More than just a word processor.

Tips and tricks for creating educational tools with MS Word.


Bruce Engelhard
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Often we stop in our MS Word instruction at the point of writing a report or letter. In reality the teacher needs far more sophisticated techniques to create worksheets, tests and other classroom materials. Fortunately MS Word is a very powerful program; able to create documents far more complex then your basic business letter.

In this session I hope to cover the following topics:

  • a brief introduction to the drawing tools.
  • floating text boxes for labels and more.
  • using the to equation editor to make fractions
  • customizing the toolbar
  • places to get more help

  • Setting the Autoformat & AutoCorrect features.


    At times the power of MS Word can be a problem. For example have you ever noticed that Word tries to format or change your document in ways you don't want? This apparent desire to take control is due to Word's Autoformat and AutoCorrect features. The program tries to anticipate what we want and change our document accordingly. While the default setting might be fine for the average user they are usually not appropriate for the teacher who needs more control over the final output. The first task you need to perform is to set these features to reflect your own needs.

    Most teachers find the autoformat setting such as automatic numbering and capitalizing the first word of a sentence to make creating tests or word lists difficult. I would recommend that you uncheck these options and that you experiment with the other Autoformat options.

    On the TOOLS menu choose AutoCorrect:

    Choose the Second Tab
    AutoFormat As You Type

    Uncheck the Autofeatures so your screen

    resembles the screen to the right.

    Spend some times examining the various Automatic features. 1st is changed to 1st !

    One more change to make.

    Now Choose the second tab AutoCorrect

    Uncheck Capitalize first letter of sentences. This is the feature that made it impossible to write word lists.

    Notice the Replace Text as you type box:

    Word will insert the desired text (right side) when you type the keyword (left side). This feature can be used to automatically correct common misspelled words and to insert large amounts of text when you type in a few keystrokes.

    Spend some time checking out the default auto-replace words. Any you would like to add?

    TABs - A powerful tool for those with understanding.


    The generic tabs are set like the old typewriter - a left justified tab every half-inch.

    You can see the tabs since we have chosen show paragraph markings .

    Word has four types of tabs:

    Left justified, , right justified, , Center justified, , and Decimal Point justified , ,

    The box to the left of the ruler indicates the current tab. By clicking this box with your mouse to toggle through the four tabs. When you move your mouse pointer to a position on the ruler and click the mouse button the chosen tab is inserted. You can change the position of the tab by putting the pointer over the tab maker, holding the left button down and dragging to the new position. Tabs can be erased by dragging them off the ruler.

    The formatting on one line is automatically copied to the next line when you hit return. Once you get the formatting correct on the first line you have the same on the following lines.

    Note additional tab features can be accessed by choosing Tabs from the format menu.
    Check out the tab leaders really cool


    Creating Hanging Indents: A must for creating Quizzes and worksheets


    When creating worksheets we often what the first line of the question with question number to be to the left and each additional line to be indented. This can be accomplished by creating what is called a hanging indent. We first need to examine the parts of the hourglass like object to the left of the ruler. Move your mouse to the various parts of this object and you will discover that each part controls a different aspect of the line indentation.

    If you put the pointer on a triangle and hold the left button you can move the indent position.  When you move the rectangle you move the all the indents.

    To create a hanging indent. Move the lower triangle to the position where you want the wrapped lines to be indented.


    This hanging indent technique can be combined with an invisible table to make a word problem type test. (More on that later.)

    You can also try the bullets and numbering features by selecting them from the format bar or from the format menu. (So many possibilities ..... )

    Making a quick underline blank.(Wow tabs are neat)


    You can use the tab markers along with the underline feature to make fill-in blanks easily.
    Use tab makes to control the beginning and ending of the line and turn on and off the underlining as needed.

    Example: Put a tab at 1 inch, type Name, select underline, put a tab at 4 inches, hit the tab key.
    In the same way you can add additional blanks. (Remember to toggle the underline on and off as needed.

    An advantage of this method is that by moving the tabs you can easily move the lines. Since the formatting is automatically copied to the next line you can use this method to create matching tests.


    Aside - Copying format .

    Suppose you have the formatting of one paragraph just right. Can you copy this formatting to another paragraph? Of course! Put your insertion bar in the paragraph containing the formatting you want to copy. Choose the Format Painter (the yellow paintbrush). Move the brush to the new paragraph and click the mouse once. The formatting will be copied to the new paragraph

    Tables - An effective way to organize your work behind the scenes


    Tables can be used to organize information effectively. If you turn the borders of the tables off you can us tables to invisibly organize your document. Each box of the table (called a cell) can be formatted like a regular document. Using hanging indents you can make a nice word problem style test easily.

    Step One create a table:

    You can use the insert table button on the toolbar.

    Select the insert table icon and hold the button down.
    Holding the button down, slide down and to the right
    until the desired number of rows and columns are
    selected. Choose a 2 row by 3 column table for this example. When the mouse button is released the desired table is created

    If you move you pointer to the column line the pointer will change indicating that you are in the mode to change the column position to the right or to the left in a click and drag motion. Create a table and check out the many options under the Table menu on the tool bar.

    The table toolbar contains many additional options. Click to have the table toolbar appear.

    After you create the table you can format each cell with a hanging indent and insert your text. You then want to make the border invisible. Select the full table by moving the mouse to the left of the first row of the table until it changed to a white arrow. Click and hold the button down and your have selected the row. While holding down the button drag down until the whole table is selected.

    The easiest way to remove the borders is to click on the arrow to the right of the border icon on the table toolbar.

    Now select the no borders on the lower right of the menu.

    You will find more options by selecting the table and choosing Borders and Shading from the Format menu. The table options of word are extensive.

    Example of a invisible table

    1) A compact CD player costs $79.99. If state tax rate is 8%, what will be the total cost of the unit?

    2) John has 12 cups of flour. If he uses a cup for each batch of cookies. How many batches can he make?

    3) Find the area of the triangle.

    Notice that you can write fractions with word using the equation editor (problem 2) and use the drawing tools to make and label diagrams (problem 3). What you don't see is the 3 by 1 table holding the problems. The space below the problems could be enlarged for student work by inserting extra returns (enters) in one of the boxes.


    Did you know you can draw using MS Word??


    Introduction to the drawing tools.

    To show the drawing toolbar locate and click the drawing tool icon

    If you create complicated drawing you may find it helpful to group the various objects together as one object. Select Contents and Index from the HELP menu. Type in group and follow direction.


    Writing Fractions and equations with the Equation Editor built into Word.



    You can use the built in equation editor to write fractions & complicated mathematical expressions. Place your cursor in the location you want to insert the fraction. Choose insert object from the insert menu. When the insert menu appears locate & select Microsoft Equation Editor 3.0.  See next topic to create shortcut

    The equation editor toolbar will appear and a box will indicate where the fraction or expression will be entered. To insert a fraction click the fraction icon, and display the fraction options (see below). Select the type of fraction to be created.

    You will see a fraction box appear in the object box. You can now enter the values for your fraction. By pressing the TAB key you move to the next insertion position. Be sure to investigate the variety of symbols and options available in this handy editor.

    When finished simply click you mouse outside the object box and the fraction will be pasted into you document. Once entered you can edit the fraction by double clicking the fraction.

    Aside: If you don't find Microsoft Equation Editor in the Insert Object menu it may need to be installed on your computer. The standard installation does not include this editor. Insert and/or locate the Office 97 CD. Click the StartUp icon and choose Install/Remove button. The equation editor listed as Microsoft Tool. Choose Microsoft Tool, Click Change Options, Select Microsoft Equation Editor, Click OK and follow directions.

    Customizing the Toolbar.


    The toolbars in word give shortcuts to commonly used commands and options. Place the cursor on the toolbar and press the right click to display the toolbar menu. From this menu you can select which toolbars will be displayed. You can highlight the various toolbars to investigate some of the special shortcuts. If you hold the mouse pointer over the shortcut buttons a short description will appear. Generally you will want to display the Standard and Format toolbars.

    You can customize your toolbar to contain the shortcuts and commands that fit your work. In the following example we will place a shortcut to insert an equation into our document. Right click on the toolbar and select customize. You can select the toolbars to be displayed or even create new toolbars.

    Select the COMMANDS tab on the toolbar dialog box. Any command can be dragged onto the toolbar.

    Choose the Insert category and scroll to locate and highlight the Equation Editor. Drag the editor icon to the desired location.


    When you let go of the mouse the shortcut will be inserted.

    While in the Customize mode you can drag short cuts to and from the toolbars. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the wide variety of shortcuts you can move to the toolbars.


    Getting Help & Links


    Microsoft Word Help. The answer to many of the common questions and basic instructions and be found under the Microsoft Word help menu. From the Help menu choose Contents and Index. The help information can be accessed by using the Table of Contents, the Index or by using the find command.


    Microsoft Word Tutorial Sites

    Professor Al's Word 97 Page
    This is a great Tutorial site. It gives an introduction to WORD. Also hit HOME or go to for Professor Al's Home and links to other online tutorials

    IT Service-Advanced Word97
    This is a very good Tutorial on some of the advanced features of MS Word.

    Microsoft Educational Materials Site


    Using Word to Create Web Pages

    Spin a Web Page (Using MS Word) or

    You can check the Jamestown School site for updated links and helps

    For questions and help you can email me. 

    Bruce Engelhard
    Jamestown School




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