collaborating Favorite tips for using word processors

Many writers rely on a desktop word processor as their standby for creating documents quickly.

While we have a variety of tools to support different writing needs, much of everyday technical and professional writing is done in a word processor. A word processor provides immediate flexibility to create documentation, capture user stories, or define a process. Here are the top four articles that our community shared about using a word processor in technical and professional writing:

5 things you didn't know about styles in your word processor

Seth Kenlon shared this excellent article to highlight styles, a powerful feature in most desktop word processors. Rather than rely on direct formatting like ctrl-b to make text bold, or ctrl-i to emphasize text with italics type, Seth encourages writers to instead adopt styles. Seth identifies 5 things that you can do with styles in your word processor for your next writing task.

Styles in Microsoft Word

Every mature word processor supports separating appearance from content using styles. Robin Bland also shared an article about how to leverage styles in Microsoft Word, the ever-present word processor for Windows and Mac. Applying styles throughout a document makes it a snap to maintain a consistent look and feel across the entire document. Use styles instead of direct formatting, and you can adjust the style definition at a later timeā€”and everything will get updated to use the same style.

Paragraph spacing in Microsoft Word

Robin also shared this article about how to adjust paragraph spacing in Microsoft Word. Don't just hit the Enter key to add vertical spacing, use paragraph spacing instead. With paragraph spacing, writers can control the vertical spacing above and below a paragraph, and the horizontal spacing to the left and right of a paragraph. Robin uses an example of a formal transmittal letter or memo to demonstrate how to set both vertical and horizontal spacing.

Git for writing documentation

"Word processing" doesn't always mean a classic desktop word processor like Word or LibreOffice; technical writers can also use tools like Git to create documentation. Ben Cotton shares the basics of interacting with Git repositories from the command line. This is targeted explicitly at beginning Git users, and so does not include much in the way of choices or options. It's intended to give opinionated guidance, but there are other possible workflows. As you get more familiar with Git, you may find other ways that work best for you.