English-language Word Processing

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Several of my students have had Japanese computers and Japanese operating systems, with Japanese versions of Word. They needed to write English essays for their classes. However, it’s difficult to get the settings (line spacing, paper size, etc.) correct in Japanese, because everything is different. For example, English essays are spaced by line: double-spaced, single-spaced, etc. Japanese essays are spaced by character. It’s really confusing to try to make it match!

I know some people must be able to do it correctly, but I couldn’t figure it out.

Anyway, I recommended downloading either NeoOffice or OpenOffice.org (Yes, “.org” is part of its name…). Both are free office software packages (including databases, presentations, word processors, etc.). If you download the English version, it’s good practice. You will be able to find the right settings for writing in English. If you’re using a non-English operating system, the website might try to make you download another language. Just look for an “Other Languages” option and choose English.

NeoOffice (Mac OS X only–I use this one)
OpenOffice.org (Windows, GNU/Linux, Sun Solaris, Mac OS X)

(I didn’t include the OpenOffice.org logo because their website says you have to ask their permission. Um, okay …)


Figure something out (phrasal verb–transitive): Understand something complicated; find an answer or a solution. Ex. 1) “I can’t figure out how to get to San Jose from San Francisco by bus.” 2) “I just can’t figure her out. Why is she mad at me now?” 3) “Thanks for helping me figure out this grammar problem!”

Software (n.): In Japanese, people use the word “soft” to mean “software.” Except in business names, like “Microsoft,” it isn’t used this way in English. “Soft” only means “not hard” or “not loud,” like a soft blanket, soft pillow, soft music, soft voice, etc. Also, “software” is usually used to refer to computer programs and applications only. It’s not usually used to refer to games or even “My Italian Coach” for DS (we usually say “language training game,” etc.). “Software,” “application,” “app,” “game,” or “program” are all used to mean ソフト in English, depending on the meaning. Most people would not say “Super Mario Brothers is Nintendo’s most popular software” in English. We would say “game” most of the time. (The exception is when people, like business analysts, are dividing a company’s entire sales into only two categories: software and hardware.)

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