Word-processing Skills for English


This is just a very basic introduction to word processing. If you want to dvelop your word processing skills, click here for a wide variety of apps and websites that will teach you all you need to know, from beginner level to advanced.

Learning how to use a word processor properly is one of the most practical things you can do as a student. It is a skill that will be useful when you graduate and the ability to use a word processor proerly will help you in all sorts of ways. This page introduces basic word-processing for users of Windows 95. For other operating systems the details are slightly different.

1. Opening a Word-processing Programme

    Depending on what kind of computer you are using, and what version of the software, the icon for the word processing programme may be in a different place. Usually it is in the "Start" menu of a Windows computer. If Microsoft Word is installed, you can probably find it from the Windows "Start" button (bottom right of the screen). If not, open the "File Explorer" and search in the Programme files. If you are using a Mac, check the icons at the bottom of the screen. If it isn't there, go to "Applications" on the "Explorer" menu. Move the arrow up to "(P)rogramme". If  Microsoft Word appears not to be installed, find "Wordpad" under "Windows Accossories" (Windows) or "TextEdit" under "Applications" (Mac). If you don't have Microsoft Word on your computer, get it! Be sure to choose the right version depending on whether you have a Windows computer or a Mac.

2. Switching between Japanese Mode and English Mode

    When you are using your word processor or a web browser it is very important to switch correctly to English mode. There are several ways to do this, and different operating systems (Windows, Mac, etc.) are all slightly different. Basically, though, there is a series of icons in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen. If you use the mouse to place the arrow over them an explanation will come up explaining what they are for. One of them is the "Input Mode". If you click on the Input Mode icon a pop-up menu will appear. You need to select "English" or "Direct input". Make sure you are not in romaji mode; this looks like English, but it doesn't do the things an English word processor does (like recognising word-divisions at the end of a line). Romaji mode is difficult to use and looks very strange.

3. Fonts, Justifying, Paragraph Layout, etc.

    The icons, etc., for changing fonts, print size, etc., are at the top of the screen. If you can't see them, click on "(V)iew" and then click on the items in the View Menu. It won't hurt to experiment with all these icons, etc., just to see what they do; don't worry - you won't break anything!

4. Typing Text

   There's no special mystery about typing text; just hit the letters on the keyboard and they come up on the screen! Whe it comes to the end of a line, the computer will automatically start a new line. You only need to start a new line yourself when you want to start a new paragraph. Press "enter" to do this.

5. Editing Text

    To edit text, you first have to highlight it. To do this, move the mouse cursor to the beginning of the text you want to highlight, then left hold and drag the cursor across the text. That text will then be marked in black. Then left click on the "(E)dit" menu. The two main options are to delete text (this is faster than the "Back Space" or "Delete" keys for longer sections of text) and to copy it. If you select "(C)opy" you can then move the cursor anywhere you like (even to a different file) and, by selecting "(P)aste", that text will reappear in the new position. You can do other things, like change the font, or the size or colour of the letters. Use the ruler to reate indents, etc. If the ruler isn't visible, go to the "View" menu and select the ruler option.

5. Scrolling

    On the right side of your screen there is a column. Left click on the downward-pointing arrow at the bottom of the column to move down the page, and on the upward-pointing arrow at the top to move back up the page. You can also scroll sideways, but this isn't usually necessary.

6. Other Operations

    In general, you needn't be afraid to try out the different menus and see what they do; you are unlikely to do any real damage, and the best way to learn is by doing! With Microsoft Word you can write in columns, add pictures, run a spellchecker, etc. With a little practice you should be able to produce professional-looking essays and reports.

7. Saving Your Work

You must save your work onto a USB memory stick or other memory device. Go to the "(F)ile" menu  and click the "(S)ave" or "Save (A)s" option. Give the file a title, select a folder and save it. One of the best options for saving your work is Dropbox. This keeps your files safe and you can log into it online to recover a file that has got lost or damaged on your computer. If you are not using Dropbox, make sure you always have a backup copy of your file, in case something goes wrong and you lose the file.

8. Editing an Existing File

The next time you want to work on your file, double click on 'My Computer', then on '3.5 inch FD', and then on your file, which will then open. Alternatively, right click on "Start" (bottom left-hand corner), and left click on the "Explorer" option. Scroll the right-hand column until you can see "3.5 inch FD" (it's at the top of the page), and left click. The names of the files on your floppy disk will appear. Double left click (or left click and "Enter") on the file you want, and it will open, ready for you to continue working on it. You can also open your file by opening the word-processing programme, left clicking on "(F)ile", selecting "(O)pen" and clicking on "3.5 inch FD".

9. Special Features for Typing in English

    Mostly, typing in English is very straightforward, but there are one or two things that are different from typing in Japanese. One important difference is that you need to type a space after a comma, a full stop (=period in US English) or brackets. In Japanese, the space appears automatically in these cases, but in English you have to type it.

10. Spelling and Grammar Check

    Try to make your work as professional as possible. You can do exact phrase searches on Google to see if people really do use the expressions you have put in your paper. At the very least, run the spelling / grammar app (on the "Tools" or "Review" menu, depending on which version of Microsoft Word you are using).

Further Research

This is a very basic introduction to the subject. For more detailed help, please consult the manuals that come with most word-processing programmes or check the online link at the top of this page.


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