I’m making some minor updates to the stylebook that my workplace’s technical writers use, and I ran across a weird problem. Some, but not all of the numbered headings had the numbers mashed up against the text. It didn’t the last time I looked at the document, but, guess what? That was when we were still running Word 2007.
It took some investigating, but I traced the problem to the margins. For some reason, Word 2010 decided to apply custom margins of 0.38 inches on the left and 1.0 inches on the top, bottom, and right. Moving the margins back to something more conventional fixed that issue for me.
While I’m on the subject of Word 2010 weirdness, this week I had to deal with a document that had a number of misspelled words–except they weren’t misspelled. Word was insisting that, for example, the word “Change” was actually “hange,” and flagging it as misspelled and miscapitalized.
The one thing all of these non-errors had in common was that they weren’t the original beginning of the sentence, but now they were.
Word seemed to take issue with the way a previous editor had capitalized the word. When I deleted the entire word and retyped it, correctly spelled and capitalized, Word’s spelling and grammar check accepted it. Accepting those specific changes also made the problem go away.
I had an issue with a Word 2010 document whose table of contents entries were ridiculously off–entries being on page 45 of a 24-page document, for example.
The problem appeared to be due to track changes. The pages it was putting in the table of contents seemed to correspond with the page numbers of the marked-up document. Unfortunately, the only way I found to fix the issue was to accept all the changes in the document, but after I did that, the table of contents updated correctly.
For now at least, I edit a lot of security documents as part of my job. Today, I saw something I hadn’t seen before: Word 2010 was hiding all of the headers, footers, and whitespace in the document. That made navigating the document a whole lot faster and easier, but it also meant I couldn’t verify that the headers and footers were correct. I figured out how to hide and unhide whitespace, headers and footers in Microsoft Word.
The solution was simple but non-obvious, and works in all versions of Word that I know of. Read more
A system security document I was editing had blank table of contents entries in Word. This was in Word 2010, but my research indicated it can happen in Word 2007, 2003, and very possibly earlier versions as well.
Since the table of contents is often the first impression of the document, you want to get it right. Many readers will assume that if the table of contents has errors, the rest of the document will too. They may be wrong, but you may not get a chance to prove it.
The particular document I was looking at had two blank entries in the table of contents. When I clicked on the links, they led to the entries right below them in the TOC, making them completely extraneous.
I recently edited a long document whose original author capitalized way too many words. I needed to fix it. To speed up the process, I needed a way to find capitalized words in Word–all of them, and automatically. Then I could make a decision whether the capitalization was appropriate.
Another time you would need to find capitalized words in Word would be when you’re creating an index. I’m sure there are others.
It’s easier than it sounds.
From time to time, I have to deal with new revisions of familiar implementation guides or other system documentation, and the authors rarely include a changelog in the document. And of course the first question anyone asks about the new guide is what’s changed. That means I have to find the differences between two Word documents.
This week I found myself collaborating on a long-ish document and needing to synchronize some changes. Word’s tracked changes and comments can help somewhat, but generally I find them clumsy and annoying.
If you have five minutes and a willingness to use a command prompt, you can find the differences easily, then work from there.
My boss and I are compiling a huge Excel spreadsheet that summarizes everything our organization has ever done. It’s as big of a pain as it sounds. What makes it worse is having to scroll all the way back to the beginning to view the headers. The solution: make persistent headers in Excel.
The trick to making a persistent header that shows all the time, even after scrolling, hides in the View tab in Excel 2007.
Last week, John C Dvorak wrote about technical duds. And it’s unfortunate about what happened to Word macros, because at times they can be extremely useful, and not terribly difficult to use, either.
Here’s my favorite macro–a method to join single lines. You’ll wonder why it never became a standard feature in Word. You won’t use it often, but when you need it, you need it badly.