CIS 314: Advanced Software Solutions

Lesson 2: Microsoft Word Basics


This course requires students to review basic functions and learn new more advanced functions in Microsoft Office applications. This lesson discusses basic features in Microsoft Word that the student should already know well, and introduces features required for the course project. Objectives important to this lesson:

  1. Starting the Word program
  2. Creating, saving, opening, and editing files
  3. Printing
  4. Formatting
  5. Using WordArt

It is expected that students in this course have taken prerequisite courses introducing Microsoft Office features. The process to start any Office application in Windows XP should be familiar:

  1. Click Start
  2. Click All Programs
  3. Click Microsoft Office
  4. Click the application you need

It is also possible to start an associated application by finding a data file in Windows Explorer (or on your desktop) and double-clicking that file. Windows will open the file in the application that it has been told to use for files of its type: Word for .doc files, Excel for .xls files, PowerPoint for .ppt files, etc. Note that this file association with an application depends on filename extensions. This is one reason to make sure you save files with appropriate extensions, avoiding the temptation to leave the extensions off your filenames.

Basic file maintenance is another skill students are expected to know. Review some of these basics:

  • Why is there no difference between Save and Save As... for a new file?

    This is a special case. When a file is created, at first it exists only in RAM. It has no name or long term storage location.
    The first time you save a file, you are given an opportunity to navigate to any folder you can access and save the file there with whatever name you like.
    Using the Save function after that point will save the file in the location where it is already saved, with the name it already has.
    To be able to choose a different location or name for an existing file, you must use the Save As... command.

  • Where are my files saved?

    Students should be aware that each Office application has a setting for a preferred location to save files. This location is set differently from one application to another. Students should know how to check this setting in each Office application, and to change it on their own computers (not the ones in the classroom). Changing the location is not required, if you know where it is, and if you are happy with that location. The default location in current versions of Office is many layers deep into a file structure that can provide security, but does not provide ready access.

  • Doesn't Word save my file if I just close Word?

    Some users get into this habit. Word will typically remind you to save a file that you have not saved (or have modified and not saved) if you shut down Word itself. In my opinion, this is sloppy. It is a poor procedure to rely on a program to remind you to do something you should know you must do. Save a file soon after creating it, and save often while you are working on it. Accidents can happen. See below.

  • What is Document Recovery?

    When Word crashes, due to a power loss or a system problem, any work done in open files since your last save is lost. Document Recovery is a Word feature that may enable you to harvest some of this lost work from the temporary files that Word creates in your working directory. This does not always work, so users should be aware of the feature, but should not depend on it.

Printing is one of the main reasons we have any application: we need to create a hard copy of a document, a spreadsheet, etc. In Word, students should be aware of several basic features related to printing:

  • Print Preview - this is a choice on the File menu in Word. It allows you to see a simulation on your screen of what the current document would look like if you printed it. Think of this as a precautionary first step to printing, especially when creating complex documents. Never just click the Print button. Always use Print Preview first.
  • Print Layout - Most users care enough about their output that they do not work in the Normal view of documents. Users are often more comfortable working with documents in the Print Layout view. It takes only a moment to change from one view of a document to the other. Open the View menu, and click the view you want to use.
  • Print Button vs. Print Command - Clicking the Print Button on the menu bar is a quick way to print one copy of the entire current document, on the default printer, with that printer's default settings. If you want to print some other number of copies, or only selected pages of the current document, or print to a different device, or print with any other variation, you must go through the Print Command, which is easily accessed from the File menu.

Formatting a document involves many choices. The exercises in the text demonstrate several kinds of formatting that apply to a portion or all of a document:

  • setting a font
  • setting a font size (or pitch) and color
  • setting font styles (like bold or italic)
  • setting font effects, like subscript (xi) or superscript (MicrosoftTM)
  • setting margins
  • setting number of columns
  • setting bullets and numbering (sometimes "numbering" is actually using letters, as in an outline)
  • setting line spacing, to allow more or less visual space between lines on a page
  • aligning text: left, right, center, or justified
  • setting tabs and indents
  • highlighting and shading objects
  • setting headers, footers, page numbers, and page breaks

Your text illustrates the use of a specific Word feature that most users have never seen. WordArt is a built-in feature that allows you to create text in predefined graphic styles. The image below shows the gallery screen for the feature, which shows examples of what you can do.

Once you choose a basic style, you can set the font and size. You create the text object, and place it on the page. After it is in place, the object can be modified even more, changing color, transparency, angle on the page, etc.