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Home > Jan's CompLit 101 > Working with Words > Word Basics > Getting Started
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Jan's Working with Words

    Getting Started

In these word-processing lessons you will do some activities for practice and you will create actual documents. 

First you need to experience some of Word's features. You will use Help to find out what Word can do with AutoFormat and AutoCorrect and how the default paragraph and character styles work. Then you will create an announcement flyer.

Grade= 100%!If you are using my materials in a class, you will no doubt be turning these documents in to your teacher for grading. You really should get a perfect score, you know!

  • Follow the directions carefully.
  • Compare your print-out with the illustrations - carefully!

Your instructor may have some specific directions for you in addition to mine, or instead of mine. Remember those, too!

Experienced students: If you already have some experience with word processors or with Word, you may already know an easier or more efficient method of doing things than I use in the directions. Since we cannot talk about everything at once, sometimes the better method has to wait until later. I may be showing you (instead of telling you) why a particular method is not so good or how to handle a common problem. Be patient. Then again, perhaps you will learn a technique that is better in some situations than the one you know!


There may be some differences in what you can create and what you see in my illustrations. Don't let these throw you. The goal is to learn how to create a useful document. There are many "right" ways to do that. Your instructor will have to explain to you how to manage such differences to get a good grade on the print-out. [Note: Some teachers are a lot pickier than others!]

Paper size

My documents were printed on "Letter" size paper, which is 8 ½ inches x 11 inches. If you use A4 paper, as many countries do, the text will not wrap exactly the same since A4 paper is a bit narrower and taller than Letter paper.


The directions use fonts that are included with Windows or with Word for the PC. But, your particular computer may not have those fonts. You may have prettier ones! If you use other fonts, the spacing of the text may change.

Word Processor or Version

You may not be using Word at all or not the same version of Word that I used. Subtle differences can confuse things. The various versions of Word for the PC are very similar in their basic operation. But the details are rather different and may catch you by surprise. If you are using a version for the Mac or Unix or some other operating system, there may be additional surprises.


The directions in these lessons generally assume that the settings were left at the default - how Word looks and behaves just after it is installed. Such settings are not necessarily "the best" and may not suit your needs well. These lessons will ask you to make a few changes. If your results are different from what the illustrations show, be sure that all of the settings in the dialog matched the settings on your computer.

WarningChanges: If you are using a computer at work or in a classroom or computer lab, you may not be allowed to make some or any changes. Sometimes the IT department wants the computer to return to a standard setup whenever it reboots. If you do not have your own login for the computer, any changes that other users make will still be there when you sit down to use the computer. That can be confusing!

There may be some changes from a 'fresh' installation on my own computer. I do allow updates while I am writing or revising the lessons. Sometime I make a change that I forget about, too!

Order of Formatting

Word is set up to be easiest to use and take the fewest number of steps when you type in all the text and then go back and apply formatting. The directions in this book will mostly use this approach also. This works very well for styling whole paragraphs but it can be hard to find those single words or phrases later that you want to format.

The type-then-format approach developed when early word processors were horribly slow to display the formatted text. A draft view of the document, without any formatting shown, was less painful to work with. Recent computers are fast enough to rarely have this problem.

After you gain some skill in formatting your documents, you may find it more natural to format as you go. I know that I find that approach easier nearly all of the time.

TipParagraph marks are formatted:
If Word hinders your formatting efforts, remember that the final paragraph mark is formatted, too! Sometimes you just need an extra blank line with normal formatting to make life easy!