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Chapter 4. Creating a Simple Document  > Starting a New Document

Starting a New Document

When you start Word by clicking Microsoft Word on the Office Shortcut Bar or clicking Start, pointing to All Programs, and then clicking Microsoft Word, a new document opens automatically on your screen. On the right, the task pane offers you a number of choices for starting a new document.


If for some reason you don’t see the task pane along the right side of your Word window, you can display it by choosing Task Pane from the View menu.

The task pane offers you three ways to create a new document:

  • In the New area, you can choose whether to open a blank document, Web page, or e-mail message.

  • In the New from Existing Document area, you can tell Word to open a new document based on one you’ve created (this is great for those times when you need to create a new brochure that has the same look and feel as the last brochure but with new content).

  • In the New From Template area, you can choose a ready-made template available within Word or you can go to your favorite Web sites (or perhaps the great and mighty http://www.microsoft.com) to find templates that fit your project.


In Chapter 2, you learned to start Office by choosing New Office Document from the All Programs menu. Although I give you the steps for starting a new document within the program here, remember that you can also begin a new document—whether it is a Microsoft Word document, a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, or a Microsoft Access database—by making your choice in the New Office Document dialog box.

Choosing a Blank Document

When you first start Word, all you’ve got is a blank document, so that’s simple enough. But when you are working on an existing document and want to start a new one, you can start the process by displaying the task pane in three ways:

  • Open the File menu and choose New.

  • Press the shortcut key Ctrl+N.

  • Click the New tool on the Standard toolbar.

When the task pane appears, click Blank Document. A new, pristine electronic page appears, ready for your next project.

Another One of Those, Please

If you really like what you created in one document, you can create another one just like it by using the New From Existing Document command in the New Document task pane. When you click Choose Document, the New From Existing Document dialog box appears. Navigate to the folder containing the file you want to use, select it, and click Create New. Word then displays what appears to be the document you selected in the new document window. Notice, however, that the title bar says Document2, indicating that the file has not been named and saved. You can now modify the copy of the file to your heart’s content and then name and save it when you’re through. The original file remains intact.

Working with a Template

Word includes a huge selection of templates that can help you shortcut the process of creating a new document. In fact, you can use a template for everything from memos to Web pages to full-blown reports. Why start from scratch when you can just work with something already created by professionals? You save some keystrokes and get a professional design in the bargain. To use a template, follow these steps:

  1. Click General Templates in the task pane.

  2. In the Templates dialog box, click the tab containing the type of document you want to create. (As Figure 4-3 shows, you have quite a variety to choose from!)

    Figure 4-3. The Templates dialog box shows you all the types of documents you can create.

  3. Select the template you want to use. The Preview window displays the template file you’ve chosen so that you can decide whether it’s the one you want. If it’s not, click a different one and check it out in the Preview window.

  4. When you find the template you want to use, make sure the Document radio button is selected (this creates a new document, not a new template file), and click OK.

Once the document is open on your screen, you can simply click in the places it says [Click here and type] to add your own information. Figure 4-4 shows a fax coversheet template in use. The first item, in the To: line, has already been entered. The Fax: line is now selected. Continue making your changes (you can also change the format, colors, background and more— whatever you choose); when you’re finished, press Ctrl+S to display the Save As dialog box so that you can name and save the file.

Figure 4-4. Using a template gives you a fast, easy way to start a professional-looking document.


Are you wondering what a template is? A template is a ready-made file included with Word (and also Excel and PowerPoint) that enables you to build your document on what’s already there. Templates include placeholder text that you replace with our own, and the formatting—such as headings, lists, body style, and so on—is already done, saving you time and trouble. You can use the templates built into Word or get more on the Web by clicking the options in the task pane.

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