginner, who wants an easy-to-use format to:

  1. Learn how to insert images into documents,
  2. Create lists and tables.
  3. Make basic documents

The main advantage of TextEdit? It’s free pre-installed software! Just search its name in your Apple search bar, and it will come up.

Pages

Pages word processing software, at first glance, is much more feature-rich, especially when compared to TextEdit but the structure of the software is much the same.

  1. Traditional formation tools for stylizing fonts
  2. Lists, tables and inserts
  3. Advanced Image insertion including clip art
  4. Easily advanced formatting with text wrapping so you can create magazine-like layouts
  5. Pages offer real-time collaboration for all files saved in iCloud

Other Leading Software

For both Windows and Mac computers:

  • Google Docs is free cloud-based software that you can use from any browser on any computer. Whenever you log into your google account, you can gain access to this and a long list of other Google apps. The benefit of this software is that you will never lose a file again since the document is autosaved. So if you have been frustrated with POC crashes or regularly forget to save your work this option could suit you well.
  • LibreOffice is another free open source software like some of the other software. Don’t let the fact that it is free to fool you, Libre Office is a full feature software allowing you to do everything that you would expect from a model feature-rich software. It is similar to Microsoft office except for the free price tag. Like Open Office this software will continue to be updated and have features added since it is open source software.

Curveball online cloud software for notetaking (both Windows and Mac)

  • Evernote is a note-taking application similar to MS OneNote. It allows all of the basic note-taking plus writing via voice recognition and dictation. It integrates well with the internet, and you can do extensive referencing with it. You can write using a stylus if your device has this functionality and you can sign in and use it from any device with an internet connection. The software has a limited free account or premium paid accounts.

MS office is widely used worldwide The most popular software and the industry standard for most office on the planet is Microsoft (MS) Office suite. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Top Shortcuts To Use In Word Processing!

Once you have opened a document, you may find formatting it to be time-consuming and tedious. Especially if you have to go back and forth to the toolbar every time you want to do something. Shortcuts have the advantage of saving time and making your work more comfortable.

Important Keys Which Activate Shortcuts And Dual Outputs On The Keyboard.

  1. The Alt (alternative ) key gives other keys an alternative function
  2. Windows: Ctrl (control) key / Mac: CMD (Command) key is used to activate a new operation.
  3. The shift key modifies
  4. The FN (function) key (not on all keyboards): Modifies the use of a key often give it dual purpose.
  5. F (Function) Keys are keys with a programmed action attached to them.

Forming Shortcuts:

  • Bold text: Select the text that you want to change then press Ctrl + B
  • Italic text:  Select the text that you want to change then press Ctrl + I
  • Underline text: Select the text that you want to change then press Ctrl + U
  • Decrease or increase the font size: Ctrl + Shift + > or <.
  • Other short cut examples
  • Close a file: Ctrl + W
  • Superimpose document windows: Shift + F5:
  • Switch to full-screen mode: F11
  • Change the keyboard language (preinstalled): Ctrl + Shift (Windows 7) or Cmd + Space (Mac)

How To Use The Shortcut Combinations

When creating the combinations on your keyboard. You will press the indicated keys at the same time, you do not need to press the + key.

For example:

  • If you want to activate a new document with the Ctrl+N combination.
    • Locate the Ctrl key
    • Locate the N key
    • Pressed them together to get a new document.

* The + symbol, in this case, means ‘and’ it is not a part of the combination.
Before selecting the software for your mac or windows machine, think about what you are going to use the software for and how often will you be using the software. Once you have selected your software, you can then start to practice with how to use your software, incorporating shortcuts and typing practice. Slowly you will build confidence which is always much more important than knowing where the edit tab is anyway.

Other Useful Tips For New And Practised Word Processor Users!

As with most things, practice makes perfect. That is why it is so good to really get to know your word processor and what it can do, thus improving your efficiency and productivity. But don’t worry, you don’t have to sit at your computer all day playing with shortcuts, hidden keys and concealed features, we’re here to help you discover the true power of a word processor in less than 5 minutes by reading the tips and tricks below!

Using the zoom feature

For some, the 90-odd per cent view that they are automatically displayed with on Microsoft Word is not large enough. To avoid straining your eyes, you can easily make the page and thus text appear bigger by zooming to 100% or beyond but remember that the closer you hone in on your text, the more scrolling you’ll have to do from left to right and the less text you’ll see. Use the View > Zoom option to make your selection, or look out for for the 100% tab if you want to achieve this full screen quicker. On some versions of Word, you can use a slider to easily zoom in and out.

Avoid wasting time deleting single characters

Many people don’t realise that you can delete whole words or selections at once rather than simply clicking or holding down the backspace button (and normally erasing more than you want to and have to re-write chunks of text!) so, if that sounds familiar, this one is for you. Either use your mouse to select the sentence you wish to delete (not you can double click on a single word to highlight it) and then use the delete button. You can also press Ctrl+Backspace with the mouse cursor placed after the word you want to get rid of, and then erase one word at a time.

Using Smart Lookup to search the Internet

You’ve probably seen Smart Lookup appear on the page at some point in your word processing history, but you may not know what this feature does. Well, we can tell you! If you highlight a word in your text and right-click on it, this option will come up. It acts as a shortcut to the World Wide Web, allowing you to do a quick search on your browser, generated by the Word document. This cuts out the process of opening up a tab, minimising and clicking back and forth, thus cutting out valuable time that would otherwise have been wasted.

Take away unwanted or unnecessary formatting

Unwanted formatting can be a real pain and can slow you down, especially if it interferes with how you want to see your text. Instead of going through an entire document to remove unwanted formatting, press Ctrl+Space (or you can find a Clear All Formatting tab) to remove formatting from the previously highlighted text. Want the whole document cleaned up? No problem, just press Ctrl+A to highlight your entire text then follow the instructions. Some modern version of Word have a quick tool for this, which looks like a rubber or eraser with a letter A on it.

Talk to your word processor

Technology is so smart now, that even your word processor can take instructions! Most new versions of Microsoft Word have a ‘Tell me what you want to do’ bar on the main toolbar, meaning that you can simply type a word or instructive phrase and it will quickly find the command you need. Unfortunately, it can’t yet make you a cup of tea. Come on Microsoft!

Using clicks to select chunks of text

We already told you about double-clicking on a word to highlight it, right? Well, if you’re ready to take this newfound knowledge to the next level, then why not try triple-clicking to select whole chunks or paragraphs of copy?

Inserting links into a document

While you can use the toolbar to find the Insert Link button, there is a quicker way of doing this for those who work on providing web copy and need to insert various links throughout their text. Press Ctrl+K to save yourself a bit of time and crack on with writing your text.

Select default font 

Word has been programmed to offer you a specific default font, but what if you don’t like that font or if all of your work needs to be in a different font altogether? That’s no issue. You can set your own default font by going to Format > Font and then selecting the option you want and making it the default.

Scanning your text for a word 

If you are searching for a particular word or string of words in a large document, use your mouse to select the find command or press Ctrl+F and you will be presented with a small box and search bar. Type what you are looking for and the word processor will highlight all appearances of that word in the entire text. You can then use the arrows provided to skip to the next instance or you can scroll up and down manually using your cursor. Did you also know that you can use a Find function when the document is closed too? When opening up your Explorer, you can search a whole folder for specific words or tags.

Finding and replacing

Following on from the above tip, some find it useful to find and replace words in a single click. You can look out for the magnifying glass button and click Replace to automatically change a word or phrase with a different word or phrase. Just imagine if you’ve written a whole essay on a book and you realise that you’ve misspelt a word… this function could save your life!

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