Entering text

The basics

How do I write text in Microsoft Word?

To write text in Microsoft Word, you have to launch the application. Search for the application, open it, and you will be presented with a white coloured paper-like document against a grey background inside a window. Or you may be simply shown a white background inside a window.

Where you see the white part, you can type text or insert other kinds of information directly into it. Try it!

Type the following piece of text using the keyboard in front of you (Did you copy and paste the text? Naughty you!):

True story

NSW Environment Minister Tim Moore is making no apologies for his comment that putting rubber bungs in people's backsides is the fastest solution to Sydney's beach pollution problem.


Minister under fire

The Minister's proposal came in for criticism in parliament yesterday and brought claims that he wasn't taking the problem seriously enough.


Minister's response

But Mr Moore says he was merely responding to demands for an immediate remedy for the pollution crisis.

Don't worry about formatting this piece of text. We will get stuck into designing our piece of text in a fancy way very soon.

The only thing to remember when entering text is to know when to create a new line. Try pressing the Return or Enter key a couple of times. You will notice a new line created in your document.

Yuk! I don't like using the keyboard

A hidden feature of Microsoft Word XP and 2003 you may wish to try is speech-recognition. Depending on the features you've installed, you may or may not have it. Go to the Windows XP control panel, double click Speech, and look for a tab called "Recognition". To install the feature, open Microsoft Word and select Speech from the Tools menu command.

For a much more accurate and easier to use speech recognition software, we recommend Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Standard edition costs A$199.95 to the Preferred Edition for A$399.95. You'll need a Pentium III 500MHz processor and 256MB of RAM to make the most of this software.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is really the only good speech recognition software. It is the ideal choice for people with disabilities. It allows you to speak a whole sentence naturally and in a continuous form because the software will record the sentence and does a better job of picking out the words in context rather than in isolation.

You only need to spend an hour training your Dragon NaturallySpeaking software to your voice to reach maximum effectiveness.

Tell me how to make my text look cool

It looks like you are impatient. Okay. But before we do, let us learn one very useful time-saving technique known as Styles.

"What are styles?" you may ask. A style is a bit like setting a fashion statement with the clothes you wear except the styling we are talking about here is essentially dressing up the text in a way that looks nice and is consistent. It involves the technique of specifying one or more formats to your text and to give a group of these formats (known as a text style) a name. This name we are referring to is simply called the style name. You can use any name you like, so long as it is meaningful to you (and hence easy to remember). Once you have defined a style name, you can highlight any piece of text in your document and apply the exact set of formats simply by typing the style name itself inside the Style box.

Why do we need styles?

Well, you don't actually need styles for the purposes of creating a Word document with some text typed into it. However, having defined styles set up in your Word document and applying them is particularly useful when your document starts to get large and complex. Then you will quickly see the benefit of creating styles as a way to save time when formatting large amounts of text while making your text look consistent in design (and consistency in your design is often equated by others as looking "professional" and more enjoyable to read). Styles can, in fact, give your document a professional look.

How do I create a style?

Begin by highlighting the text that says, "True story". Highlighting means using your mouse to place the cursor at the beginning of the text to be highlighted, pressing the mouse button down, and dragging the mouse to the right until the entire text is, well, highlighted. Let go of the mouse button. The text should remain highlighted in your document. It should look like the following:

Go to Format menu and click on Style...

This command allows you to change the style (or general appearance) of your heading. Once the style is set for you highlighted heading, you can call this style name for all other headings in your Word document. In essence, the purpose of styles is to help you quickly set a style to all headings for consistency.

It also helps Microsoft Word to distinguish the headings from the normal text through its style name so it can automatically do its job of creating a contents page.

Modifying and creating new styles

What you see in the Styles window is a set of formats in the "Description" and the style name used to call up these formats in the left side of the Style windows. Click on the Modify... button followed by the Format button to change the styles for your heading text if you like. If you want to create a new style name and set of styles of your own choosing, click the New... button followed by the Format button.

For the purposes of this exercise, click the New... button, type "Heading1" as your style name and click the OK button. Choose Font in the Format pop-up window after clicking the Format button.

It is from here within the Fonts window where you can change the text formatting. You can add colour, specify a different font, put bold or italics on your text and so on.

We've chosen bold and the colour red for our highlighted heading text. Click OK, OK again and the Apply button. When you have returned to your document, you will see the text "True story" formatted in bold and with a red colour.

Now highlight the next piece of text that says, "Minister under fire". Click the style box in the toolbar and choose "Heading1".

You will notice the text changing to the formatting you've defined for "Heading1".

Repeat the process for the text "Minister's response". Notice how quick and easy it is to set your text formatting?

Creating a contents page

Now what about a contents page? Will you type the name of the headings and the page numbers in a separate page? No. There is an easier way. Place the cursor at the beginning of the text and click the mouse button once. Choose Break under the Insert menu command and insert a page break.

Move the cursor up into the new document page with the arrow keys. Ready? Okay, let's go under the Insert menu command and choose Index and Tables...

The following table will appear:

Click the Table of Contents tab.

Press the Options button.

Remove the numbers representing the levels to indent the text in the other style names and place a 1 in the style name we have created called "Heading1". Think of these numbers as levels you want the text to indent.

Click OK.

Click OK again. The following table of contents is produced:

To update the page numbers at any time, highlight the table of contents text and press F9. Or for PC users, highlight the table of contents, move the cursor over the highlighted text, and click the right mouse button to display a pop-up window. Choose the Update Field command. The Update Table of Contents dialog box appears. Choose "Update entire table" and press the OK button. The page numbers should be updated.

This is not the only thing you can insert and update automatically. You can also insert and automate the updating of page numbers, creating an index, import data from a file or database and so on. You will find these sorts of information under the Insert menu command.

Give me another example!

Okay. Let us try a technique called mail merging. "What is mail merging?" you may ask. Mail merging is a technique for importing specific pieces of information in one file (e.g. a database or spreadsheet file) and insert them in specific places in your Word document. The purpose of doing this is to avoid duplicating the Word document for each record. You merely establish the link and with the press of the navigation buttons in Microsoft Word, you can change the record information in the Word document while retaining the same document structure. Also if you change the record information, it will automatically be reflected in the Word document without you having to do anything.

Here is the essential technique:

  1. Open the Microsoft Word application and click the new Word document button.
  2. Choose Mail Merge... from the Tools menu.
  3. Click the Create button and select Form Letters....
  4. Click the Active window button.
  5. Click the Get Data button and Open Data.
  6. Choose All Files from the File Type pop-up menu.
  7. Select the file you've exported from FileMaker Pro and click the Open button.
  8. Choose Text Files (*.txt) in the Confirm Data Source window.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click Edit Main Document button.
  11. Begin typing your letter and insert the records from your Export file into your Word document using the Insert Merge Field button.
  12. Your letter should look something like the one below.
  13. To preview the letter, click,
  14. To run through your list of records, use the navigation buttons on Microsoft Word.

Formatting text without styles

But what if you don't want to define styles. All you want to do is format text directly in the document. This is where the toolbar comes in handy. You will find the most common and useful text formatting options on the toolbar. All you have to do is highlight some text and click a button on the toolbar.

Try it. If you make a mistake, choose Undo under the Edit menu command. This is the time to be a little creative by experimenting with what you've got.