Monday, February 26, 2007

Lesson 1 - What is a word processor?

Just to start at the beginning, a basic definition for a word processor is a software application that assists you in creating, formatting and editing text documents. These applications range from high-end, business-class systems like Microsoft Word to bare-bones web-based applications like Google Docs. All of them let you create text and make it pretty, and they all have basically the same features - they just put them in different places. We'll be learning the basics of word processing - the stuff that you can do in Google Docs - not the basics of a particular word processing program.
Other basic definitions you should know before you use any word processor:
  • font
    • Similar to a typeface, a font is a set of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
      Different fonts have different visual styles and characteristics.
  • formatting
    • Changing the appearance of a document, for example, making text bold or
      changing its placement on the page.
  • justification (or alignment)
    • The way text is placed on the page - right justified (or aligned), left justified (or aligned) or centered
  • File Formats (HTML, RTF, PDF, DOC, ODT)
    • HTML - Hypertext Markup Language, a language used to code a document so that it is viewable with a browser on the web
    • RTF - Rich Text Format, a format that is universal among word processors - any word processor (Word, Wordperfect, OpenOffice, etc.) will be able to display a document saved as .rtf
    • PDF - Portable Document Format, a format that is readable by anyone with the free Adobe Acrobat reader (most computers come with this software already installed) - it is not editable without special (usually expensive) software, but it can be read - with perfect formatting - by anyone
    • DOC - Word Document Format, used by MS Word, only editable (without massive loss of formatting) by Word
    • ODT - Open Document Format, used by OpenOffice, it is an open format that any word processor maker can use. Not in use by many other word processors yet.
  • wizard
    • A helpful tool that guides you through a task step by step. Usually only available in offline word processors like MS Word, Wordperfect and OpenOffice. Not available in online word processors like Google Docs.
  • template
    • A document used as a pattern for other documents. Available mostly in offline word processors, though some workarounds exist for online word processors.
Directions: Getting into Google Docs:
  1. Log into your Gmail account
  2. Check the top left corner - see if there is a link to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. If there is, click it
  3. If there isn't, click on "My Services", then click on the Google Docs & Spreasheets link at the right.
  4. Click on "New Document"
  5. Click on the "Untitled" title of the document to change it
  6. Start typing.

: Log into your Gmail account and go to Google Docs & Spreadsheets. Start a new document and type in a sentence or two (feel free to copy and paste these sentences if you don't feel like coming up with something yourself). Change the font of each sentence using the Font drop-down menu. Note the fonts that are available.
Next, go into Microsoft Word and do the same thing. Note the fonts that are available in MS Word, as opposed to Google Docs.

Word Processing Skills

Welcome to the Word Processing skills lesson! We aren't going to focus on a particular application, though screen shots and the like will probably be from Google Docs & Spreadsheets, so the lessons you learn here will be applicable to any word processing program you find yourself using.

  • Word processing basics - terms and concepts
  • Basic interfaces
    • Google Docs in depth
    • Word/Open Office
  • Basic Skills
    • Create a new document
    • Edit a document
      • Select, copy/cut/paste, line spacing, lists, insert pictures/clip art, spell check
    • Print a document
    • Save a document
    • Navigate the file system/storage system to find and open a document
  • Specific Skills
    • Publish/Share a Google Doc
    • Blog a Google Doc
    • Use Templates in Word/Open Office
    • Fake Templates in Google Docs
  • Google Docs features and future plans