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Introduction to Word Processing Programs

Word processors are computerized typewriters.

Favorite ability: Spell check

Most programs warn you if you misspell a word.  Dictionaries and thesauruses are also readily available.

 
Spell check


Overview:  What Word Processing Programs do

Word processing programs replace typewriters (and white-out and erasers).

Whatever you type on the screen can readily be changed.  Because of this, most word processing programs make it easy to do the following:

Word wrap
Change, or "edit" text
Format
Search and Replace
Mail merge
Spell check
Save and/or print


Word wrap

You never have to hit the "return" key when you reach the right edges of the screen; the words automatically "wrap" around to the next line.

 
Word wrap


Ability to easily "edit" (change) text

A word processing usually makes the following tasks easy:

 
Delete
a word,
several words,
a sentence,
a paragraph,
etc.

Insert
a word,
several words,
a sentence,
a paragraph,
etc.

 
Move
a word,
several words,
a sentence,
a paragraph,
etc.
A move is a combination of a "delete" and an "insert" elsewhere.

You can "select" a word or group of words by highlighting with the mouse, then "cut" (or remove) it from one place and then "paste" (or insert) it into another place with just a few clicks


Format

This means to change the appearance of the words. For example, you can usually change:

The "font", or shape of the letters
"Style" (bold, italic, underlined, etc.)
Size
Color
Background color

For examples of how each is changed, see our Introduction to Formatting


Search and Replace

Let's say you've written a letter to someone you've just met named Sarah.

But it turns out Sarah is from California and spells her name "Serra".

 

No problem!

Just tell the program to replace every "Sarah" with "Serra".

 

Now, with just one click, this is what your letter looks like!

Mail merge

You can have a list of names and addresses in one document, and a form letter, envelope or label format in a second. Then you tell the program can "merge" the specific names, addresses, etc., into specified places in the letter, envelope or label to create as many custom letters,   envelopes or letters as there are names and addresses.

Before the merge:  List of information, and the desired format
1. Spreadsheet: list of titles and categories 2. Word processing: label format

After the merge: The information appears in the correct format:
3. Merged information


Save and/or Print

When you've finished "editing" (i.e., typing and changing) your "document", you can save it to the hard drive and/or print it.

 


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