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Welcome to Better Word Processing!

Welcome to our course on Word Processing skills. The purpose of this course is to introduce you to a new way to think about how you structure and share words, ideas, files, documents and other forms of information.

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Whether you have used a Chromebook to create Google Docs or a Windows computer to create MS Word Docs, or an Apple computer to create Apple Pages and Adobe PDF docs or a Linux computer to create Libre Writer docs – or even if you have had no formal training at all in any of these skills – this course is intended to give you a better understanding and more control over how you create and format documents.

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One of the goals of this course is on giving you a better understanding of how to use the tools in Microsoft Word to format your documents. But in addition to MS Word, we will also cover two additional and increasingly popular word processing programs – Google Docs and LibreOffice Writer.

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We start with Microsoft Word because it is currently the most common Word Processing tool. Most employers expect that their employees will know how to use Microsoft Word and currently, the most common way documents are shared is using the Microsoft Word file format. But in addition to covering the capabilities of Microsoft Word, we will cover some of the limitations and drawbacks of MS Word. Perhaps the biggest concern about MS Word is that Word documents are one of the most common vectors used by hackers to transmit ransomware. Windows ransomware cost businesses, schools and government agencies literally billions of dollars every year. https://gbhackers.com/hackers-launching-weaponized-word-document-to-push-emotet-malware-qakbot-malware/

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Sadly, the Windows Ransomware problem is only getting worse. A report published in early 2020 found that in 2019 113 state and local government agencies in the US suffered Windows ransomware attacks. In addition, 1,233 public schools, colleges and universities were crippled by Windows ransomware. All of these attacks cost tax payers about $7.5 billion dollars in 2019 – and this does not include the billions of dollars in damage from Windows ransomware attacks on businesses and individuals. https://blog.emsisoft.com/en/34822/the-state-of-ransomware-in-the-us-report-and-statistics-2019/

A second concern is that MS Word formatting can create problems when MS Word documents are copied and pasted into Web Pages. Special web editors need to be used to strip out MS Word formatting. But stripping can alter the appearance of your web pages. Even worse, the same MS Word hacking tools used to attack computers can be used to infect websites.

A third concern is that MS Word lacks several important tools used to format and create extremely complex documents such as 100 page reports and 400 page books. The most glaring short coming is that MS Word lacks Page Styles. This makes it difficult to precisely control the appearance of different kinds of pages in your book or report.

We therefore cover how to use a free and more powerful word processing tool called LibreOffice Writer to create complex documents. LO Writer is more secure than MS Word, more compatible for posting content on web pages and more useful for creating complex documents like books which often use a variety of different page styles. LO Writer comes in versions that work on all types of computers from Windows to Apple and Linux computers. And it can even be used to create and edit MS Word documents and Adobe PDF documents! But since most people, most schools and especially most employers are not aware of the benefits of LO Writer, it is important to be familiar with MS Word.

Another increasingly common Word Processing alternative to MS Word is Google Docs. Google Docs is a free and simple Word Processing program that can access, edit and share both MS Word documents and LibreOffice Writer documents.  Ever since the introduction of very low priced Google Chromebooks in our public schools, many students have become more familiar with Google Docs and Google Drive than they are with MS Word. While Google Docs went a long way towards ending the MS Office Word Processor Monopoly, Google Docs lacks many of the word processing tools available on MS Word and LibreOffice Writer.

 Even if you have used MS Word for years, we hope that this course will give you a much more complete picture of how to use the Word Processing tools inside of MS Word to create and edit documents – as well as expanding your Toolbox to include tools for sharing and converting documents between MS Word and other word processors such as Google Docs and LibreOffice.

Why Word Processing Skills are Important
We are living in a very exciting time in human history. One of the most important capabilities of humans is the ability to use language to share complex ideas. Until recently, the most common way to share complex ideas was through books and or newspapers. Both were created using a printing press. Printing presses in turn were owned by a small number of people called book and newspaper publishers. These few people controlled who shared information and what information was shared. They literally controlled what most of us think and how we think about the world we live in. They controlled not only our view about the present but our view about the past and our view about the future.

The advert of the personal computer in the 1980s and the Internet in the 1990s changed all of this. Suddenly, all of us now have the ability to rapidly and economically create, publish and share our own ideas through websites and blogs. We can publish our own Newsletters and Newspapers through Free Email Publishing Platforms. We can even publish our own books through Instant On Demand Book Publishing Services.

 

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These new tools are all part of the ongoing Information Revolution. Word Processors and Word Processing Skills are the foundation of this Information Sharing Evolution.

What is Different About this Book and Course
This book and course is different from most other Word Processing books and courses in at least 9 important ways:

#1 Our goal is helping you learn better word processing skills.

#2 We explain real document creation and sharing security.

#3 Our course is a more beginner friendly course.

#4 Our emphasis is on basic foundational skills.

#5 We use many more images to assist visual learners.

#6 We pay more attention to the underlying structure of documents and the order in which Word Processing Skills are presented.

#7 We provide many examples of better word processing methods such as how to create feature boxes.

#8 We focus on the role page layout, paragraph styles, text appearance and images play in the readability of documents.

#9 We introduce a new concept and word processing workflow called the Universal Source Document.

Here is a brief explanation of each of these 9 differences.

#1 Our goal is helping you learn better word processing skills.
First, our goal is to help you learn not only MS Word skills but also better word processing skills. Most MS Word books and courses are based on the out-dated and incorrect assumption that MS Word is the only word processing tool that folks are likely to encounter in their business document writing career. This assumption may have been true 20 years ago. But in recent years, the Windows operating system has been subjected to a series of ever more expensive and damaging Ransomware attacks inflicted by hackers taking advantage of various security holes in Windows programs – including security problems with MS Writer documents. Damage from Windows ransomware has caused many businesses to move to more secure word processing programs such as Google Docs or LibreOffice Writer for their word processing tasks.

In addition, Microsoft has moved away from the one time purchase model to a new model of renting Microsoft programs by the month and by the person or employee. Paying ten dollars per month per person may not seem like a big deal. But it comes to $120 per year and more than one thousand dollars over a 10 year period. And if your small business has 10 employees, you could be paying more than one thousand dollars per year just to use MS Word.

By comparison, both Google Docs and LibreOffice Writer are completely free as well as more secure. In response to these security and cost concerns, many businesses rely heavily on Google Drive and Google Docs to create and share their documents. Other businesses, towns and even entire nations have moved to using LibreOffice Writer to create and share documents. Our course and book therefore include much more information on how to share MS Word documents with other word processing tools including Google Docs and LibreOffice Writer.

#2 We explain real document creation and sharing security.
Most books and courses caution students about the dangers of copying or downloading text, images and documents from the Internet. They then advise their readers to backup their files in their file manager, use virus protection tools and install the latest Windows updates. This is extremely naive and outdated advice.

The truth is that hackers often wait for months or even years before locking up all of your files and demanding a ransom payment to get them back. So backing up your files might help. But then again, it might not. Hackers also use tools which are often not caught by virus protection programs. They also use tools that are often not stopped by Windows updates. As a result, the world of document creation and sharing has become a Hacker Heaven.

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Ironically, schools and colleges, who supposedly should be teaching their students how to avoid ransomware attacks, have been one of the most common victims of ransomware. According to the Cybersecurity Resource Center, there have been 533 cyber incidents involving school districts since January 2016. This map does not include all of the colleges and universities that have been hit with ransomware attacks. https://k12cybersecure.com/map/

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Clearly past advice on document security has not be adequate. In this course, we explain the steps you should take to protect your documents. For example, in our section on copying and pasting documents, we explain why you should select “Paste as Plain Text” rather than just “Paste” when pasting text into your document. We explain how to safely clean up images before pasting them into your documents. We also cover how to safely convert and share documents with others in our section on document sharing.

 

#3 Our course is a more Beginner Friendly Course
We understand that Word Processing can seem like a daunting and almost impossible skill to master.

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Word processing can be a complex and challenging subject for beginners. But this does not mean it needs to be impossible to understand and master. The problem with a lot of word processing books and courses is that they were not written or designed by professional teachers who understand how humans learn. Instead, they were written by graphic design specialists who live in the word processing world on a daily basis. This causes them to focus on the trees and forget that most people live in the forest.

In this course, we not only break down complex skills into simpler components. We also show you how to change your user interface so there are fewer components for you to be distracted by. Rather than leaving you with a bewildering and endless variety of word processing options, we explain why some options are better than others.

 

#4 Our emphasis is on basis foundational skills.
We are more focused on helping you learn the most common, basic and important word processing skills. These basic foundational skills include Page Layout, Paragraph Layout, Text Appearance and Image Layout.

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We believe it is better to learn a few skills well than a lot of skills poorly. Many Word Processing books and courses skip over basic skills like page, text and paragraph formatting and move almost immediately into creating complex documents like reports books and newsletters. This can be overwhelming to a student who may not even know how to create a new document and save it in a folder. We therefore spend much more time on Word Processing basics than most books – including how to create and save a new document with MS Word, Google Docs and Libre Writer.

#5 We use many more images to assist visual learners.
We use many more images and screen shots that most Word Processing books and courses - . because many learners are visually oriented. They learn better from looking at images than from reading words. Because of the overlooked importance of images in modern documents, we also place a greater focus on image design and layout that most word processing books and courses.

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#6 We pay more attention to the order in which Word Processing Skills are presented.
Our course is more structured than most courses and books on MS Word. While many books claim to be a “Step by Step” approach to learning word processing, most of them skip several important steps and few of them actually show you all of the needed steps for producing effective documents. We believe that the order in which topics are covered is as important as what topics are covered.

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We view learning how to process words in documents as a building block approach much like learning math. A problem with many MS Word courses and books is they move right into Algebra and Geometry – but then fail to provide students with a proper foundation of skills in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. We think it is better to learn skills in a sequence of simple to complex as this will better build a students sense of self confidence as well as a better understanding of how various word processing components fit together.

#7 We provide many examples of better word processing methods such as how to create feature boxes.

One of the many ways to create better documents is to focus not only on better text structure and more images but to also include graphical elements like feature boxes and tables. We explain how to create your own custom tables and how to create feature boxes using either custom tables or custom paragraph styles. Below is an example of one of the many types of custom feature boxed we explain how to create in this course:

EXAMPLE
This is an example of a feature box created with a custom paragraph style. To get this to display well on a web page or Ebook, you need to add the same custom paragraph style to your website or Ebook style sheet.

Here is a similar feature box created with a Table:


Example

This is an example of a Feature Box created from a table with one row and two columns. The benefit of using tables for feature boxes is that table formatting can transfer easily to web pages or Ebooks!

 

#8 We focus on the role page layout, paragraph styles, text appearance and images play in the readability of documents.

Every aspect of word processing has an effect on the readability of your documents. The easier it is for readers to read your documents, the more effective your documents will be. But modern documents need to readable in a variety of different contexts. Gone are the days when your document will only be read in printed form on an standard letter sized page.

Modern documents are much more likely to be read on a computer monitor or mobile phone than on a printed page. We explain how the new world of document sharing affects the readability of documents.

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#9 We introduce a new concept and word processing workflow called the Universal Source Document.
We introduce a new process in document creation we call the Universal Source document. In the past, complex documents were only created, formatted and structured for readability in a printed book. However, today, information is more likely to be shared in an online or electronic platform such as a website, an Ebook, a PDF document or an online course as it is to be read in a traditional printed book. The current and very cumbersome information sharing process is to change the formatting or appearance of the text each time you change the platform that the document is shared on.

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Our goal is to change the way information is shared so the same formatting is used regardless of the platform the information is shared on.

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We therefore make formatting recommendations throughout this book as course with this ultimate goal in mind.

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Who this course is for
Who would want to take a course that covers all three major Word Processing tools? There are several groups of people who would be interested in and benefit from this more comprehensive approach to Word Processing skills.

The first group are are the millions of students who have attended public schools in recent years after the wildly successful introduction of Google Chromebooks. It is likely that most of these students are very familiar with how to use Google Docs – but haven’t a clue as to how to use Microsoft Word or LibreOffice Writer. These students may now be faced with college instructors insisting on documents that need to be done in a full Word Processing program. Our course will help students make the transition from Google Docs to MS Word and or LO Writer.

The second group are survivors of Windows Ransomware looking for a more secure alternative to MS Word. Our course can help you successful migrate your documents to either Google Docs or LO Writer.

The third group are folks wanting to improve their resumes in order to get a better job. With the increase in Windows ransomware, many employees are looking for employees with more comprehensive Word Processing skills and experience. Adding the fact that you are familiar with all three major Word Processors may be the inside tip you need to land your next job.

The fourth group are Windows 7 refugees – who have found that their old computer does not work with Windows 10 and who may not have the money to by a new computer. Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 in January 2020. The solution is to replace Windows 7 with Linux Mint and start using LO Writer on your former Windows 7 computer.

The fifth group are bloggers and other folks wanting to post a lot of content on web pages and have learned that copying and pasting directly from an MS Word document can crash their websites. Thankfully, LO Writer is much more compatible with the HTML and CSS used to create web pages.

The sixth group are authors who have been abandoned by publishers such as Pearson and are now looking for a way that they can format and publish their own books. Book formatting can be done in MS Word. But it can be done much easier in LO Writer. We show you both ways in this course so you can see and understand the differences for yourself.

The seventh group are teachers and instructors at high schools and colleges looking to offer students a more modern course in Word Processing. Instead of teaching your students the Word Processing skills and tools of the past, why not provide them with the Word Processing skills of the future. This book and course have been designed to be taught during the typical 12 week quarter. All instructors are welcome to teach it!

 

Better Word Processing Course Outline
This course is divided into three parts. The first part is 4 chapters covering essential skills for formatting simple documents. The second part is 4 chapters covering skills needed to complete your documents.

The third part is 4 chapters covering more word processing skills occasionally needed to create more complex documents.

Part 1 Creating Simple Documents

1 Word Processing Terms and Functions
2 Comparing Three Common Word Processing Programs
3 Page Layout Styles
4 Custom Paragraph Styles

Part 2 Completing Your Document
5 Formatting Text
6 Adding Images
7 Formatting Tables, Lists and Feature Boxes
8 Finishing, Converting and Sharing Documents

Part 2 Creating Complex Documents
9 Creating and Using Templates
10 Using Headings to Generate a Table of Contents
11 How to Create Graphs and Charts
12 Options for Using Windows 10 & Universal Source Documents

9 Real World Word Processing Project Options
In addition to creating a series of simple practice documents, you can create one or more commonly used “real world” documents. These project options include:
1. Write a Business Letter
2. Create a Personal Resume
3. Create a Fundraising Flier
4. Create a Non-profit or Political Campaign Brochure
5. Create a News Report
6. Create a Business Plan
7. Create a Web Page.
8. Create a Book
9. Propose your own project.

Adapting this course to fit your needs
Word processing is one of the main functions that people use computers for and is possibly even one of your main business and life activities. We recognize that students come to this course with a wide range of backgrounds and interests in Word Processing. Some folks may already have a great deal of experience with all three of the most common word processing programs. Others may have almost no experience with any of these programs. Some folks are only interested in learning the most basic skills for simple documents while others may want to publish their own book or start their own business.

As always, we look forward to your questions, comments and suggestions.

Regards,

David Spring M. Ed.

 

This book is dedicated to the teachers of the world…

To be a teacher is to share knowledge with others – often at great personal sacrifice – so that all of us can have a better future.

Our goal in writing this book is to help you learn how to use the latest free technology to share knowledge with your students in a variety of formats – all of which are under your control.

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The days of using only a simple chalk board to share knowledge with your students may be over. But the role of the teacher in helping students learn is just beginning.

 

What’s Next?
Now that you know more about what our course in Better Word Processing is all about, in our first chapter we will review some of the most important Word Processing Terms and Functions.

Let’s get started!