1 Word | Starting out

You’ll not find a tutorial here, there are many good tutorials out there and I have no desire to author yet another resource – unless of course you like the way I write and actually want to pay me, in which case I’ll consider it.

Instead you’ll find some suggestions and guidance to help you on your way, pointers on what to avoid and some basic foundationing for you to capture the feel of Microsoft Word and advantage yourself of it without having to memorize pages of instructions.

It’s really not that difficult, much of mastering Word is letting go of your desire to control it and accepting that it was cobbled together by different programmers amidst fierce competition and communication issues (not only did they have the normal issues of techs talking to end users, but Microsoft departments often held back from collaborating with other sections due to in-house narcissism). Once you realize that Word is a mutant child of programmers with low people skills you come to understand – if not actually appreciate – the legacy of the programmatic-like workflows and linear sequencing that make using Word a joy or nightmare depending upon which side of your brain is dominant. So Word was built by people who preferred the jungle of code to peoplespeak. Go figure…

Word is a mutant child of programmers with low people skills

So now you’ve had a giggle,  let’s move on…

If you’re a millennial – or younger – reading this, you’ll likely wonder why I’m explaining the obvious, d’oh! and fair enough, for if you’ve grown up with technology you can not only use it with flair and efficiency but also understand the political currents surrounding apps and their makers. But read on, for you may find this useful in helping other mere mortals in ‘getting it’ too.

For those ‘mere mortals’, well; this is for you…,

The first and foremost thing about Word is that you can’t break it (it’s already broken haha). No seriously, whilst yes, you can ‘stuff it up’ and maybe lose some work and time, it’s not gonna start smokin’ and fry your computer, tablet or whatevs. Worse case scenario is an uninstall, reboot and reinstall; you won’t even lose your work (unless you’ve been truly naughty!). It’s OK to experiment, to pay, to explore. In fact, that’s the absolute best hing to do, for if you follow your curiosity, you’ll learn heaps without losing any sweat. Heck, you might even enjoy the experience! So go on, take it for a spin.

Second is that it’s never too late to start, nor to let a lack of ‘technical know-how’ hold  you back. The only way to get experience, or to gain techie skills is to roll your sleeves up, and get stuck in. My mum was 92 when she first learnt Word and now she’s 96 with her third novel (and final volume of The Three Loves trilogy) in the hopper at Hague Publishing (the first is Gypsies & Gentry – read an excerpt here, the second is The Looters and the final is Lovers and Losers. Go mum!).

So, how to ‘get into’ Word?

  1. Open it up and look around.
    Pay attention to what changes. The former is important because it’s good to know your environment and the latter superimportant because its critical to now when and how your environment changes. Mush of what appears mystical and obscure becomes clear and dandy when you notice and pay attention to subtle changes on your screen.
  2. Note things you want to remember – active participation is great for jogging those brain cells and great as an aide memoir – and question what you see (approach Word like a child, poking, prodding and questioning everything!).
  3. Don’t overthink things and get into a flap. but be mindful of what you are doing (and of what you have just done) so that when the inexplicable occurs you are not left hanging without a rope.
  4. Memorize your first keyboard shortcut command: [Ctrl] + [Z]
    (or locate the ‘back arrow’ on your screen)
    The action is to:

      1. Press and hold the [Ctrl] key on your (physical, not virtual) keyboard
        [found to the left and right of your spacebar, on the bottom row]
      2. Tap and release the [Z] key
        [the lower, leftmost, alphabetical key (on a QWERTY layout)]
      3. Release the [Ctrl] key

    This is undoubtedly the most useful command in all of Word. After decades of mastery, I still find it convenient.
    The next most useful command is undoing the Undo, or Redo as it’s called. Remembering it is as easy as recalling the letter that comes before Z;
    [Ctrl] + [Y]. There’s a bit more to this command for the intrepid: see The Great UNDO blog for more.

  5. Remember to have fun.

So go on, stop reading this and go have a play. Come back when you’re bored or something…

Yes, there’s more!

Now that you’ve had a play, let’s get to work on some productivity muscle. These are not essential by any means, just handy shortcuts to make life in Word easier and to maintain that creative flow. Whether they are useful to you is well, up to you and what you’re into, if it’s not your thing, blast right past!

A trip down Memory Line

Action Result
Hold [Ctrl] and click within a sentence Selects sentence
Hold [Ctrl] and drag selection Creates a copy of the text or object
Double-click in header or footer
(Print Layout view)
Activates the header or footer; double-click in the main text area to return to it
Double-click a note marker Jumps to the corresponding footnote or endnote (jumping back works too)
Double-click the document title bar Toggles between maximized and restored window size.
Right-click the status bar Opens a menu to choose options to display



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