Posted by admin on 5th May 2011

Word Processing

Word processing software is probably one of the programs you use most for school and one of the first ones a teacher asked you to use. Maybe you think there’s nothing more you could learn about it – hopefully you’re right, but it helps to think through exactly what it can do.

First of all, remember not to use a brand name. This topic is called word processing, not “Microsoft Word”, because that’s a brand name. There are other programs for word processing, MS Word wasn’t even the first one out there.

Initially, word processors were just for typing – they hardly did much more than notepad on your computer. In the twenty-first century they can do much more – have a think about what they can do other than the plain words.

Features of Word Processing Software

  • enter text
  • spell check
  • cut/copy, paste
  • insert images
  • insert tables
  • formatting:
    • change fonts
    • change text size
    • bold, italic, underline and more
    • left, centre, right, fully¬†justified text
    • intentations
    • bullet points and numbered lists

There’s loads more features¬†- and you’re right in thinking these aren’t unique to word processing software. The lines between word processing and Desktop Publishing are especially blurred, but my guide is that with a word processor you can start typing text without any text boxes.


What did I mean by justified? Well left, centre and right aligned you will definitely know. Justified is an old mechanical printing word for “lined up”. Left justified means the text lines up on the left of the page (like this website) Right justified is the same on the right. Centre aligned text does not have a ‘smoothly lined up’ edge, it can be ragged on both sides – it’s often used for titles. Fully justified text has a straight edge on both left and right – the spaces inbetween words are stretched a little bit to make it line up. Newspapers and magazines use it to look professional and neat from a distance.

Mail Merge

Businesses often have to write letters to lots of customers at once. Rather than re-type or have to copy and paste loads of times, mail merge means the letter can be written once and automatically customised for each person. Once the letter is written, fields from the database or address book can be inserted from a query. When the mail merge is printed, each person has a letter with their own name and details on it. This saves lots of time but can be a little bit impersonal.

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