Friday, February 8, 2013

[Link] Getting Started With Microsoft Word Styles for Book Layout

by Joel Friedlander

Okay, so you’re sitting at your keyboard pounding away, working on your latest work in progress. You get to the end of a section, hit [Enter] a couple of times and then type the subhead for the next section of text.

You’re an experienced word processor—hey, you’re a writer, right?—so you grab your mouse, select the text of the subhead and start formatting it. Maybe you want your subheads to be Helvetica Bold, 12 point, all caps. (I’m not recommending that, by the way, just using it as an example.)

You quickly select Helvetica from your font menu, change the size, change the alignment from fully justified—which you’re using for the text—to flush left (left-aligned), which is what you’re using for your subheads. Maybe, if you’re nitpicky, you also add a little space above and below the subhead, either by using the [Enter] key or going into the Paragraph formatting palette and setting values in the “Spacing Before/After” boxes.

The Problem with Formatting

That was a lot of work to format a subhead, don’t you think? We walked through about 6 steps to get the formatting right. And you’ll have to repeat these steps every time you come to a subhead in your manuscript.

Some people realize this is a lot of repetitive work and invent shortcuts like copying the last subhead, which copies all the formatting with it, then pasting it where you want the new subhead, and then deleting the old text and replacing it with the new text. That saves time, doesn’t it?

But the fact is that all these methods are bad choices.

Over the course of a long book, can you really be sure you’ve input exactly the same formatting values every time? Did you remember to add that “Space/After” every time? Maybe you should check, since there’s no other way to be certain.

Wait, didn’t you try a couple of subheads in the Verdana font? Did you remember to go back and change those? What about if someone mentions that your 12-point Helvetica bold subheads would look a lot better in 11 point? What are you going to do then?

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