Word Processing Exercise

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Purpose : To familiarize students with whichever word-processing package is most commonly used at your school; to help the instructor judge student ease and speed with keyboarding skills; to familiarize students with formatting items they will need in standard academic writing.

1)     Pass out photocopies of the exercise below.  (See note at the bottom of this page regarding the content paragraphs...)
2) Instruct students to complete the exercise as efficiently as possible.  Make it clear that this will not in fact be graded, that this is a diagnostic tool so that you can better help them.
3) When the inevitable questions arise, make your best judgement on whether to answer them or not.  (My rule of thumb is, if the question deals with a task directly, like "How do I make a footnote?" encourage the student to do as much of the exercise as possible, and then answer such questions in general at the end.  Odds are more than one student will have the question.)
4) At the end, cover each major point as a whole class.  If any students were unable to figure out how to do an item, ask those students who did know how to explain it out loud.
Total suggested time : No more than 30 minutes
Word Processing Practice Exercise

1) Type the excerpt given below.

On the first Monday of April, 1625, the market town of Meung, birthplace of the author of the Roman de la Rose, seemed to be in as great a turmoil as if the Huguenots had come to turn it into a second La Rochelle. A number of townsmen, seeing women running in the direction of the main street and hearing children shouting on doorsteps, hastened to put on their breastplates and, steadying their rather uncertain self-assurance with a musket or a halberd, made their way toward the inn, the Hôtellerie du Franc Meunier, in front of which a noisy, dense, and curious throng was growing larger by the minute.

A young man… Let us sketch a rapid portrait of him. Imagine Don Quixote at eighteen, a Don Quixote without chain mail or thigh pieces, wearing a woolen doublet whose original shade had been transformed into an elusive shade between purple and azure. He had a long, dark face with prominent cheekbones, a mark of shrewdness; his jaw muscles were heavily developed, an infallible sign by which one can recognize a Gascon, even without a beret, and our young man wore a beret adorned with some sort of feather. His eyes were frank and intelligent; his nose was hooked, but finely drawn; he was too big for an adolescent and too small for a full-grown man. An untrained eye might have taken him for a farmer's son on a journey if it had not been for the sword that hung from a shoulder belt, slapping against his calves when he walked, and against his shaggy horse when he rode.

(From The Three Musketeers, by Alexandre Dumas)

2) Change the font of your excerpt to any other readable font of your choice, in 12 point.

3) Change the spacing of the excerpt from single to double spacing.

4) Change both book titles to underlined rather than italicized.

5) Put your name in a header on the upper right corner.

6) Paginate, using a footer. Be sure the size and font of your header and footer match your text.

7) Turn the parenthetical item at the end into a footnote.

8) Print this page.

Note : I use this excerpt for several reasons.  One is that it contains several items, such as a book title and foreign accents, which students need to know how to deal with in citing sources.  Second, the first paper of the semester at NAU is a descriptive paper; thus, this exercise, suggested for the first week of class, gets students in that descriptive mind-set.  Third, I'm a Dumas fan.  You, of course, are encouraged to use any excerpt you find suitable.  Be sure to alter the instructions accordingly.