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If you are new to Word 2003 or to word processing in general, the Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft Office Word 2003 is the book for you. With clear, concise explanations and easy-to-use numbered steps, we will help you to quickly learn everything you need to get the most out of the Word 2003 application. We try to make you feel as though you have someone sitting next to you, explaining what a feature is and why you would want to use it, and giving you step-by-step instructions on how to make it work.

We assume that you have no previous experience in Word 2003, so you will start from the beginning and work up to some pretty advanced features. We do assume that you know how to use Windows, so if you’re new to computers, you might consider picking up a copy of Que Publishing’s Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Windows XP (ISBN: 0-7897-2856-7) by Shelley O’Hara.

This latest version of Word offers some exciting new features and enhancements to make your work quicker and easier. The new task pane puts many common features at your fingertips. You’ll see how this task pane morphs into different task panes depending on what you are working on at the time. For example, if you Alt+click a word or phrase, you activate the Research task pane that lets you search for information in the built-in writing tools and online resources.

You may be upgrading to Word 2003 from a previous version. If so, you’ll really like the “New to Word 2003” designations so you can quickly zero in on the newest features. You should be aware that when you upgrade, Microsoft strongly suggests that you let the install program remove the previous version to avoid potential conflicts.

Some Key Terms

To use Word, you need to know the basic terminology used for common mouse actions:

  • Point— Move the mouse on the desk to move the pointer onscreen. The tip of the arrow should be on the item to which you are pointing.

  • Click— Press and release the left mouse button once. You use a click to select commands and toolbar buttons, as well as perform other tasks.

  • Double-click— Press and release the left mouse button twice in rapid succession.

  • Right-click— Press and release the right mouse button once. You can right-click to display a shortcut menu just about anywhere in the program.

  • Drag and drop— Hold down the mouse button and drag the pointer across the screen. Release the mouse button. Dragging is most often used for selecting and moving text and objects.

Points to Keep in Mind

You can customize Word so that it is set up the way you like to work. For consistency, though, this book makes some assumptions about how you use your computer. When working through steps and especially when viewing the figures in this book, keep in mind the following distinctions:

  • Word offers you several different methods to perform the same task. For example, for commands, you can select a command from a menu, use a shortcut key, use a toolbar button, or select from the shortcut menu. This book usually mentions one or two methods (the most common for that particular task) and then includes other methods in a tip.

  • Your Word screen might not look identical to the one used in this book’s figures. For instance, if you use the ruler, you see that. (Most of the figures in this book don’t show the ruler.) Don’t let these differences distract you; the figures might look different from what you see on your computer, but Word 2003 works the same way.

  • Your computer setup is most likely different from the one used in the book. Therefore, you will see different programs listed on your Start menu, different fonts in your font list, different folders and documents, and so on. Again, don’t be distracted by the differences.

How to Use This Book

This book is divided into six parts, each part focusing on a different theme. The book builds on the skills you need, starting with the basics of formatting and then moving to more complex topics such as templates and macros. You can read the book straight through, look up topics when you have a question, or browse through the contents, reading information that interests you. Here is a quick breakdown of the parts.

Part I, “Learning the Basics,” covers the essentials for creating and editing documents. Everything you need to know to create, edit, spell check, print, and apply basic formatting is in this section. Chapter 1 covers creating and saving documents and ways to get Help when you need it. Chapter 2 focuses on locating and opening documents. In Chapter 3, you learn editing techniques and ways to preview documents before printing. Chapter 4 covers basic formatting techniques and methods for working in the Reveal Formatting task pane. Chapter 5 explains how to use the writing tools.

Part II, “Making It Look Nice,” explains how to apply formatting to paragraphs (Chapter 6) and pages (Chapter 7). Chapter 8 covers the use of styles for consistency and flexibility when you format your documents.

Part III, “Organizing Information,” focuses on ways to organize information. Chapter 9 shows you how to use the Tables feature to organize and format information in columns. Chapter 10 shows you how to quickly create bulleted and numbered lists, as well as how to organize information in an outline format.

Part IV, “Adding Visuals,” explains how to add graphics and other elements to improve the appearance of your documents. Chapter 11 shows you how to add pictures, text boxes, and AutoShapes to your documents. Chapter 12 discusses working with data from other sources, including how to use Object Linking and Embedding (OLE) to link to information created in different applications.

Part V, “Automating Your Work,” covers the tools that you can use to automate repetitive tasks. In Chapter 13, you learn how to use the Merge feature to generate documents, such as form letters with envelopes and labels. Chapter 14 shows you how to use templates to automate the creation of frequently used documents. In Chapter 15, you learn how to use Word’s tools to collaborate on documents. Chapter 16 discusses how to create and play macros, which are capable of automating virtually every process in Word. In Chapter 17, you learn how to save documents in XML format and how to work with XML tags.

Part VI contains two chapters and two appendixes that are provided for you on the book’s Web site (www.quepublishing.com). Chapter 18 explains how to create and manipulate charts, diagrams, and equations. In Chapter 19, you learn how to create fill-in-the-blank forms complete with check boxes, drop-down lists, and text boxes. Appendix A explains how to recover from a system crash. In Appendix B, you learn how to download updates and how to install additional options for Word 2003. In the index, page numbers preceded by “PDF:” are for Chapters 18 and 19 and Appendixes A and B.

We hope you enjoy your Word learning experience!

Where to Find More Help

After you learn the concepts that are covered in this Absolute Beginner’s Guide, you may want to explore some of the more advanced features in the program. I highly recommend Que Publishing’s Special Edition Using Microsoft Office Word 2003 (ISBN: 0-7897-2958-X) by Bill Camarda for in-depth coverage of the same features that were covered in this book and additional coverage on features for intermediate and advanced users.

Word has an extensive built-in Help system and, for the first time, you can search for help topics and articles on Microsoft’s Office Web site, which is constantly being updated. Chapter 1, “Getting Comfortable with Word,” has information on using Word’s Help features.

Microsoft offers technical support to registered users of the program. See the Microsoft Help and Support page at http://support.microsoft.com/ for more information on telephone support and submitting a request for online help.

You can also get peer-to-peer support on the Microsoft Word newsgroups. On the Microsoft Help and Support Web page, click the Newsgroups tab for links to sub-scribe to the Word newsgroups (select Office and then Word). At present, there are 23 different newsgroups, divided into feature categories, not product versions.

Conventions Used in This Book

You will find cautions, tips, and notes scattered throughout this book. Don’t skip over them; they contain some important tidbits to help you along the way.


A tip is a piece of advice—a little trick, actually—that helps you use software or your computer more effectively. Tips can also help you maneuver around problems or limitations.


A caution tells you to beware of a potentially dangerous act or situation. In some cases, ignoring cautions could cause you significant problems, so pay particular attention to them!


A note is designed to provide information that is generally useful but not necessarily essential for what you’re doing at the moment. Some are similar to extended tips—interesting, but not essential.

There are some other helpful conventions in the book to make your learning experience as smooth as possible. Text that you are going to type looks like this: type a filename. Buttons you click, menu commands you select, keys you press, and other action-related items are in bold in the text to help you locate instructions as you are reading. New terms being defined in the text are in italic. The letter of a menu command, check box, button, or other interface element that is the Windows “hotkey” for that feature is underlined for those of you who prefer to stick with keyboard shortcuts rather than the mouse for navigating the interface. Keep these conventions in mind as you read through the text.

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