Archive for September, 2009

Apropos of nothing in particular…

…except the fact that I am trying to raise a little capital, both to keep myself afloat so that I can continue to post these tips for free and also so that I can help the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) raise money to work for treatments (and, ultimately, cures) for those terrible diseases of the blood.

I have recently created a 2010 calendar with photographs I took on my trips to Lyon, France in 2006 and 2008. The calendar is available for purchase on on this page.

The price is a little higher than the norm for mass-produced calendars you can buy on Amazon and from “walk-in” bookstores. There are three main reasons for that fact: (1) it costs more to publish calendars and books on demand than to print them en masse, which means that the profit margin is relatively slim; (2) I would like to split the proceeds with LLS, an organization I support in part because of my personal experience with lymphoma (my father had it, though he actually died not from the disease itself but as the result of a hospital-acquired infection); and (3) it is a unique piece of art, constituting a personal photo essay.

I think the images are quite pretty (if I do say so myself), and if you are familiar with Lyon, they should bring back fond memories. Take a look at the preview on the calendar’s Lulu page — which consists of the cover image and photos from four of the twelve months — and see if you agree.

If you do, please consider buying at least one copy of the calendar (it’s a great gift!). Your purchase will help to keep this blog going and also will benefit a very worthy organization that is working hard to rid the world of the scourges of leukemia and lymphoma.

To donate directly to LLS, visit their web site. There’s also a link in the right-hand column, under Recommended Sites — Miscellaneous — to the web site for the LLS’ fundraising event called The Light The Night Walk. (The walk in the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles takes place this coming Saturday, October 3.)

Thanks so much for your support.

September 30, 2009 at 4:16 pm

Centering a page vertically (WordPerfect and Word)

Although I never have had occasion to use this feature, I’ve noticed that some people have been using the search term “center page,” “vertical centering,” or something similar. So here are the instructions for centering a page vertically in both WordPerfect and Word.


To center a page vertically in WordPerfect (so that any text you type begins at the center point between the top and bottom margins of a page), click the Format menu, Page, Center…. A Center Page(s) dialog box opens, offering the following mutually exclusive choices:

  • Current page
  • Current and subsequent pages
  • No centering

If you choose the first option, only the current page will be centered.  If you choose the second option, the current page and all subsequent pages will be centered. Click the option you want to use and click OK.

To stop page centering at a particular point in your document, position the cursor on the page where you want to turn off centering and once again click the Format menu, Page, Center….  This time, the Center Page(s) dialog box looks a little different.  Specifically, the third option has changed and now reads “Turn Centering Off.”  Click that option, then click OK, and the instant page (and all subsequent pages) will return to normal vertical alignment — i.e., any text you type begins at the top of the page, just below the top margin.


In Word, you center a page vertically via the Page Setup dialog. To open the Page Setup dialog in versions of Word prior to Word 2007, click the File menu, Page Setup. In Word 2007, navigate to the Page Layout tab and click the Page Setup dialog launcher (the arrow at the lower right-hand corner of the Page Setup group).

When the Page Setup dialog opens, click the Layout tab and look about halfway down. You should see a section labeled “Page,” and within that section a drop-down for “Vertical alignment.” To center a page vertically, select the Center option. Before you click OK, take a look at the “Apply to” drop-down, located toward the bottom left of the dialog in Word 2007 and toward the right side in earlier versions. By default, it probably will be set to “Whole document.” If you prefer, you can change that setting to “This point forward.”** Make sure the drop-down is set to your liking, and then click OK.

If you need to change the vertical alignment of a subsequent page, position the cursor on the page where you want the change to go into effect and repeat the steps outlined in the previous two paragraphs.

Note that the other choices for vertical alignment in Word are Top (the norm), Bottom (so that any text you type begins at the bottom of the page), and Justified. If you have a full page of text, the “Justified” option adds extra white space so that the existing text is justified (stretched evenly) between the top and bottom margins. Less than a full page of text will retain Top alignment, rather than being justified.

**If you have changed the vertical alignment in a previous portion of the document, you should see a third option: “This section.” Choose that option if appropriate.

September 26, 2009 at 4:15 pm

The Format Painter (Word, all recent versions)

The Format Painter is a handy tool in Word that makes it easy to copy formatting from one paragraph to another (or to multiple paragraphs). I use it on a fairly regular basis to get a “misbehaving” paragraph — one where the indentation, tabs, and/or numbering simply won’t cooperate — to take on the characteristics of other, similar paragraphs in a document that are formatted the way I intended.

A crucial point to keep in mind when using the Format Painter is that it duplicates all of the formatting attributes that have been applied to a paragraph. In other words, it applies the types of formatting that are found — and configured — in the Paragraph dialog: justification, outline level (if any), indentation, before and after spacing, line spacing, widow/orphan control, keep with next, keep text together, etc. For example, if you use the Format Painter to copy from a paragraph has double spacing, 6 points after spacing, a first-line indent of half an inch, and left justification, the “painted” paragraph will take on double spacing, 6 points after spacing, a first-line indent of half an inch, and left justification. You can’t use this feature to replicate only some of the formatting attributes of a paragraph (for example, just the double-spacing and 6 points after spacing without the first-line indent and left justification).

Note that any automatic numbering that you’ve applied to a paragraph will carry over to the painted paragraph, as well. Sometimes the results can be funky, however; indents occasionally change and numbering that is intended to continue in sequence occasionally restart at 1. But more often than not, the Format Painter fixes those types of problems. (If it doesn’t, try the other method of copying paragraph formatting that I mention toward the end of this post. That method is pretty reliable.)

Although the Format Painter frequently is used to copy “direct” or “manual” formatting between paragraphs, it can be used to copy a style, as well.

Here’s how it works: Position the cursor anywhere within the model paragraph (the one with the formatting you like), then navigate to the Format Painter icon, which looks, appropriately enough, like a paintbrush. In Word 2007, it is located at the very left side of the Home tab, at the bottom of the Clipboard group. In earlier versions of Word, it is on the Standard Toolbar, to the right of the clipboard (Paste) icon. If you want to copy the formatting to just one paragraph, click the paintbrush once; if you want to copy the formatting to more than one paragraph, double-click it.

Next, click anywhere within the first paragraph to which you wish to apply the formatting. It should take on the attributes of the original paragraph. Keep going through the document and clicking the other paragraphs that you want to take on the formatting of the “good” paragraph. When you’ve finished, turn off the feature by clicking the paintbrush icon again. (That final step isn’t necessary if you’re copying formatting to just one paragraph.) And that’s it!

Every once in a while, the Format Painter doesn’t work. But in my experience, it succeeds 90% to 95% of the time, and it is a really useful — and quick — way to whip those disobedient paragraphs into shape.

Alternatively, you can copy formatting between paragraphs by displaying the non-printing characters, then selecting, copying, and pasting the paragraph symbol (pilcrow) — which, as I discussed in an early post, contains the formatting codes for the immediately preceding paragraph — from one paragraph to another (or to several different paragraphs). That typically works even better than the Format Painter, and (for me) it has the added advantage that it doesn’t require use of the mouse. (Remember, you can use the key combination Ctrl Shift * [asterisk] to toggle the non-printing characters on and off.)

WordPerfect has a feature called QuickFormat that is similar to the Format Painter, but I tend to use it only rarely. I’ll write about QuickFormat in a subsequent post.

September 24, 2009 at 7:21 pm

The Amazon listing is wrong… my book remains available

One of the frustrations of working with a publishing-on-demand (POD) company such as is that — contrary to what you might suppose — authors don’t always have much control over the distribution and promotion of our work. As much as I appreciate the fact that Lulu chose to make my book available for sale on Amazon as well as via its own channels, Lulu’s so-called “Amazon Marketplace program” continues to have some glitches that are completely unpredictable and mysterious to those of us who are fortunate enough to participate in that program.

This afternoon, for no apparent reason, my book is listed on Amazon as being “Currently unavailable.” That happened before in July (also for no apparent reason). It’s not true that the book is unavailable; in fact, the very idea of unavailability runs counter to the entire POD concept. POD means, in essence, that when you order a book, the printing companies that work with Lulu make a copy for you. (If you order five copies, the printing companies make five copies for you.) Of course, there can be delays in printing and/or in shipping, but orders always will be fulfilled sooner or later.

Because Lulu fulfills orders placed on Amazon as well as orders placed on the book’s Lulu page, the “Currently unavailable” designation makes no sense.

I will contact both Lulu and Amazon to try to find out what is going on. In the meantime, if you are unable to purchase a copy of the book through Amazon (the “Add to Cart” button vanishes when Amazon sets a book’s properties as “Currently unavailable”), try ordering directly from Lulu. The link to the book’s Lulu page can be found by clicking here.

Of course, I would prefer that you have the option of buying through Amazon, which usually offers better shipping rates than Lulu.

I’ll see what I can do… Thank you for being patient! (And thanks to all of you who have bought the book. I very much appreciate your patronage and support.)

* * * * * *

On a completely different note, I will be adding a couple of substantive posts soon. I’ve fallen behind as a result of a very hectic schedule the past week or so.

September 24, 2009 at 3:35 pm

The shadow cursor (WordPerfect, recent versions)

Recent versions of WordPerfect come with a feature called the Shadow Cursor. When the Shadow Cursor is enabled, you can click anywhere in the document — even a new, blank document — and begin typing. (When the Shadow Cursor is disabled, you can’t simply click and type in a blank document; you have to start at the top left.) If you click in the horizontal center, any text you begin typing there will be centered. If you click at the right margin, any text you type at that point will be right-justified. Clicking anywhere else in the document produces standard left-justified text.

The Shadow Cursor appears as a gray horizontal line, plus an arrow (signifying the direction that text will go), wherever you position the mouse pointer.

If you drag in a blank area while the Shadow Cursor is on, a pop-up menu appears that gives you the option of inserting an image, clip art, a text box, a custom box, or a table at that location.

As a rule, people either love the Shadow Cursor or they hate it. Fortunately, it’s easy to turn the feature on and off. There are two ways: (1) by clicking the View menu and then clicking Shadow Cursor; or (2) by single-clicking the icon for the Shadow Cursor that appears toward the middle of the Application Bar. (If the Application Bar — WordPerfect’s term for what is commonly called the status bar — isn’t displayed, click the View menu, Application Bar or, after clicking the View menu, click Toolbars… and click the checkbox next to Application Bar, then OK out.) Both methods act as toggles. That is, one click enables the feature (or disables it if it’s already turned on); a second click disables it (or vice versa, depending on the original state).

You can change the appearance of the Shadow Cursor as well as the portion of the screen in which it is active. To do so, click the Tools menu, Settings, Display. On the main tab, about halfway down, you’ll see the options for the Shadow Cursor. They include settings for the color and shape of the Shadow Cursor. Also, you can choose to have the Shadow Cursor active within text only, within white space only, or in both places.

The options also allow you to change the “snap to” setting in effect in blank areas of the document. Most people probably choose to snap to Tabs; that way, when you click somewhere in the white space, the Shadow Cursor lands on a tab stop. By contrast, if you select snap to Margins, the cursor ends up either at the very center of the document (horizontally) or at the left or right margin. Snap to Spaces allows you to click at any horizontal position in the white space, although in my tests the cursor still favored tab stops much of the time.

September 12, 2009 at 6:16 pm

More about the non-printing characters in Word (all versions)

In earlier posts, I’ve mentioned Word’s “non-printing characters,” but only in passing. Even in my early post about the paragraph symbol (pilcrow), I didn’t go into details about the non-printing characters: what they are, how to display (and hide) them, how to troubleshoot issues involving them.

The non-printing characters are what Microsoft calls “formatting marks.” They indicate the presence of various types of formatting, but they do not print with the document, even when they are displayed on the screen. Essentially, they serve as markers or signposts that you can use to figure out what’s going on in your document.

Types of Non-Printing Characters

There are several different non-printing characters that you can display. Among them:

  • The paragraph symbol or pilcrow (which contains formatting codes for the preceding paragraph)
  • Tab markers, inserted when you press the Tab key (depicted as arrows)
  • Spaces, inserted when you press the space bar (depicted as dots toward the vertical center of a line)
  • Non-breaking spaces, inserted when you press Ctrl Shift space bar (depicted as a degree symbol)
  • Line breaks (depicted as a bent left-pointing arrow)
  • Page breaks (depicted as a densely dotted line with the words “Page Break” in the middle)
  • Section breaks (depicted as a two densely dotted lines with the words “Section Break,” followed by the type of break (Next Page) or (Continuous), in the middle); note that section breaks contain the instructions for the page formatting — margins, headers and footers, page orientation, etc. — of the section preceding the break
  • Column breaks (depicted as a dotted line with the words “Column Break” in the middle)
  • Hidden text (depicted as a dense line of dots — usually colored a shade of purple — immediately underneath the text)**
  • Optional or conditional (“soft”) hyphens, inserted when you press Ctrl hyphen (depicted as a hyphen with a short vertical extension at the right side)
  • Non-breaking (“hard”) hyphens, inserted when you press Ctrl Shift hyphen (which looks almost exactly like an en dash but is slightly higher up)
  • Object anchors, used to pin graphics or other “floating” items to a particular location in a document (depicted as an anchor)
  • End-of-cell and end-of row markers in tables (depicted as a circle with lines coming out of it; to me the symbol looks something like a mini-sun); these markers contain formatting codes for the individual cell and row, respectively

Another non-printing character you’ll see at times is a small black square that appears in the margin to the left of a paragraph. That symbol indicates that someone has applied one or more of the following Line and Page Break options found in the paragraph dialog: Keep with next, Keep lines together, Page break before, or Suppress line numbers (the mark doesn’t appear if Widow/Orphan control or Don’t hyphenate has been applied).

In addition, when you display the non-printing characters, you will see any codes you have inserted to mark items for inclusion in a generated Table of Authorities (TOA). (The same is true if you use TC codes to mark the Table of Contents, or TOC.) CAUTION: Although those codes won’t print when you send the document to the printer, you need to remember to hide the non-printing characters before generating the TOA (and/or TOC). The reason is that the displayed codes do take up space in the document, and they can bump a citation to the next page, such that when you generate, the pagination in the TOA (and/or TOC) will be incorrect.

Codes used to mark Index entries, ordinarily invisible, also will appear when you display the non-printing characters.

How to Display or Hide the Non-Printing Characters

To display or hide the non-printing characters, press the key combination Ctrl Shift * (asterisk) — the asterisk is located above the number 8 in the row of number keys at the top of your keyboard. That key combination, which works in all recent versions of Word, is a toggle. Press once to display the characters; press a second time to hide them.

Alternatively, you can click the paragraph icon that is located on the Standard toolbar in versions of Word up through Word 2003 and in the Paragraph group on the Home tab in Word 2007.

Troubleshooting the Non-Printing Characters

If you have pressed Ctrl Shift * (asterisk) or clicked the paragraph symbol a couple of times in an attempt to hide the non-printing characters but some or all of them remain visible, they’re probably enabled in the Word Options. You’ll need to go into the options and disable them.

In versions of Word prior to Word 2007, click the Tools menu, Options, and look at the View tab. About halfway down, you’ll see a section labeled Formatting Marks. Click to uncheck any boxes with checkmarks in them (including “All”). Be sure to save your settings by clicking OK. After doing so, you should be able to hide the non-printing characters in the normal way again. In Word 2007, click the Office button, Word Options, Display, and do the same. (Note that in Word 2007, the “All” option has been renamed “Show all formatting marks.”)

Codes That Aren’t Considered Non-Printing Characters

Most of the field codes (date codes, page number codes, file name and path codes, etc.) are not considered non-printing characters and won’t display when you press Ctrl Shift * (asterisk) or click the paragraph symbol. To display those codes, press Alt F9. (Press Alt F9 again to hide them and show the code results instead.)

Bookmarks aren’t non-printing characters, and you can’t use Alt F9 to display them. Instead, in versions of Word up through Word 2003, click the Tools menu, Options, navigate to the top portion of the View tab, click to check Bookmarks, and click OK. In Word 2007, click the Office button, Word Options, Advanced, scroll about halfway down to Show document content, and check Bookmarks (if that option is unchecked), then OK out. Note that displaying bookmarks doesn’t reveal their content. Rather, bookmarks appear as gray brackets around bookmarked text.

Finding and Replacing Non-Printing Characters

You can search for (and/or replace) many of the non-printing characters. Just invoke the Find dialog with Ctrl F (or press Ctrl H to open the dialog to the Find and Replace tab), click the More button to display all of the Find options, then click the Special button. You can search for any of these characters:

  • the non-printing paragraph mark (note that you can search for paragraph symbols you have inserted into the text as characters, but keep in mind the difference between the two. Word uses the term “paragraph mark” to mean the non-printing character and the term “paragraph character” to mean the symbol inserted into your document as printable text)
  • tab characters
  • non-breaking spaces (but not regular spaces inserted by pressing the space bar)***
  • non-breaking hyphens
  • optional / conditional (“soft”) hyphens
  • manual line breaks
  • section breaks

Note that if you like, you can insert the caret symbol (the one over the number 6 in the row of numbers at the top of your keyboard) and the appropriate letter or character if you wish to search for one of these non-printing characters. For example, you can type ^p if you want to search for the non-printing paragraph symbol.

You can replace a non-printing character with nothing (leave the Replace with box empty), with another character (including but not limited to non-printing characters), or with text.

Printing the Non-Printing Characters

As far as I know, there is no easy way to print the non-printing characters, though conceivably you could use Find and Replace to substitute printable paragraph characters for non-printing paragraph marks (and use similar workarounds for other non-printing characters). The only simple method that occurs to me is to take a screenshot by using Print Scrn (or using a program such as SnagIt) and pasting the contents of the clipboard into a blank document.

**To hide text, select it, open the Font dialog (by pressing Ctrl D or using any other method you prefer), and clicking the checkbox next to “Hidden.”

***If you search for “White Space,” Word will find normal spaces, but if you have several consecutive spaces, it highlights all of them as a group, rather than individually. Also, a search for “White Space” turns up other non-printing characters (including non-breaking spaces and non-breaking hyphens) in addition to normal spaces.

September 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

A quick way to increase or decrease the size of text on a web page

A brief post tonight, and a slight departure from my usual topics (Word and WordPerfect). I discovered quite by accident today that it is very easy to zoom in on a web page by pressing Ctrl + (plus sign); you can zoom out by pressing Ctrl – (minus sign). Yes, that’s probably something I should have realized; I do know that most browsers have a View menu with commands for enlarging and reducing text size. But for some reason, I never focused on the keyboard shortcuts — definitely an oversight for someone who relies heavily on keystrokes.

It’s great because it seems to work in several browsers: Firefox, Chrome, and Netscape. (I haven’t tested in IE, which I seldom use.) Also great because it means less clicking.

I’ll definitely pass this tip along to my “Computers for Seniors” students at UCLA Extension.** Considering that it can be hard to read the small print on various web sites, this easy method for changing the text size should appeal to them.

**They no longer refer to the computer workshops as “Computers for Seniors” classes, but to me the description remains apt. It’s a series of hands-on classes for older adults offered by The Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning and UCLA Extension. The fall class starts on October 2. For more information, call (310) 825-9168 or check out the online course catalogue at

September 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm

© Jan Berinstein 2009-present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of one or more articles posted on this blog -- i.e., without express written permission from the blog’s author -- is strictly prohibited. You may use brief excerpts and/or links, provided that you give full, accurate, and prominent credit to Jan Berinstein, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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