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Typing Your Paper

Tips for Working on the Computer

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The teacher requires you to write your paper on the computer, but you've never used a word processor before. Sound familiar? Here you'll find tips for using Microsoft Word, a guide for setting up your work station, and advice for saving and finding your work again.

1. Using Microsoft Word

You'll need to use a word processor to type your paper on the computer. Microsoft Word is one of the most commonly used programs of this kind. Once you start your computer you'll need to open Microsoft Word by double-clicking on the icon or selecting the program from a list.

2. Common Typing Problems

Did your words just disappear? There's nothing like typing away on a paper, only to find that you're not actually typing what you thought you were typing! There are several problems you can encounter with a keyboard that can drive you nuts. Especially if you're on a deadline. Don't panic! The solution is probably painless.

3. How to Double Space

Double spacing refers to the amount of space that shows between the individual lines of your paper. When a paper is "single spaced," there is very little white space between the typed lines, which means there is no room for marks or comments.

4. Adding Page Numbers to Your Paper

The process of adding page numbers to your paper is way more complicated than it should be. If you have a title page and you select "insert page numbers," the program will make it your first numbered page, and most teachers don't like this. Now the trouble starts. Time to back up and start thinking like the computer.

5. In Text Citations

When you quote from a source, you will always need to provide a citation that is created using a very specific format. The author and date are stated immediately after the cited material, or the author is named in the text and the date is parenthetically stated immediately after the cited material.

6. Inserting a Footnote

If you're writing a research paper, you might be required to use footnotes or endnotes. Formatting and numbering of the notes is automatic in Word, so you don’t have to worry about spacing and placement too much. Also, Microsoft Word will automatically re-number your notes if you delete one or you decide to insert one at a later time.

7. MLA Guide

Your teacher might require that your paper is formatted according to standards of MLA style, especially you are writing a paper for literature or English class. This picture gallery-type tutorial provides some sample pages and other advice.

8. Bibliography Makers

Citing your work is an essential part of research. Yet, for some students, it is frustrating and tedious work. There are many interactive web tools designed to assist students when it comes to creating citations. For most of the tools, you simply fill out a form to provide the necessary information and select your preferred style. The bibliography maker will generate a formatted citation. You can copy and paste the entry into your bibliography.

9. Creating a Table of Contents

Many students try to create a table of contents manually, without using the built-in process in Microsoft Word. They quickly give up out of frustration. The spacing never comes out quite right. But there is a simple fix! When you follow these steps, this is a simple process that takes a few moments, and it makes a world of difference in the look of your paper.

10. Be Mindful of Repetitive Stress

After you've typed for awhile you may notice that your neck, back, or hands are beginning to ache. This means that your computer setup is not ergonomically correct. It's easy to fix a computer setup that can damage your body, so be sure you make adjustments at the first sign of discomfort.
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