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My work is being proofread – why do I need to use Spell Check?

Spell check buttonI recently posted a how-to article about using Spell Check (well, one for Word 2007/2010 and one for Word 2013, actually). Today I want to talk about why you should use Spell Check, even if you’re using an editor or proofreader of the human variety to check your work.

Using Spell Check before you send your work to your editor

So, you’re using an editor to check your work: why on earth should you need to run a spell check first?

I’m not talking about going through your document with a big pile of style guides and dictionaries by your side. I’m talking about taking maybe half an hour to press the spell check button and go through your manuscript removing the obvious errors. You know, the ones where you spell it obvis errrors.

As an editor, it can get a bit frustrating when you’re picking away at typos (form for from, fried for friend) which are composed of ‘real’ words (which obviously a spell checker program won’t notice) and then you find a load of fromms or frends which a spell check would have eliminated. And here’s the thing: we’re human. If we’re concentrating on picking up your incorrect spellings and non-existent words, we’re less likely to be able to concentrate in detail on what we’re supposed to be doing: making your language express your thoughts and meaning as clearly as possible.

Yes, we can run a spell check for you, and if I spot more than the odd error that this would eliminate, I will do that myself. But it’s time-consuming. And that’s another thing: time-consuming. Some editors charge by the time spent, some by the word. I’m a charge-by-the-word woman myself, but if you’re paying for someone’s time, why pay them to do something you can do yourself?

So, there are two points to bear in mind here:

  1. If your work isn’t spell checked, your editor will be concentrating on those issues and less able to go deeper into their work
  2. If you’re paying by the hour, you’ll be paying extra needlessly

I have to add here that it can seem a little impolite, too, to not run a spell check before you send the manuscript in to your editor. A little bit as if you’re the creative person with the big ideas and you’re sending it off to the paid help who will sort out things you’re too important to do. I’m pretty sure that this is NOT the case for the majority of authors, but it’s always best to avoid that impression if at all possible. See the caveats below …

What if I don’t know whether spell check is correct?

That’s fine. We’re the experts, you’re the creative one. If you’re not sure of your spelling and which word is correct, you can always either leave a note in the margin or let us know you ran a spell check but you’re not sure of a few things. In fact, spell check itself isn’t always correct (see below). All I’m saying here is that the fewer avoidable mistakes there are in your manuscript, the better the job that I’m able to do for you.

Times when pre-spell-checking isn’t appropriate

I’m not a monster and I’m not inflexible – nor are the other editors I know. We’re a kind and helpful bunch. If you have issues with your spelling, dyslexia or any other special situations, of course we’re not going to reprimand you over issues in the spelling in your document. Also, if you’re using voice recognition software, I’m not actually sure how the spell-checker works in that situation (if someone who uses such software wants to comment, that will be very so useful and I’ll include your notes in an update).

However, it is important to let your editor know if you have any special issues like these. It will help us to do a better job for you, and perhaps even to explain our choices and changes in a way that’s easiest for you. Also, we can look out for particular artefacts that might arise in your manuscript because of the way in which you’ve written it (voice recognition software is notorious for inserting homophones into the texts it produces). As I said, we’re an understanding and helpful bunch, and we want to help you in the best way possible.

Using Spell Check when you’ve received your work back from your editor

No – I don’t mean right away! Well, if you find a load of legitimate errors  you might want to speak to your editor (although nobody’s perfect and no editor I know can do 100% perfect work: we’re human). But, most of the time, your manuscript is going to come back to you either in Word with Track Changes turned on or in an annotated PDF which you then need to update. In both of those cases, you doing the corrections can allow errors to creep in. It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just what happens.

I learned this the hard way when I received my last manuscript back from my editor. I accepted changed as I went along and did one final Accept all changes once I’d reviewed the document, but some oddities had crept in, especially in the spacing around punctuation. Luckily, I noticed in time, ran a quick spell check and got it all sorted out – but if someone who’s an editor herself can manage to introduce errors when dealing with her editor’s edits (sorry!), I’m going to assume that anyone can manage to do that!

Beware: Spell Check is not always right (gasp!)

There is a caveat here.

Much of English grammar is not totally prescriptive. There are often two ways of going about doing something, especially when you look at hyphenation and capitalisation. This means that when you’re spell-checking after the edit, you should bear in mind the style sheet that your editor’s sent you. If they’ve chosen a particular word form to make things consistent in your manuscript, I’d consider keeping it even if the automated spell check says it’s wrong (in its opinion). Microsoft software appears to use something called the “Microsoft Manual of Style“, but obviously if you’re working to a particular style guide such as Oxford or Chicago Manual of Style, they will over-ride Microsoft if there’s a clash. A classic example of this is “proofreader” – that’s the accepted way of writing the word in most of the major style guides, but Word Spell Check does like to change it to proof-reader. I’d kind of assume your editor knows how to (not) hyphenate that one, but do bear this in mind when you’re doing that final check.

Also, if you’re writing creatively, your editor might have left something in which is correct, but creative, while spell check (even without grammar check) might take issue with it. A classic example I find is spell check trying to change they’re to their, irrespective of the actual correct use of the word. So beware on grammar or word form choice issues like that – you can always check back with your editor or consult a style guide if you’re not sure.

This article has talked about why writers should use spell check even if they have an editor. If you’ve got an opinion on this, or a good reason NOT to use spell check, do please post a comment below! And if you’ve enjoyed this post or found it useful, please do share it using the share buttons!

Related posts on this blog:

Using Spell Check in Word 2007 and 2010

Using Spell Check in Word 2013

 

 
 

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How to use spell check in Word 2007 and Word 2010

In this article we’re going to talk about using the spell checker function in Word, including how to find it, how to use it, and when not to believe it. This article works with Word 2007 and Word 2010 – screen shots are taken from Word 2010. I have written about Word 2013 separately as it’s a bit different.

What is Spell Check?

Spell check is a function in Word that will check both the spelling and appropriate word use in your document. It’s not perfect, but it will pick up all sorts of errors and typos that you might not realise you’ve made.

Spell Check will go through your document and highlight any words that it thinks are spelled incorrectly. If it can, it will offer alternative spellings for you to choose from. You can then choose to change the word to one of its suggestions, change all instances of that word to the suggestion, or ignore the “error” once or always.

We usually run a spell check after writing a document, although you can ask Word to check spellings as you go along (I personally find this distracting). It’s worth running it even if you think your writing is perfect and you’ve read through the document finding no mistakes – there’s always something, and that’s why, even though I’m an editor, I use spell check on my own posts and as a final check on documents I’ve edited, and why I have an editor for my books!

How do I start Spell Check?

We run Spell Check from the Review tab in Word:

How to start spell check

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the same icon in the Quick Access Toolbar at the very top of the document. I’ve added the Spell Check button there because I use it a lot. If you want to learn how to add buttons to the QAT, read this article.

With your cursor at the beginning of the document, click on the Spelling and Grammar button. Word will highlight each word that it thinks is incorrect, starting with the first one:

spell check in action

Here, I started at the beginning of the text, but you’ll notice that it’s missed out “peace of txt” even though that is clearly wrong. We’ll look at that in a minute, but let’s concentrate on what happens when it gets it right.

What options does Spell Check give you?

Spell Check has highlighted “misteaks” and you can see in the Suggestions box below that it’s suggested the closest word first, then a few other options. “Mistakes” is highlighted, but if I did mean “mistake” or “mistreats”, I can click on one of those.

To the right, we have some buttons – Ignore Once / Ignore All / Add to Dictionary are to be used when we know what we typed is correct and we want to keep it; Change / Change All / AutoCorrect will allow us to make that change:

  • Ignore Once will ignore just that instance of the word in question
  • Ignore All will ignore that exact word throughout the rest of the piece
  • Add to Dictionary will add that exact word to the Spell Check dictionary so it will never ask you ever again if you’ve miss-spelled it. I have used this for my name in the past, which is why this Spell Check process won’t pick up “Broomfield” or “Dexter”, and I also add in commonly used technical terms and jargon that comes up a lot in the texts I work with.
  • Change will change just that instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”. Any other examples will stay as they are
  • Change All will change every instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”.
  • AutoCorrect brings up the AutoCorrect screen (see this article for more on AutoCorrect) which allows you to set up an automatic correction for the future, so whenever you type “misteaks” it will change to “mistakes”. This is really useful if you notice that you’re mistyping a word regularly.

I’m going to click on Change All, and this will automatically change all examples of “misteaks” to “mistakes” in the text. Note, however, that it will not change “misteak” – it only looks for the exact same word. This includes capital letters, so it will now flag up “Misteaks” as a new error and make some new suggestions, the second of which is the correct one. I do tend to click on Change All, so that I save time and mouse clicks correcting the same form of the same word over and over again.

Now, let’s see what else Spell Check will look at.

It will notice if you’ve missed out an apostrophe, even if the word “wont” is a word in itself:

spell check apostrophe

And it will check incorrect punctuation, too:

spell check punctuation

Finally. you can ask Spell Check to check your grammar, too. Here, it’s picked up that I started a sentence with a lower-case letter:

spell check grammar check

There’s a caveat here, though: I find the grammar checker to be quite rigid and a bit odd. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that I have Check grammar ticked in the above image but not in the others – this is because I tend to turn off the grammar checker when I’m working on my own texts and other people’s. It’s up to you whether you do that, and instructions for tweaking the Spell Checker will appear in a later article.

What if I change my mind or make a mistake?

If you make a misteak, oops, sorry, mistake when you’re changing words in Spell Check, there’s a handy button that will take you back.

Here, I’ve clicked on the first suggestion for “Misteaks” which was “MI steaks”. Oops. I only see it when I’ve already hit Change All. But I can click the Undo button to take me back to that set of choices, and you can click the Undo button more than once.

undo spell check

Having pressed Undo, we’re back to looking at “Misteaks” instead:

spell check undone

Does Spell Check ever get it wrong?

In our example, Spell Check has missed the obviously incorrect phrase “peace of txt”:

spell check in action

It does sometimes notice when you use an incorrect but valid word (i.e. it is actually a word in itself), but not always. I’m guessing that it’s ignored “txt” because that’s a file extension (like .doc) which is used when saving documents. So Spell Check hasn’t picked that up, and you or your editor will have to notice it yourselves!

It also uses rules which don’t match standard common usage. Right up until Word 2013, it thinks that proofreader is two words, hyphenated:

Spell check getting it wrong

This makes it quite embarrassing when I’m checking a client’s acknowledgements, they thank me for proofreading, and then have spell-checked their work, so I have to change it back to proofreading.

Word is also not keen on swear words, and can give amusing alternatives if you try that …

Help – my Spell Check’s making everything go into American English!

Your Spell Checker will work with whatever variety of English (or any other language) that your text is set to. So if you have your text set to be in American English, that’s the language your Spell Check will use. Learn how to change the language of your document and your editing language  – and watch out, as your comment boxes might appear in another language, too, which will upset your Spell Checker – use this article to make sure your comment language matches the rest of the document.

Can I use spell check in other applications as well as Word?

Many applications have spell check functions. For example, the WordPress editor that I’m using to write this has a spell check button. so does my MailChimp newsletter editor, my email editor and Excel and PowerPoint. Wherever you see a button like this, you should find a spell check option:

spell check icon

In this article we’ve looked at what Spell Check is, how to access it, how to ignore and change words, and some things to watch out for. In future articles I’ll be sharing how to tweak your Spell Check settings, how to tell Spell Check NOT to look at particular text, and when to use Spell Check when you’re working with an editor. Oh, and there will be a parallel post on Spell Check in Word 2013, too!

———————

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. If you’ve enjoyed the post or found it useful, please use the sharing buttons below to share it via your social media networks – thank you!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007 and Word 2010 for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Other useful posts on this blog

Using Spell Check in Word 2013

How to change the language of your Word document

How to change your editing language

How to change the language of your comment boxes

How to use AutoCorrect

How to add buttons to the Quick Access Toolbar

Find all the short cuts here … and see the full resource guide here.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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How to use spell check in Word 2013

Because Spell Check looks different in Word 2013, here is a special article just on that version of Word. It should be read alongside the more detailed post on Spell Check for Word 2007 and Word 2010 which you can find here.

What is Spell Check?

Spell Check in Word checks  the spelling and grammar in your document, highlighting any words that it thinks are spelled incorrectly and offering alternatives.

It’s always worth using Spell Check, even if you’re an accomplished writer or feel you can edit your own work – we all make mistakes, and this will catch many of them.

How do I start Spell Check?

We run Spell Check from the Review tab in Word:

Word 2013 spell check

Note: I’ve added the Spell Check button there because I use it a lot. If you want to learn how to add buttons to the QAT, read this article.

With your cursor at the beginning of the document, click on the Spelling and Grammar button. Word will highlight each word that it thinks is incorrect, starting with the first one:

Word 2013 spell check

Here, I started at the beginning of the text, but you’ll notice that it’s missed out “peace of txt” – see more detail in the main article on this.

What options does Spell Check give you?

  • Ignore Once ignores that instance of the word in question
  • Ignore All ignores that exact word throughout the rest of the piece
  • If you own a copy of Word 2013 outright or have a subscription and are logged in, Add to Dictionary will add that exact word to the Spell Check dictionary so it will never ask you ever again if you’ve miss-spelled it. I have used this for my name in the past, which is why this Spell Check process won’t pick up “Broomfield” or “Dexter”, and I also add in commonly used technical terms and jargon that comes up a lot in the texts I work with.
  • Change changes that instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”. Any other examples will stay as they are
  • Change All changes every instance of “misteaks” to “mistakes”.
  • If you own a copy of Word 2013 outright or have a subscription and are logged into your Microsoft Office account, AutoCorrect is available and brings up the AutoCorrect screen (see this article for more on AutoCorrect) which allows you to set up an automatic correction for the future, so whenever you type “misteaks” it will change to “mistakes”. This is really useful if you notice that you’re mistyping a word regularly.

Grammar check in Word 2013

Grammar check not only highlights where you’ve gone wrong, but gives you a little lesson in the Spell Check panel, too:

Word 2013 spell check grammar check

I find the grammar checker to be quite rigid and a bit odd. It’s up to you whether you allow grammar checking, and instructions for tweaking the Spell Checker will appear in a later article.

What if I change my mind or make a mistake?

In Word 2007 and 2010 there was a handy button in the Spell Check dialogue box that allowed you to undo previous changes. This has gone in Word 2013, so if you realise you’ve made a mistake, you will need to use the Undo button (or press Control-Z) to go back to correct your mistake.

Does Spell Check ever get it wrong?

In short – yes. See the main article for more explanation and examples.

Help – my Spell Check’s making everything go into American English!

Your Spell Checker will work with whatever variety of English (or any other language) that your text is set to. So if you have your text set to be in American English, that’s the language your Spell Check will use. Learn how to change the language of your document and your editing language  – and watch out, as your comment boxes might appear in another language, too, which will upset your Spell Checker – use this article to make sure your comment language matches the rest of the document.

Can I use spell check in other applications ?

Wherever you see a button like this, you should find a spell check option:

spell check icon

In this article we’ve looked at Spell Check in Word 2013 and how it differs from previous versions. In future articles I’ll be sharing how to tweak your Spell Check settings, how to tell Spell Check NOT to look at particular text, and when to use Spell Check when you’re working with an editor. Oh, and there will be a parallel post on Spell Check in Word 2013, too!

———————

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. If you’ve enjoyed the post or found it useful, please use the sharing buttons below to share it via your social media networks – thank you!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007 and Word 2010 for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Other useful posts on this blog

Spell Check in Word 2007 and Word 2010

How to change the language of your Word document

How to change your editing language

How to change the language of your comment boxes

How to use AutoCorrect

How to add buttons to the Quick Access Toolbar

Find all the short cuts here … and see the full resource guide here.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on October 15, 2014 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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How do I stop pictures jumping around when I edit a Word document? Combining words and pictures 2

More from my own editor, Catherine Fitzsimons, creator of educational materials and community magazines, on the tricky task of controlling how images behave in Word documents …

Last week, we looked at the ways in which Word can wrap text around pictures. To control how close the text is to the edge of a picture we opened the More Layout Options window from the right click menu. You may have noticed there are two other tabs in this:

Diagram 9One lets you control the size of your picture, but there are easier ways to do that (see How do I change the size of pictures in Word? on my website). The other, Position, provides some detailed options for controlling where your pictures go and is the key to stopping them from jumping around. It looks complicated, but I don’t think I’ve ever, in years of creating worksheets and doing magazine layout, had to resort to changing anything in the sections labelled ‘Horizontal’ and ‘Vertical’ – I’ve just used the ‘Options’ section.

Diagram 11Before we go on to that though have a look at the ‘Allow overlap’ button. This is useful if you want to get two pictures closer together than their boundary boxes would otherwise allow. For example, here you can see that although the books themselves don’t overlap, the boxes round them do. Notice also how the Tight-wrapped text goes inside the boxes because these images have a transparent background.

Diagram 12

Why do pictures move? How do I stop pictures moving?

Basically, pictures can either be locked in position on the page or moved around with the text.

In Word 2013 ‘Move with text’ and ‘Fix position on page’ appear as options on the Wrap Text menu and on the little pop out Layout Options menu (so long as your picture isn’t in line with the text).

Diagram 5Diagram 4bIn earlier versions you have to go into More Layout Options|Position and check or uncheck ‘Move object with text’ – it’s checked as default. If you have a picture exactly where you want it on a page, all you have to do is uncheck the box (or make the appropriate selection from one of the menus in Word 2013). That picture will then stay exactly where it is when you edit or add to the text or insert another picture – it will move only if you grab it and place it somewhere else yourself (or play with the numbers in the ‘Position’ tab of More Layout Options).

Allowing pictures to move with text is a little more complicated and depends on understanding the idea of anchors.

When you whizz a picture around the page, Word makes a decision about what text to tie it to: it generates an ‘anchor’, usually at the beginning of the paragraph nearest to the top left corner of the figure (working up). If you then move or delete that bit of text, the image will move or be deleted with it — that’s why pictures sometimes vanish unexpectedly. They usually jump because an anchor and its picture have to be on the same page. That means that if you type an extra paragraph and the anchor moves to a new page, the picture will jump to that new page too. It’s Word trying to be helpful, aiming to keep pictures and the writing about them together, but it does feel pretty random if you don’t know the logic.

Word 2013 helpfully shows you the anchors whenever you’re clicked on a picture, but it is possible to see them in earlier versions: since they are formatting marks, they will show up if you click the symbol that looks like a backwards P in the Paragraph group on the Home ribbon. If you can see them, they can help you work out why a picture won’t go where you want it or keeps disappearing altogether.

Diagram 13

In Word 2010 or 2007 you can also get the anchor marks to show all the time (without the other formatting marks) by going to File (Office button in 2007)|Options|Display|Always show these formatting marks on the screen, then ticking ‘Object anchors’ and OK.

Once you get the hang of how the wrapping styles and the anchors affect where the pictures go, it becomes much easier to put a picture in the right place and make it stay there. Here’s the order I suggest for creating a document that has words and pictures:

  • Write and type all the text first (or work a page or two at a time).
  • If possible, get the pictures as close as you can to how you want them (size, resolution, cropping, colours) before you add them to your text – either use image editing software or get it right in a blank document then copy and paste into the one you’re working on.
  • Once you have a picture where you want it, with the right sort of size and wrapping, consider locking it in place.
  • If a picture that has to stay with the text appears to be misbehaving, go in search of its anchor to track down the problem.

Still can’t get the pictures where you want?

If you’re creating something with a lot of images, or need more complex layout — such as for a brochure or worksheet — then there are alternatives to putting the text and pictures straight into the document. I explain how to use a table to combine text and pictures in How do I organise a lot of pictures on a page? over on my own blog where, in future posts, I will look at alternative solutions, and other issues to do with using pictures.

Other useful posts

On this blog:

How do I make pictures go where I want them to in Word?

On Catherine’s blog:

How do I organise a lot of pictures on a page?

How do I change the size of a picture in Word?

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Short cuts, Word

 

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How do I make pictures go where I want them to in Word? Combining Words and Pictures 1

Today and next week we have guest posts from Catherine Fitzsimons on placing images in Word documents. This is a tricky topic and one I’ve been wanting to write about for ages: Catherine does a lot of work with newsletters and other complex documents, which makes her the ideal person to write these posts for me!

How do I combine text and pictures?

Have you ever tried to put a picture in Word and found your text, which started at the top of the page, suddenly moves down? And then, as you type more, or change the size of the picture* to make it fit better, things move to unexpected places? Or the picture stays where it is, but leaves you lots of blank space on the page? Then, when you try to move it around, things only get worse and you end up with something like this:

Diagram 4

This is because Word assumes two things:

  • That you want the picture (or, to be precise, the bottom left of it) to be placed where the cursor is. That means it goes immediately after the last thing you typed before choosing Insert|Picture and, when you try to move it, you can see a vertical line where it believes you want it to go.
  • That you would like the text to run right up to the picture and carry on straight after it.

In other words Word treats your picture like an outsize character and refers to this option as having the picture ‘In Line with Text’.

However, you can change your picture to what is known as a ‘floating figure’ so you can put it where you like but, before we delve into all that, have a look at a handy shortcut in the ribbon versions of Word. If you select your picture, go to the Picture Tools|Format ribbon that appears and click the down arrow by Position, you will get a choice of nine places to place your picture without any fiddling around at all.

Diagram 4a

In fact, in Word 2013 some of these appear in a little pop-up menu that you can call up by clicking the thing that looks like a rainbow drawn on lined paper which hovers at the top right of a picture when you select it.

Diagram 4b

All wonderful, but what if you need more flexibility? Read on.

Once again, select the picture and go to the Picture Tools|Format ribbon but this time click the down arrow by Wrap Text. (Alternatively, or in older versions of Word, right click on the picture and choose Wrap Text from the menu that appears.)

Diagram 5

Doing that brings up another menu which lets you choose the relationship between your text and picture. The icons helpfully explain the options:

Square means that the text will wrap all the way around your picture (strictly speaking around the ‘bounding box’ – the rectangle that appears when you select it). When you move the picture around the page the text flows above, below and to the sides – or one side if you put your picture up against a margin. Notice, though, that it doesn’t make text down the sides into columns – it reads across the picture. (If you want your picture in the middle of a page like this, it’s probably best to make your text into two columns first.)

Diagram 6

Top and Bottom does exactly that. It looks just the same as if you had typed Enter before and after inserting your picture but with the important difference that the picture moves as an object, not a character, so it’s easy to place it somewhere new.

Tight only works with images which are not rectangular or, like some clip-art, have a transparent background. It wraps the text around the edges of the image (assuming these ‘wrap points’ have been defined) rather than around the bounding box.

Diagram 7Through is a complicated one and I don’t know anyone who has used it. It works the same way as Tight except that it will also put words right down into any transparent sections of the picture that are linked to the background, again, providing that the wrap points have been set up properly.

Behind Text makes the words go over the top of your picture (which can work well so long as the image isn’t too detailed or too similar in colour to the font), whereas In Front of Text means that non-transparent parts of your image obliterate the words. Why might you want to do that? If you insert a an ellipse that has Shape Fill as ‘No Fill’ and Shape Outline red, and float it in front of text then you have a useful little shape for circling things you want to highlight.

Diagram 8You can refine Square, Tight and Through further in Picture Tools|Format|Wrap Text|More Layout Options. As you can see, you can tell Word to put text on one side of the picture only – Left, Right or whichever has the most space for text. This is also the window you use if you want to make your text squish up closer to your picture — if it already has a lot of white space around it for example — or back off a bit if the words run right to the edge of your picture. Unsurprisingly, you can also adjust the spacing above and below for Top and Bottom wrapping.

Diagram 9This version has text wrapped Tight to largest side only and the Distance from text adjusted to 0cm on Left and Right as well as top and bottom.

Diagram 10So, that’s the official way to put the pictures into the correct place in your document. And, more often than not, it works. However if you are adding more than one image, or later add a text box or table (anything that Word calls an ‘object’), or if you revise what you have written then pictures you’ve put in sometimes jump around or even disappear. You can minimise the chances of that happening by typing all your text before thinking about layout and images but, even then, it still sometimes happens. I’ll explain why, and suggest how to stop it next week.

*But how do I change the size of a picture? See How do I change the size of a picture in Word? on my own blog.

Catherine Fitzsimons has the unenviable job of being my own editor for my books on business and other careers topics. Ever since she first started using Word she has been finding ways of getting pictures and text to sit together exactly the way she wants: first as a teacher making worksheets then doing layout for community magazines.

Other useful posts

On this blog:

How do I stop pictures jumping around in a Word document?

On Catherine’s blog:

How do I organise a lot of pictures on a page?

How do I change the size of a picture in Word?

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Short cuts, Word

 

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How to insert non-standard English characters into almost any text

text including eth and thorn in wordToday we’re going to learn how to insert non-standard English characters into Word and pretty well anywhere else where you might want to type some text.

What do I mean by non-standard English characters? I mean those characters that do not appear in a standard English alphabet, i.e. diacritics (letters with accents that you find in most European accents) and additional letters you don’t find in English, such as the eth and thorn found in Icelandic.

I’ll show you how to insert these in Word in a couple of different ways, and then share the best and most simple universal way to create these characters, as well as the special codes for some of my favourites.

Why would I want to type non-standard characters?

There are many reasons why you might want to type non-standard characters in your English documents / text / fields / whatever. Here are some of the reasons why I’ve done this myself:

  • As a cataloguer (and this is where I learnt about them and memorised some of the codes), I was required to catalogue in different languages, or enter people’s names which had accents on various letters into author fields.
  • I have a client called Jörg. He has to spell it Joerg in his email address and email signature. I prefer to be polite and spell it in the correct way when I email him and say “Hello Jörg”.
  • I’ve just been to Iceland. If I’m talking about places I’ve been or things I’ve read, I want to be able to use the full range of Icelandic letters – and they have two extra ones that we don’t use (nowadays) in English.
  • I work with bibliographies which might include non-English words with accents, etc. – if I need to add something or make a correction, it’s handy to know how to add the correct characters.

In many of these cases, I’m typing in a Tweet, a special piece of software or an email, as well as using Word for some of them. Many people know how to insert special characters in Word, but not everyone knows about the codes that you can use to pepper all of your communications with nice non-standard characters.

I’ll talk about Word first, and then broaden things out.

How do I insert special characters into my Word document?

There are two ways to insert special characters into a Word document. If you know the Alt-code for the letter, you can just hit Alt and a special four-figure number. More about that later on.

The official way is to Insert Character. This is how you do it (this works for all versions of Word for PC).

When you get to the place where you want to insert your special character, in this case an é at the end of café, go to the Insert tab (or menu in Word 2003) and choose Symbol from the Symbols area on the right:

Insert symbol word

When you press the Symbol button, a selection of commonly used symbols will appear (this will give you symbols that you’ve recently used; however, it will carefully offer you a range of popular ones if you’ve not used this method to insert very many symbols in the past). The one I want isn’t there:inserting symbols

 

You can now click on More Symbols to bring up the whole range:

More symbols in wordAt this point, a box including lots of symbols and special characters will pop up:

choice of symbols in word

You can now scroll down to find your symbol. Most of the common ones are on this default list. Here’s my acute e …

Selecting a symbol in word

And once I’ve pressed the Insert button, it will appear in my text.

It’s worth noting at this stage that a list of your recently viewed symbols is displayed in this window, and you can click on any of those and insert them in the same way. Word populates this with common symbols if you haven’t used this method to insert many symbols before (I personally use a different method), but as you use different ones, they will appear here and on that pop-up that appears when you initially click on Symbol (see above):

recently viewed symbols

One more thing to note before we press Insert: this screen also displays character codes. These are codes that you can use in conjunction with other codes and keys, including the Alt key method that I mentioned above. Drop down the arrow by From to get to ASCII and you will find a very useful four-figure code that you can use with Alt to insert non-standard characters into anywhere, not just Word.

Symbol codes

So, that’s how you insert a non-standard character in Word. What if you want to put one in Facebook, Twitter, etc?

How to use the character map on your computer to insert special characters

There is a character map on your computer that you can use to insert special, non-standard characters into any typing that you’re doing that will support these. Note that this works for a PC.

How do you access the character map? Hit the Start button in the bottom left-hand corner of your screen (in Windows 95 onwards and Windows 8.1, Windows 8 doesn’t have one but you can use the Win-R shortcut below), then choose Accessories / System Tools / Character Map:

Character map

You can also use this handy shortcut: Hit the Windows button on your keyboard and R together

windows key

or the Start button and Run and type Charmap into the box that appears:

Run charmap

However you get to it, you should see the character map, which looks like this:

character map

This looks a lot like the map in Word, and works in a similar but not identical way. Find the character you want, scrolling down or changing font if necessary. Click on it until it is highlighted (pops out of the box as below). Press Select and it will appear in the Characters to copy box below the grid.

character map select character

Once it’s been Selected, you will need to Copy it by pressing the Copy button (note: this means that you can select several characters in a row, if you have two non-traditional characters next to each other, for example). Copy will copy everything in the Characters to copy box.

character map copy

Note also here that in the bottom right you are given the keystroke or ASCII code Alt+0233 which you can use as a keyboard shortcut (more on that again later).

Once you’ve copied your character, you can paste it into pretty much any text box you want to, here in Twitter:

Inserting character into Twitter

 Using ASCII codes / keyboard shortcuts / Alt+ to insert special characters

The way I insert special and non-standard characters is to use these Alt+ ASCII keyboard shortcut codes that I’ve been mentioning all the way through this post. Hit Alt-0233 and you’ll get an é without having to click all over the screen, copy and paste. There’s a code for almost every character you could think of.

How do I know a load of these off by heart? Because I used to be a cataloguer at a library, and one of the things I did was catalogue foreign language publications, which were full of diacritics and non-standard characters. So, every day I would end up needing to insert many of these characfers into the cataloguing program we used. I, and everyone else, had little handwritten notes of the ones we used regularly. Here’s mine (yes, when I left the library in December 2011 to do this Libro stuff and blogging full time, I took my little bit of paper with me):

Alt+ codes notes

So there’s a little bit of Liz history you weren’t expecting (ignore the MARC codes at the bottom unless you’re a librarian, too). You, too, can have a bit of paper like this if you use non-traditional characters a lot – or you’ll commit them to memory, as I ended up doing.

How can I find out the ASCII codes for special characters?

You can use one of the two methods I describe above:

  • In Word: Insert – Symbol, drop down From to change it to ASCII and note the Character code
  • In Character Map: click on the symbol and look at the bottom right of the dialog box

or you can search for it online …

In this post, we’ve learned why we might use special characters and how to insert special characters in Word, Twitter, Facebook and any other places that you might want to insert text. If you liked this or found it useful, do please comment below and/or use the sharing buttons to share it! Thank you!

Related posts on this blog:

ASCII codes for common special characters

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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How do I display the top and side rulers in Word?

The top and side rulers in Word are used to set your margins, and also any Indents you might require for your paragraphs. They should display by default. If they don’t, here are instructions on how to make them display.

If you can’t see the rulers, click on the View Ruler button at the top of your right-hand scroll bar:

view ruler in word

This will display both of your rulers, and you can use the sliders to adjust your margins:

Rulers display in word

To turn off the rulers, simply press that button again, and they will disappear!

Other relevant articles on this blog:

Indents and Margins.

I hope you’ve found these hints helpful! Do share or pop a comment on this post if I’ve helped you learn something new or solved a tricky problem for you, and do explore the rest of my blog if this is your first visit!

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents. Find all the short cuts here

 

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