What you need to know

Click on the following for definitions of the key terms you need to know:
| ASCII | unicode | text | appropriate use of templates | fonts | white space | line spacing | RTF | | PDF |


American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The primary encoding character set used in computers. The current version has 7 bits per character, 8-bit ‘words’ or character codes provide a bit that can be used as a check bit to help verify that the remaining 7 bits are correct.

For example, ‘A’ is stored as: 1 0 0 0 0 0 1

Also see http://itgsatwab.wikispaces.com/2.1.1+Systems+Fundamentals for more details.


Unicode is similar to ASCII, but it allows for more characters and is designed for representing the alphabet for different languages. Once again, each symbol or character is given a numeric value. Each character is made up of 2 bytes (16 bits), instead of 1 byte.


The placement of text in printed or displayed documents. Text formatting includes allows you to control what the text will look like on the page (for example: setting of margins, typefaces, font sizes, text alignments (left, centre, right or justified), style, (bold, italic, underline, shadowed), table construction, and the flow of text around images).

appropriate use of templates

Templates are pre-constructed document that is empty and can be adapted and edited by users. They can help people save time by having pre-established formatting. For example in America a different paper size is used compared to the rest of the world, however most word processors are designed for A4 size paper. It would therefore be beneficial for an American who needs to constantly print out documents to have a template of an American sized paper.


There are different categories of fonts that are appropriate to use in different situations. Some are more academic and others are more effective for posters and flyers. For example, it is appropriate to use Times New Roman font when writing an essay, but inappropriate to use Comic Sans MS because its more rounded appearance looks less formal. There are also certain fonts that show as symbols on a word processor, which can be used when characters are needed from different languages, such as the Symbol font that shows Greek letters. Also a page should not be filled with several different fonts as this is confusing and harder for the reader to interpret.

white space

Space in documents without images or text. White space can make printed or displayed documents easier to read and more attractive. It can also direct the readers attention to key information, such as titles or images.

line spacing

Line spacing is used to decide how far each line of text should be from one another. This must also be used with discretion, as in formal essays it should never be more than double spaced or less than single spaced, unless specifically asked to do so. It would also be harder for a reader to interpret information on a poster if the text is crammed. Larger line spacing also allows teachers to write comments and mark the work of their students.


Rich Text Format. The extension of the file is .rft. (This format was developed by Microsoft).
RTF is a document language used for exchanging text between different word processors and text-processing applications.
RTF attempts to provide more formatting capabilities than simple ASCII while maintaining portability. Unfortunately different versions of RTF are not always 100% compatible, so it is not 100% reliable. Because it is RICH text format, is also keeps some of the formatting that, for example, Microsoft Word uses, which is useful as the page will turn out similar in different word processors.


Portable Document Format. The extension of the file is .pdf. This format was developed by Adobe ® Systems for ease of document sharing on the Internet and for easy printing of documents. It retains the original layout of the document when converted to a PDF file and is a very secure way of sharing and publishing information on the Internet. Generally PDF files cannot be edited easily in that they cannot be imported into word processing/text editing applications. This means that less paper needs to be used in printing because different organizations now have a common readable document, which is also faster and more convenient.

Try this....

Open a heavily formatted document in a word processor, such as docx format. Save this version as RTF - then compare the difference between the two. Save as a PDF - again, compare. Save as a txt format - again compare.