When it comes to school projects these days, teachers seem to assume that kids already know how to use a word processor especially when they state that a project must be turned in "typed". But what are the basics your child (and you) should know about word processing?
Here's a quick guide to some "must-have" skills. Have your child type in a few lines of type and try the following. These examples were written with Microsoft Word in mind, but should work with any standard word processor.
- Highlighting/Selecting - Make the mouse a "magic" wand. Practice using it until you can smoothly select text by highlighting it. Keep the mouse button depressed (left side) and glide over the text you want to select. If you only want one word, try putting the cursor (blinking line) over the word and click twice. Voila. Put the cursor in the middle of a paragraph, click three times, and the whole thing will be highlighted.
- Insert/Replace/Delete Text - You can easily make changes to any text.
- To Insert Text - Click where you want to add new text and begin typing.
- To Replace Text - Highlight the text you want to replace and then begin typing the new text. The old text will vanish and be replaced with the new text.
- To Delete Text - Highlight the text you want to delete and press the Delete key.
- Drag and Drop - Make words move effortless across the page.
- Drag - When you run your mouse over highlighted text, you'll notice that an arrow appears. Keeping your mouse button (left side) pushed down, lets you "pick up" the text and drag it by moving your mouse. Practice dragging it to the end of a sentence or to the end of the page.
- Drop - When you take your finger off the mouse button, the text drops and reappears just where you want it.
- Cut, Copy and Paste - Make words appear, disappear, and multiply!
- Cut - Highlight text with your mouse. Go to Edit in the menu at the top of the screen. Pull down the menu by clicking on Edit and dragging it down. Select Cut by highlighting it. The highlighted text will disappear.
- Copy - Highlight text, go again to the Edit menu and select Copy. That text is now saved to the Clipboard that resides in your computer. It's stored there until you indicate where the computer should put it.
- Paste - Know where you want to place that copied text? Use the mouse to put the blinking cursor line right at the spot. Go to the Edit menu again and select Paste. Your stored text will fly into place.
- Undo - Click the Undo button at the top of the menu screen (In the word processor Microsoft Word) to immediately undo any changes you make. Remember, this must be done immediately
it undoes changes one by one in reverse order.
- Fonts - Try doing a little magic with the letter styles or designs. A number of fonts are already pre-installed on your computer. You may want to make changes to the type, size, color and style of your font. Be careful! More than two fonts on a page may spoil the effect of your work.
- Selecting Font Before Entering Text - In the menu bar at the top of the screen, click with your mouse on Font and pull down the menu to display the list of available fonts and a make a font selection.
- Selecting a Font Size - In the menu bar, you will see a number next to the font you choose. It's a pull down menu from which you can chose a size for your font.
- Selecting a Font Style - In the menu bar, you will see three letters: B, I, U. Click on the B to make your text bold; click on the I to make it italicized; click on U to underline it.
- Selecting a Font Color - Unless you tell the computer otherwise, black will be the color of the text. To make another color selection, click on the Font Color button arrow or chose the little icon (picture) in the menu bar that has lots of colors on it and choose from the palette that appears.
- Changing the Font After Entering Text - If you want to make changes to text you have already typed, you must first highlight the text you want to change and then follow the steps listed above.
- Spell Grammar Checker - One of the most powerful tools a word processor has is to check your spelling and grammar. You'll find the Spell/ Grammar Checker in the Tools pull down menu or under Edit depending on the word processor you are using. Remember, you still have to be able to spell to use a spell checker. It is not infallible! Don't believe everything the Grammar checker tells you either. It really hates long sentences, which often are unavoidable. When in doubt, print it out and get someone else to proofread if for you.
- Saving -Remember to Save your work! Choose Save from the File menu. Type in a name for your document. Choose the location where you would like to save your work. Click the Save button.
- Opening a Saved Document - Now go back and find what you have saved. Choose Open from the pull down File menu.
- A box will appear. You need to remember what you called your document. In Windows, use the Look in pull-down menu to locate the document you would like to open. For Macintosh, find your document and either click twice on its name or click on Open.
- Most word processors keep track of the last documents you worked with. To quickly open one of these documents, click on the File menu. The names of the documents will appear at the bottom of the File menu. Click on the name of the document you want to open.
- Printing - Time to show off your hard work. Choose Print from the File Menu. Fill in how many copies you want and the page range.
- Shortcut Keys - Want to do things in the blink of an eye? Use a shortcut key.
- To Cut - Highlight text with your mouse. At the same time, press the "X" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh). Instant disappearing act!
- To Copy - Highlight text with your mouse. At the same time, press the "C" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh). Text is magically copied to the Clipboard and is stored there until you decide where the computer should place it.
- To Paste - Direct the blinking cursor line to where you want to place the copied text. At the same time, press the "V" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh).
- To Undo - To Undo the last thing you did press the "Z" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh).
- Bold Type - Before you type the text, press the "B" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh) at the same time or highlight the type and press the keys.
- Italic type - Before you type the text, press the " I" key and ctrl (Control) key (Windows) or key (Macintosh) at the same time or highlight the type and press the keys.