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Jan's Computer Basics:

Applications: Word Processing

There are many different kinds of applications, all with lots of spiffy features.

Word Processing documentWord processing is the application that is used most often and most widely. We will start with it to learn about the terms and features that are common to most applications, as well as some that are specific to word processing. Then we will look at other major applications and what they do.

Examples of word processing programs: Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, Lotus WordPro, and Open Office Writer.

Word Processing

Word processing is the most used computer application!

page gifIt has replaced the typewriter as the main way words are put on paper. Documents can be revised and corrected before they are ever printed. An existing document can be used as a template, or pattern, for a new one. So the user doesn't have to recreate standard documents from scratch each time. This is a major time-saver and helps keep things consistent.

  • To produce documents
Main advantage:
  • Can easily change what has been done
  • Can reuse existing documents as a template

Steps to produce a document

  • Create
  • Edit
  • Format
  • Print
  • Save (often!!)

Let's look at the terms involved in these steps more closely.
Most of these terms also apply to the other standard applications, so we will not redefine them for all.


You create a document when you open a blank document and enter text.


Word wrap - Automatically wrapping the text to the next line so it all fits within the screen's width.
Change the size of the screen and the text moves to fit in the space.
Cursor - Symbol for where text will appear like: cursor
Enter text- Type new text
Scrolling - Moving document around within window
Select - Highlight text, usually by dragging. Commands and keystroke combinations will apply to the selected material.
Edit - Make changes
Cut - Remove selection from document and store temporarily on the Clipboard, which is a section of computer memory. The Windows Clipboard can hold only one thing at a time. The Office Clipboard from Office XP and later versions can hold many items.
Copy - Duplicate selection onto Clipboard
Paste - Place contents of the Clipboard at cursor location
Undo - Reverses whatever change you just made
Some programs will only "undo" the last change.
Others keep a list and can undo more, depending on how many changes the program tracks.
Insert - Add text at location without overwriting existing text
Overwrite - Typing overwrites existing text, replacing whatever characters were there already
Delete - Remove text (not saved anywhere)
Search - Look for specific word(s) or character(s) in the document
Replace - Can replace specific word(s) or character(s) with stated text
Template - Document that serves as a pattern for a new document
Thesaurus  - Looks for synonyms for selected word
Spelling check - Looks for spelling errors
Grammar check - Looks for grammar/style errors (of limited help)

Do it! Simple Text

It's time to play! You can use the text box below to play with basic word processing skills. There are no buttons to use so I have written directions on the left using some standard key combinations. Of course, some programs may use different ones.

You will have to scroll the Directions area to see all of the steps.


  1. Cursor: Click in the text box at the right. Do you see the cursor shape Textbox with cursor showing ?  This is where your typing will appear. Notice that your mouse pointer has a different cursor shape cursor when it is over the web page text.
  2. Arrow keysMove the cursor:

    Use the arrow keys on the keyboard to move the cursor to different locations.

  3. Enter keyEnter text: Type some text of your own to add text the text box until the text starts to scroll up. Use the ENTER key to start a new paragraph and type some more. Create enough text and paragraphs that a scroll bar appears at the right of your text.
  4. Scroll: Use the scrollbar to shift which lines are showing in the text box
  5. Delete keyEdit: Select some text by dragging the mouse across it. Delete the text by pressing the DELETE key.
  6. CTRL keyUndo: Before clicking out of the text area, restore the deleted text by holding down the CTRL key while you press the Z key once. Then release the CTRL key. (Key combo CTRL + Z)
    In a regular program you can choose Edit > Undo from the menu.
  7. Cut: Select some text. Cut the text with the key combo CTRL + X. Move the cursor to a new location.
  8. Paste: Use the key combo CTRL + V to paste what you cut into a new location.
  9. Copy: Select some text. Copy the text with the key combo CTRL + C. Move the cursor to a new location and paste it there.
  10. Undo: Reverse what you just did with the key combo CTRL + Z.
  11. Insert keyInsert: Move your cursor to the middle of some existing text. Start typing. Press the INSERT key, type, press the INSERT key, and type some more. What happens depends on whether INSERT is on or off. When INSERT is on, your new typing appears between the existing characters. If INSERT is off, the new characters replace the old ones (overtyping).

For a full set of lessons on word processing, go to the section: Working with WordsArrow indicating link to new subweb


Once a document has been created, or during the process, you arrange how it will look by selecting the kind of letters and their sizes and colors, how much space is left and where, how things line up. All of this makes up the formatting of the document.


Typeface - Set of characters of similar design like:
Sample Fonts gif
Point size - One point = 1/72 of an inch like:
12 pt 18 pt 24 pt 36 pt
Font - Combo of typeface and point size, includes styles such as bold, italics, underline
Margins - margins   Space at the page borders  
Justification -
left center right justify

justify left

justify centered

justify right

justify full

Spacing - line spacing   Space between letters and lines  
Borders/shading - Borders and shading   Lines around table or page; background color   
Headers/footers - Header and Footer   Info to repeat on each page  
Style set - Style Set (Word 2010)Saved sets of formats to reuse in different places in the document and with different documents. Possible confusion with 'style' used for bold, italics, and underline!
Columns - column  Columns of text side by side as in a newspaper
Tables - table   Items listed in rows and columns
Graphics - Document with a table, charts, and image  Pictures and charts


When a document is finished, you can print it onto paper, if you have a printer connected to the computer. You will have several choices to make as part of the printing process:


Number of copies/pages to print


portrait orientation

landscape orientation

Portrait Landscape
Quality: Most printers can print with a low quality
(Draft) as well as with better quality levels.

Print Preview:

Shows you how it will look in print

For a full set of lessons on word processing, go to: Working with WordsIcon: Change Web