Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The 10 Commandments of Word Processing

This has to be one of the most commonly used ICT skills, even be the most tech reluctant, but unfortunately as most of us are self taught, there are quite a few aspects that have been poorly learned, are poorly practised, and are now inevitably poorly taught...

The good news is that once you know what you don't know, it's easy to fix, the chances are, no matter how long you've been word processing, you will find a few surprises in this list:

  1. Thou shalt use spell check (but don't rely on spellcheck—homophones much?). 
  2. Thou shalt use the built in thesaurus (and use 'Command+F' to check for repetition!).
  3. Thou shalt not ignore the grammar/proof reading tool—if it's got a squiggly line under it, check it!
  4. Thou shalt use the tab key to indent, not the space bar (also useful for adding a new row to the bottom of a table).
  5. Thou shalt not do things manually that can be done automatically; like adding page numbers, numbered lists, or creating a table of contents.
  6. Thou shalt use the 'paste unformatted' or 'paste as text' option to avoid reformatting all the text you paste in. Every. Time.
  7. Thou shalt use the styles menu to structure your document with headings etc (and you can't use some automatic features without this).
  8. Thou shalt insert a page break if you want a new page (don't just repeatedly hammer the return key).
  9. Thou shalt not hammer keyboard keys— NEVER press a space bar more than once, or a return key more than twice. 
  10. Thou shalt make sure to reduce the file size of the document if thou hast inserted gargantuan images into it, before sharing it with others.
Last but not least, this article has a similar guide to the skills I've outlined above, but specifically tailored to Microsoft Office, and with lots of nice pictures! The key takeaway is that these skills are conventions that apply regardless of the platform, device or application you use, from MS Word, to Pages to Google Docs, they all utilise and provide these features.

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