Locoscript - all you ever need to know
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Locoscript, the wordprocessor supplied with the PCW 8256, and supposedly the reason most people have bought the machine in the first place, Is exceptionally powerful. It Is also fair to say that the manuals supplied with it are causing more confusion among more people than with almost any other wordprocessor ever.

In this guide, Graham Taylor, who has been battling with Locoscript, offers vital help to those who are about to join the fray - not a complete rewrite of the manual, but the solutions to most of the problems most people will discover.

Before we start

Certain things are vital in order to use Locoscript at all lor your own writing:

  1. Buy some more 3 inch discs and format them using Disckit.
    Disckit is found on the second side of the CP/M disc - reset the machine by switching it off and on - or holding down Extra and then pressing Shift and Exit and then pressing Shift and Exit together. Then insert the disc so that side two points towards the screen. When you get the A> prompt, type disckit, or DISCKIT, then follow the on-screen instructions.
  2. Having got a formatted disc you can now use Disckit again to make a copy of Locoscript, nb, think of a Read disc as the original you want to copy and Write as Ihe copy you are making and follow the onscreen instructions.

Vital tips

  • If something goes wrong and you seem to be lost in the jungle of menus press the Call key, which is just above and to the right of the Return key.
  • Whenever you are making a selection from one of the menus:
    Highlight the option you want. Pressing the + key next to the spacebar says yes' to an option, while the - key says no', ie. switches an option off. Leave menus by pressing Enter (not Return).
  • Never use the Ram drive (drive M) to store your documents. Always use a or b (if you have b fitted).

Getting going: The main menu

A common problem here is moving around the screen. The key is this: to get to some of the groups on the top of the screen - the unused ones in particular - you need to use the cursor keys with Shift. Remember also the following:

  1. You may have eight groups to a disc. Any you have not used will simply be shown as Group 5or whatever.
  2. The columns showing the contents of each group may sometimes be 'offscreen' Always check there is nothing 'off to the left or right using the cursor keys.
  3. A group that does not contain any documents yet will be shown in the bottom section of the screen as two parallel vertical lines when you place the cursor over it.

At the main menu stage these options are available:

  • F1 Disc Change. Press this key after you have inserted your own data disc, ie, your own formatted disc containing your letters, documents, etc. This key tells Locoscript to read your disc and update the display information accordingly
  • F2 Inspect. You can set up information that is not part of a document you have created but which quickly summarises its contents. Pressing this key show this descriptive text for whatever document the cursor is currently over. To set up your own text press F7, whilst you are working on a document and then choose the Edit Identity option - now you can type in your descriptive text.
  • F3 Copy. This is quite simple to use -place the cursor over the document you wish to copy, then press F3. Now move the cursor to the new group to hold Ihe copy. Note that you can rename the document by typing its new name on the menu that appears if you wish.

There are various reasons you might want to make a copy of your document on disc: safety (having a backup on another disc), making a dummy file for re-use. Ie. supposing you want to send a fairly similar letter with only a few differences between each one to a number of people. You could write the letter once save It then make a copy called something like Dummy, Doc.

This document could then be used again and again by using Copy to make a new version, edited to include with the specific details of this version of your letter

  • F4 Move. Exactly the same as copy except that the original document is moved completely, ie. the end result is only one copy of the document, not two as with F3.
  • F5 Rename. Press this key to change the name of a document or group You will want to do this when you set up a new group of documents. Supposing you want to start a Group called Complain.Ur. The first thing is to choose one of the unused groups (just called group four or group eight, etc. on the main menu) and then rename it. A document can be renamed in a similar way for various reasons (see F3 above for an example).

NB. The recovery from limbo' option (see below for more on 'limbo') on F5 is used when you wish to recover a document that you have accidently erased but has not yet actually been lost, ie, its space overwritten with other files.

  • F6 Erase. There are two levels of erase. Normally you place the cursor over the file you wish to remove. Then press F6, and check the details which Locoscript displays and if all is well press Enter
    A file erased in this way is not lost forever should you have made a mistake. It is stored as a limbo' file. This means that the space it takes up on the disc is now available for use if necessary, but whilst this space is not actually being used the file may be recovered. However, if you use Fflto show Limbo files, so that their names appear on screen, and then you erase it as a limbo file' then it really is gone
  • F7 Modes. Doesn't do anything at the moment except repeat some of the basic options and make ASCii files (more on this later) It is designed for use with add-on packages which may become available.
  • F8 Options Used to show the names of Umbo files ori screen (See F6 and F5 above). Hidden files are. like F7, associated with add-on software.

Working on the text

There are a lot of menus in Locoscript but you need very few of them. Most commands can be accessed with around two button presses using the instant menus. Here's how with a quick guide to what does what:

Basic text commands like underline, centre, bold. Italics and so on, can be accessed from two menus associated with the + and - keys. By pressing the plus key and holding it down you will get the ‘switch on' menu. You can get this menu even more quickly by pressing + together with the checkered key in the middle of the cursor cluster.

In order to switch off a command, eg. end a section of italics, you need the minus menu, which is revealed when you press the minus key (with the checkered key for speed). You will see that some commands on the plus menu are not found on the minus menu. This is because some commands only operate on a single word, line or letter and so need not be switched off. Above we show you what does what.

Command What it does Switch off?
Bold Makes text following it darker Yes
Centre Centres text following it No 
Double Darkens printed text like Bold, above Yes 
Italic Printed text is italicised Yes 
Keep (no of lines, ABOVE to be kept together) Lines specified above this point are not broken by a new page, eg. use if you want to make sure a paragraph is not divided over the page No (Keep on the minus menu keeps lines BELOW together)
Layout (no) Use the layout number specified from this point No (Pressing layout on minus menu returns to the original one)
Line Pitch (no) Changes number of lines printed per inch - either six or eight No (press Pitch on minus menu to return to original)
Line Spacing (no) Gap between lines when printed No (press Line Spacing on minus to return to original)
Last Line Next line begins a new page Inserts number of last page No
Last Page Number Inserts number of last page No
Pitch (no) Changes width of characters, eg, 10.12,15.17, proprtional Insert page number No (press Pitch on minus menu to return to original)
Page Number Insert page number No
ReVerse Shows text as black characters on green background Yes (returns to normal display)
Right Justify Text to be justified right, ie, ends against right margin No (only works on current line)
Subscript Text dropped below normal base line, eg, In writing a chemical formula Yes
Superscript Text raised above normal base line, eg. squared sign in maths Yes
Underline Everything underlined including spaces  Yes
Word Underline Only text underlined Yes
Unit Pressing Unit key moves to a marked in text placed using Unit code No
- Hard Space A space in text created after this will not be broken by a new line eg. a name will not be divided over two lines No (Using the minus menu sets a soft space, ie, a place a break may occur, but which will not otherwise be printed as a space)
- Hard Hyphen As above except hyphen Instead of space No (sets soft hyphen, and works as above)

The base layout

This mysterious term is responsible for more confusion amongst Locoscript users than almost any of the others. For one thing It seems to throw menus up on screen you hadn't anticipated. What on earth does it mean?

There are two key elements to the base layout: in one respect it works just like a normal layout - you can set up tabs of various sorts, organise margins, change justification, etc. The difference is that this layout is treated as a standard - it is the one you get on first loading your document and thus becomes the ‘standard' used unless you specify otherwise by setting up a new one.

It is also used to set up information to be printed In the header and footer zones -those areas not normally available to text at the beginning and end of each page. The sort of text you might want is a standard heading, eg. Guide to Locoscript and a final phrase eg, more follows together with a page number It is a powerful feature usually associated with very expensive facilities. These include making Locoscript automatically place different headings on left and right pages (a common formality with books), and number each page You can also tell Locoscript to put a special phrase at the end of the last page. eg. ends. Below we set out what commands you need to get where to do what, on headers and footers.

Press F7 (modes) and select the first option offered - Edit Header.

On the screen will appear a layout which seems to demand you type something into it. Don't be daunted. Ignore it tor the moment and press F7 yet again.

You will see a new range of options, some of these are standard ones, like Style, others are not too important, like Tabs, but F8 Pagination is the one you want.


This option puts up a lengthy menu which allows you to indicate your chosen page structure. In a rare moment of total clarity the options on this page mean what they say and don't require much further explanation

Suffice only to add. that headers go in the space at the top of the page before the first line of your test and footers go at the end. As ever. move the bar to the combinations you want and press the plus key to select.


Obviously exactly how large the area set aside for headers and footers will be depends on how large the paper you are using is. Most Locoscript templates are set up on an assumption that you are using A4 single sheet paper, or the most standard form ol continuous stationery. This is logical enough. Setting the parameters for your own obscure length of paper is probably best accomplished by trial and error. Here's what you do:

In Edit Header mode, press F7, then press F7 and then press F7 again (I'm sorry about this). The last F7 should have been for page size. This is another fairly self-explanatory menu, provided you remember a few things

Your text does not begin on line one as Locoscript thinks of the whole paper when counting lines. Thus the page length Is not how much copy you can write on a page, but the length of copy plus your choice of space for header and footer. You need at least nine lines of space for the header for the practical reason that the printer uses a certain amount of space, merely to grab hold of it Anything above that is a matter of what looks right on your document; the same is true of the footer.

To return to the Page Size menu: enter the number of lines that make up a whole page of your paper (if In doubt try about 75 for single sheet).

Move the bar to cursor zone and Indicate how many lines you require for your header section (at least nine) and move to the line called Position This is the place in the header that your heading or other comment will occur, eg. just before the text or just near to the top of the paper The same process applies to the header and footer position. You will see Locoscript performing some stunning calculations as you do this: working out 75 - 9 - 5 or whatever. The end result Is the page body, ie. what's left over

Having done all this you can now decide what you want to actually put in the header and footer zones by way ol text and numbers. You can use all the usual Locoscript features to centre/italicise/embolden your text (switch them off in the usual way), but the chances are the thing you will definitely want is a . . .

Page Number

You don't get a page number by typing in a number. What you want instead is a code, which indicates to Locoscript that here is a place where the current page number must go. Thus Locoscript automatically numbers pages for you.

The only thing that prevents this option from being a totally wonderfully, totally clear Locoscript command is that you need another set of commands to indicate how much space is to be allowed for the number. Here are the details:

When you are at the 'typing in headers and footers' stage, using the little onscreen layout press F6 Pages. At the bottom of this menu is a line saying, insert page number'. Put the cursor over this option, press Enter and behold a code for page number appears at the last cursor position. But it isn't as simple as that - you must now specify space for the number and must indicate by your choice of space code whether the number is to be to the left, right or centred in the space provided:

The Page Codes:

= = = means centre the number in the space provided and allow three spaces for the number (ie, 999).

< < < < means space for four numbers put as far over to the left as possible > > means space for two numbers as far over to the right as possible.

And so on.

The biggest problem with Locoscript is that it is impossible, as it stands, to use the files you create with it with any other CP/M program.

This unlike the situation with files produced by most other CP/M word-processors which can be used quite freely with other sorts of program - particularly mall merges (a program which lets you customise a basic letter to include names and addresses and other details taken from a database).

Mail merge means, for example, only one thank you letter at Christmas with the names of the appropriate auntie inserted in the right place and the relevant gift matched to each auntie.

LocoscriptlWes are chock full of all kinds of bizarre codes which makes them very non-standard and thus unusable with other packages. But there is one way out.

Ascii files

The more recent versions of Locoscript have a facility to create a special version of your Locoscritpf document in the form of an Ascii file - this is the format required by other CP/M packages. To see if you have this option, press F6 Options. If you have make Ascii file' as an option at the bottom then compatability Is possible - at a price.

When you select ‘make Ascii file'; as an option you are then presented with two further choices, Page Image, or not. Page Image means that Locoscript will insert spaces to maintain the overall look of your document. For simplicity's sake, however, since you'll probably have to reformat the text anyway. I'd choose the other option and go for the simple text file.

Important; When you are asked to choose which destination group to create the Ascii version of your document In, always choose a group whose number Is 0, Ie, the first one In the list.

If you choose any other group you will suffer unbearable agonies wondering where your file has gone to when you Dir the disc.

The reason for this is that Locoscript uses a feature of CP/M called User Numbers as part of the filing system. Essentially the Group number on Locoscript is the user number for the files under CP/M.

User Numbers

Ordinarily when you use Dir on a disc and are shown the tiles on disc, you are actually being shown only those files which have a User code of 0.

You're not missing out on much unless you filed something under a specific user number, since there probably won't be anything there.

User numbers (CP/M command in User = [number up to 16J) are simply a way of making discs easy to use - the idea was developed in the days when vast numbers of people were sharing a disc.

CP/M software packages usually work on the assumption that files they are to use will be filed under user 0 (ie, the ordinary one). Some will not allow you to copy a file from one user number to another. You can be left in the position of knowing your file is on the disc but having the software stubbornly refuse to admit its existence. That's why you should always put your Ascii file into Group (= User) 0.

Using the Ascii File

The new version of your document is now compatible with many other CP/M packages. for example, the excellent Word spelling checker. However, it has lost all the special formatting codes that Locoscript put in your document when you created your layout. It is just a stream of words and spaces and you will have to lay it out all over again.


It is not worth using the Ascii option on highly formatted documents (ie, those chock full of tables, lists, etc) but if you have a very ‘plain' document - perhaps just text and paragraphs - it may be worth it. For example, you can write your novel, save it as an Ascii file, run that Ascii file through The Word and get the spelling mistakes corrected.

The corrected file cannot be loaded as a Locoscript document. It has to be loaded from within a document as a block. Select F7 In the main document menu and choose Insert Text. Although any original formats are gone, it is at least easy to reformat the file, according to the basic template for the group of the document you have created.

Popular Computing Weekly


Why use alternative word processors on the PCW machines?

Although the PCW can be used as a very versatile computer, there Is one type of program that It appears not to need - a word processor. But even though both machines come supplied with Locoscript there are many people that have chosen to use a CP/M Plus alternative, almost Invariably Wordstar or the cheaper and rather better Wordstar-lookalike, Newword. What are the advantages in making this, superficially unnecessary, purchase?

Newword, in particular. Is more powerful than Locoscript when it comes to some specialised applications. Most importantly it comes supplied with a superb spelling checker program and also has a built-in mail-merge option which is the ability to read information such as names and addresses from data files and insert these In the correct places in a standard letter These features and others (such as the ability to 'un-erase' deletions) are not supplied as standard with Wordstar, although you can find 'package deals'

On a more mundane level, Locoscript has some irritating features, unimportant to most people but infuriating to some: early versions cannot save files as plain Ascii (free of hidden control codes and suitable for use in Basic or by other programs). To get to the the end of a long document means scrolling past every page, and just try merging in some Ascii files (it would almost be quicker to retype them from scratch).

Another reason is personal preference - If you are doing lots of work it makes sense to use programs you like. Locoscript is a good attempt at producing a program that beginners can use, but it is laid out in a way that many experienced users, with their preconceptions of what a word processor should be able to do and how it should work, find windy, to say the least. More tangibly, although there are now courses on using Locoscript appearing , you will still find that any general word processing course you may take will teach Wordstart Newword because they are the most common programs around.

WordstartNewword have their greatest strength In the fact that the computer industry has standardised around them. A vast number of CP/M Plus programs, and programs that run on completely different computers use exactly the same layout of editing keys. Learn Newword and you may be very much in demand. It is also much easier to communicate between programs. Databases such as Flexifile can send data already configured for newword mailmerge. The Cracker spreadsheet can read Newword document files as well as Ascii. The list goes on and on.

On a more advanced level many printing and typesetting companies can work just from a Newword format disc file rather than from printed copy. You can decide the page breaks, etc. and be sure that there will be no errors from retyping.

It is also possible to upgrade to a 16-bit computer such as an IBM PC compatible and still run Newword, but with many extra features such as auto-indexing. You can even insert the required control codes for the advanced Newword into files created on the 8-bit machine. They will only come into operation on the larger computer. Its supplier, Newstar, will provide more details if you are interested.

Locoscript is a quality program, and as a freebie it's excellent, but one should be aware of the alternatives.

Newword Is £69.00 from Newstar Software. 200 North Service Road. Brentwood. Essex. Pocket Wordstar is £49.95 (now including mail merge) from Quest International Computers Limited, School Lane, Chandlers Ford. Eastleigh, Hants and others. Pocket Spellstar is £39.95.

Tony Kendle


★ YEAR: 1986


» Locoscript  2DATE: 2013-09-03
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L'Amstrad CPC est une machine 8 bits à base d'un Z80 à 4MHz. Le premier de la gamme fut le CPC 464 en 1984, équipé d'un lecteur de cassettes intégré il se plaçait en concurrent  du Commodore C64 beaucoup plus compliqué à utiliser et plus cher. Ce fut un réel succès et sorti cette même années le CPC 664 équipé d'un lecteur de disquettes trois pouces intégré. Sa vie fut de courte durée puisqu'en 1985 il fut remplacé par le CPC 6128 qui était plus compact, plus soigné et surtout qui avait 128Ko de RAM au lieu de 64Ko.