Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 6 / JUNE 1983 / PAGE 216

Manuscripts and letters made easy with Easy Writer. H.L. Sisson.

Manuscripts and Letters Made Easy With Easy Writer

Everyone agrees that Easy Writer has problems. It will not underline text. Alignment protection does not always work and has some little quirks you have to learn to live with. But for writing business letters, reports, and manuscripts, the program is adequate. And there ate easy ways of making it work even better with the Epson printer; you can even print on single sheets. This is true even when the program, the system, and the printer are in the hands of a creative writer/journalist/public relations person with no training in computer operations or progamming.

I speak from my own experience. I had more trouble with the Epson printer manual than I did with the Easy Writer instructions. So I come not to slay Easy Writer or Epson, but to help you by sharing some basic procedures.

The purpose of all which has been said to this point is not to be cute. It is to suggest that there are many computer users like myself who are basically writers looking for a better way of producing their documents. We are intrigued and fascinated with word processing but find computer manuals filled with a strange gobbledygook that frustrates our creative production. So what is to be presented here is a simple instruction book on how to use Easy Writer, the IBM Personal Computer, and the Epson MX-80F /T to produce quality letters, manuscripts, addressed envelopes (not labels), and other business documents on single sheets and on your own stationery without puchasing any additional equipment.

There is good reason for making Easy Writer work. First, you may have half of a novel and six short stories already on Easy Writer disks. If you have to retype all of this to use a new word processing program, you have lost a great deal of valuable creative production time. Alternatively, you could develop your own software program to read Easy Writer disks and transfer the information to the new word processing program. While you may be curious and intrigued about programming, if you are indeed a creative rather than a program writer, you probably want to get on with your creative effort.

Single Sheet Printing

First, the Epson printer must be programmed for single sheet printing. The IBM, Epson, and Easy Writer manuals are equally vague on this. The process involves two imbedded commands. The first is Ctrl-0, Esc-8. If you do not do this, your printer stops printing two inches from the bottom of the page and begins its obnoxious "feed me' buzzer sound.

The second imbedded command is FORMSTOP which stops the printer at the end of each page giving you time to insert a new sheet. The computer devotee will tell you such operations are slow and old-fashioned, and you should use fanfold paper. Try this method first.

Another difficulty you will encounter is that some Easy Writer embedded commands for margin, spacing, and type selection cause the platen to advance a line, fouling up spacing on your document. This can be overcome by using a separate header file.

Then there are the problems with the starting point for fanfold forms versus the starting point for single sheets. You want the sheet to be under the rollers on the platen. But if you start with the paper under the rollers, it prints off the bottom of the page. All of this is enough to discourage you form making the next payment on the system.

So let's assume you want to write several very important business letters with one inch margins top and bottom and on each side of 8 1/2 by 11 bond paper.

Formatting Letters

First, create an embedded commands header which will include:










Then SAVE this header, and name it LTR FM HD (Letter Form Heder). Remember that each of these lines must be followed by a paragraph marker (RETURN).

Now, put an old sheet of paper in the printer. From the editor, press F-2, and this header will spit out the piece of paper you have just put in with no printing on it and program the Epson printer for the letters you want to write.

Next go to your Easy Writer File System (F-10) and Protect (P) your LTR FM HD file.

Clear your text, and you are ready to begin your letter. You do not need to embed any additional commands.

Be sure to SAVE this file, revise frequently, and set your margins in additional commands (F-4) at 0,62,5. This accomplishes your goal of a one inch margin left, right, top and bottom.

If your letter is a one page document, and if your business stationery has a logo at the top which requires starting lower on the page, your own LTR FM HD will vary in both the TOP and LINES commands. There are six lines to the inch, so if you want to start printing 1.5 inches from the top rather than one, change these commands (for a one page letter) to .TOP3 and .LINES49.

If your stationery requires starting more than one inch down from the top, and if your letter is more than one page and you want the one inch margin top and bottom on the second page, you must make compensations in your text file rather than in your LTR FM HD file. At the start of your text, repeat one of the embedded commands from the LTR FM HD file, such as TOPO. Then use your F-3, insert a line, command to move your text down the screen the necessary number of lines. This affects only the first page of your letter.

When you have completed your text composition and have pressed F-10, gone into your file system, and done the last R (revise), and P (protect), then G (get) your LTR FM, HD file. While you are still in the file system, print your LTR FM HD file (H) making sure the printer is on and ready. This is a double check to make certain your printer is programmed.

While still in the file system get (G) the text file you have just created.

Put your stationery into the printer. The LTR FM HD you have created requires that the top of the paper be even with the top of the horizontal metal plate above the platen.

While in the file system, print (H) your text file.

Addressing Envelopes

Now you must address the envelope. That's easy. You use the program listed above, except that you change the numbers on three lines. Change the MARGIN to 30, PAGELINES to 15, and LINES to 5.

If you address envelopes frequently, you will want to save this program, which I call ENV FM HD (Envelope Form Header).

You can also use the program for mailing lists and to print the addresses from your mailing list directly onto the envelopes so they appear to be individually addressed.

First, create a file for your mailing list. All the names can go into one file, but be sure to use only four lines per address.

Use F-3 (insert line) to put a space between each address. This separates them for your eye on the screen as well as for the printer program (ENV FM HD).

Print your ENV FM HD file.

Call up your mailing list file.

Insert the first envelope. Position the head of the printer on the envelope where you want the address to start.

Print your mailing list.


Writers' Market has a section on how you should type a manuscript. It is simple enough, just print your name, address, and telephone number in the upper lefthand corner of the first page, single-spaced, and the number of words in your manuscript and the rights you are requesting on your article or story in the upper righthand corner. Your name should also appear on each following page along with the page number. Your title, byline, and story should start half way down the first page. Can you do this with Easy Writer and Epson? Certainly! Just follow these steps:

Your embedded commands file is the same as our LTR FM HD file with one execption. Delete the space command.

In your manuscript file, you will want to embed four commands intermixed with your text as follows:


That done, go to your file system (F-10) and save this start of your text. Once you have finished your text, revised and protected it, proceed to the next step.

Go to F-4 and into page settings (P) and check your spacing for the first two pages. Watch particularly the spacing of the title/page line. One quirk of Easy Writer causes the title line to be indented if the last line on the previous page is an indented line.

If the title line is single-spaced right above the start of your text, you can add one line (F-3) above your SPACE1 command at the start of your text. Return to the editor and revise as needed.

Proceed with your text composition and printing as for the letter described above.

And there you have it. However, as I read back over this, there are some observations I should make. First, six months ago I would not have been able to write this, and I can see gobbledygook creeping into it with talk of embedded commands, files, and formstops. I apologize if I have confused you.

Second, I must confess that a good deal of what I have learned has not come because of any great intelligence. A good deal of it has come by accident, trial and error, and patience. And finally, each little thing you learn may open doors to new computer possibilities for you. I hope I have done this for you.