Frequently Asked Questions.
Some of the most common and easy fixes that you can do to help format your document require just a bit of guidance or awareness of some functions and features of Word. I know many are not intuitive and often, unless shown or stumbled upon, most would not know exist. Intended to be a guide, I would recommend you seek out the numerous online tutorials available to understand how you can use and apply them.
I hope you find the following most frequently asked questions helpful.
Only one stop after a full stop
This is more of a visual style than anything else. Left over from typewriter days when typefaces were mono-space (each character taking up the same amount of space), a double space was needed to clearly and visually, separate the end of one sentence and the start of another.
Most fonts are proportionally spaced, so basic typesetting needs only one space at the end to avoid that “gappy” look.
New Page? Enter-Enter-Enter-Enter…
Even long-term Word users still press the Enter key multiple times to get to force a new page when they simply have to press “Ctrl” and then “Enter”. For more complex documents, you may consider using section breaks for each Heading 1 or new section or chapter, and a must if you are changing from Portrait to Landscape and back again. When clients send me their files, I ask them not to force a new page unless it is really obvious. Formatting can adjust pagination and I often end up spending unnecessary time deleting all the page breaks.
However, this is more preferable than deleting the dizzying display of paragraph markers created by holding down that Enter key. (See “Understanding Paragraph Markers” in this section. When you turn this option on, you’ll understand what I mean!)
Understanding Paragraph Markers (¶)
I work with the show/hide option on all the time as it is my road map to see how a document is laid out. This paragraph marker also contains all the coding and information applied to that paragraph (or line, it appears every time you hit the “Enter” key).
A common mistake is if you copy the text before the paragraph marker and place it elsewhere in a document, the results may not be as expected, so it’s a good idea to have this on as a guide. You can toggle it on and off as you wish (it’s in the Paragraph ribbon and looks like a backward P (¶)).
When you use section breaks, e.g., going from portrait to landscape in a document, that paragraph marker contains the information of the data before that marker. This is why you need section breaks to go from landscape to portrait and back again. If you simply delete a section break by mistake, you delete all the information and coding contained in that marker and get those unexpected results, such as a page reverting back to portrait that was actually landscape. (Yes, I have had many a frantic call on this one!)
Using Styles – Word's most misunderstood and underused feature
Styles are the absolute backbone structure of your document and once you understand and use them, there is no going back. I live and breathe styles in Word and I spend a good portion of time preparing templates with the styles adjusted to individual client’s standards and branding. Styles are easy to use, but do take some specialist skills to properly create, so best let the professionals create a template for you. I could take a great deal of space writing about styles but I recommend you search out tutorials to at least understand the concept and importance of using them.
The review of custom styles is an option with template creation for clients, along with a quick tutorial on how to use them in your document so you can update / change / edit yourself and get the results you were expecting!
Table of Contents – it's a Two-Step
I feel for those who have spent hours, painfully putting together a manual table of contents, along with typing in the page numbers. Before you try anything like this, always ask an expert for help, or look online for a solution as there is a feature that generates this automatically for you based on what needs to appear and can be completed in just two-steps. For more complex documents, a list of figures and a list of tables can also be added.
If a document has multiple major components and runs into several hundred pages, then another option is to create a mini table of contents for each section and a master table of contents for the overall document. If you update or add a page that affects pagination, you only have to print / replace that section and not the whole document. This is helpful with documents that need regular updates, such as a Company Policy Information or the Human Resources manual.
I always include the Table of Contents setup when creating templates, so it’s all done for you: updates are quick and easy and are only a right-mouse click away!
Using Tab stops to create columns vs spacing and using Tables rather than Tabs
I have received documents that require the text to be in columns and that have been put together using the space bar to go from one column to the next. As shown in the very first item, most fonts are proportional spacing, so a “w” will take up more space than, say, an “i”, so using the space bar will result in higgledy piggledy columns with the text not lining up.
I gave up using tabs for columns many years ago. I always create them by using tables and removing the border option (so it doesn’t print). Using tables (with non-printing borders) ensures all your text will perfectly line up, are easy to update and change and are snap to create. I would recommend following up with tutorials on this one, it may save you hours of formatting time down the road.
I use tables extensively, not just for column work, but often to easily line up graphics or graphics and text.
More questions? I can help!
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