Excel and MS Word as Learning Aids NK

Word Processing techniques

 These are described in the order in which they will be needed.

Some of these will be new to all except the most experienced Word users.

None of them are difficult to master


“Missing” Buttons

At the end of each toolbar there is a small icon containing >> and a small triangle.      This gives you More Buttons.  If you do not see any button I describe then click on  . Using a button brings it into the main toolbar.


I use the following buttons in the Formatting Toolbar



I use the following buttons in the Standard Toolbar



 is not normally on the toolbar but I use it so often that I customised the toolbar to include it.

  • Click More Buttons   on the Standard Toolbar (the one which already contains the icons to open, close and save files)

  • Click Add or Remove Buttons | Customize

  • Select the Commands Tab.

  • Under the file category you will find Save As…

  • Click and drag the command to the toolbar and drop it next to the Save icon. 


While you are customising that toolbar you might like to add a couple more buttons.  I like to have a Close All Button. Unfortunately the supplied icon for Close All is the same as the icon for Close, but it takes only a couple of minutes to use Modify Selection and Edit Button Image to change the image.  I have changed the dull brown to yellow and inserted a Blue A  


Save As

 The easiest way to copy a document is to open it and then use “Save As” to give it a new name.  We usually want to immediately start working with the new document. With this technique the document is open and ready for us to use it.

You can use the menu commands

          File | Save As | change the file name | Save


Save As is used so often that I have included it in my toolbar.


Select word

 Double clicking is the easiest way to select a single word.




Ctrl + B or click on the B icon   


Format Painter   


This icon looks like a paintbrush and is normally found in the Standard Toolbar.  If you cannot see it click on the “More Buttons” down arrow at the end of the toolbar, and you should find it.  After you have used it once you will find that it shows in the toolbar.


Double click on a word whose format you want to copy (bold, or a yellow rectangle     this).

Double click on the Format painter.  The mouse pointer will change to show the paintbrush.

Click on the words you want to change.

Click and drag to change blocks of text.


Press Esc to stop Format Painting


If you only want to use Format Painter once, perhaps to correct an error, then single click on the Format Painter icon.


The Microsoft Office Quiz on the Format Painter is at http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/assistance/QZ012109141033.aspx













When a cloze (missing word) exercise is created the teacher may wish to put the clozed words in a table.


Hint: It is helpful to always have a blank line before and after a table, so create the blank lines before inserting the table.


To insert a table either use the icon in the standard toolbar  or use the menu commands Table | Insert Table.


When creating most tables, one normally only tries to get the number of columns correct. Tabbing from the last cell will create a new row.

We will want to fill the cells in a random order so it is worthwhile deciding at the start how many rows and columns are needed.


To center all the cells move the mouse to the top of the top left cell.  When it changes to a small dark arrow drag it to select all the columns.

Click on the Center icon  in the formatting toolbar.  You may have to go to More Buttons to find this icon.


Copy and Paste

People who use the mouse in their right hand will find it easiest use Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V to copy and paste, while they use the mouse to select words and set the insertion point..

Copy and paste will be used to move words into the table.

One Copy and several Pastes will be used to set up the document containing the ________s.

Font Color  

This button contains A with a coloured underline and a small down arrow.

If you don’t see it, look in More Buttons at the end of the Formatting toolbar.

When setting up a hidden words worksheet, select Yellow for the font colour.

When doing an exercise, select “Automatic” or black to reveal the word; select yellow when you want to hide a word.


Once you have set the icon to show the correct colour, to use it

Double click a word

Single click the icon.


The word will remain selected, so, when you want to hide a word use the Font Colour button before you use the Highlight button.



 This button is very like the font color button except that the A is replaced by a pen.

It may also be hidden in the “More Buttons”

Set it to yellow.

To use it, highlight the text and click the icon.

The text gets de-selected so use it after the Font Color button.


When actually creating a text with lots of hidden words the technicque will be

Select / Font color / Highlight / Select hidden word / double click Format Painter / click remaining words / Esc.


Checking using Compare Documnets

 Open a document which contains the correct information

Click on Tools | Track Changes | Compare Documents

Select the document containing the student’s work.

All discrepancies will be shown in in pincpink

The errors will contain a strike-through.

The correct word will be underlined.


This process changes the source document, so we always try to create a copy of the master document before checking.

If one has accidentally used the only copy of the master document for checking, then Closing it without saving changes will rescue the disaster.


Select All

Ctrl + A will select the whole document.

This will be needed to re-create a master document if the master is accidentally overwritten.

A sub-master document will contain the same text as the master document but with certain words in bold.

  • Open a sub master document | Select all | click the Bold button until the whole text is not bold
  • clear the contents of the table and
  • save as a master document to recreate the master document.


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