More Word Tips

John Heckman has recently gathered together some links to site with tips on how to use Microsoft Word more effectively. These include a link to 221 MS Word Keyboard Shortcuts. I cannot stress how advantageous using keyboard shortcuts can be for you. Not only does it allow you to increase your typing speed (because your fingers do not leave the keyboard), but it also keeps you from using the mouse (most people do not have an ergonomically friendly mouse).

The comments also contain a link to CompuSavvy’s Word & WordPerfect Tips, which contains a variety of tips to help with problems in both Word and WordPerfect.

The important thing to remember is that if you are having problems with Word, don’t bash your head against the desk. Chances are that there is someone who has encountered the same problem that you have and has posted a solution to that problem. Checking sites such as these as well as doing a little google research will often allow your to ferret out the answer to your problem.

A FAQ for Microsoft Word

Often people do not use Word correctly because they do not understand how the program works. If people knew how the program worked, I believe that more people would use the myriad of features found in Word.

For those who are interested in learning some of those tricks, I have found a great resource posted by Charles Kenyon. The page includes a tutorial, downloads, helpful links, and a host of other aids.

The resources on this page are invaluable and I urge you to check them out.

Formatting With Style

Few things drive me more crazy than trying to work on a document that someone else has created. This is because very few people understand how to use styles in Microsoft Word and instead try to format everything using the formatting buttons on their formatting toolbar.

I am glad to see that I am not the only person disturbed by this problem. Writing, Clear and Simple, addressed this problem head-on recently. The author explained the problem as follows:

I frequently collaborate on projects with several different people, exchanging documents to review and revise. And all too often, I see documents where all of the formatting—bold, italic, font, type size, and so on— has been set manually. That’s the hard way to do it. It’s like having a woodworking shop full of expensive equipment at your disposal, but building a cabinet using only a hatchet.

He could not be more right. I see people do this all of the time. The main cause of this problem, in my opinion, is a lack of training. People don’t know they are supposed to use styles instead of the formatting tools on the formatting bar. Besides, those tools on the formatting bar are so convenient.

In his post, Roy points you toward some resources for learning how to use and modify styles. Additionally, I have written a series of posts on the issue as well.

Some of you may be wondering why this is so important. Or, as I am often asked, “What’s the big deal?”

The answer is simple and Roy nails is perfectly:

You should be focusing your attention on the content, on making sure the words say what you want them to say, and here you are, fiddling with the cosmetics, wasting precious time making the document look pretty.

Once you spend a little time putting your styles together, you never have to worry about formatting again. You simply apply the approriate style and go on. You can concentrate on the writing without having to worry about whether the document will look good.

Another Word Tip

One question I often get from others who are frustrated with Word deals with how to fix the formatting in a particular document. Often the formatting screw ups occur because someone was not properly using styles. Somethimes, however, the formatting is screwed up because the document is imported from aonther format or because someone pasted text without using the Paste Special function.

The best way to deal with this formatting problem is to take the formatting back to square one. You can easily do this simply by selecting the text and then pressing Ctrl + Enter. This converts the formatting for the selected text to the Normal style. Once it is there, you can then reformat the document as appropriate.

Your Keyboard Has a Tab Key for a Reason

I am a big fan of using styles in Word. If you understand and use them, Word becomes very powerful and, I think, more easy to use.

I understand, however, that not everyone uses or understands styles. I believe that the proper solution to this is good training. However, not everyone understands that. However, I implore everyone, whether you understand sytles or not; whether you use Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice; or whether you know how to type or not, DO NOT USE YOUR SPACEBAR FOR SPACING.

The space bar is to allow you to put a space between words and sentences (on a related note, please observe that with today’s proportional fonts you need only one space, not two, between sentences). The space bar is not to be used to add spaces to make your text line up. To do this, you use the Tab key.

Given the fact that Tab keys have been around for quite some time, I had thought that most people understood this. However, that is clearly not the case. I recently received a draft settlement agreement today from another attorney. When I started making some modifications to the document, I noticed that the formatting got all screwed up.

Once I clicked the paragraph button, I realized what the problem was. Instead of using tabs, the author has used spaces to create the illusion of tabs. Upon counting, it appears that it takes 12 taps of the space bar to simulate a 1/2″ tab stop.

I understand that some people don’t want to learn how to properly use software. That is your choice. If you make that choice, however, then hire someone to do your word processing for you. Please!!!!