Tuesday, June 5, 2012

MS Word 2010 For Writers: Top Ten(+1) Tools

I recently took a class on MS Word 2010. Here are the top eleven things I found useful for writers, in no particular order.

Word 2003 to Word 2010
Can't figure out how to do something in Word 2010 that you knew how to do in Word 2003? Do you have an internet connection? No problem! Click on the File tab, and choose Help from the list at the left. In the center section under Support, click on Getting Started. The Getting Started with Office 2010 webpage will open. In the middle of the webpage is a video player, and to the right of that are three headings. Under the middle heading, "Missing the menus?", click Run the Word Interactive Guide. This will open up a webpage that takes a minute to load, and then asks you to click Start. Once you click Start, you will see your beloved Word 2003 interface. Just click on whatever it is you wanted to do, and the interface will flip and show you where to find it in Word 2010. It seems to be pretty accurate, although if you click Insert:Breaks it takes you to the Page Break button and not the Breaks dropdown. For some reason, Micrsoft decided to make a Page Break button on the Insert tab (Pages section). However, that's the only break on that tab. The Breaks dropdown we all know and love (especially those of us who do print or PDF formatting in Word, since we need Section Breaks) is on the Page Layout tab in the Page Setup section.

The Lorem Ipsum Generator
Type =lorem() in Word 2010 and it spits back lines of Latin. You can put numbers in the parenthises to indicate how many paragraphs and sentences you want. So if you want one paragraph with five sentences, type =lorem(1,5) and then hit enter.

Embedding Fonts (File:Options:Save)
If you use custom fonts, you can embed them into your document by clicking on the File tab, choosing Options from the list on the left, and then in the Options window choose Save from the list on the left. The very last set of checkboxes deals with embedding fonts. I can only assume this makes your file larger, so pay attention to that.

Format Painter (Home tab, Clipboard section)
On the Home tab, all the way on the left, is the Clipboard section. There's a picture of a clipboard for Paste, and then next to it are three small icons: a scissors for Cut, two documents for Copy, and then a paint brush. That paint brush is the Format Painter. Click on a style from the Style section, and then click the Format Painter. It changes your cursor to a paint brush. Any text you highlight or word you click on will be changed to the style you selected. Once you finish your selection, the cursor changes back to normal. If you want to the Format Painter to stay active, double-click on the Format Painter icon.

Style Sets (Home tab, Styles section)
If you have a particular set of Styles you use when doing ebooks, and another for print, and maybe another for something else, you can make a Style Set. On the Home tab, in the Styles section, right under the Change Styles button is a tiny little mark, sort of like a page-turn indicator. Click that to open the Styles Task Pane. This shows you all the Styles in your current Style Set. You can then put the Styles the way you want them, and save it as a new Style Set.

Navigation Pane (View tab, Show section)
On the View tab in the Show section is a checkbox for the Navigation Pane. This thing is surprisingly useful. The Navigation Pane has three tabs. The tab on the left shows all the headings in your document. So, for example, you have a bunch of chapters, and the chapters are all in a heading style, you will get a list of your chapters. Click on a chapter heading in the Navigation Pane and it will take you to that chapter. So much nicer than scrolling through the document! The tab in the middle shows you a thumbnail of each page in your document. The tab on the right lets you search your document, and it's way better than Find. The search function tells you how many times it found the search item and lists all of them in the Navigation Pane. You can not only see the whole sentence to get the context, but you can click on each entry to go to that section of the document. Perfect for late editing passes where you want to see how many times you used the word "smiled."

Customize Ribbon
If you truly can't stand having to flip between all these tabs, or maybe you really only need a few tools, you can customize your ribbon. (The ribbon is the annoying fat strip along the top of the page where the menus used to be.) Left-click on the ribbon and choose Customize Ribbon. You can access this also by clicking on the File tab, choosing Options from the list on the left, and then choosing Customize Ribbon in the Options window. You can also customize the Quick Access Toolbar from here. That's the little row of icons at the very top left of your screen.

New Window/Arrange All/Split/Synchronous Scrolling (View tab, Window section)
This part is so cool that you really have to play with it to get the full effect. Basically, you can have more than one document open in your Word window, or have two seperate windows. (This also works in Excel!!!) If you turn on Synchronous Scrolling, both windows scroll whenever you scroll one. This is very nice for when you're comparing two versions of the same document--say, your master file and the edits you just got back...

Check for Issues (File:Info)
Click on the File tab and select Info from the menu on the left. Under Prepare for Sharing is a button labeled Check for Issues. By clicking this button, you can check your document for hidden text, comments, annotation, custom XML, and other stuff that you may not want in your final version. (Note that View Comments is turned on by default, so even if you turn it off on your end, it will likely be on when someone else opens the document.) Also note that File:Info is where you find the document Properties for when you want to add tags and other metadata.

Blog Post Template (File:New)
For you bloggers out there, this is a template that's already formatted for blog posts. I haven't tried it yet, but hey, some people might find it useful. Not only does it default to block format, it apparently can even post the document to your blog for you when you're done.

Text Audio Player (Review tab, Language section, Translate, Mini Translator)
The best way to find missing words in your text is to listen to it, and Word 2010 includes this feature and doesn't even realize just how useful it is. On the Review tab, in the Language section, click on the Translate dropdown. Select the last option, Mini Translator. It will ask what language you want to translate into, but you can just leave it on Arabic, the default, unless you want to play around. Once you've selected your language, click Ok. (It might skip asking you which language if you've chosen one before.) Highlight the text you want read, then click on Mini Translator again. (You can highlight the entire document by clicking Ctrl-A.) Hover your cursor over the highlighted text and you should see a ghostly box appear. You may have to click Mini Translator twice; I sometimes have a hard time getting it to come up. Put your cursor over the box, and you'll see the Translator. At the bottom of the Translator is a row of icons; click on the green arrow and the Translator will read the highlighted text.