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Friday, September 24, 2004


Getting the Most From Your Word Processor

Using copy and paste,
selecting text,
and keyboard commands

by Betty Eichhorn

I Introduction

Many people are not aware of some of the features of their word processor. I would like to change that by offering lessons on the most useful features of the software. This lesson will include using copy and paste, keyboard commands, and several methods for selecting text.

Many of these instructions will work on any computer, whether it uses a Windows or a Mac platform. Some instructions will be different. The first difference between them is in the Control key. When you see the word Control , it is for Windows programs. Mac users should use the Command or Apple key instead of their Control key. Both will be specified for a while, but then only the Control name will be used and Mac people must remember to use the correct key.

Windows users only Use only the left button on the mouse in the lessons, that is left click only.

Students are urged to read the entire lesson first before attempting to follow the instructions. Do not do anything that is not in the instructions. Everything here is for the purpose of illustrating a feature of your software and when you are finished, you will have a good start in word processing.

Also you might explore the pull-down menus and buttons on the top of the word processor page. You will be asked to use some of them later. Also all the following keyboard shortcuts are available in pull-down menus or as icons on the tool bar.

2 Getting started

A keyboard command, also called a keyboard shortcut, can be used instead of the mouse to perform certain functions. To use one of these commands, hold down the Control (or Command) key then press the letter. Note if you hold the two keys down too long while doing a Control v (Command v), you may paste something more than once. This can be useful sometimes.

You will copy and paste the text of this email into a new blank page in your word processor. But first you have to select the text that is to be copied. Selected text will be highlighted, meaning the background color will change. There are several ways to select text.

For this purpose, do the keyboard command, Select All, which is Control a (Command a). This will highlight the entire text of this e-mail. Copy the text with a Control c (Command c). Next open a blank page in your word processor, place the cursor (the flashing bar) in the top left corner of the page and do a Control v (Command v). The entire email should now be pasted onto the page. Save the page by doing a Control s (Command s) and assign it a name that makes sense to you such as Computer Lesson 1 .

You no longer need the email now and you can close it. Save it as you may wish to go through the exercise again. As they say, practice makes perfect.

From now on, you will use only the word processor page that you just copied and pasted. This was done by selecting everything. Later we will learn to select just portions of the text.

If you would prefer to have the text in a different font or size, do another Select All, Control a (Command a) and change either or both by using the font and size menus at the top of the page. Then click on the page to de-select it (turn off the highlighting).

You may wish to print out this lesson so you can mark it up as you wish. That may require pulling down the File menu and doing the Page Setup. Then do a Control p (Command p) to bring up the print page.

If at any time, things don t turn out the way they are supposed to, BEFORE doing anything else, do a Control z (Command z) or go to your Edit pull down menu and click on Undo or whatever words your program uses. Repeating the Control z (Command z) or Undo will undo the undo. If it is too late to do the Undo, then close the file without saving. Perhaps when you reopen the file, it may not have the messed up portion in it. Play with this command on some sample text.

3 Dressing up the text

During this lesson, you will have to go back and forth between this page and the beginning of this lesson. Look at the top of this file by pressing on the Home key on the keyboard or press the Page up key until you reach it. Press the Page Down button two or three times to return to this page. The next paragraph is optional, but worth learning about.

(It is possible to look at two parts of the page at the same time by splitting the screen into panes. You may have to consult your manual for instructions. Search on the word split and see what you find. If you are successful, divide the screen into two panes. Each pane will have its own vertical scroll bar. Scroll the top half to the title lines of this lesson. Scroll the bottom half so that the following paragraph is visible. Now as you follow the instructions, you will see the results in the top half.)

We would like to make the title, subtitle, and author lines look better. We will center them and put the title line in big, bold letters. But first we have to select them. To do that, put the cursor (that flashing bar) at the far left side of the title line and drag the cursor straight down until the three lines in the heading are highlighted. Now find the tool in the tool bar or in a pull-down menu that will center the lines. There should be at least four tools or icons for line placement, one each for left justify, right justify, justify both sides, and centering. Click on the centering one. All three lines with words should jump to the center of the page. Now click anywhere on the page to de-select the lines and do a Control s (Command s) to save it.

Select the title line by dragging down just the one line. The title should be highlighted. Now you can put the title into bold type by doing a Control b (Command b). With the line still highlighted, enlarge the type by one size. Then click on the page to de-select the line. Doesn t that look better?

You can select any amount of text by placing the cursor at the desired starting point and, while holding the mouse button down, dragging the cursor down and across to the desired end. The length can be as long or as short as you need it.

All that is left is to select one word. You can do that by placing the cursor anywhere in a word, double-clicking, and just the one word will be highlighted.

Any text that is selected may be copied from most documents or from the web and pasted into any document that accepts text. Also any of these others commands will apply to any selected text except on a web page.

You learned above how to make text bold, and to change its font or size. You can also change text to Italics Control i (Command i) and underline it Control u (Command u). The bold, italics, and underline commands. like the Undo command, all toggle, meaning if you repeat the same command, the action will be undone.

Exercise those commands by highlighting some text and using one of the above commands. Leave it highlighted and repeat the command. The text will revert to plain text.

Note be cautious about using the underline command. Nowadays it is reserved for web links. To emphasize some text, use the bold or italics command or capital or large letters.

One more important keyboard command is Cut Control x (Command x). This command removes selected text AND at the same time, copies it. This is very useful for moving text from one place to another. Just Cut, then paste it where you want it by placing the cursor in the right spot and do a Control v .

If you are a Windows user, you can use Cut to delete the Mac commands. Mac users can Cut the Windows commands. This will eliminate any confusion by their presence. Just highlight the text and Cut.

We have learned three methods of selecting Select All using a command; selecting any amount of text by dragging the cursor; and selecting one word by double-clicking on it. Once text is selected, it will be deleted automatically if you just start typing. The words will disappear and whatever keys you press will take their place. That is why I mentioned several times to click on the page to de-select. If the deletion was unintentional, Undo it immediately. Of course highlighting is a fast way to delete a lot of text by using the Delete key. But if you wish to replace the highlighted text with something else, just start typing.

You have also learned ten keyboard commands a(ll), c(opy), x (cut), v(paste), s(ave), p(rint), b(old), i(talic), u(nderline), and z (undo). Paste is not intuitive because the p is used for print, but the v is right next to c so you can remember it that way. (Some think of the v as an upside down caret which is used in script for an insert.) The x for Cut is like a pair of scissors. These commands are faster than using pull down menus and can be used in many of other programs on your computer. We hope that you will use this lesson in your own writings.

There is a spell-checker in the tool bar which you can use to check your spelling. Any writer appreciates the convenience of a spell-checker.

Use what you have learned to dress up this lesson. Make the subtitle in bold, if you like. Put some of the key words in bold, too, so you can find them easily. It is your lesson, do what you wish with it.

You can do the lesson several times by pasting the email into a new word processor file each time. Again, study the top of the page. Pull down the menus and see what s there. Hold your cursor over the icons and see if a balloon pops up and tells you what the icon does.

If something does not work for you, please do not hesitate to write with your problem. Be sure to mention which operating system and software you are using. Good luck and have fun.

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