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How to Use Word Processing Software (NVQ Diploma in Business and Administration & IT)

Livingsta shares her positive experience in business administration, customer service, and education.

Word Processor Desktop Microcomputer

Word Processor Desktop Microcomputer

Not all of us, but most use Microsoft Word for processing documents on a computer at work. One needs to know how to use the basic tools to format a document and also understand the uses and benefits of using templates and styles in documents.

In this article, we will look at:

  1. Different types of information that we need to create a document
  2. Techniques that one needs to use to enter information
  3. The use of styles and templates
  4. How to combine or merge documents
  5. Different editing tools
  6. How to store and retrieve documents effectively

This article is written to help candidates who will be or who are pursuing their NVQ Level 2 or Level 3 Diploma in Business and Administration or IT. The unit covered is word processor, and candidates who are IT users will have to evidence knowledge, understanding and skills to use an application that is designed to create, edit and produce large text-based documents at an intermediate level.

Most part of this unit has to be evidenced by a candidate’s ability to demonstrate the skills (practical application) they possess and the techniques that they apply to use the software. This will be through direct observation by the assessor and/or through a devised test or task at their workplace and/or evidenced through documents that they have already created.

I have tried my best to outline the basic knowledge that one should possess in order to use a word processor and this unit has been written based on the word processing application called Microsoft Word. I have tried my best to use screenshots wherever possible from Microsoft Word 2003 and some videos that will really help.

Microsoft Word is an office application that most organisations and companies use to process text-based documents. Some companies still use Microsoft Word 2003, and most part of the unit will be limited to tasks using Microsoft Word 2003.

Enter and combine text and other information accurately within word processing documents

Note: All along the course of the unit, in all the three sections, I have added as many screenshots as possible. You will not be presenting screenshots if you are writing down answers for this unit, but you will be asked to perform a few tasks to test your knowledge and understanding of using a word processor, and the screenshots may come in handy!

1.1 Identify what types of information are needed in documents

A document is a record where events or any information is captured and recorded as evidence so that the information is not lost.

A sample document

A sample document

It could either be a written or electronic document and it serves as an official record. The format, structure and contents of the documents vary depending on the information recorded and the purpose for which it was recorded. Some examples of documents are invoices, newspapers, purchase orders, product specifications, letters, journals, spread sheets, licenses, etc.

Each document will have a different format and acceptable standards that it has to adhere to and these standard documents can be created based on a template, or if you will be creating a particular document over and over again, you can save that format as a template for future use.

Documents stored in electronic format are stored in a computer and there are many applications to create a document. The most common application used in most organisations is the Word Processing software called Microsoft Word that comes as part of the Microsoft office package. In order to create a document, one needs to identify the types of information needed to create the document. Again, the different types of information vary depending on the type of document. One needs to first have a clear idea of what document they will be creating and for what purpose they will be creating it. They then need to identify the types of information needed for that particular document.

All documents have some amount of text and mostly some numbers. In order to make understanding clear, one may add clip arts, images, graphs, charts, tables etc. to the document. Electronic documents may also have animations and small video and audio clips. Finally to boost the appearance of the document, one can add lines, borders, backgrounds etc. to a document.

A sample Invoice

A sample Invoice

For example, let us consider that you are creating an invoice. An invoice will have text, numbers, company logo (this will be an image), company address, receiver’s address, fax and telephone number, VAT registration number, Invoice number, invoice date, customer reference, description of goods and services, the rate of the service, methods of payment, remittance advice, details of how to pay, etc. So all these information need to be collected and put together in a standard format that adheres to the organisations standards and guidelines. Information collected, the structure and the format in which the information are presented, all depend on the type of document being created. The information can be collected from available data in the organisation, or if data are not available, they need to be gathered from the internet or by contacting the relevant people or organisations / departments.

When using images and other data from the internet and other sources, one needs to make sure that they are free to use by checking the license and copyright information. One needs to have the ability and skills to identify different information from a provided group of information or list of information so that they are able to choose the right information required for creating the document.

1.2 Use appropriate techniques to enter text and other information accurately and effectively

Once all the information required for creating a document are available or have been gathered, one needs to use the best methods and techniques to enter these information on to the document, making sure that they are entered accurately and effectively.

Enter/Delete text, Save files - Word 2003

In order to enter text in a document, one needs to be proficient in keyboard skills. Keyboard skills do not just mean typing alphabets and numbers, but efficient use of all the keys and functions of the keyboard. It is good to learn the most common and most often used shortcuts on the keyboard to input and format information in a document with ease and speed. If you will be inputting large amount of text and numbers typing speed will be important along with accuracy and efficiency.

Apart from keyboard skills, other skills may be required depending on the device that you use for creating and formatting documents. Recent use of touch screen devices and speech recognition systems will require one to have knowledge of all the techniques required to operate, input data and format data on the devices that they use.

While typing up documents, in order to accurately and efficiently type up or create a document, you need to use both hands while typing, using the appropriate keys on the keyboard. Your posture should be good with your back straight and both hands at the keyboard.

Many a time, I have seen people using Caps lock to type capital letters, which is quite a tedious thing to do because you need to switch between caps lock "on and off", before and after typing the capital letter. The best and easy way to type a capital letter is to use the Shift key. Shift key + any alphabet will let you type the capital letter of that particular alphabet.

Note: Practice this, Shift + alphabet, trust me it is easy and you will feel the difference!

Some of the shortcuts that are frequently used are Ctrl+S for save, Ctrl+C for copy, Ctrl+V for paste, Ctrl+X for cut, Ctrl+Z for undo, Ctrl+A for select all, etc. Backspace and delete keys are commonly used while formatting and typing text. Spacebar is used to create space between words.

Apart from keyboard skills, one also needs to use the various formatting options available on the word processing software itself. There are various options like page orientation, tables, bullets and numbering, multi-columns, inserting symbols, art, text box, etc., and one needs to make best use of the available menus to create an attractive and easy to follow / understand document. You can also use various fonts and spacing to make the information look neat and clear.

After successful creation, the most important part to a document is grammar and spell-check. Word processors do not always find and rectify all the errors in a document. For example, if you type “hat” instead of “that” word processor will not always mark this mistake for you. So it is always best to manually proofread your document twice or thrice and if possible you can ask a third person to proof-read it for you as this will ensure accuracy and efficiency.

1.3 Select and use appropriate templates for different purposes

Templates are pre-designed documents which have a pattern stored in them and are readily available for one to use. They have some details already in place that can be adapted or edited according to one’s needs. You can also design and save your own template depending on your needs and the needs of the documents you will be creating. This will help you to concentrate on the document content in the future, rather than wasting time on designing the document.

Create a new document based on a template Microsoft Word 2003

To put all the information together using the skills that one possesses, one needs to choose the appropriate template for the document that you will be creating.

For example, word processor may have existing templates for documents like fax, letter or a web page. So if you will be creating any document that matches with the available templates, then you can go ahead and use the available pre-designed template. In other cases, you will have to create your own template for the type of document you will be creating.

Also most templates come with pre-designed fonts, colour scheme, formatting, etc. but you can always change them to suit your needs and purpose.

If you are creating several documents of the same type and format, or, if you will be creating a particular document over and over again in the future, you should save the formats as a template, so that you can maintain this standard while creating documents in the future and save time too.

Some examples for effectively applying formatting and choice of templates to a document are, using multi-columns for news articles, using A4 portrait for letterhead and for letters, landscape mode for tables, etc. You need to create documents that are clear and that will create an impact on the reader. So always use the best features available on the Word processor to create impressive documents.

The purpose of using templates is to create an effective document design. Document designs are not just about the looks but also about the way the information is presented. The important information in the document needs to stand out. So careful selection of contents, layouts, colours, themes, fonts, styles, tables, footnotes, images, charts etc. are important.

Any information like date, your address and contact information, page numbers can be saved in the template for future use and to avoid typing them over again.

1.4 Identify when and how to combine and merge information from other software or other documents

Creating a document is not always about creating a new one and inputting new information that you have in hand. Sometimes you will have to combine and merge information from other documents and software. For example, you may have to pull through information from an excel spread sheet, or link a document with a PDF document and sometimes you would have created several individual documents in the word processor and you may have to link or combine them all together into one single document.

For example, in order to combine multiple word documents into one single document, you need to first create a blank document and set the page layout similar to the documents that are going to be merged. You can also open one of the documents to be combined, click save as and save it as a new document with a different name and then erase its contents thereby preserving the layout.

To insert contents of a document, click on the Insert menu -> Click file and in the Insert file dialog window, choose all the documents that you want to merge or combine by pressing the Ctrl key and clicking on the required files. Then click on the insert button. This will insert the documents into the blank new document.

If you want to insert the document as link style than click on the small down arrow next to insert and click insert as link. Now the selected documents will be merged and combined into one single document.

In a similar manner, you should be able to insert images, hyperlinks, diagrams, resize and position them and link information in a document to another source

Another easy technique with documents like letters is the mail merge option and it is used in situations where you have a letter that needs to be sent to many customers. The content of the letter will be the same but it needs to be addressed to different customers (their name and address will be different). The unique information in each letter will be the customer’s name and address and these entries come from a data source.

In order to mail merge, you need to create the main document that has all the information including text, graphics and other information that are the same for all customers. This document then needs to be connected to the data source that has information that need to be merged into the document (e.g. Name and address of customers). You can choose all or specific items in the data source for which the copies need to be generated. If you add placeholders called mail merge fields in the document these information are filled in the mail merge fields when you perform the mail merge. You can then preview the copies and print them.

You can also use mail merge to create envelopes and labels using the above procedure.

1.5 Select and use a range of editing tools to amend document template.

Editing is a very important part of creating an impressive and neat document.

Word 2003 Basic 2 (Copy, Cut, Paste, Format Font, Alignment)

There are many editing tools in a word processor that can be used to edit the document that you have created. When you look at the Edit Menu in Word, you have various options like, Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Select All, Find, Replace, Go to etc.

Apart from these you have various other tools on the formatting toolbar that lets you change the font type, font size, font colours, spacing, paragraph styles etc.

Edit Menu

Edit Menu

You should know how to use the above editing tools and as I have mentioned previously, it is best to know the keyboard shortcuts for the above tools in the Edit menu. It saves a lot of time.

  • Undo – Ctrl+Z – will undo the previous action
  • Redo – Ctrl+Y – this is to redo the previous action
  • Select – You can click and drag with the mouse to select part of the document for editing purposes.
  • Select all – Ctrl+A – This is used to select all contents in a document
  • Copy tool – Ctrl+C – is used to copy the selected content. This will leave the selected contents in the document from where you are copying
  • Cut tool – Ctrl+X – this is used to cut the selected contents in the document.
  • Paste tool – Ctrl+V – This tool is used to past the copied or cut contents into a different location of the same document or into a totally different document.

Insert Picture, Clip art, Page/paragraph border

  • Find – Ctrl+F – This tool is used to find a particular word or phrase in a document
  • Replace or Find and Replace – This tool is used to find a particular word in a document and replace it with another. You can either replace selective occurrences of the found word or replace all occurrences of the found word with another word.
  • Go to – this tool is used to go to a particular section in the document, for example, a particular page, or table, or image or heading.
  • Insert tool– inserts objects, files, links, images, diagrams, etc., in a document
  • Delete – deletes the selected information
  • Crop and Position – this is used to crop images and to position them in the correct area of the document

You should also have a knowledge of using images in documents, how to position them, crop them, drag and drop them, resize them, etc. You should also know how to delete an inserted image.

1.6 Combine or merge information within a document from a range of sources.

When collecting information to create a document, one may collect the information required from one source or from a number of sources. So information may be scattered across various locations and sources and they need to be combined or merged into one single document for ease of reference, coordination, meaning and integration. In order to achieve this, one will need to make use of the correct template along with tables, forms, graphs, charts etc., to present the information within the document.

While collecting information, the candidate should analyse and decide what information is required and whether the information collected is reliable and accurate.

Tables are a good option to break information into prescribed spaces. It provides a neat visual look and makes scanning and comparison of data across the document easier. To insert a table into a word document, you need to go into table menu, click insert and click on table. You can edit the table with number of rows and columns, fill colour, borders and shading and other features as per your requirements.

1.7 Store and retrieve document and template files effectively, in line with local guidelines and conventions where available

Once the document has been created, the candidate should be able to save it in a location from where it can be easily retrieved for future use and reference. Now a document created using any word processor, can be saved in one of the many formats available, but not all word processors will support all file types. For example, when you click File -> Save As -> You will get a dialog box that asks you for a location to save the document and also a format in which to save the document.

If the document will be distributed to people or organisations that will not be using Microsoft word, it is best to save the document in .rtf format (Rich Text Format). It is best to save the document in as simple a format as possible in order to avoid errors while trying to open the document in other word processors. A good idea and understanding about file compatibility issues will be of great help. There are various formats like, Word document, Word document template, plain text format, Rich text format, web page format, etc. If everyone who will be accessing the document will be using Microsoft word, then it is best to save the document in .doc format.

Naming the document is another very important aspect. Always use meaningful names so that it is easier for you to identify this document for retrieval in the future. Candidates should also have a good idea of saving documents in various other formats, that is changing the format of the documents to HTML or RTF etc. if required, using the save as option in the File menu. You also need to know where to save the document for easier retrieval. Make sure that document names do not have space of special characters in them. It is best to have a backup of all the documents in case there happens to be a server issue or storage issue or hardware failure.

One needs to keep in mind, whether they have followed all the rules and guidelines of the organisation while creating the document. Make sure to check if there are in-house styles or formats or templates and if yes, go by them. Every organisation has rules and guidelines for preparing, structuring, naming and storing documents. There are rules that have to be followed while retrieving or sharing documents too. Be always mindful of what you are saving and where you are saving. It is best to store related documents together, and follow a consistent method to name files and folders.

There is also a "Search" option to search for a document in case you forgot where you stored or saved the document. Also word displays a list of recent documents from where you can pick up the document if you had saved it recently.

I hope you have a knowledge and understanding of

  • The different types of information that we need to create a document
  • The techniques that one needs to use to enter information
  • The use of styles and templates
  • How to combine or merge documents
  • The different editing tools
  • How to store and retrieve documents effectively.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on January 05, 2016:

Hello Alyssa, thank you so much. My pleasure. I am so pleased that this hub has helped you. All the best! :) x

Alyssa on June 09, 2015:

This is really helpful.

Easily understood and helped me understand the question a lot better.

Great source of information as question 1.2 I found it very difficult to find help for. This is excellent and helped me out a lot.

Thank you for this information! x

Gizem on September 30, 2013:

Your page is stunning! I have been waintng to try scrapbooking the digital way but have no clue where to begin.Thank you for making the tutorial. I am going to print it out.Thanks Becky.Mary

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on June 10, 2013:

Hi kidscrafts, interesting to hear that you work on various applications. Working on 3D can be very interesting and at the same time, time consuming I guess. I have not worked on it, but observed my friends working on them.

I am glad that you found this information useful.

Have a great week ahead :-)

livingsta (author) from United Kingdom on June 10, 2013:

Hi Bill, thank you. I am pleased that you found this useful. Have a great week ahead.

Hugs and blessings to you.

Dahlia :-)

kidscrafts from Ottawa, Canada on June 09, 2013:

I know that I am not using "Word" at it's full potential; probably because I am using so many other programs either to draw, colour, animate, video, etc. I used to love working in 3D and I had to let go of that because at one point it's just too much.

In fact, I would like to know more about the program "Word" so I hope that one day I will be able to spare some time to learn more deeply that program; I am sure that on the long run I will gain time for spending the time to learn. I will keep the resource of your three articles in mind!

Thanks for sharing, Livingsta!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on June 08, 2013:

A good primer for anyone using Word. I knew most of this but did pick up a couple new things. Thank you, Dahlia, for the information and the patient way you taught me. :)

Have a wonderful Sunday my friend.

Sending hugs and blessings your way