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Before we dive into Microsoft Word 2011, I want to take a moment to cover a few basics of word processing. In the old days when I was a kid, if we wanted something typed, we used a typewriter. In fact, that's where the names for some of the keys in your Mac's keyboard come from. Shift meant to shift the key in such a way that an alternate character, like an uppercase character or symbol would type instead of the unshifted character. Return, which appeared on electric typewriters, was a key that you pressed when you reached the end of a line to move the typewriter carriage and paper back or return it to its original position, so you could start another line, but I digress.
Word processors are a huge step up from typewriters. Not only can we create and edit a document before committing it to paper, if we print it at all, but we can save that document and make changes to it again and again. We can even copy our favorite passages from one document and use them in another. Word also makes it possible to insert images, create specially formatted cell tables and easily insert headers, footers, footnotes and endnotes. I can't tell you what a nightmare was to include footnotes and type term papers back in the 1980s.
Since personal computers and Word processors have been around in one form or another since the mid-1980s, you probably already have a good idea of how they work. I won't bore you by reviewing what you already know. Instead, I want to point out three things that you need to keep in mind as you work with Microsoft Word or any other word processor. First of all, you only press the Return key at the end of a paragraph, not at the end of the line. Pressing Return at the end of a line can mess up the word processor's automatic word wrap feature if you insert, delete or format text.
There are some exceptions to this, which I'll discuss throughout this course. Don't use the Space key to try to line up text in a table. Instead, use the Tab key with tab settings you can customize on the Ruler. You can learn more about this in the chapter about working with tabbed tables. You might also find Word's Cell Table feature useful for presenting tables of information. I will tell you about that in the chapter about working with cell tables. Last, until you save a Word document, it doesn't really exist anywhere except on your screen and in your computer's memory.
So if you're working for an hour on a document that hasn't been saved and there is a power failure, you could lose everything you've done and have to start over. Word does have an AutoSave feature, which I discuss in the chapter about setting word preferences, but it's not 100% reliable. It's a good idea to save a document for the first time right when you begin working on it and frequently after that. I explain how to save files in the working with files chapter. Now Word is an extremely powerful word processor with many, many features, including some that you will never need to use, but although it's powerful, it has the same basic functionality of any other word processor you might have used.
Throughout these videos, we'll focus on how to tap into Word's strengths as a word processor to create documents you'll be proud to share, whether simple documents such as interoffice memos or meeting summaries of complex documents such as illustrated marketing reports or a doctoral thesis.
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