Archive for June, 2009

Inserting symbols (Word 2007 and Word 2003)

In Word 2007 and Word 2003 (and most other recent versions of the program), you can insert symbols via the Symbol dialog or by using keyboard shortcuts (if you know the existing shortcuts for certain symbols or if you have created your own key combinations).

The Symbol Dialog

Most people open the Symbol dialog in Word 2007 by navigating to the Insert tab, Symbols group, clicking the Symbols drop-down (which opens the Most Recently Used — or MRU — symbols list), and then clicking More Symbols. However, if you want to bypass the MRU list, simply press Alt I, S to launch the Symbol dialog. (In earlier versions, you can click the Insert menu, Symbols or press Alt I, S.)

The Special Characters Tab of the Symbol Dialog

The dialog box has two tabs: Symbols and Special Characters. Special Characters are symbols that Microsoft has singled out — presumably because they are commonly used. They include, among others, em dashes, en dashes, non-breaking hyphens, non-breaking spaces, the copyright symbol, the paragraph symbol, and the section sign. For unknown reasons, Microsoft has assigned keyboard shortcuts to some, but not all, of these characters.

You can insert a Special Character directly from the dialog box by double-clicking it or by clicking to highlight it and then either pressing Alt I or clicking the Insert button (and then, if you are finished inserting symbols, clicking Close to dismiss the dialog). If a keyboard shortcut exists for the symbol, you can close the dialog and use the keystrokes to insert it into your document.

Creating a Keyboard Shortcut for a Special Character or Other Symbol

If a keyboard shortcut doesn’t exist, it’s fairly simple to add one. Just click to highlight the character, then click the Shortcut Key button at the bottom of the dialog. The Customize Keyboard dialog should open, with the cursor already positioned in the “Press new shortcut key” box. Go ahead and type/press the keys you wish to use as your shortcut, such as Alt P for the paragraph symbol or Alt S for the section sign. If that key combination is already in use, the dialog will display the feature that uses the shortcut. You can override the existing key assignment merely by clicking the Assign button, or you can select a different key combination.

Once you have set up your keyboard shortcut, click Close twice to exit the Symbol dialog.

Note that this method also works for characters that are available from the Symbols tab.

The Symbols Tab of the Symbol Dialog

As in WordPerfect, you can select from various symbol sets. In Word 2007, the drop-down you use to change the symbol sets, which you can find at the top of the Symbols tab, is labeled “Font.” The first symbol set is called “(normal text)”; the rest are in alphabetical order. Note that if you have a recent version of WordPerfect on your system, you will have access to a number of WordPerfect symbol sets, possibly including ones that contain iconic, mathematical, and multinational characters.

When you locate a symbol you want to insert, just click it and press Alt I or click the Insert button on the dialog.

Using the Numeric Keypad

As with WordPerfect, you have an additional option for inserting commonly used symbols into your Word document: the Numeric Keypad. For instance, to insert a section sign (§), press the Num Lock button to turn Number Lock on, then depress the Alt key. With the Alt key depressed, press and release the number 2 on the numeric keypad, then press and release the number 1, then release the Alt key. To insert a paragraph symbol (¶), turn on Number Lock and depress the Alt key, press and release the number 2 on the numeric keypad, press and release the number 0 (zero), then release the Alt key.

Quickly Inserting the Copyright Symbol

In Word — all recent versions — Ctrl Alt C inserts the copyright symbol. Easy-peasy!

Most Recently Used Symbols

As noted above, in Word 2007, when you go to the Insert tab, Symbols group, and click the Symbol drop-down, the Most Recently Used (MRU) symbols list appears. The list contains 20 symbols. When you first use the program, the drop-down is populated with symbols chosen by Microsoft, but the list updates to reflect your own choices once you begin inserting symbols into your documents.

Make sure to position your cursor where you want the symbol to appear before invoking the MRU list (or the Symbol dialog, for that matter). Then simply click the character in the list in order to insert it at the cursor location.

In earlier versions of Word, there is no separate MRU list apart from the one that appears in a single row toward the bottom of the Symbol dialog. If you widen the dialog by dragging the lower left-hand corner, the row containing the recently-used symbols expands. On my test machine (using Word 2003), with the dialog box at the maximum width, the recently-used row consists of 36 symbols.

June 27, 2009 at 4:35 pm 1 comment

Squeezing text onto fewer pages (WordPerfect and Word, all recent versions)

If you’ve ever tried to make a document (such as a letter) fit on a single page instead of two pages, you will appreciate the features in WordPerfect that allow you to squeeze text a bit.

CAUTION: These features obviously won’t help much when you’re working on pleadings or other documents that must meet stringent formatting requirements. In general, they compress the text by adjusting margins, line spacing/line height, and/or font size. Because courts and other judicial bodies impose strict rules regarding these document attributes, you should limit the use of these “make it fit” tricks to letters and other documents that aren’t similarly regulated. Applying them to pleadings could result in your document getting “kicked back” by the courts. So do be careful.

Make It Fit

WordPerfect’s Make It Fit feature has been around for a long time. It allows you to manipulate settings for any of all of the following attributes:

  • Font
  • Line spacing
  • Top margin
  • Bottom margin
  • Left margin
  • Right margin

To use the feature, click the Format menu, Make It Fit. When the dialog opens, it will display the current number of pages and a box where you can set the desired number of pages. So, for example, if you are working on a four-page letter and you’d like it to be three pages, you would type the digit “3” (without quotation marks) in the “Desired number of pages” box.

Next, check any or all of the attributes you’d like WordPerfect to adjust in order to make the document fit onto your preferred number of pages. You might want to start by checking only one attribute, such as Bottom margin. Otherwise, the results could end up being too drastic (with the font size too small for comfortable reading, for example).

After you have shrunk the document, if you’re not satisfied you can undo and then repeat the process with additional attributes checked.

Note, incidentally, that you can select a portion of the document (e.g., a page) and apply Make It Fit only to that area. If you do so, the “Area to adjust” will change from “full document” to “Selected area.” Be aware, though, that adjusting only part of the document might result in a somewhat funky appearance.

Changing Line Spacing

An experienced word processor’s tip: One relatively easy way to get text to fit onto a single page — assuming it spills over only slightly onto the second page — is by adjusting the line spacing (Format menu, Line, Spacing).

I use this trick a fair amount with letters. It’s a simple matter because letters normally are single-spaced, so I change the spacing from 1 to a fraction such as .97 or .95. As long as I don’t go much below .9, it’s not particularly noticeable.

It’s also possible to change the Line Height in WordPerfect (Format, Line, Height), but I don’t use this feature very much. I find the process somewhat more inexact than altering the line spacing. You might experiment with it to see if you like it.

Note that in Word, you can compress line spacing, too. There are two different ways to do it, both from within the Paragraph dialog. Just remember that you have to select the text first. To select the entire document, simply press Ctrl A.

After selecting text, open the paragraph dialog (a quick method is to press Alt, O, P) and then click the Line spacing dialog, and then either:

(1) Click Exactly and set the point size — remember, points refers to the height of the characters — to something smaller than the norm (most law firms use a 12-point font as their default, so type 11 or 11.5, for example)


(2) Click Multiple, and then type .97 or .95, comparable to the way you change the line spacing in WordPerfect.

Then OK out of the dialog.

June 20, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Inserting symbols (WordPerfect, all recent versions)

It’s easy to insert symbols with WordPerfect, although setting up keyboard shortcuts is slightly more involved than in Word. Here’s the scoop:

Using Symbols

Clicking the Insert menu, Symbol (or pressing Ctrl W) opens the Symbols dialog. Note first that you can select from several different symbol sets by using the drop-down at the upper left-hand corner of the dialog. It’s worth experimenting with the various symbol sets if you have some time.

When you are ready to insert a symbol, highlight the one you want to use and either click Insert and Close or press Enter.

Alternatively, you can use the numeric keypad to insert commonly used symbols such as the section sign (§) or the paragraph symbol (¶). To insert a section sign, press the Num Lock button to turn Number Lock on, then depress the Alt key. With the Alt key depressed, press the number 2 on the numeric keypad, then the number 1, then release the Alt key. To insert a paragraph symbol, make sure Number Lock is on, then depress the Alt key and press the number 2 on the numeric keypad, then the number 0 (zero), then release the Alt key.

Assigning a Keyboard Shortcut

To assign a keyboard shortcut to a symbol such as the section sign or paragraph symbol, click the Tools menu, Settings, Customize, click the Keyboards tab, and, with your keyboard selected, click the Edit button. Next, click the Keystrokes tab on the right-hand side of the dialog.

Then, either (1) use the method described above to insert a section sign or paragraph symbol or (2) press Ctrl W to open the Symbols dialog, locate the symbol you want, and click the Insert and Close button. The symbol should appear in the Keystrokes tab. Scroll down on the left-hand side to find a key combination you like – such as Alt S for the section sign or Alt P for the paragraph symbol – and click to highlight that combination, then click the Assign Keystrokes to Key button and OK out of the dialog.

Quickly Inserting the Copyright Symbol

Press Ctrl W (to open the Symbols dialog), then type the letter C immediately followed by the letter O and press Enter.

Most Recently Used (MRU) Symbols

WP also provides a Most Recently Used (MRU) symbols button, which appears on the formatting toolbar.

When you click the button, a drop-down appears with the 16 symbols you have used most recently. To see more symbols, click the More button, which will open the Symbols dialog.

June 20, 2009 at 12:03 pm

Two ways to move text, using keyboard shortcuts (Word, recent versions)

Just a quick post for now. I’ll follow up on the two draft posts I mentioned yesterday when I have more time.

Here are two alternate ways to move text in Word, using only keyboard shortcuts.

Method 1:

While doing some research in order to try to respond to a question posted on Woody’s Lounge, I remembered reading about the Spike — a feature of Word that I’ve never actually used. Essentially it is an extended clipboard. It allows you to move (cut) multiple selections, even items that aren’t contiguous, and then paste them all at once in a single location.

To use the feature, select some text that you want to move and then press Ctrl F3. In effect, you are cutting the text and storing it in the Spike. Select some additional text that you want to move and press Ctrl F3 to add it to the Spike, as well. Keep going until you’ve selected all the text you want to relocate.

When you’re ready to reposition the text, place your cursor where you want the text to go and press Ctrl Shift F3. Note that doing so will empty the Spike (contrary to the way the regular Windows clipboard works). Thus, if you press Ctrl Shift F3, you won’t be able to paste the contents of the Spike repeatedly.

There’s a workaround, however. To paste the same items in several places in the document, position the cursor and then, instead of pressing Ctrl Shift F3, type the word “spike” (without quotation marks) and press F3. The reason that works is that Word actually creates a temporary AutoText (Quick Parts) entry when you first press Ctrl F3, but clears it when you press Ctrl Shift F3. So to keep pasting the same items, you can continue to type “spike” and press F3.

Note that the Spike operates separately from the Windows clipboard. In other words, you can use traditional copy and paste methods for certain bits of text and use the Spike for other bits. That’s one advantage to using the Spike, since there are lots of occasions (especially in the legal field) where having two different clipboards comes in handy.

Method 2:

The other method doesn’t let you cut and paste multiple items at once, but it’s still pretty nifty. First, select some text. To cut it, press F2. Then, move the cursor to a new location and, when you’re ready to paste, just press the Enter key. If you decide you don’t want to paste after all, press Esc to cancel.

Thanks to moderator HansV on the Word forum in Woody’s lounge for the F2 / Enter key tip.

June 11, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Posts in progress

Apparently someone found this blog yesterday by searching with the key words “line spacing legal documents.” Indeed, the issue of getting text to align with line numbers in pleadings can be problematic for Word users. I haven’t had a chance yet to write a post on that topic, but will do so shortly. (I address the issue at some length in the Word 2007 book.)

Also, I have started a draft post about patching your version of Word or WordPerfect, which is a relatively simple matter that can improve the functionality of the software — and fix bugs.

It might take several days for me to add those posts — my time is very tight lately and these subjects are somewhat complex — but I’ll do so as soon as possible. Keep checking back!

And, if you find it useful, please tell your friends and colleagues about this blog. Please let them know about my book, too.

June 10, 2009 at 7:53 am

Changing case (Word, all recent versions)

There’s a cool way to change the case of selected text in Word. It’s the keyboard shortcut Shift F3.

After you select some text, just press Shift F3 repeatedly to cycle among lower case, UPPER CASE, and either Initial Caps or Sentence case (depending on whether the text you’ve selected includes a period, which will trigger Sentence case).

Unfortunately, Word isn’t quite clever enough to apply “smart” Initial Caps — in which articles like “the” and conjunctions like “or” are not capitalized. (WordPerfect uses “smart” Initial Caps, so it can be jarring if you are going back and forth between the two programs and you expect Word to do the same.)

Of course, there are other ways to change case in Word, too. In Word 2007, you can use the Change Case drop-down in the Font group on the Home tab. The drop-down includes yet another option, tOGGLE cASE.

June 9, 2009 at 3:38 pm 1 comment

In case you were wondering…

No, I’m not the woman who writes the children’s books about a community of bears with all-too-human foibles. That’s Jan Berenstain. Together with her late husband Stan, she wrote more than 300 books about the amiable bears, which spawned a few animated television series.

For more information, see this Wikipedia article.

I’m asked frequently if I’m “the Berenstain Bears lady,” and occasionally (despite the fact that I’m a full generation younger) I’m tempted to say yes — restrained only by the paralyzing fear that someone will ask me to create a drawing based on the characters. The irony is that I do draw a little, but I’m not sure I could manage such an audacious forgery.

In any case, I thought I should issue a clarification, particularly in view of the fact that I’ve seen my name (spelled correctly) crop up on Google in conjunction with the ursine books.

So the next time someone asks you if I’m the author of the bear books, feel free to set the record straight: My specialty is computers, not cartoons.

June 6, 2009 at 7:26 pm

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