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Word Processing, Editing, and Printing at UIC
0. Contents 1. What is Word Processing? 2. Word Processing 3. Text Editors 4. Printing 5. Related Links

What is Word Processing Anyway?


You know what you want to do. You have a paper for English, a lab for science, homework for French. And your handwriting is so bad that even a pharmacist couldn't read it. Or you are the kind of person who has to write, rewrite, and write again. You're in luck! What you need is "word processing" and that's one of the things which computers are very good at doing.

You probably already know that the ACCC provides Word and WordPerfect on all of its public personal computers. If the papers you'll be doing are in technical fields such as chemistry or mathematics, you've might have heard of the TeX typesetting package, and maybe its document layout packages, including LaTeX. They're available on both the public personal computers and on tigger and icarus.

What does all of this mean?

Word Processing: Word Processing is the use of computers to prepare documents.
On most larger shared systems, word processing tasks are handled in part by the system text editor, in part by layout commands and text formatting programs (such as LaTeX commands and the TeX typesetter), and in part by printing facilities. On personal computers, integrated word processing packages that handle all three tasks are more common (such as Word and WordPerfect).

Word Processor:
A word processor generally refers to a WYSIWYG ("What You See Is What You Get") system where the formatting takes place while you enter your text; no further processing is needed prior to sending your work to a printer. Word and WordPerfect and other similar personal computer packages are examples of word processors.

Text formatter:
Text formatting is the (automatic) layout of a text for the printed page. When a text formatter is used, the formatting commands which specify the layout of the text of the letter, paper, manuscript, thesis, resume or whatever, on the output page are included with your text in an input or source file. You may use a text editor or a specialized WYSIWYG tool to create the source file. The source file must be processed to produce a version that can be viewed or printed. The Waterloo SCRIPT program that we used to have on UICVM is an example of a classic text formatter. A Web browser can be looked on as a modern text formatter; it processes and displays or prints HTML source files.

Typesetting package:
A typesetting package is used like text formatter is used (that is, you create an source file containing text and formatting commands, and process it to generate a separate output file), but a typesetting package allows even more control over the appearance of your output than a text formatter. You have control of almost every aspect of the formatting, including the spacing. It is often more difficult to use a typesetting package than a text formatter, but a typesetting package can often produce better looking results. TeX on tigger and icarus and PCTeX for personal computers are examples of typesetting packages.

Document Layout Package:
The production of a larger word processing project such as a major paper or a thesis can be facilitated by the use of a document layout package. When you use a document layout package, instead of your concerning yourself with the placement of your text on the page, you identify it as belonging to specific components of your document, such as the title page, a heading, a paragraph, a figure or table, a bibliography. A document layout package gives you a choice of several layouts for your document in which the document components may be formatted differently. LaTeX, which is available both on tigger and icarus and on the ACCC public personal computers, uses the TeX typesetting package to process input files.

The other sections of this document introduce the word processing and text editing tools available at UIC though the ACCC. The ACCC also gives a number of seminars on wordprocessing and Web publishing. Visit the ACCC Seminars Web page for the current seminar schedule; you might also find the online materials used in those seminars helpful. And check out the Lynda training for the UIC community; topics include desktop applications, programming languages, and professional skills development.

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2010-5-25  ACCC documentation
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