Microsoft Word – A beginner’s guide

There are few if any more useful or well-used examples of computer software in the world than Microsoft Word. The system has been gradually tweaked, altered and enhanced over the past few decades but the principles of the word processing programme are very much as they’ve always been.

Many of us use Word every day of our working lives or make use of it to pen a letter or draft a report every so often but if you’ve never had a chance to get used the basic functionalities then there’s no time like the present. So here’s a beginners’ guide to the software to help you get started.

Starting a document

Assuming you have Microsoft Word installed on your computer, you should find it pinned to your Start menu on any Windows computer, or if you’re working with a Windows 8 PC then you’ll see the Word programme icon among your apps. By clicking on the Word icon, wherever you see it, you’ll invite the software to launch into action and you’ll be ready to go with a new, blank Word document.

If you already have one Word document open but would like to start another then you need to go to the file tab in the top left of your screen and hit the word ‘new’. Depending on the precise version of Word that you’re working with you might find the ‘new’ button in a slightly different position but it will always be beneath the ‘file’ tab. Alternatively, you can open a new document simply by pressing and holding down the ‘control’ key and pressing ‘N’, if you already have the programme up and running.

How to save your work in Word

Whenever you come up with a piece of work in Word, you will probably feel as if you want to save the document you’ve created. To do so you just need to return to the ‘file’ tab and look for the ‘save’ button. A box will then appear with a suggestion as to where on your computer you might want to save that particular document. A Word file of any kind is usually best saved in your ‘Documents’ folder and within that you can choose anywhere you like to start storing your work.

If you find that you’re creating quite a number of different Word documents over a period of time then it makes sense to start organising them by theme or timeframe but the choice is yours. The best way to do this is to open a few new folders for different types of work within your ‘Documents’ folder and name them in a way that jogs your memory.

Selecting text

A very common operation within Microsoft Word is the selecting of text. Selecting text allows you to identify a specific piece of text or content and manipulate it in a variety of ways. To select your target text you need to park the flickering cursor to its left-hand-side and either drag it with your mouse across the content you have in mind, or else do the same thing by holding down ‘shift’ and using the arrow keys on your keyboard. You’ll know when you’ve got it right because the area you’ve covered will be shaded.

Changing text size and fonts

Once you’ve selected an area of text and you’ve got it shaded as you’d like then you can alter the size of that text and the style in which it appears on screen. To do this you just need to find the two buttons in the toolbar at the top of your Word document that offer you a long list of font choices and a list of numbers that you can scroll through from 8 down to 72 to determine the size of the text in your document.

Other useful buttons

And while you’ve still got your text shaded and selected, you can chose to embolden it, underline it or italicise it, all just at the click of your mouse. All you need to do to carry out these functions is spot the B, I and U icons that sit right beneath the icons for changing fonts and text sizes within the main toolbar at the top of your Word document.

As with so much in life, learning a new skill takes effort and persistence but if you can avoid getting frustrated and throwing in the towel, you might soon wonder how you ever lived without Word and with even a little concerted practice you’ll have more than the basics well in hand.

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