Psion Epoc Word Hints and Tips

The best word processor on any miniature computers

Template and style gallery based word processor, with spelling checker and outliner.

A simple word processor for letters, reports, invoices and so on. Base your files on templates, and create new templates as needed. Styles apply to each paragraph, and you can make new styles. A new paragraph starts after you press Enter (shift Enter just makes a new line), and takes the style of the preceeding paragraph. You can also format text with different fonts and sizes, in bold, italic, and underline. You can change the page layout, add headers, footers, page numbering, and insert pictures, graphs from Sheet, and even sound files. There is a spelling checker and thesaurus. You can preview before printing. Zooming (1% to 200%) only changes the display for viewing, not the file contents.

Using Epoc Word

I'm going to assume there are no longer any Psion beginners, and that everyone can figure out how to type text, identify the cursor, move it around the file, find the left hand marker that shows which line the cursor is on, zoom in and out, and all that easy stuff.

If you want to use any word processor effectively, you need to learn how to customise and speed up how it works. This means creating and using templates for each different type of document you will create. It means making effective use of the style gallery for paragraph styles, rather than just changing a few words here and there into bold or italic or changing their font.


Templates are needed to avoid wasting time reinventing a way of presenting a document each time you write. A template is a design for a document, and includes the paragraph styles, page layout, the headers and footers. There are a few sample templates included, or you can make your own. The sample templates include Normal, Blank, Fax, Meet, Memo, and Phonelog. You can not modify the samples (they are in ROM), but you can use them as a base for your own templates.

Create a document named "normal" and save in C:\System\Apps\Templates then Word will use this document as the default template in future (in Psion 5 ER3 use C:\System\Apps\word).

Any type of document that will be produced more than a few times should be based on a template.

Create a template by making a sample Word document with styles, layout, headers and footers. Even the cursor position, toolbar, top toolbar and printer settings will be included in the template. File /More /Save as template.

Ensure you give your templates sensible, obvious names, like Letter, Sales, Invoice, Receipt, Confirm, Thanks, Fax and so on.

When you create a new file, you will be able to select which template to base it on. You can edit a template by basing a new file on it, making the changes, and then save as template under the same name.

The fonts available to you depend upon which printer was selected for the template. Printers tend to have more fonts than the Psion, so the Psion will approximate the appearance of the printer fonts using its more limited range. Remember printer types are saved with the template. If you have multiple printers, save a template for each.

A Psion 5 (ER3) does not have named templates, however you can copy the single Normal template under another name, make a new Normal, and save that under another name. If you copy one of these saved templates as Normal, it will be used by Word. There are programs that make this easier than doing it using the System screen.

Paragraph Styles

A paragraph style applies to an entire paragraph, and is added with a single Ctrl Fn command. Each paragraph is ended with an Enter. A style includes all the formatting of a paragraph. This means the fonts, the tab spacing, line spacing, indents, alignment, borders, bullets and so on. Word has four ready made styles for you to use, Headings 1 to 3, and Normal. You can also create as many new styles as you need. I strongly advise using Normal for your most used style. You can, and should, modify each of the existing styles to suit your document.

You can apply styles using Ctrl Fn N for normal, Ctrl Fn 1 for Heading 1 and so on. You can apply styles using the Style button on the top toolbar. You can apply styles using the Paragraph, Style Gallery menu entry.

The Style Gallery can be used to create and modify styles, with their own shortcut key combination. Styles are saved with the Word file, so every file can have its own Styles. If you copy and paste a paragraph into another file, the Style will also be copied.

You can adjust the line spacing of a paragraph. Keep together prevents a paragraph from being split at a page break. Keep with next keeps a paragraph on a page with the next paragraph. Start new pages forces a new page. Allow widow orphan lets a single line at the beginning or end of a paragraph appear on the previous or following page.

Indents are available from the Paragraphs, Indent menu. Set a distance Left and Right. The First line will indent the first line a different distance to the rest of the paragraph. For a hanging indent, set the Left indent to a Tab stop, and the first line to 0.

In the Style gallery, set an Outline level for each style, especially for Headings. By default, they are all set to Level 1, so this prevents the Outline view from working. Now when you use Outline, you get a box with a directory structure for navigation.

Epoc Word will crash if too many styles are used in a document.

Line Spacing

Word sets line spacing to At Least the current font, and increases it to allow for larger text or objects. You can override this in Paragraph, Line spacing. You can select Exact, to keep line spacing constant, even if larger objects are in a line. The Space above and Space below items let you put additional spaces between paragraphs.

Top Toolbar, and font effects

The top toolbar provides quick access to paragraph styles, fonts, font sizes, text attributes such as bold, italic and underline. It also allows text alignment, such as ragged right, centered, ragged left. You can provide bullets for lists, special symbols, and also a variety of borders for effect. You can set colours (which will appear as shades of grey).

Put a border around a paragraph using the top toolbar. The border style, line width and colours for each side of the border can be changed using Paragraphs, Borders. You can select background and text colours (shades of grey). These can be good for special effects.

Select text and put bullets in front of it from the top toolbar. There are a range of sizes, indents and colours.

The Insert, Special character menu gives access to foreign and accented characters. A selection menu will appear. This menu also shows the keyboard shortcut for each character selected.

The Text, Font, Other, Print Position menu allows subscripts and supercripts.

Doing an Invoice

Like all business letters created on an Epoc system, you start by designing a template, which will be saved as a template called Invoice. This will contain a completely laid out invoice, with your business name, and any text that doesn't change from letter to letter. Your heading will probably include an embedded Sketch object of your logo, while another may be of your signature. To do both a logo and your nicely formatted business address, use two side by side objects, the Sketch and a Sheet for the text.

The financial part of your invoice is done using an embedded Sheet object. The layout will depend on your products, however it will be easy to add tax components, total the invoice, allow for freight and any discounts, and so on. Usual precautions apply for spreadsheets. Money figures are declared in currency cells, headings are protected. You will probably want to set it to print cell borders to give a grid layout.

Save each invoice for accounting purposes with a file name incorporating the invoice number.

Your customer datebase is usually held as a separate Data file. Despite potential problems with converting to PC databases, it might be worthwhile to format your data contents so that name and address details can be easily cut and pasted into invoices and other letters.

Tracking your invoices can be done in a simple spreadsheet. This can automatically generate your next invoice number (each cell is one greater than the previous one). You only need enough information to identify the customer, such as by customer number, and track how much you received from each, and when. You may want to extend this to keep account categories, time spent, and so on.

End Noting and Footnotes

Set up a data file, says docpark at, with a single data field labelled " " of type text and length 250 characters. Import the references from previous bibliographies. Write your paper in Psion Word, label the reference as [number], and put that number in front of the appropriate entry in the data file. Sort the database, export text from data as a text file. Inport into Psion Word and clean it up, ready to use.

This was originally suggested by Mike Park, in a detailed note at


by Peter Keene pkeene at

As with most things missing in the Epoc apps Toby, there's normally a work around, so yes, you can use footnotes in Word - it just takes a bit of effort, and is a bit limited. You have to use the footer, so if your document is long you'll have to use a new file for each page.

Obviously inserting the footnote number is not a problem - type the digit and then highlight it, press shift+ctrl+f and select "print position... superscript".

To insert the footnote itself got to Menu / File / Printing / page setup.... Select the "Footer" tab and click on "Insert". Then select "Object" and "Sheet." In sheet you'll have to play around with the column, row and text formatting depending on how many footnotes you will have on that page. It's a bit fiddly because you can only see the footer in the print preview. You may also have to play around with the footer alignment, and don't forget to set the footer distance from the margin to 0, otherwise you won't see it in the print preview and it won't print on the page. While in Sheet remember to deselect printing of the grid etc. It's a good idea, once you've got a footnote-footer that works for you, to save the page as a template.

If you really HAVE to have footnotes in your document and you only have the Psion, you can get the job done.

A tip: for long documents name each page's file with its page number and bung the whole lot into a folder with the document's name. I'm sure you know how to sort out the page numbering so that the 'page' files number on from each other, so I won't teach you how to suck eggs.

Another option is to have a paragraph at the end of each page in a Word document, with a different font type and size for your footnotes. However, this would be just as fiddly, with lots of inserting of page breaks, resetting of line spacing, paginating etc.

I think the first option is more practical (as long as your footnote isn't as long as your text, as I've seen in some documents).

I've just realised that it's probably easier to insert a Word object as the footnote-footer. What a silly prat!

Keyboard shortcuts

Ctrl G Goto page number. Ctrl left and right arrow to move one word, Fn left and right arrow to move to the start and end of a line. Ctrl up and down arrow to start and end of a paragraph. Fn up and down move to top and bottom of page. Ctrl Fn up and down move to start of documents.

This site will look much better in a browser that supports W3C web standards but it is accessible to any browser or internet device, including Psion Web and similar PDA or limited browsers. Netscape 4.x users - turn Style Sheets off. Your style sheet support is too broken to use (sorry). -> epoc -> applications -> word

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