Using Word's Handwriting Features

Occasionally, you may want to take handwritten notes, or you may simply prefer handwriting to typing. If you have a graphics tablet compatible with Windows, Word can read and recognize the handwritten text you create using your tablet and translate it into onscreen text you can format and edit.


This section covers the handwriting features available when you run Word on a standard desktop or notebook PC. Later in this chapter, we cover additional ink features for the Tablet PC, in the section "Using Additional Ink Features on the Tablet PC."


You can also use Word's handwriting support with a mouse. However, most users find it quite clumsy to write accurately with a mouse, and the resulting handwriting may be more difficult for Word to recognize.

Handwriting recognition is also available for Word in the following languages: English, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. It works in all major Office 2003 applications.


If you have a Windows-powered Handheld PC or PocketPC, you can convert handwritten notes you take on this device into text in Word. The steps for doing so may vary from one device to another; follow the instruction manual provided with your device.

To use Word's handwriting-recognition feature, display the Language Bar (right-click on the Language Bar icon in the tray on the Windows taskbar and choose Show the Language Bar). Next, click the Handwriting button. The Handwriting menu appears (see Figure 7.11).

Figure 7.11. The Handwriting menu.


From here, you can choose how you want Word to work with your handwriting. You can do the following:

  • If you want to write within a Writing Pad?a special window Word superimposes on your editing window?check the Writing Pad check box.

  • If you want to write anywhere onscreen, check the Write Anywhere check box.

  • If you want to draw an image that will be inserted as a graphic, check the Drawing Pad.

  • If you want to enter characters one at a time, using an onscreen keyboard, choose On-Screen Standard Keyboard.

  • If you want to enter symbols one at a time, using an onscreen keyboard, choose On-Screen Symbol Keyboard.

The Writing Pad and Write Anywhere functions are discussed in the following sections.

Using Word's Handwriting Text Recognition

If you've chosen the Writing Pad, it now appears, and you can begin writing inside its borders (see Figure 7.12). If you've chosen Write Anywhere, you can start handwriting anywhere onscreen.

Figure 7.12. Writing inside the Writing Pad.


Every time you complete a word and pause momentarily, Word attempts to recognize the text you've written and then inserts the text in your document, at the insertion point.

You'll find you get the best results from printing one letter at a time, yet you may find that Word does a remarkably good job with script.

Whether you use the Writing Pad or Write Anywhere, Word provides several tools that can help you use handwriting more effectively. These appear at the right of the Writing Pad, or as a separate floating toolbar if you are using Write Anywhere (see Figure 7.13).

Figure 7.13. Tools available in Write Anywhere and the Writing Pad.


The toolbar provides buttons that simplify navigation and allow for the insertion of special characters, such as spaces, tabs, and paragraph marks. For even more navigation tools, click Expand. Word now adds buttons for navigating up, down, left, and right, as well as tools for displaying Word's Drawing Pad and On-Screen Keyboard (see Figure 7.14).

Figure 7.14. If you click Expand, additional tools become available.


Correcting an Error in Handwriting Recognition

When Word inserts text in your document, you may sometimes find that it has made a mistake (or, conceivably, you've made an error yourself). You can easily fix the error. Click the Correction button; then, in the document window, select the text you want to correct. When the text is selected, write your new text by hand. Word replaces the incorrect text with your replacement text.

Inserting Ink Objects into Your Document

Occasionally, you may not want to convert handwriting to text. For example, you might want to handwrite a signature and insert it in your document as a signature. For situations like these, Word provides ink objects.

An ink object is a picture of the handwritten text you drew, which behaves the same way as other text in your document. When an ink object appears in your document, you can select it; format it as boldface, italic, or underline; or resize it using a different font size.

In fact, you'll often want to resize ink objects because Word inserts them at the same size as surrounding text, which is often too small to be easily readable.


Unlike with other pictures, you cannot use most of Word's picture formatting tools with ink objects. Moreover, you can't edit the contents of an ink object after you've inserted it.

You can, however, instruct Word to convert it to editable non-handwritten text, if you decide later to do so. Right-click on the ink object, and choose Ink Object, Recognize.

To insert an ink object, click Ink in the Writing Pad or Write Anywhere toolbar; then write your text, pausing a moment when you're finished. Word inserts the ink object in your document (see Figure 7.15).

Figure 7.15. An ink object, enlarged to 36-point so that it is big enough to serve as a signature.


When you want Word to begin recognizing your handwriting and inserting text again, click the Text button in the Writing Pad or Write Anywhere toolbar.

Using the Drawing Pad to Insert a Handwritten Drawing

Word provides strong drawing tools, including powerful organization charting and business diagramming tools. However, on occasion all you need (or have time for) is a rough "back of the napkin" type of drawing?you know, the type that was supposed to launch billion-dollar companies back in the 1990s! You can now create that freehand drawing more easily than ever, from within Word.

To create a drawing and insert it in your document, follow these steps:

  1. From the Language Bar, click Handwriting and select Drawing Pad from the drop-down menu. The Drawing Pad appears (see Figure 7.16).

    Figure 7.16. The Drawing Pad.


  2. Using your drawing tablet or mouse, create your drawing within the drawing area on the Drawing Pad.

  3. When your drawing is complete, click Insert Drawing to insert the drawing in your document, at the current insertion point.

Your drawing now behaves like any other drawing. For example, it contains sizing handles you can use to resize it, and if you right-click on the drawing and choose Format Object from the shortcut menu, you can control fill color, layout, cropping, and other attributes of the drawing.

For more information about formatting Word drawings, see "Inserting a Photo or Another Image You've Created," p. 439.

Working with Onscreen Keyboards

Word provides two onscreen keyboards that allow you to enter one character at a time by selecting them onscreen instead of using a "real" keyboard. One onscreen keyboard?the On-Screen Standard Keyboard?displays the same keys as a regular keyboard. A second onscreen keyboard, the On-Screen Symbol Keyboard, displays the most commonly used symbols in languages other than English, such as è, ç, and ¥.

Onscreen keyboards are helpful for those who have trouble handling a real keyboard due to disabilities but can also be handy for anyone who wants an easy way to enter symbols.

To display the On-Screen Standard Keyboard, display the Language Bar, click Handwriting, and select On-Screen Standard Keyboard from the drop-down menu. The On-Screen Standard Keyboard appears (see Figure 7.17).

Figure 7.17. The On-Screen Standard Keyboard.


You can now select keys by clicking on them with your mouse, or pointing to them with your graphics tablet pen. Your regular keyboard is not disabled while you use the onscreen keyboard.

When you're finished working with the onscreen keyboard, click the x at the upper right of the keyboard.

The On-Screen Symbol Keyboard works the same way as the On-Screen Standard Keyboard does. To display it from the Language Bar, click Handwriting and select On-Screen Symbol Keyboard from the drop-down menu (see Figure 7.18).

Figure 7.18. The On-Screen Symbol Keyboard.


    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word