‘Tis the season in my Advanced Business Writing class for Word Bootcamp. Jeri, our instructional specialist and Word guru, leads students in learning the basic and not-so-basic features of Word that can make the students’ writing process easier and more efficient. By the time we are finished, we have reviewed the features under most tabs of the Word ribbon and even learned a few key commands.
Jeri has prepared a series of documents that students use to learn and practice. The topics and schedule look something like this:
- Using the ruler to align information, set indents, etc.
- Aligning with tabs. That is, instead of inserting two tabs to align information after the TO, FROM, DATE, and SUBJECT lines (which usually leads to too much space after the shorter headings), students insert one tab after each heading and use the ruler to align the information closer to the headings.
- Creating a table and formatting the cells.
- Converting text to a table and a table to text.
- Using key commands (CTRL + A, B, C, F, H, I, N, O, U, V, W, Y, Z; SHIFT + F3).
- Exploring Find and Replace (e.g., finding a word and replacing it with another, finding two spaces and replacing them with one, deleting extra paragraph breaks).
- Using the paint brush.
- Using clip art, smart art, and drawing tools.
- Working with bulleted, numbered, and multilevel lists.
- Using the Insert >>Object >>Text from File feature to combine multiple Word documents. (This is a great tool for students when they work on group writing projects and is much more efficient than copying and pasting content from one document into another.)
- Using Word styles.
- Modifying Word styles.
- Using Outline View to move text (rather than copying and pasting). If you have not tried this, I highly recommend it. It helps ensure that all text from one section moves where you want to go.
- Using the decimal tab to align numbers precisely on the decimal.
- Creating citations and a bibliography with Word’s References tool. This also includes showing students how to edit information when information is in a field.
- Managing the sources.xml file.
- Adjusting auto correct features.
(NOTE: By this point we have combined Jeri’s individual bootcamp documents into one, using Insert >>Object>>Text from File, and we have created a title page using some of the drawing tools. We use this document for Day 4.)
- Generating a table of contents and list of figures. As with creating citations and a bibliography, this includes a discussion of editing and updating information when information is in a field.
- Understanding the difference between page breaks and section breaks.
- Inserting section breaks and page breaks.
- Paginating the sections of a document so that the front matter uses lowercase Roman numerals and the body uses Arabic numerals.
This training is part of our formal report unit. Students love it. In fact, students frequently tell me that it is one of the most useful activities they have participated in during their college careers. Excel and PowerPoint receive a lot of attention in the business curriculum; Word seems to be something students are left to learn on their own. Unfortunately, many students do not seem to learn more beyond “open,” “save,” “print,” and basic formatting—which is unfortunate, given how many features of Word can help them be more efficient in their writing.
Do you incorporate technology training in your writing courses? If so, please share your experiences.