Archive for March, 2015

Tiplet: Bump a table down from the top of a page (Word)

Have you ever had difficulty moving a columnar table down from the top of a page?  If so, try this:

Position your cursor to the very left of any text in the top left cell of the table.  (If there’s no text in the cell, just place your cursor in that cell.)

Look at your keyboard and locate the arrow keys.

Press the left arrow key once, then press the Enter key.   (It might not look as if pressing the left arrow key moves the cursor outside the table, but apparently it does – and that’s what makes this step so essential.)

That method should work every time!

 

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March 18, 2015 at 10:07 am

Selecting text in Word (a few lesser-known methods)

Selecting text – an essential step before applying character formatting (bolding, italics, underlining) or before cutting / copying several words, sentences, or paragraphs – can be surprisingly tricky.  As a longtime legal word processor, I am notoriously bad at using the mouse for such purposes.  It could be that I simply lack manual dexterity, or maybe it’s because I rely heavily on keyboard shortcuts, which let me perform these types of tasks quickly and, with my hands still on the keys, resume typing immediately afterwards.

In any case, you’re not limited to selecting text by clicking and dragging the mouse. This post covers a few less well-known, but very handy, methods for selecting text in Microsoft Word with great precision and speed.  Try them and see which ones work best for you.[1]

SELECTING TEXT – WITH THE MOUSE

Select an Entire Document With the Mouse

Most people are familiar with the keyboard shortcut for selecting an entire document (Ctrl A), but might not know how to accomplish the same task with the mouse.  Just position your cursor somewhere in the left margin, then triple (left) click.

Select an Entire Word, Sentence, or Paragraph With the Mouse

To select a word, double-click within that word.

To select a sentence, press and hold the Ctrl key and left click within the sentence.

To select an entire paragraph, triple-click within the paragraph OR position your mouse pointer in the margin to the left of the paragraph and, when it turns into a white arrow, double-click.

Select an Irregular Block of Text With Click-Shift-Click

I call this method “Click-Shift-Click.”  It works particularly well if you are trying to select an irregularly shaped block of text (and it works in programs besides Word, including WordPerfect!).

First, left click at the beginning of the text you want to select.

Next, press and hold the Shift key.  (TIP:  The Shift key is the Selection key in Word [and in Windows generally], which means that you can select text in your document by pressing and holding Shift and then moving your cursor with the mouse or the keyboard.)

Finally, with the Shift key still depressed, left-click at the very end of the text.

If you accidentally select too much or too little text, keep the Shift key depressed and use the right or left arrow key to de-select or select text, as appropriate.

SELECTING TEXT – WITH THE KEYBOARD

Select an Entire Document With the Keyboard

As mentioned above, you can select an entire document by pressing Ctrl A (think of “All”).

Do be aware that Select All does not select the headers or footers — and, significantly, it might not select the footnotes in your document (if any) — which can be important if you are using Select All to copy and paste an entire document, including the headers, footers, and/or footnotes.  You might have to copy and paste these elements separately or else re-create them.

Select a Word, Sentence, or Paragraph With the Keyboard

To select one word at a time with the keyboard, place your cursor at the beginning of the word and press Ctrl Shift right arrow key.  (You can repeat these keystrokes to select additional words.)  Note that this method also selects the space after the word.  It does not select the punctuation following the word, however.

Alternatively, position your cursor in the word and press the F8 key twice.  IMPORTANT:  To stop selecting text, press the Esc key.

To select one sentence at a time with the keyboard, place your cursor within the sentence and press the F8 key three times.  IMPORTANT:  To stop selecting text, press the Esc key.

To select one paragraph at a time with the keyboard, place your cursor at the beginning of the paragraph and press Ctrl Shift down arrow key.  (You can repeat these keystrokes to select additional paragraphs.)

Alternatively, position your cursor in the paragraph and press the F8 key four times. IMPORTANT:  To stop selecting text, press the Esc key.

SELECTING PARTS OF A TABLE

Select an Entire Table

A very quick way to select an entire table using the mouse is to hover over the upper left-hand corner of the table until you see a plus sign.  Just left-click the plus sign to select the table.

(You can, of course, select the table by clicking the Select icon at the left side of the Layout portion of the Table Tools tab, then choosing Select Table OR by right-clicking within the table, hovering over Select, and choosing Table.)

To select an entire table using the keyboard, click in the table, then press Alt 5 (the number 5 on the Numeric Keypad) — if Num Lock is turned off.  If Num Lock is turned on, press Alt Shift 5 instead.

Select a Row

Perhaps the quickest way to select an entire row is to place the cursor in the margin to the left of the row and, when the mouse pointer turns into a white arrow, left click.

Once you’ve selected one row, you can select additional rows – whether contiguous or not – by pressing and holding the Ctrl key, then repeating the above steps for selecting a single row.

To select a row with the keyboard, position your cursor in the first cell of the row, then press the key combination Shift Alt End.

Of course, you also have the option of using the Select icon in the Layout portion of the Table Tools tab OR the right-click menu to select a row.

Select a Column

A very quick way to select an entire column is to place the cursor above the column and, when the mouse pointer turns into a black arrow, left click.

To select additional columns – whether contiguous or not – press and hold the Ctrl key, then repeat the above steps for selecting a single column.

To select a column with the mouse, place your cursor in the first cell of the column, then press the key combination Shift Alt Pg Dn.

Of course, you also have the option of using the Select icon in the Layout portion of the Table Tools tab OR the right-click menu to select a column.

Select a Cell

One of the easiest ways to select a single cell in the table is by positioning the mouse slightly to the left of the cell.  When you see a small black arrow, just left click.

After selecting one cell, you can select additional cells – whether contiguous or not – by pressing and holding the Ctrl key, then repeating the above steps for selecting a single cell.

Of course, you also have the option of using the Select icon in the Layout portion of the Table Tools tab OR the right-click menu to select a cell.

To select a cell with the keyboard, place your cursor in the cell, press and hold Shift, and press the right arrow key.

* * * * *

There are other ways to select text (and tables) in Word, but these are some of my favorite methods.  I hope they prove useful to you!

___________________________________________________________

[1]  The methods outlined in this post work in Word 2010; I believe they also work in Word 2007 and Word 2013 (and they might work in earlier versions as well), although I didn’t test in those versions while writing the post.

March 16, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Using Mistakes as a Teaching Opportunity

Note:  This post is not a how-to, but a few reflections about the art of software training.

It’s natural to cringe when you make a mistake while you’re teaching a class.  But over the years, I’ve come to realize that (a) it’s also natural to make mistakes now and then, even if you know your stuff; and (b) mistakes actually can be a great teaching opportunity.  You can use them to test your students’ understanding of the material and to reinforce a lesson.   In fact, I suspect that students sometimes retain the information better if it’s presented after an “Oops!” from the instructor.

During my recent 18-month consulting job as an MS Word trainer / template designer at the U.S. Department of Justice in Los Angeles, I conducted well more than 100 hands-on computer classes for legal assistants, paralegals, attorneys, and other staff members.  Inevitably, on occasion, I made mistakes.  Mostly those errors involved demonstrating a particular feature that didn’t work the way I had described or forgetting a step along the way.  Rather than becoming defensive or overly apologetic, I typically said, “You know what?  I actually like it when I make mistakes while teaching, because it lets us do some problem-solving as a group.  Also, sooner or later, you’re going to do the same thing – and you’ll need to know how to make it right.”

Sometimes I even deliberately did something the wrong way in order to start a discussion about why certain methods of accomplishing a particular task work better than others.

For instance, once or twice while I was showing my class how to paste unformatted text from an old WordPerfect document into a blank document based on one of the new MS Word templates, I ended up with all of the text formatted as a Heading 1 (with auto numbering plus bolding and underlining).  People watching the monitor and viewing the results understandably looked perplexed.  So I said, “Obviously, that’s not the result we wanted.  Can anyone tell me what I did wrong?”

They guessed, “You pasted but kept the formatting from the WordPerfect doc.”  Or “You clicked ‘Bold’ after you pasted.”  I said, “No, although those are good guesses.”

Eventually, someone figured out the correct answer:  “Your cursor was in the heading before you pasted.  That’s why everything took on the Heading 1 style, even though you pasted without formatting.”  (The pleading templates included a few boilerplate headings, such as INTRODUCTION and ARGUMENT.)

“Yes!” I replied. “That’s why you have to be careful about the position of your cursor before you paste into the new document.  Make sure your cursor is in an empty paragraph, one that’s pre-formatted with a text style, and then paste without formatting.  Remember that the pasted text will take on the formatting of the style that’s in effect at your cursor position.”

Lots of “ohhhhs” followed.

“Let’s do it again,” I suggested.  I undid the original paste, made a point of moving the cursor into an empty paragraph and pointed out that the text style was now highlighted in the QuickStyles Gallery (a sneaky way to work in a little refresher on how to tell which style is in effect at the cursor position!), then made sure they watched as I did another Paste and Keep Text Only.

“Voilà!  Now the pasted text has adopted the basic text style, and we can go through and apply heading styles, the block quote style, and so forth.”

At this point, some students scribbled notes; others asked additional questions and/or restated what I had just shown them.  “So you had your cursor in a blank paragraph before you pasted?”  “Yes.”  If they still seemed confused or if they specifically asked, I showed them again.

More commonly, I forgot to turn off “Show / Hide” (i.e., to switch to “Hide” mode) before generating a Table of Authorities.  That mistake is less obvious to the students, because the TOA generates either way.  However, if I realized my error, I stopped and said, “Okay, I forgot a critical step.  What did I do wrong?”  Again, people started guessing.  Almost always, someone quickly called out the correct answer:  “You forgot to turn off ‘Show / Hide.’”

“Gold star!” I replied.  (I started awarding virtual gold stars early on, and much later brought in actual gold-star stickers that I handed out liberally to my students.  As hokey as that sounds, people loved both the virtual and the real gold stars.  Even people who openly made fun of the idea usually took the stickers.)   “I forgot to turn off ‘Show / Hide.’  And why does that matter?”

That question got them thinking.  Some people knew the answer, but others obviously were still unsure.  If someone responded, “Because the pagination might not be accurate,” I’d reinforce that response by saying, “Exactly.  Keep in mind that when ‘Show / Hide’ is on, the TA codes take up room in the document.”  At this point, I scrolled down to a page where a lengthy TA code was visible and made sure they were looking at the monitor.  “Even one TA code for a federal case can take up three or four lines.  As you can imagine, eventually the codes could bump citations down to the next page, which means that when you generate the TOA, the pagination will be inaccurate.”

Going into this much detail might seem excessive, but sometimes it’s just what people need in order to clarify or reinforce a lesson.

Another mistake I made on purpose involved demonstrating how to get the text of a pleading to align with the pleading line numbers.  As part of my class prep, I created a sample doc based on one of their old documents.  I deliberately changed the line spacing of most of the body text so that it was out of alignment with the line numbers.  In class, I explained how to figure out what the line spacing should be:  Go into any header, right-click within the line numbers, choose “Paragraph,” and note the figure under “Line spacing.”  (That, in itself, was a good opportunity to review the meaning of “Exactly” line spacing and, in particular, to discuss “points” – a unit of measurement of the height of the characters.)

I suggested they write down the figure.  However, I emphasized that the line spacing of the pleading line numbers will vary from document to document because people don’t always use docs based on the new templates.  Indeed, as is common in the legal profession, they often copy and reuse old docs that attorneys brought with them from law firms where they used to work or that originated with an opposing counsel.

After the students made note (mental or written) of the line spacing of the pleading line numbers in the problem doc, I had them close out of the header, select / highlight the body text, then open the Paragraph dialog and apply the same line spacing that had been applied to the pleading line numbers.  Usually that worked fine, but sometimes when I showed them, I deliberately failed to include the centered heading at the top of the first page when I selected the text and changed the line spacing.  As a result, the text still appeared to be out of alignment with the line numbers.

I pointed out the problem and said something like, “Hey!  What happened?  We wrote down the line spacing of the pleading line numbers, selected the text, and changed the line spacing appropriately.  Why didn’t it work?”  If they were quiet, I added, “Maybe Jan just doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”  They laughed a bit, and then I continued, “We did almost everything right, but missed something important.  What did we miss?”

Once in a while, somebody figured it out, but usually I had to show them.  “The first time I grabbed the text, I forgot to include the title at the top of the page.  Watch what happens if I select / highlight the title and apply the correct line spacing.”

As soon as I did so, everything adjusted, and all of the text was aligned properly with the pleading line numbers.  (Sometimes they asked me to show them again, which I gladly did.)

These are just a few examples of goofs I made in class (sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose) that I was able to turn into teaching opportunities.  They were valuable teaching tools for a few reasons:  they showed people that despite my expertise with Word, I’m an approachable person who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and poke fun at myself (a very important way of establishing rapport with students); they helped me determine who was still confused about how certain features work; they reinforced, in a dramatic and obvious way, points that I made in class; and they gave us a chance to team up to solve real-world problems that the students are likely to encounter in the course of their work.

 

March 16, 2015 at 12:07 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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