Read an Excerpt
The Whirlwind Word Tour (Basic Stuff)
In This Chapter
- Starting Word
- Reading the Word screen
- Entering text
- Editing a document on disk
- Getting Help
- Saving your stuff
- Closing a document
- Moving on
- Exiting Word
Welcome to the basic stuff! This chapter contains a brief description of how Word works, taking you from starting the program, writing something, this and that type of stuff, to turning off Word and doing something else with your computer. More specific stuff happens in later chapters and is cross-referenced here for your page-flipping enjoyment.
Two Simple Ways to Start Word
In Windows, there are about a gazillion different ways to start your work. I won't go into all of them here. Instead, to save wear and tear on your brain, the following sections outline the two most common, painless ways to start your word processor.
The first and best of a gazillion ways to start Word
Here is the way you should start Word if you don't want to go crazy:
- Prepare yourself.
- Turn on the computer, the monitor, and anything else of importance.
- Fuss with Windows.
- Locate the Start thing button.
- Choose Programs -->Microsoft Word.
Physically, are you seated in a comfy chair? Are your hands properly poised over the keyboard -- high enough so that your old typing teacher, Mrs. Lattimore, won't whack you with a ruler should your wrists drop a millimeter below your palms? Good.
Mentally, ponder what you're about to do. "Will I become a computer nerd this way? And how would I look with that pocket protector and cellophane tape around the nose bridge of my glasses? Gosh, I don't even wear glasses! Okay. Deep breath. I will be brave."
The important stuff can usually be identified by the number of blinking lights it has -- a kind of status symbol in the computer community, you know.
Be happy that Bill Gates has decided that this is how you're supposed to use a computer. Remember, he uses the same thing. And he's a bazillionaire. Maybe it will work for you too? Naaa . . .
It's that thing that says Start in the lower-left corner of the screen (see Figure 1-1). Point the mouse at that thing and click the mouse's left button once.
If you can't see the Start button, press the Ctrl+Esc key combination (the Ctrl and Esc keys together).
Point the mouse at the word Programs on the Start Thing menu. Soon a submenu appears. (You don't have to click the mouse, just point.)
Look for the line on the Programs submenu that says Microsoft Word. Click the mouse on that line. (Now you have to click.)
Watch in amazement as your computer whizzes and whirs. Before too long, you see a screen that looks like Figure 1-3 (look ahead a few pages). It's Word stumbling into town! The whatzits of the screen are discussed in the section "A Quick, Cursory Glance at the Word Screen," a few inches from this spot.
- If you don't see Microsoft Word right there on the menu (like in Figure 1-1), then look for a menu item that reads Microsoft Office. Point the mouse at that item and up pops another sub-menu, where you'll find Microsoft Word lurking.
- Your computer can be set up to automatically run Word every time you turn it on. Think of the time that would save! If you want your computer set up in this manner, grab someone more knowledgeable than yourself -- an individual I call a computer guru. Tell your guru to "make my computer always start in Word." If your guru is unable, frantically grab other people at random until you find someone bold enough to obey you.
- I prefer to run Word full screen, maximizing its window so that nothing else bugs me when I'm writing. To do this, click the box button (the middle one) in the upper-right corner of the window. This button maximizes Word to fill the entire screen. If Word is already maximized, two overlapping boxes appear on the button; no need to click anything in that case.
The Microsoft Office bar way to start Word
If you're forced to use Word as part of the Microsoft Office, then you can quickly start Word using the Microsoft Office bar -- which is not where the guys and gals of Microsoft go after a hard day of programming (no, that's the Microsoft Office Espresso Bar).
The Office Bar is one of those numerous things hanging onto your Windows desktop. This thing can usually be found along the upper edge of the screen, toward the right (see Figure 1-2).
Click the mouse on the W thing -- the Word button. This starts Word lickety-split.
A Quick, Cursory Glance at the Word Screen
After Word starts, you are faced with the electronic version of "The Blank Page." This is the same idea-crippling concept that induced writer's block in several generations of typewriter users. With Word, it's worse; the screen is not only mostly blank, it is surrounded by bells, whistles, switches, and doodads that would be interesting if only they were edible.
Figure 1-3 shows the typical, blank Word screen. A few things are worth noting:
- Several separate strips of stuff: bars, ribbons, rulers, and other horizontal holding bins for horrendous heaps of hogwash. Each strip performs some function or gives you some information. I warn you not to memorize this list: the title bar, the menu bar, the Standard toolbar, the Formatting toolbar (also known as the ribbon), and the ruler (who thinks he's the king or something). Refer to the nearby, easily avoidable technical information box, "Forbidden information about strip bars," if you want to load your brain with the details of these strips and bars.
- A large empty space. This is where any text you type and edit appears. Somewhere in this empty space is the flashing insertion pointer -- looks like a blinking toothpick -- that tells you where the text you type appears.
Here's a handy tip
Nestled amongst the various strips and bars on Word's screen you find the Tip of the Day. This is where Word attempts to impart some of its silicon-based wisdom on you. The value of its advice varies from the obscure ("You can use the style gallery to preview how using a different template will change your document's formatting"), to the inane ("You can undo most actions by clicking on the Undo button on the Standard toolbar"), to the truly useful ("You can hurt yourself if you run with scissors").
The Tip of the Day will also relate information regarding various word processing tasks as you fumble about doing your word processing chores. This can be sweet if you feel the help is useful. If you don't, click on the light bulb "Tip Wizard" button to make the Tip of the Day box go away.
- The bottom of Word's screen contains the status bar. No, this is not a yuppie hang-out. It contains a great deal of information that would impress a bureaucrat but that, frankly, makes my eyes glaze over. The gibberish that is usually there explains "where you are" in your document. Several word fragments are always followed by numbers (like a tenth-grade algebra problem). Table 1-1 explains what this stuff means.
- The final doojobbie on the bottom of your screen is Windows' own taskbar, which is used to hop, skip, and flop between various Windows programs or windows on the screen. Cheerfully ignore this thing while you're using Word.
Table 1-1 Stuff lurking on the status bar
|Algebra problem||What it means|
|Page xx||The page you're editing: 1 = the first page, 8 = the eighth page, and so on.|
|Sec xx||The section of the document you're editing (sections are something just about everyone ignores): 1 = the first section, 8 = the eighth, and so on. This number will almost always be 1 for section 1.|
|x/x||The page of the document you're editing over the total number of pages in the document. So, 1/8 means that you're on page one of an eight-page document. (This is not a math problem; 1/8 does not mean .125 here.)|
|At x.xx"||How far from the top of the document your text is in inches. At 4.89" means that the line you are editing is 4.89 inches from the top of the page. Like you would care.|
|Ln xx||What line you're editing. Ln 5 means that you're working on line 5, the fifth line down where line 1 is the first line on the page.|
|Col xx||What column you are in (columns being those vertical support structures for Greek-style architecture). In Word, the first column starts on the left side of the page, and the Col (column) numbers get bigger as you type toward the right side of the page. It's usually the number of characters and spaces you are over from the left margin.|
|TLA boxes||These boxes contain various TLAs (three-letter acronyms or abbreviations or what-have-you). Odd things to stick at the bottom of the screen, anyway. They appear "dimmed" when the option they represent isn't active. Check out the techy sidebar ("What those TLAs mean") for the obscure function each of them may serve.|
|Mr. Dictionary||This guy looks like a book with a "magic pen" writing something down. Actually, it's Word's on-the-fly spell checker in action -- a truly annoying piece of software engineering you can read about in Chapter 7.|
- My advice? Ignore the weird numbers on the status bar; concentrate instead on your writing. After all, only the truly disturbed would whip out a ruler and measure a piece of paper in a typewriter as they go along. (The numbers come in handy later to tell you how much stuff you've written or to find your way to a particular spot in a long document. Pretend that they don't exist for now.)
- There are also three buttons in the lower-left corner of your document, just above the status bar. Call them Larry, Moe, and Outline. They control how you see your document on-screen, a subject dealt with at length in Chapter 27.
- Any weird stuff you see on-screen (a ¶, for example) is a Word secret symbol. Refer to "Out, Damn Spots!" in Chapter 27 for additional
- The exact spot where the text appears is called the cursor. Normally it's also called an insertion pointer because traditional computer cursors are underlines that slide under what you type. I prefer the term toothpick cursor because "insertion pointer" is just too medically geometric for my tastes. Characters you type appear immediately to the left of where the toothpick cursor is flashing, and then the cursor moves forward and waits for the next character.
- The bold horizontal line at the end of your text is the End-of-Text marker. Below it is a vast, vacuous, void of a place. Nothing exists in the white space below this marker, not even blank pages. Only infinite nothingness. The End-of-Text marker is the steel beam that supports your text, holding it from harm's way, in the evil nothingness that exists below your text.
- The mouse pointer is different from the toothpick cursor. Normally it's an arrow pointer-like thing. But if you move the mouse around the writing part of the screen, the pointer changes. Over your text, the pointer becomes what's commonly called an I-beam. The I-beam means "I beam the insertion pointer to this spot when I click the mouse."
- The status bar on the bottom of the screen tells what some Word menu commands do. To see how this feature works, click a menu command with the left mouse button. As long as you press and hold the mouse button, the status bar tries to explain what the command does.
- The status bar also tells you the function of some toolbar buttons. No need to click anything this time -- just hover the mouse pointer over the button and voilà! Instant information crystals.
- The visibility of the Standard and Formatting toolbars is controlled by selecting the Toolbar option from the View menu. There you'll discover many more toolbars in addition to these two "standards." Don't bother goofing with this stuff until you read Chapter 27.
- The ruler's visibility is controlled by selecting the Ruler command from the View menu and clicking its check mark on and off. It's there. It's gone. It's there. It's gone.
To compose text in Word, use your keyboard -- that typewriter-like thing sitting in front of your computer and below the monitor. Go ahead, type away; let your fingers dance upon the keycaps! What you type appears on-screen, letter for letter -- even derogatory stuff about the computer. (Your PC doesn't care, but that doesn't mean that Word lacks feelings.)
What those TLAs mean
The status bar contains five boxes with strange letter combinations in them. This list tells you what they mean:
REC: Someone, possibly you, is recording a macro. The word REC lets you know that you're recording the macro, which is better than repeating, "OK, I'm recording a macro" over and over in your head. Macros are such an obtuse subject that they're not covered until Chapter 19.
MRK: The Revision Marking feature is on. This feature enables you to see where someone else has made changes -- revisions -- to your document. See Chapter 17 for information about revision marks.
EXT: Text is being selected, or blocked off, by using the F8 key. Handy thing to know. For more, see Chapter 6.
OVR: Overtype mode is on. Refer to your orthodontist for correction (or look in Chapter 4 for information about deleting text).
WPH: For some silly reason, WordPerfect Help is on. As if anyone ever learned all those cryptic WordPerfect commands in the first place. Refer to Chapter 3 for information about this abnormality. When the letters appear "dim," the option is off. Black letters mean that the option is on.
Incidentally, you can switch any option on or off by double-clicking its cryptic TLA with your mouse. Better refer to the chapters mentioned above before you mess with such a trick.
Forbidden information about strip bars
This section has nothing to do with strip bars. Instead, the topic here is the information you get from those strips of information on the Word screen. Some of them may be visible -- others may not show up at all. Turning them on or off is discussed in Chapter 27.
Title bar: The first strip shows the name of your document. Every window in Windows has a title bar as well as the various buttons and gizmos Windows is famous for: the Control menu, the Maximize and Minimize buttons, the Close button, and the scroll bars you may see on the right and bottom sides of a window. (Please refer to your favorite book on Windows for an explanation of how all this stuff works and what relevance it has.)
Menu bar: The second strip contains a list of menus, each of which disguises a pull-down menu you use to select the many Word commands at your beck and call.
Standard toolbar: The third strip has lots of tools you can click to quickly use some of the more common Word commands. This strip may or may not be visible on your screen, depending on how Word is setup. The setup is discussed in Chapter 27.
Formatting toolbar: The fourth strip probably has the word Normal in it, on the left side. As with the Standard toolbar, this strip is optional. On the Formatting toolbar, you find the commands that apply styles, type sizes, fonts, attributes (bold, italics, and underline), justification choices (left, center, right, and full), tabs, and other fun formatting frivolity. Again, see Chapter 27 for more information about the toolbars.
Tip Wizard bar: A potential strip bar below the formatting toolbar is the tip-o-day toolbar, also known as the Tip Wizard bar. When you start Word, this thing shows you your tip of the day (see Figure 1-3). As you use Word, it may (or may not) offer suggestions about what to do next. (Personally I hide this bar, as described in the sidebar "Here's a handy tip," earlier in this chapter.)
Ruler: The fifth strip looks like a ruler. It is. And as with the toolbar and ribbon, your screen may not show the ruler -- especially if the country you're in despises monarchy.
New text is inserted right in front of where the toothpick cursor is blinking. For example, you can type this line:
Stop, Uncle Cedric! That's the baby's diaper cream.
If you want to change the tone of the sentence, move the toothpick cursor to just before the T in the. Type in the following text:
not toothpaste! It's
The new text is inserted as you type, with any existing text marching off to the right (and even to the next line), happily making room.
You may need to type an extra space after It's to separate it from the next word.
The whole sentence should now read:
Stop, Uncle Cedric! That's not toothpaste! It's the baby's diaper cream.
- You compose text on-screen by typing. Every character key you press on the keyboard produces a character on-screen. This holds true for all letter, number, and symbol keys. The other keys, mostly gray on your keyboard, do strange and wonderful things, which the rest of this book tries hard to explain.
- If you make a mistake, press the Backspace key to back up and erase. This key is named Backspace on your keyboard, or it may have a long, left-pointing arrow on it: <--.
- There is no cause for alarm if you see spots -- or dots -- on-screen when you press the spacebar. These special doohickeys let you "see" spaces on-screen. See Chapter 27 for the lowdown.
- Moving the toothpick cursor around the screen is covered in Chapter 3, "Getting Around Your Document."
- No, we don't call it diaper cream around our house.
- The Shift key produces capital letters.
- The Caps Lock key works like the Shift-Lock key on a typewriter. After you press that key, everything you type is in ALL CAPS.
- The Caps Lock light on your keyboard comes on when you're in All Caps mode.
- The number keys on the right side of the keyboard are on the numeric keypad. To use those keys, you must press the Num Lock key on your keyboard. If you don't, the keys take on their "arrow key" function. See Chapter 3, "Getting Around Your Document."
- The Num Lock light on the keyboard comes on when you press the Num Lock key to turn the numeric keypad on. Most PCs start with this feature activated.
- If you're a former typewriter user, please type 1 for the number one (not an I or a little L), and please type 0 for the number zero, not a capital letter O.
- See Chapter 2, "Word Keyboard 101," for some handy tips on typing and using your keyboard.
- No one needs to learn to type to become a writer. But the best writers are typists. My advice is to get a computer program that teaches you to type. It makes a painful experience like Word a wee bit more enjoyable.
Typing away, la la la
Eons ago, a word processor was judged superior if it had the famous word-wrap feature. This feature eliminated the need to press the Enter key at the end of each line of text, which is a requirement when you're using a typewriter. Word and all other modern word processors have this feature. If you're unfamiliar with it, you should get used to putting it to work for you.
With Word, when the text gets precariously close to the right margin, the last word is picked up and placed at the start of the next line. There's no need to press Enter, except when you want to end a paragraph.
- Press Enter to create a new paragraph. If you want to split one paragraph into two, move the toothpick cursor to the middle of the paragraph, where you want the second paragraph to start, and press Enter.
- You have to press the Enter key only at the end of a paragraph, not at the end of every line.
- There is nerdy variant of the Enter key-at-the-end-of-a-paragraph, which is called the line break. You get this by pressing the Shift+Enter key combination and, honestly, I can't think of any place you'd want to use it other than in a table. So see Chapter 12 if you really care.
- Don't be afraid to use your keyboard! Word always offers ample warning before anything serious happens. A handy Undo feature recovers anything you accidentally delete. See Chapter 2, "Word Keyboard 101."
That annoying line of dots
Occasionally, you see a row of dots stretching from one side of the screen to the other -- like a line of ants, ants in military school, marching straight across your screen. Don't swat at it! That thing marks the end of one page and the beginning of another, called a page break. The text you see above the ants, er, dots, is on the preceding page; text below the dots is on the next page.
- You cannot delete the line of dots. C'mon -- what good would it even do? Think picnic: You sweep one trail of the little pests away and another trail instantaneously appears. It's insect magic!
- You can see how the line of dots works by looking at the scrambled statistics on the status bar. For example, when the toothpick cursor is above the dots, it says
Page 5for page 5. When the cursor is below the dots, you see
Page 6for page 6.
- A row of dots close together -- very friendly ants -- marks a hard page break. It even says
Page Breakright in the middle of the line. This is a definite "I want a new page now" command given by the person who created the document. See Chapter 11, "Formatting Pages and Documents."
Editing a Document on Disk
You use Word to create documents. The documents can be printed or saved to disk for later editing or printing. When a document has been saved to disk, it's considered a file "on" the disk. (You can still refer to it as a document.)
There are several ways to load and edit a document already on disk. Because this is Windows, why not use the mouse-menu method?
- Choose the File-->Open command.
- Select the name of the document (or file) you want to open and edit.
Using the mouse, click the word File on the menu bar, and a drop-down menu, well, drops down. Click the Open menu command, and the Open dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 1-4. (You also can click the Open tool, pictured to the left.)
Find the document name in the list and double-click it with the left mouse button. You can use the controls in the Open dialog box to whisk yourself around your disk drive and scout out files. Using the Open dialog box is standard Windows stuff. When you find your file, highlight it and click the OK button in the Open dialog box; or just double-click the filename with the left mouse button.
- If the cat is playing with your mouse, you can open the Open dialog box by pressing Alt,F,O, the menu shortcut, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+O. Then you can use the keyboard to type a filename -- although this method is so primitive that you had better lock the door first. No one wants to be seen using a keyboard in Windows!
- If you do end up typing the name of the document you want to load, make sure that everything is spelled right; Word is finicky about filename spelling. You can type it in either upper- or lowercase letters; it's all the same. Or you can simply select the name with the mouse by clicking on it. That way, you don't have to worry about spelling.
- The term editing means to read, correct, or add to the text you have composed and saved to disk. This process involves using the cursor keys, which are covered in Chapter 2, "Word Keyboard 101." Also see Chapter 4, "Deleting and Destroying Text"; Chapter 5, "The Wonders of Find and Replace"; and Chapter 6, "Playing with Blocks."
- If you want to edit a file you recently had open, pull down the File menu and look at the list on the bottom of the menu to see whether it is listed. Word "remembers" the last few documents you worked on. If you see what you want there, click on the file's name to open it.
- When you finish editing a document, you print it, save it back to disk, or do one and then the other. Printing is covered later in this chapter, in the section "Getting it Down on Paper (Printing)"; saving a document to disk is covered in the section "Save Your Stuff!"
- Documents you save to disk are given their own, special name. This name -- a filename -- can be from 1 to 255 characters long, can contain spaces, periods, and all sorts of other hogwash. Honestly, you're better off if you keep your filenames short and to the point. Chapter 22 discusses this in lurid detail.
- Also see Chapter 22 for more information on working the Open dialog box.
That group of latte-slurping, bespectacled, Birkenstock-wearing programmers up at Microsoft can make some delightful blunders every once in a while. However, no matter what else they do, they are forgiven. They put a wonderful, new and improved, technologically advanced, super-duper, ultra-brightening Help system into Word.
Well, actually Word's Help system is the same help system you find in just about every Windows program. It's activated by pressing the F1 key, and you can search for helpful topics or, if you're in the middle of something, grab help on only that one topic.
The Word Help menu
If you click Help on the menu bar, you open the Word Help menu. The only menu item worth bothering with is the first one, Microsoft Word Help Topics. This displays the multipaneled Word help dialog box, shown in Figure 1-5. The rest of the menu items in the Help menu can be cheerfully ignored.
- The Help Contents panel basically shows you what would have (should have) been the Word manual. Topics are displayed like chapters in a book; double-click on one of the li'l book icons to open that chapter and see the document -- or even more chapters -- nestled inside. Some of the information actually borders on being useful.
- The panel contains an alphabetical list of topics related to word. To see it, click on the Index tab. You can search through the list of topics alphabetically, or type in whatever you're interested in to move through the list a tad bit more swiftly. Personally, I prefer this method since it gets me right to where I want to go.
- After choosing a topic from the index panel, you'll probably see another dialog box with even more choices; choose the one that best applies to whatever it is you need help with.
- You also can access the Help Index by pressing the F1 key while you're editing.
- When you press F1 while you're doing something else, such as being mired in a dialog box, you see helpful information about that topic only. Click the Help Topics button in the Help system to see the Index panel again.
- When you're done with Help, you must close its window. Click the X close button in the Help window's upper-right corner.
Help me, Mr. Answer Wizard!
When Word happens to be in a very good mood, it may slip into Answer Wizard mode, displaying a series of interactive dialog boxes that hopefully help you solve a problem one step at a time.
Word has two ways to wake up the Answer Wizard. The first is to choose the Answer Wizard panel from the help dialog box; the second happens when you stumble upon it while looking for help elsewhere. I'll assume you're being deliberate and clicking on the Answer Wizard panel in the Help dialog box here (see Figure 1-6).
- Choose Help-->Microsoft Word Help Topics.
- Click on the Answer Wizard panel.
- Type your request into the first box.
- Press the Enter key.
- Double-click the mouse on the solution topic.
The Help dialog box splashes on the screen.
This brings that panel forward, looking something like Figure 16.
Just type it in like you would ask your computer guru: "How do I make my text bigger?" Don't try to be cryptic or use big words you don't understand like people who testify before Congress do.
Word goes to work and displays related topics it thinks may help you. Scour the list and you may find one of them -- such as the item reading
Change the size of text and numbers, the third line down in the bottom half of Figure 1-6.
Now the Answer Wizard takes over, guiding you through the steps necessary to complete your task. Along the way you'll be asked to do various things, point and click the mouse, maybe type. (This is not a look-only operation.)
- If you see a dialog box displayed, read all the contents. Then click the Next button to move on to the next step.
- The Answer Wizard may choose menu items for you. Don't be alarmed; your computer is not possessed.
- If your computer ever does become possessed, most priests will gladly perform an exorcism for you. I had this done once to my PC. After a nervous hour of sweating and coaxing, we finally got the computer to spit out an old WordPerfect diskette.
- Answer Wizard may display a pop-up bubble help telling you what to type or which options to select. Do so.
- Sometimes the bubble help merely directs you to where in Word you need to be to carry out some task. For example, to change the size of your text, you use the text size thingy on the formatting toolbar. (See Chapter 9 for more information.)
(This chapter has been abridged.)