Microsoft Word is a powerful word-processing program that gives beginners and experienced computer users the ability to create, edit, and store a vast array of documents. Through this set of introductory tutorials you will learn how to create documents, change the size, typeface and style of text, easily manipulate text with cutting and pasting, adjust page size and much more to get you started using this versatile program. Study the tutorials in order, or skip directly to the section you need. Keep in mind two things while following these lessons. The first is that no tutorial can ever substitute for first-hand experimentation. You will only learn a computer program by using it yourself, not by simply reading the instruction manual. The second thing to remember is not to be afraid of making mistakes. In addition to mistakes being an important part of learning, Microsoft Word has many features designed to protect your hard work from accidents caused by the computer, a power outage, and yes, even you! Features like automatic file saving and a very useful “UNDO” option allow you to recover from mistakes with ease.

Starting Out and New Documents

When you first open Microsoft Word there will be a blank screen with a menu across the top. This menu contains terms like [FILE], [EDIT], [INSERT], etc. These menus contain many functions for controlling your documents, not all of which we need right now. We will look at the most common functions in this set of tutorials.

Although a blank page automatically opens when you start the Word program, you may want to create a new document to take advantage of some of the advanced templates Word offers. Templates are pre-constructed and formatted pages that let you add your own text and images. They save you time and effort by allowing you to create complex documents with little effort. Individual templates will not be explicitly covered in these tutorials, but the exercises we do cover will help you utilize templates in general.

To open new documents, move the mouse cursor over [FILE] on the menu bar. Click once with the left mouse button and you will see a menu similar to the image above. Move your mouse down slightly and [NEW] will become highlighted. Left-click once and the new document window will appear. It looks like the image below.

The headings [GENERAL], [LEGAL PLEADINGS], [LETTERS AND FAXES], [MEMOS], etc are all groups of preformatted documents, or templates, for you to use as you wish. In the image above, the [LETTERS AND FAXES] group is selected by clicking once on the heading. There are a wide variety of templates to experiment with, but for now click on the [GENERAL] heading, and then select the [BLANK DOCUMENT] icon from the box, like the image below. Once the type of document you need is highlighted, click on [OK] to begin.

Text Manipulation

Microsoft Word’s strongest features are in its ability to quickly manipulate text. All text manipulation is done first by selecting the specific text you want to affect, and then selecting what you want that effect to be. Figures 1 and 2 demonstrate how to select a group of text for editing. First you must type something. Then move the selector (circled in red) to the beginning of the text and while holding down the left mouse button, drag the selector across your text. The text will be highlighted in black, shown in Fig. 2. Keep in mind that you can do this for ANY amount of text from as little as one word up to your entire document! This allows you to affect specific parts of your typing so you can, for instance, have different sizes of text in the same sentence, different fonts or even a rainbow of colors.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Now that you have you text selected, lets see what you can do to it. One of the more common functions is to change the font size. Font size literally means the size of the letters. In Fig. 3 you will notice our selected text as well as a drop-down menu with many numbers. This is your text size box. There are two ways to change the font size. You can either highlight the number in the size box (using the same method we used for selecting text) and type in a new size, or you can click once on the small arrow to the right of the number to open a drop-down menu. Drop down menus are very common and appear when you click on any of the words in your menu bar and any place you find a small arrow pointing down. The menu below contains various font sizes that you can select with your mouse by moving the cursor over them and clicking once.

Figure 3

Using this method, you can increase or decrease the size of your text. Remember that the larger the number, the larger your text will appear.

Another common text-editing feature is changing the font. Font is another term for the typeface, or the visual style of the letters. Microsoft Word uses “Times New Roman” as the default font so that every time you open a new document you will be using this typeface. If you want to add extra spice to your document and “Times New Roman” is not what you want, don’t fear because this is easy to change. Use the same technique for selecting a piece of text by holding down the left mouse button and drag the cursor over the text to highlight it. Once you have highlighted the portion of text you want to change, move the cursor up to the typeface box in your menu bar. Similar to the size box, you can click once on the small arrow next to the typeface box to open a drop-down menu similar to the one in Fig. 4. Simply select the font you want to use by highlighting it with the mouse cursor and clicking once. Experiment with different fonts to find several you like.

Figure 4

Another common set of tools are the bold, italic, and underline features. Select a word or group of text using the method described above and, while the text is highlighted, click once on these icons to activate them. Keep in mind that you can use any combination of these features on the same group of text. A word or phrase can be bold, italic, and underlined at the same time.

Figure 5

The alignment functions in Word allow you to format groups of text to fit along any border, whether on the left side, right side, or both. To activate it you must highlight a group of text with the cursor and then click once on the icon. In the figure at left you can see how the small graphics on each icon represent its function. Left alignment, also called left justification, is normal for most letters and papers, but centered text works best when creating a poster or advertisement. Once again, experiment to find the best combination for your particular document.

Figure 6

Figure 7
One of the most useful editing tools is cutting and pasting. This allows you to move small or large pieces of text anywhere in your document with just a few simple mouse clicks. In Fig. 7 we have highlighted our text with the standard method. Now right-click with the mouse cursor over the highlighted text to open the menu seen below. [CUT] is an option that will remove the selected text from the current location and allow you to place it somewhere else. [COPY] will allow you to place the selected text somewhere else but it will not remove it from the current location.

Figure 8
Once you have selected your text, decided whether you want to move it completely or just make a copy to another location, use your mouse to click once on the appropriate option. If you cut the text, it will disappear form the screen. If you copy it, the text will remain intact. Before you paste your text you must find the blinking cursor. Think of the blinking cursor as the position of the typewriter head telling you where the next letter will appear when you hit a key. To move the cursor simply position the selector where you need the cursor on the page and click the left mouse button once. Move the selector away and you will see the blinking cursor in the new position. Now that you have the cursor in the correct position, you can paste your text back into the document. Simply right-click to open the menu in Fig. 8, select [PASTE] with the mouse and left-click. You can paste as many times as you want to create infinite copies of your text.

This concludes the beginner tutorial for MS Word.