Know Your Word Processor

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I'm in the process of editing a Word document that someone else created.  It's a lot of work, primarily because the author neglected to use any of the features in Word that make formatting such a document a breeze.  Namely, this has to do with using formatting styles.  For those who are unaware, you basically set a bundle of text characteristics (such as font, the indent, paragraph spacing, etc.) and then designate your text according to those characteristics.  For example, the "Normal" style in the document I'm working on is 12pt Times New Roman with a .25" first-line indent and a 12pt paragraph space after each paragraph.  I have several other styles I'm using, too.

Why do this?  It's quite simple.  What if I decide that the document is too long, and I don't want a line between paragraphs?  Well, if it is formatted sloppily, there is probably a full line break between each paragraph, which means if I want to condense the paragraphs I would have to go through the entire document and delete each one of the lines between the paragraps.  Using styles, though, I just go into the "Normal" style, change the "space after paragraps" to 0, and it's done throughout the entire document.

I've noticed that a lot of people today still think of word processing as a sort of glorified typewriter.  That's like thinking of people as glorified stick figures.  So many people still use tabs for text positioning!  This seems to work at first, but as soon as you want to change anything document-wide, it just ends up being a house of cards that falls apart.

Here's my tip for the day: get to know your word processor.  Take some time to learn some of the features and tricks.  Learn about the dimensions that you can write in.  I promise you, you'll be happier and more productive for it.

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This page contains a single entry by Mackenzie published on March 16, 2006 1:11 PM.

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