Word Processing Skills and Understanding

Word Processing Skills and Understanding (by Phil Bagge @baggiepr) Main Digital Literacy Planning

Remember if I am teaching at your school and you are stuck for ideas if you email me a copy of your planning and indicate which skills you need to cover I will come up with activity ideas. Please give me a weeks’ notice for this.

KS = Key Skills which are useful in any Microsoft Office product



Skill or Understanding

Skill or Understanding Expanded

Examples and Resource Links

Possible Activities

Possible Activities

Can type using capitals and lowercase text. Understands how to change the case using caps lock or temporarily change it using shift.

Avoiding capitalising whole word or phrases as in web etiquette this can be seen as shouting

Show pupils how to create capitals you could combine this with highlighting to modify words that need capitals

Although I am a great believer in integrating every area of digital literacy. However these basic key skills are often best first taught over a couple of sessions simply where the teacher demonstrates and then pupils have a short period to try it themselves. Activities need to be very basic and accessible for pupils in a few minutes.

Be prepared to revisit these key skills in subsequent weeks alongside other more advanced skills.

Understands that symbols on the top of a key can be accessed by holding down shift

If pupils are using laptops then mentioning that the FN button will access other keyboard items

Pupils could add speech marks to text or £ to amounts

Knows how to delete both ways using the backspace and delete keys and can micro move the cursor using the keyboard arrow keys

Pupils with poor mouse control often need the arrow keys to delete in the right place

Add extra obvious mistakes to a short paragraph of text. Pupils have to remove these.

Know how to undo and redo

Everyone makes mistakes, being able to restore work to an earlier period is crucial to enjoying using a word-processor


Show pupils how this works at the end of a session so they can use the drop down menu

Can use save and save as understanding that it is best to save sequential versions of a document so you can go back to previous versions.

Understanding that you can save versions of a document by adding a sequential number to the save such as French trip2. Also that you can type straight over the highlighted text in the save box.
I often find that this needs repeating lots of times before all the class understand it. Fortunately you save work most lessons

Give pupils a simple task and every time you shout save they have to save incrementally. Go round and check they are adding a new number every time

Can highlight text by left clicking and dragging or left clicking to the left of the text which highlights the whole line or double clicking on a word which highlights a single word


A pre-prepared text where pupils are given the task of creating as many text variations in ten minutes.

Then draw the class together and point out how difficult this is to read.

Reformat the text to follow clear style rules and get them to do the same

Can make text bold, italic or underline it and know when to use these

Using Bold for titles, subtitles or key words and phrases only. Rarely underline in word-processed documents as it can look like a web link. Italics sometimes used for quotes.

Can change font type, size of the font & colour of the font and know when to use these

Consistency of style is very important. One font or font family used throughout a single document

Can align text left, right, centre and justify and know when these are used

Titles and sub titles can be centred but left align is most used for English documents. Might align right in the first column of a table

This is a difficult skill to teach in an integrated manner as pupils don’t create enough writing to use some of these formats in their own work

Can build a list by using a bullet or numbered points

Understanding that bullet points imply that there is no order to them apart from the top ones being more important. Numbered points imply a logical sequence or priority order.

A great skill to link with instructions writing in literacy.

Can move a word or sentence by lassoing the text and dragging it to a new position

Quickly editing text is one of the biggest benefits of a word processor over paper


Great skill to use when changing sentence clauses around. Type it once but copy paste and lasso to get three new sentence layouts

Can move a word or section of text within the document by cutting and pasting

Understanding that copy and pasting within a document is easier if moving over multiple pages. Lassoing and dragging is easier on same page/screen


Can check spelling and grammar

Understands that red lines underneath words indicate possible spelling mistakes. Knowing that word processors often don’t know how to spell names


This skill is best taught as part of a class project to word process some text for a real curricular purpose alongside other simple skills.

Can orient the page view and page size and print on different size paper

Landscape or portrait views


Can indent manually or within a list and know when to use these skills

Understanding that this suits non-fiction writing with sub headings and possibly sub sub headings


Good for factual report writing projects

Can insert a picture, Word Art or clip-art understanding that in a word-processor text is primary

(This is covered in a more detailed way in Desktop Publishing)

This is often done at a much earlier stage but is not the main point of a Word-processor and can detract from its main purpose. If these items are more than just a support to the text then a desktop publishing package is more appropriate.

A single picture that supports text such as a description of a fictitious character with a picture of the character. Choosing the correct programme for a task is an important digital literacy skill.

Can insert a table and adjust its formatting adding new columns or rows and merging cells

Knowing that if the data is mainly numerical or needs a graph a spread sheet program will be more appropriate.


Choosing the correct programme for a task is an important digital literacy skill.

Can apply a new style to a document

This could be taught much earlier alongside basic text formatting


Knows how to bring full menus up if using MS Word

Small arrow on the bottom right corner of many sections

Can copy and paste from the Internet into MS Word removing web formatting

Knows how to strip web formatting by pasting with the A option


This skill is referenced in Internet Skills & Understanding

Saving a copy of the document as a pdf file

Understanding that this will create an unalterable document that would publish well on the web


This is a great way to publish work to a blog once copyright and esafety issues have been considered