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Advanced Formatting in Microsoft Word

Whether you are writing your dissertation or your first novel, there are times that call for a more sophisticated level of formatting in your document. Last month, we delved into what causes those pesky formatting errors that seem to plague Word documents so often. This month, we will show you some seldom-used formatting tricks that will add an even higher level of professionalism to your paper. Section 1: Advanced Page Numbering Microsoft Word’s base page numbering options will accomplish what you need it to do 80% of the time. However, what if you don’t want to put a page number on your title page? What if you would like your introduction to be numbered using Roman numerals and the main portion of your document to have actual numerals? With a few quick and simple formatting tricks, you can make Microsoft Word’s numbering system give your paper the professional appearance that it needs. The first trick to this method is to create placeholders in your document for whatever sections you are going to include. For this example, my paper will include a title page, a table of contents, and the actual paper itself. I have included some example text in the document above, but by no means would you have to have your paper completed before you began this task.  After creating your placeholders, you will insert a section break directly behind each one. (IMPORTANT: Make sure your cursor is directly behind each placeholder when completing this step.) Repeat this step until you have created a section break behind every one of your sections. If you have set your document up like mine you do not want to add a section break after “Header 1” as this is your main text. After creating all of the section breaks, you will need to the header of each section from the one that precedes it. This process varies slightly depending on which version of Word you are using, but the gist is basically the same throughout. On your second placeholder (the table of contents in our example), double-click inside the head to bring up the Header/Footer menu. In this menu, you will need to uncheck the option that reads “Link to Previous”. By unclicking this, each header will be fully independent. Also, notice how this header now reads Section 2. With each section break that you insert, the header/footer will then become autonomous as long as you uncheck “Link to Previous.” This now means that you may number your paper however you like. The process of adding page numbers is now very simple. While still working in the header (or footer if that is where you are including your page numbers), go to Insert>Page Numbers. From that menu, select the format option. From this menu, you will be able to select how you want your page numbers to appear. Your options include Roman numerals, numeric figures, or alphabetical figures. The most important aspect of this menu will be that you want to make sure that you uncheck “Continue from the previous section” and select “Start at.” Here you will be able to have your section begin at 1, i, or whatever figure you decide use. Section 2: Creating a Table of Contents At first glance, creating a table of contents for your document may seem like a daunting task that may only be an option for the mundane. However, with a few clicks, Word has greatly expedited this process. (NOTE: There are a few differences in menu titles in Word for Mac and Word for PC. I will note these as I...

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Microsoft Word: How to Fix Those Pesky Formatting Issues

When it comes to word processing, there is no doubt that Microsoft Word is the go-to program (although Mac users could make a pretty good argument for Pages). However, for all of the convenience and usefulness Word provides us, we’ve all had to deal with its unfathomable desire to format for us. It could happen at any time, to anyone and we’ve all been tempted to chuck our Macs or PCs straight out of the office window because of it. Luckily, DWC is here to save your computer, your window, and your mind with these useful tips to fix those pesky formatting errors. Diagnostics The first major issue with Word is that we sometimes truly don’t understand it. It’s an “it’s not you, it’s me” thing. Nothing is more frustrating than a phantom indentation that throws off the entire focus of the paper. Like any true relationship, we don’t understand because we don’t listen. Unbeknownst to many of us, Word offers diagnostic tools that will help understand what is really going on. 1. The first step to understanding our paper is to reveal what we are really doing when we type. By turning on Word’s “Reveal Formatting Marks” feature, we can get a quick and simple assessment of our formatting. This feature can easily be found on Words home taskbar (indicated by the ¶ symbol on the taskbar shown below). This feature will show where you have used the following three functions: Hard return at the end of the line (¶) Tabs (→) Spaces between words (Ÿ) 2. Perhaps even more useful than revealing formatting marks, Word allows users to reveal the formatting of any selected piece of text. Pressing SHIFT + F1 calls up the “Reveal Formatting” menu seen below. Additionally, this box allows you to compare to boxes of text in order to cross-reference your formatting. This is the perfect feature if to use if you feel that something is amiss in a couple of paragraphs, but you just can’t put your finger on it. Select and highlight one section of text, check the “Compare to Another Selection” box at the top of the above menu, and then select/highlight the selection of text you would like to compare. Make sure to take note of the blue hyperlinked options in the above menu. Word has conveniently placed these hyperlinks within the menu so that you have quick access to additional options that will fix or modify the selected text. This is a great way to save a few additional minutes that could be spent perusing extra menus. 3. Don’t ban the bar! That handsome gray strip that runs along the bottom of your Word window has the potential to be so much more than just eye candy. By right-clicking any of that empty gray matter, you will be able to add useful options to the bottom of your page. As you can see, Word offers plenty of options that make your life easier. The “Section Number,” “Page Number,” “Spelling/Grammar Check,” “Track Changes,” “Macro Recording,” and “View Shortcuts” tabs are all ones that I have found to be very useful. I Need This Fixed Now! Let’s face it – there are certain times when we could care less why something isn’t working. We no longer have the time nor patience to run the aforementioned diagnostic checks; we just need it to be right. Word does give users a few quick options that allow users the opportunity to quickly fix the problem. The following are perfect options for those of you who love pushing deadlines to the limit. CTRL +...

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Top Three Time-Saving Tricks for Microsoft Word

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 7/19/12] There always seems to be something in Microsoft Word we can’t figure out, right? Besides being a powerful word processing application, Word has a wide reach of capabilities in many other areas. However, wouldn’t it be nice to know the cool tricks that all the pros use? Here is a list of my top three tricks for Word. Table of Contents For longer documents that require a table of contents, you have two choices to build it. You can either manually create it at the end of your project, or use the built-in features of Word and have it done for you. Easy decision, right? Under the “References” tab, you can designate which paragraphs or lines of text you want to use for each level of your table of contents. Click on the “References” tab , then click “Table of Contents” > “Insert Table of Contents“ and the dialog pictured above will show up. Enter in your specifications, and Word will create your table of contents for you. In the event you update your text, the table of contents will also be updated. Mail Merge Any time you have a long list of contacts to reach, and a list prepared with each recipients’ information, you can connect the two and create an easy letter for all in minutes. To get started in Word, use the “Mailings” tab, click “Start Mail Merge,” and choose the wizard to help walk you through the rest. Or, go to Tools > Mail Merge Manager (above). From there, you can follow the steps in the task pane on your screen. When the wizard asks you about your data source, point it to your existing contact list. By using placeholder fields in your letter, Word will substitute each placeholder with the actual values in your data source. Mail merge is a huge time savor and one of my favorite tools Word has to offer. Auto Correct If you notice yourself typing the same phrase of text repeatedly, there’s a faster way to handle how you can create the text. In Word, there is a fantastic feature called Auto Correct, which can fix misspelled words, common grammatical errors, or it can recognize a portion of a phrase and finish the rest for you. A great example of using Auto Correct would be your name. Any time I want to insert my full name, I start type my first name and, when I type the space after, Word finishes the rest for me. To set this up, you can go to your “Review” tab, then choose “Spelling and Grammar,” and then click “AutoCorrect Options.” Or go to File > Options > Proofing > Word Options > Autocorrect Options (above). In the event that you decide you don’t want the Auto Correct option to override what you typed, a SmartTag will pop up and you can click that to have options as needed. Reach Stu Crair at (970) 980-8091 or stu@...

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A Simple Mail Merge Can Save You Time

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 4/6/12] If you have a list of contacts on your computer and are ready to start mailing to a large group of them, then you can put down your pen and let your computer do all the dirty work. With two of the most popular Microsoft programs, Word and Excel, you can quickly and easily create a mail merge system for your contacts. A mail merge is the combination of a data source and a word processing document to produce mailing labels, envelopes, form letters and more. It is an extremely powerful tool that most administrative professionals use to save tons of manual labor time. The way a mail merge works is that you must begin with some kind of data source. This can come in many forms including a table from a database, a list of your Outlook contacts, a CSV file or even a simple Excel spreadsheet. Since most contact applications can export to a spreadsheet format, Excel can be used in a variety of scenarios for your business. Once you have a data source prepared properly, you can open Microsoft Word and begin the mail merge process. This begins with either a blank document or you can even use a pre-existing document. Envelopes and mailing labels come in standard sizes, and Microsoft has these already built into the program, too. By inserting placeholder fields into the mail merge document, you are allowing the program to replace the placeholders with actual values from your data source. This will repeat for every record in your data source. In a form letter example, you also have the option to customize individual letters, just in case you want to send a more personalized message to an individual client. When it is time to print the mail merge document, you simply finalize your merge and advance to print the entire batch. A mail merge is an amazing tool for simple administrative tasks, and the reach of how it might save you time is limitless. So, the next time you need to send those holiday cards to a huge list, check out a mail merge and save yourself some precious time. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@...

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Microsoft Going All In With Windows 8

[Originally published in The Coloradoan on 3/30/12] As Apple and Google continue to win over new customers with their sleek, modern products and services, Microsoft has been plotting its next move to keep up in the fast-paced technology world. After years of dominating the operating system market, Windows has recently seen its sales decline because of this tough competition. At the beginning of March, Microsoft unveiled the beta version of its newest competitor in the operating system market: Windows 8. After the failure of Windows Vista, Windows 7 returned some dignity back to the Microsoft operating system brand name. Now, the company is going all in with Windows 8 on its latest attempt to keep up with the newest trends. Windows 8 features a new “Metro” style, dropping the well known “Start” menu that has been in versions of Windows from XP to 7. Windows 8 will be available for both desktop and tablet platforms, and devices can easily connect via a cloud system. For different-sized devices and screens, Windows 8 will automatically scale the content. Apps are in your face in Windows 8 as a major feature as well. The ability to customize the apps you want is provided in a user-friendly experience. Plus, the entire operating system has been optimized for touch screens, tablets and mobile devices of all kinds. Now, you can flick in new apps to the focus of your screen with your finger. A new Forrestor Research report indicates that Apple and Google are still dominating the mobile operating system market. However, Microsoft believes Windows 8 will help bring back some of its faithful customers. No one knows if Microsoft will continue to dominate the operating system market as it has in the past, but Windows 8 is the latest attempt to satisfy hungry tech crowds. Let’s wait and see if Microsoft’s gamble pays off. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Call him at (970) 980-8091 or send email to stu@...

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