Using Microsoft Word 2003 to Write a Paper

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Getting Started

Writing a paper
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This tutorial provides basic advice and procedure for writing a paper with Microsoft Word 2003. 

To begin your writing assignment, open the Microsoft Word program. The screen that appears is actually a blank document. It is up to you to turn this blank page into your own work.

You can begin typing your paper when you see a blinking cursor on the white area of the blank document. If the blinking cursor does not appear automatically, simply click on the area on the top left of the blank page to make it appear.

Start typing your paper.

At the top of the page, you should see a taskbar with formatting codes. You will use these codes to edit your work.

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Typing the Paper

The format is actually the design of the paper or the rules that determine the layout. Spacing, pagination, placement of title, the use of a title page, the use of footnotes, these are all elements of the format. Your teacher will tell you what she requires or prefers in the layout.

The margins of your paper will be set automatically by the Word program. The program provides for the typical one-inch margin on the sides and on the top and bottom of your paper.

If you are using MLA form (typical for most high school assignments), your paper will not need a title page unless your teacher asks for one.

Your teacher will probably require your paper to be double-spaced. To establish double spacing, go to FORMAT, then select PARAGRAPH, then a box will pop up. Under the area called LINE SPACING, select DOUBLE.

At the top left margin of the first page, type your name, the instructor's name, your course, and the date. Double space between these lines.

To center the title, first, type it out. Then highlight the entire title.

Click on FORMAT at the top of the page. Select PARAGRAPH from the list, and a box will appear. Select CENTER from the box entitled ALIGNMENT. Then select OKAY.

Double space after your title to begin typing your text. You may need to adjust your ALIGNMENT back to LEFT (instead of centered, like your title).

To indent your first line, use the TAB button. At the end of a paragraph, hit the ENTER button to return to a new line.

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Adding Footnotes

As you type your paper, you may need to place a footnote at certain places to provide a citation for your information.

To create a footnote:

  • Place the cursor in the place where you want the number to appear.
  • Select INSERT from the toolbar. Then select REFERENCE and FOOTNOTE. A box will appear with several choices for your footnote. Unless you want a format other than the standard 1,2,3 numbered notes that appear at the bottom of the pages, you don’t need to make any adjustments. Select OKAY.
  • The cursor jumps to the bottom of the page where a note has been created. Type in your information. You can format the note right away by adding bold or italicized text, or go back to it later and edit.
  • Return your cursor to the text by pointing and clicking your mouse. Continue typing your paper.

You can move footnotes around by cutting and pasting the numbers. The order will change automatically.

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Editing Pages

It may be necessary to stop your text in the middle of a page and start fresh on a new page. This happens when you end one chapter and begin another, for instance.

To do this, you will create a page break.

  • Select INSERT, BREAK

The cursor will jump to the next page. To insert page numbers in your paper:

  • A box will appear to offer choices as to placement. Select your choice (top of page or bottom, etc.).
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Creating a Bibliography

If you don't want the bibliography to contain a page number, simply open a new document and start with a blank page.

Bibliographical citations are usually written in a hanging indent style. This means that the first line of each citation is not indented, but subsequent lines of each citation are indented.

To create this type of style:

  • Type your citations.
  • Place your cursor at the beginning line of a citation.
  • In the field entitled INDENTATIONS, select SPECIAL, HANGING.
  • Repeat this for each individual citation.
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Your Citation
Fleming, Grace. "Using Microsoft Word 2003 to Write a Paper." ThoughtCo, Sep. 26, 2017, Fleming, Grace. (2017, September 26). Using Microsoft Word 2003 to Write a Paper. Retrieved from Fleming, Grace. "Using Microsoft Word 2003 to Write a Paper." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 20, 2018).