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Amstrad PCW16 - Word Processor

Page Up/Down move a screen at a time - how can I easily navigate to the previous/next actual page breaks?

Just use Page Up/Down with the [Shift] key held.

How do you include a tab character in a find/replace string?

Sorry but we're afraid you can't.

How do you include style/font change codes in a find/replace string?

Afraid you can't do that either.

Is there any way of producing fixed pitch text apart from numbers?

Not at present. The system as shipped only has two fonts available - Swiss and Times - it is planned that other fonts will be made available in future and these may include fixed pitch fonts (such as a font like Courier New that you may have seen in Windows on a PC). Numbers can be in a fixed pitch for vertical alignment of columns by marking the text and setting it to have the text style "Numbers in columns".

In the word processor how can I arrange for every paragraph I type to be justified?

Start a blank document then click Style/Edit a Paragraph Style, this will probably allow you to edit a style called "default". Make sure that it's "following style" is set to [Same style] then click the Para. Format button and click the Justified box. Finally click OK twice. Each paragraph you type will now be justified. However, as you type a paragraph you may see that the right hand edge is ragged. If you stop typing for about 10 seconds the "auto reformat" will redraw the paragraph with a properly justified right edge. If you want to see this sooner then pressing the green key always makes an auto-reformat happen immediately. Auto reformat will also occur if you move the cursor off a paragraph you've just been editing.

Sometimes what you see on screen may not look exactly justified but you should find it prints correctly. This is because of the limited resolution of the PcW screen that only shows 640 horizontal dots while a 300dpi printer on A4 paper has,400 dots to play with.

In the WP I moved the cursor onto a line and pressed [Home] but it is still several inches from the left hand edge of the screen - what's going on?

Either, the paragraph into which the cursor has been positioned is set to be centred - use Style/Change Paragraph Format and change it from Centred to one of the other options such as Left-aligned. This will just affect the single paragraph in which the cursor is positioned. If you want this change to apply to all paragraphs in the document that have the same style then use Style/Edit a Paragraph Style and then change the "Para. Format" within that. Or, the paragraph has an indent. If you look at the tab ruler at the top of the screen you'll see two half black triangles towards the left hand side. The top one shows the point to which the first line of a paragraph will be indented and the bottom one shows the point to which all subsequent lines will be indented. Use the Styles/Change Para format or Styles/Edit a para style/Para Format buttons to either change the indent on a single para or on all similar paragraphs throughout the document.

"View tabs and returns" setting is not saved with a document - is this right?

That's correct, the setting is only a temporary thing to give a quick check where these "hidden" items are. Each time you start editing the option will be switched off.

It seems that the only way I can see where page breaks will occur is by using print preview. Is there some other way to determine this?

Yes, press [Ctrl]+T (which is the same as selecting "Re-paginate Document" from the Document menu). This makes the word processor work through your document and put in dotted "soft" page break lines where the breaks will be at printing time. It is necessary to press [Ctrl]+T rather than have the word processor doing this automatically as it is a procedure that can take several seconds and it would be annoying if the WP kept doing this automatically.

If I don't like the place where the WP has put in a page break what can I do?

Either select Insert Page Break from the Insert menu or, even quicker, press [Ctrl]+[Return] to insert a "hard" page break where you want the current page to end. It will appear as a thin solid line on screen. You can delete it like a normal character if you later want to remove it. The calculation of where "soft" page breaks appear when you re-paginate with [Ctrl]+T starts again for a new page when a hard page break is encountered during re-pagination.

Why can't the PcW16 show which line the cursor is on and how many lines are on a page like Locoscript used to?

The difference between Locoscript and the PcW16 is that in Locoscript all lines were exactly the same height so if you told it that you were using A4 then it knew for certain that (perhaps) there were 56 lines on the page and an indication such as 42/56 told you that you were 3/4 of the way down a page. The PcW16 word processor is different because it has so many more sizes of font (10) compared to the single one in Locoscript. If you have a piece of paper that is almost twelve inches high with a one inch margin at top and bottom then there is almost ten inches that will actually be used for printing. If you type in 72 point text then you will only get 6 lines on such a page whereas if you type in 6 point you would get 96 lines in the same area. Normally the machine uses 12 point so that gives about 42 lines to the page.

As you can probably see the WP can't say that there are "xx lines" on a page because for all it knows you might change from 72 point to 24 to 10 to 6 at various points down the page and so the number of lines that might fit is completely variable (between 6 and 96 in the above case). Similarly, showing that you are on line 24 (for example) tells you nothing about how far down the page you are while editing. In 12 point that is about half way down the page but in 6 point it is less than 1/4. The only way you can really see how a page will look when printed is to use Print Preview and that is exactly why that function exists.

Having said all that, the software now has a status line at the bottom of the screen that will indicate which page and line you are on. You may find this useful for gauging how far down a page you are if you stick to using a single font size but if you use multiple fonts you may find print preview is a better way to see page layout (print preview also now includes an indication of page number).

How can I get vertical columns of numbers to align in the wordprocessor?

The first important thing to note is that you cannot guarantee vertical alignment if you use spaces to move an item to a particular column. You must use Tabs. Secondly the fonts used by the PcW16 are proportional which means that thin characters such as 1,l,i appear on screen and printer much thinner than 0,O,W,M, etc. So a number such as 123.45 will not vertically align under 823.45 because 1 is thinner than 8. The way to overcome this is to mark the numbers as a block and then use the Style menu's Change Text Style entry to set the text to be `Number in columns'. That makes all the selected numbers and spaces of equal width so a 1 and an 8 will be the same width and those numbers will align vertically.

One other point - if you are working on columns of numbers are you sure the wordprocessor is the best tool to use? - the spreadsheet's sole purpose in life is to operate on columns of numbers and it does it a lot better than the word processor!

The scratchpad only holds one item whereas many sections could be stored in Locoscript. Is this a backwards step?

It's true that the scratchpad can only hold one item at a time but don't forget that areas of the document can be marked and then stored as phrases using the Store Selection as Phrase entry on the edit menu. Phrases can later be reinserted using the Insert Stored Phrase entry on the Insert menu.

I can create new templates but how do I delete old ones?

Templates are stored in a special folder within the cabinet called the system folder. In the File Manager, to gain access to the system folder click on the View menu and then select the Show Cabinet System Folder option. (A quick way to do this is to click on the white on black word `cabinet' that appears above the listing of files). Once the system folder is showing you will see a whole host of files including all the different fonts that the system uses, it's help files and so on.

Within the list you should see the word processor template files. Next to each template name is a box containing a grey `blob'. Other files have different symbols next to their names - fonts have an F, help files have an H and special system files have a !. You can delete any of the templates that you no longer require except for the special one called Blank template. You cannot delete that one because the wordprocessor cannot be used if there were no templates and that one is protected against deletion so that there will always be one available.

When I use the supplied letter template all my typing starts offset to the right by 3.9" (99mm). Why?

The address lines of the supplied letter template have a 3.9" indent (which you will see on the ruler bar as one of the solid black triangles being moved over to that position). If you don't want that indent then use Change Paragraph Format on the Style menu and change the 1st Line Indent value back to 0.

Why is it that it sometimes switches into italic (or bold, or underline) while I'm typing? and, how do I stop it?

There are several ways to switch bold, italic and underline on or off. Amongst these is the use of the letter keys B, I or U when pressed while holding down the [Ctrl] key. If you inadvertently press [Ctrl] when you meant [Shift] (for example starting a sentence with a capital B, I or U) you may switch on one of those styles when you didn't intend to. If this happens then press B, I or U with [Ctrl] held down to switch the relevant style off again. If you have already typed some text and want to change it's style then see the next Q/A....

How can I change words that I've already typed to/from bold/italic/underline or a different font/size?

The answer is using block marking. Move the cursor to the start of the area you want to affect and mark the start of the are with either 1) a click of the middle mouse button, or 2) Using Mark Start on the Edit menu, or 3) Click the onscreen "marker" button that is next to [Spell] at the top right of the screen, or 4) Press the M key while holding down the [Ctrl] key (which is the shortcut shown for Mark Start on the Edit menu). There is a "hidden" 5th method which is to use [Ctrl] + the open square bracket key (I added this as I find Ctrl+[ and Ctrl+] very easy to remember as ways to set the start and end marks because the bracket characters give a mental picture of surrounding the intervening area of text).

Once the start mark is set (which is shown by the left hand bracket being illuminated on the onscreen marker button) move the cursor to the end of the area you want to apply a style to and then set the end mark. There are a number of ways to do this: 1) Click the right hand mouse button, or 2) Use Mark End on the Edit menu, or 3) Click the onscreen marker button a second time, or 4) Press D while holding down the [Ctrl] key, or 5) use [Ctrl] and close square bracket.

As soon as you set the end mark the onscreen marker button will show both brackets illuminated and the visible portion of text between the start and end mark will be highlighted in reverse text on screen.

At this point, if you decide not to change the text, there are several ways to unmark the highlighted selection 1) Use Undo Selection on the Edit menu, or 2) Click the onscreen marker button a third time, or 4) Press the Z key while holding down [Ctrl].

If you want to change the position of the start or end of the marked area then just move the cursor to the new start/end and use one of the methods above to set that marker's position.

Once a section is marked the whole block is assumed to have the same font and style attributes as the first character in the block. So if it is bold (for example) then the whole block is treated as if it were bold (even if some parts are not).

The onscreen bold/italic/underline buttons can be clicked to quickly change the style of a block. Entries on the Style menu can also be used for this. The Change Text Style entry on the Style menu also allows the font and size to be changed as well.

Once you have finished changing a marked selection area you can unmark it using one of the methods listed above. Additionally, you'll find that the selected area is automatically unmarked anyway as soon as you start to enter new characters.

How can I "relay" text like I use to in Locoscript to see the text instantly redrawn after making an insertion in a paragraph?

Press the Green / key for an instant reformat. Or, if you stop typing for about ten seconds or if you move the cursor off a paragraph into which you have inserted text then the reformat also happens then.

What are the function keys (F1..F7) used for in the wordprocessor?

The function keys can be used as a quick method of applying a style to an entire paragraph. The various options are:

  • F1 - Left aligned
  • F2 - Centered
  • F3 - Right aligned
  • F4 - Justified
  • F5 - Bold
  • F6 - Italic
  • F7 - Underline

Is there anyway I can more easily edit 6 and 8 point text in the wordprocessor?

Unfortunately because the screen tries to give a true representation on screen of the relative text sizes as they will appear on the printed page the 6 and 8 point text are very small and, what's more, the limited screen resolution means that they cannot be seen too easily.

One way to overcome this is to edit the text in a larger point size (12 point say) then mark the area as a block and use Style/Change Text Style to reduce it down to 6/8 point but the problem is that the layout will change once you do this.

The other way is to use a hidden feature in the wordprocessor. If the Task, Shift and Yellow keys are pressed together the bottom status line will be changed to show some internal information about the way the word processor is operating. This is really for our technical support people but there are several displays available. If you keep pressing Task+Shift+Yellow, after "Mem4" has been displayed the next display shows the text near the cursor in a font that is hopefully large enough for you to edit. The position of the cursor is shown with a vertical line. An alternative (more technical) display of the same thing is shown if you press task+Shift+Yellow again. If it is pressed once more you will return to the normal status line display.

How can I see the various style, font and size codes in my document?

You cannot, there is no way to show codes however this does not mean you can't tell exactly where they are. For one thing, because the word processor is WYSIWYG (What You See I What You Get) you can tell where the codes are anyway because if a word is in bold then you can see that on screen. Obviously there is a bold code on either side of that word `bold' on the line above.

However suppose you want to go back and continue typing in bold you'd want to be sure of being on the left hand side of the bold code at the end of the word before you start typing. If you cursor up to that line to the right of the word and then press the ® cursor key across the word `then'. As you reach the right hand side of the `d' at the end of word `bold' notice that the bold button at the top right of the screen is still off. Now press the ® key once again and notice how the cursor does not move but the bold button at the top of the screen switches to on. This small step over a code without moving the cursor is know as a 'micro-step'.

The use of such micro-steps can be more generally useful any time when you want to get on the other side of a code. For example. If you started a line by changing to bold and then typing text, then on such a line you can press [Home] and the button at the top right of the screen shows that your are still to the right of the the bold code. If you then press the ® key you can move to the other side of the code and type non bold text at the very start of the line.

Normally the cursor right key automatically steps over to the right of a code but you can then use ® to micro-step back if you need to.

What do the various bits of information on the status line at the bottom of the screen show?

The first, important, thing to know about the status line is that it is only updated in idle moments when you are not doing anything so it's best to stop typing for one or two seconds before reading the information.

The first entry on the line tells you which Style the current paragraph is based on. Often this will be Default but that changes when you use Style/Use a Paragraph Style and it may be different if you have created your own new templates with different default style names.

Next is the Page number. This can only be relied on 100% immediately after the document has been repaginated (such as Document/Re-Paginate Now - [Ctrl]+T). At any other times you may have inserted new lines which will have changed where the page breaks will occur so the current position of page breaks is out of date.

The paragraph number is the number of the paragraph that the cursor is in counting from the very start of the document.

The line number is the number of the line that the cursor is in on the current page counting from the start of document or the previous soft or hard page break. Like the page number this info may be out of date unless a repagination has just been performed.

Following the line number is the name of the current font and the point size. Micro-steps (described in previous answer) may be used to get to either side of a font or size change code and the status line together with the bold/italic/under buttons at the top right of the screen help you to determine exactly where the cursor is positioned. (Note: It is NOT possible to show codes.)

After the font and size comes the state of insertion. Normally insert is ON so if you put the cursor in the middle of an existing word and type a gap opens up to accommodate the new letters you type. If you press the [Insert] key on the keyboard or click the top entry in the Insert menu then insert is switched off and the WP switches to over-write mode so that as characters are typed with the cursor on top of some existing text the previous letters are removed before the new ones appear.

The final entry on the status line shows whether you have modified the text since loading the document. If, for example, you select Document/Abandon before the text has been modified the WP exits immediately but if the text has been modified then you are offered the option of cancelling the abandon. Several functions behave differently depending on whether the text has been modified or not (e.g. Revert to saved, Save and continue, etc).