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A word processor is a software application for creating documents, ranging from letters to reports, to fliers, to brochures - basically any sort of document that involves a lot of text and even images. The most popular word processor is Microsoft Word, available as part of the Microsoft Office Suite of Applications for both Macs and PCs. Apple has its own word processor called Pages, which is part of their iWork Suite of Applications. And there are other word processing programs out there like Corel WordPerfect, which you also might have heard of. The TextEdit application that you might have seen me using throughout this course is also a basic free and fairly capable word processor that comes built into Mac OS X's Applications Folder.
And while there are many different word processors out there, each with its unique set of features, word processors generally have more in common with each other than they have differences. So let's take at the basics of writing in a word processor. For this example, I'm going to be Microsoft Word on my Mac, but pretty much everything I'm going to show here applies to other word processors as well. So in almost all cases, to create a new document in a word processor, you'll go to the File menu, where you'll choose something like New or New Blank Document. In applications like Word and Pages, you'll also find starter templates for various kinds of projects or documents.
So if I chose Project Gallery, I'd find a collection of templates I could use as sort of a jumping off point for my documents. I'll just go with a Blank Word Document for this example though. So I'll just double-click that, and here is my blank document. So all I need to do here is start typing. To go down to the next line, I just press Enter or Return on my keyboard. This is called a paragraph break. Notice it put some space between the first line and the next line of text. Not all word processors do this automatically though, and you may have to go into your Settings and locate the options for adding space before or after paragraphs.
Ideally, that's how you should add space between paragraphs, not by tapping the Return or Enter key twice, which in some cases adds too much space between paragraphs. I'm going to hit the Backspace or Delete button to go back up, and I'll type a little more. And I'll press Return again to enter another paragraph break. Now, I realize the typewriters haven't been in use very much in years now, but many people are still taking traditional typing classes, and in those classes they often teach that you should press the Spacebar twice at the end of sentences. In the days of typewriters, where all the letters and characters were of equal width, that made sense, but all word processors already add a little extra space after the punctuation at the end of a sentence, so it's unnecessary to add that space yourself.
You can see after the period here, there is a little bit more space than you'll find between actual words. It just looks a little bit better that way, and word processors automatically do that for you. If you're in the habit of tapping the Spacebar twice after sentences, try to break yourself of that habit if you want to follow basic word processing rules. Another good habit to get into is to save your document right away, and then continue to save it periodically as you write. I'll choose File > Save, and I'll save this on my desktop, and I'll call this Rental rules.
So you can see it's sitting on my desktop now. Now, some programs, including Microsoft Word, have an AutoSave feature that will save your document every 10 minutes or so, just in case your system goes down or there is an electrical outage. But you can do a lot of writing in 10 minutes. So I suggest getting into the habit of saving anytime you have typed a decently sized chunk of text that you wouldn't want to type again, or anytime you make a significant change to your document. Notice the keyboard command to Save is Command+S. I've just gotten in the habit Command+S with my left hand anytime I finish typing a long paragraph or other selection of text.
It just take a split second to save your file, and it can save you the agony of having to rewrite your document, should you experience a crash or a power outage. One of the nice things about working on a Mac is in most applications you can easily tell if your document contains changes that have not yet been saved by looking at the Close button. If there is a dark dot in the Close button, it means your document has not been saved with the latest changes. So I'll press Command+S to save, and that dot goes away. But as soon as I start typing again, it comes back. That's just a nice visual indicator, letting you know that you haven't saved the most recent version of your document yet.
So that's about the extent of what I wanted to cover in this movie on entering text into word processors. Coming up next, we'll look at how to format the text you've typed.
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