Home > Articles

Entering Text and Moving Around

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

Typing text is what word processing is all about. You can, in fact, create a perfectly respectable document by typing alone. Everything else—all of the formatting that you can apply—is icing on the cake. In this chapter, you first learn the basic principles of typing in a word processing program. After you know how to get text onto the page, you then practice moving around the document so that you can edit the text and apply formatting.

Typing Text

When you start Word, it gives you a blank document to let you start typing right away. Word makes some assumptions about how the document will look, so you don't need to worry about formatting at all unless you want to change the default settings. Here are the most important ones:

  • 8 1/2- by 11-inch paper

  • 1-inch margins on the top and bottom of the page, and 1 1/4-inch margins on the left and right sides of the page

  • Single spacing

  • Times New Roman, 12-point font

Throughout the remaining chapters about Word, you learn how to change these formatting options. For now, you can just focus on typing.

Typing Paragraphs and Creating Blank Lines

The key to having a happy typing experience is knowing when to press Enter. Follow these two rules for typing paragraphs of text:

  • When your text reaches the right margin, just continue typing. When Word can't fit any more text on the line, it automatically wraps the text to the next line for you. You should not press Enter at the ends of the lines within a paragraph.

  • When you reach the end of the paragraph, you do need to press Enter. This brings the insertion point (the cursor) down to the next line.

Figure 3.1 illustrates these two rules.

Figure 3.1Figure 3.1 Do not press Enter within a paragraph. Do press Enter at the end of the paragraph.


If you do accidentally press Enter at the end of lines within a paragraph, your line breaks go haywire as soon as you add or delete any text. If your paragraph has some lines that are much shorter than they should be (a telltale sign that you pressed Enter within the paragraph), follow the instructions in "Seeing Your Paragraph, Tab, and Space Marks" later in this chapter to hunt down the offending paragraph marks and delete them.


When you press Enter, you actually insert a hidden character called a paragraph mark, which tells Word to end the paragraph. Word's definition of a paragraph may be a little broader than yours. It considers a paragraph to be any amount of text that ends with a paragraph mark. So as far as Word is concerned, blank lines and short lines of text—such as headings or the lines in an address block—are separate paragraphs.

To create blank lines between your paragraphs, press Enter twice between each paragraph, once to end the paragraph you just typed and once to create the blank line. If you need several blank lines, just continue pressing Enter. If you press Enter too many times and need to delete a blank line, press the Backspace key. You'll learn much more about deleting in Chapter 4, "Managing Documents and Revising Text."

Figure 3.2 illustrates when to press Enter to create short lines of text and blank lines.

Figure 3.2Figure 3.2 Press Enter to end short paragraphs and create blank lines.


In Chapter 6's "Paragraph Spacing" section, you'll learn how to automatically add a blank line after each paragraph without pressing Enter a second time.

As you type, you may see an occasional red or green wavy line under your text. These lines indicate possible spelling or grammatical errors. You'll learn how to use them (and hide them if they bother you) in Chapter 8, "Correcting Documents and Using Columns and Tables."

Inserting Tabs

Word gives you default tab stops every one-half inch across the horizontal ruler. (If you don't see your rulers, choose View, Ruler.) Each time you press the Tab key, the insertion point jumps out to the next tab stop. Any text to the right of the insertion point moves along with it. Figure 3.3 shows the beginning of a memo in which the Tab key was pressed after the labels To:, From:, Date: and Re: to line up the text at the half-inch mark on the horizontal ruler.

Figure 3.3Figure 3.3 Press the Tab key to push text out to the next tab stop.

If you press the Tab key too many times, press the Backspace key to delete the extra tabs.

You can also press the Tab key at the beginning of a paragraph to indent the first line by one-half inch. Figure 3.4 shows a document whose paragraphs are indented in this way.


By default, when you press Tab at the beginning of a paragraph, Word sets a first-line indent for the paragraph. You'll learn much more about indentation in Chapter 6. What's important to understand now is that if Word applies this formatting, then when you press Enter at the end of the paragraph, Word automatically indents the next paragraph for you. If this default behavior has been turned off, just press Tab at the beginning of each paragraph.

Seeing Your Paragraph, Tab, and Space Marks

As you're typing your document, you may occasionally want to check whether you accidentally pressed Enter at the end of a line within a paragraph, or pressed Enter too many times between paragraphs. Or, maybe you think you may have pressed the Tab key one time too many, or typed an extra space between two words. You can use Word's Show/Hide feature to solve these mysteries. To turn it on, click the Show/Hide button on the Formatting toolbar (or press Ctrl+Shift+*). This is a toggle button, meaning that you click it once to turn it on, and again when you want to turn it off (see Figure 3.5).

The Show/Hide feature uses the paragraph mark symbol to indicate you where you pressed Enter, a right arrow to show where you pressed the Tab key, and a dot to mark where you pressed the Spacebar.

Figure 3.4Figure 3.4 Press the Tab key at the beginning of each paragraph to indent the first line.

Figure 3.5Figure 3.5 The Show/Hide feature lets you see your paragraph, tab, and space marks.

Figure 3.5 shows a document that has an errant paragraph, tab, and space mark. The user accidentally pressed the Tab key a second time on the From: line, typed an extra space between the words designating and Fridays, and pressed Enter at the end of a line within a paragraph.

To delete any of these hidden characters, click immediately to the left of the character and press the Delete key. Figure 3.6 shows the same document after these three problems were fixed.


Your document looks cluttered when Show/Hide is enabled, so you may want to turn it on just long enough to investigate and fix a mistake relating to hidden characters, and then turn it off.

Figure 3.6Figure 3.6 The extra paragraph, tab, and space marks have been deleted.

Typing onto the Next Page

As you're typing, Word calculates how many lines fit on a page. When the page you're on is full, Word automatically inserts a page break and starts another page. Figure 3.7 shows the break between two pages of text, as it appears in Print Layout view. (You'll learn about views in Chapter 5, "Viewing and Printing Your Documents.")

Figure 3.7Figure 3.7 Word breaks pages for you.


As you add or delete text, Word adjusts the page break so that it is always in the right place. This type of "adjustable" page break is called a soft page break (or automatic page break). There may be times when you need to break a page even though it is not yet full. For example, you might want to start the next section of a report on a new page, or create a title page. To do this, you have to insert a hard page break (or manual page break). You'll learn how to do this in Chapter 6.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account