Monthly Archives: November 2011

Be careful! Enormity

The word enormity is used an awful lot more than it should be.  In most cases, instead of its correct usage, to describe something bad of extreme seriousness – something like a tsunami, an earthquake, a deadly virus sweeping the world. Instead, it’s just used for something, well, enormous.  Enormousness, even.  The thing, is, we have a word for enormousness already. The beauty of the English language is in its variety and scope – so we have ranges of words for very precise shades of meaning.

It’s like your Mum used to say as she threaded those mittens on a string down your winter coat sleeves: don’t put your coat on indoors or you won’t get the benefit.  Over-use enormity and you’ll be stuck for a word to use when something REALLY big and bad happens.

Be careful! is a series of posts about words that are misused commonly – but really shouldn’t be. It’s not a new variant of meaning, it’s an error that gets duplicated as people see the word misused and copy it.

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Posted by on November 7, 2011 in Be careful, Language use


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What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word

I had been editing a document for a client.  I added some comments in the margin, as always – but when my client opened it and when I re-opened it, to my horror and his, all of the text boxes containing the comments had gone TINY and unreadable. It looked like this:

It apparently happens if you’re working with a document originally created in an older version of Word which doesn’t have the requisite Styles set up for comment boxes.  You then work on it in Word 2007 or Word 2010 (this solution works for both!) and the horror happens …

It took me and Matthew longer than it should have to work out what to do, as there didn’t seem to be an easily found solution if you searched for one online – so as an aide memoire for me, for next time it happens, and as a public service for anyone else trying to work out what to do … here’s what you do (now edited to add screen shots).

Note for experts: if you’re already familiar with Styles, note that you need to change the Balloon Text.

What to do if your comment boxes go tiny in Word documents:

Let’s look at what the full horror looks like first of all:

First of all: don’t panic! The comments will have typically gone into Times at 1 point. But there is a way to make them readable again.

Open the document. Don’t highlight anything. Don’t put the cursor into a comment box.

Now you can do one of two things. Either hit Control + Alt + Shift + s all at the same time, or make sure you’re in the Home tab and click on the little tiny arrow at the bottom right of the Styles menu – this will bring up the full Styles dialogue box.

Using either of these methods, you will bring up the Styles dialogue box.

This looks like a very useful dialogue box, but for our purposes you need to ignore all of it except the three buttons at the bottom. Click on the rightmost button: Manage Styles to bring up yet another dialogue box.

We’re not there yet: the sort order shows as Recommended – but you need to click on the down arrow to change it to Alphabetical:

Once it’s in alphabetical order, it’s relatively easy to find Balloon Text (note: not Comment text) and you will see that it then confirms how you have your text set up (blue circle). Click the Modify button

Now you can change your font (which will probably have defaulted to Times) and font size (which will probably have defaulted to 1). You’ll notice lots of other options (blue circle) to change the spacing, etc. – I don’t usually worry about changing those, but this is where they are if you want them – and of course you use this menu to change the styles on headings, normal text, etc., too. Press the OK button, and carry on pressing OK buttons until you get back to your document.

And there it is, all changed:

Save document

Want even more information on customising your comment boxes? Read this article full of everything you would ever want to know!

Related topics: What to do if your comment boxes start running from right to left

Changing the language in your comment balloons

Note that these tips are primarily for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 for PC. Most of them will work for Word for Mac, although you may find some menus in different places. 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

Do let me know if this has helped you, saved your bacon, etc. – and do share with the buttons at the bottom of this article.


Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Copyediting, New skills, Students, Word, Writing


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Yours or your’s, your or you’re?

Yours or your’s?  Here’s a clue. It’s never one of them.

Yours, theirs and its don’t take an apostrophe when they’re describing something that belongs to someone. Just like hers and his don’t.  So, it’s George’s book; the book is his. It’s your book; the book is yours. It’s their book; the book is theirs. It’s the book belonging to the club; it’s its book. No apostrophes.  The only apostrophe that comes along with yours, theirs, his, hers or its, is when it’s stands for “it is”.

So it’s never your’s – it’s always yours. If it belongs to you, it’s yours. Not your’s.  Not their’s.  Not it’s.

You’re means “you are”, like they’re means “they are” – your means “belonging to you”.

If the widget belongs to you, it’s your widget. No apostrophe.

“You’re improving your health, running regularly. Is that your sweatband? Are those trainers yours?”

Short but sweet. Now you won’t forget, will you?

More on apostrophes here.

You can find more troublesome pairs here and the index to them all so far is here.

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Posted by on November 4, 2011 in Errors, Language use, Troublesome pairs, Writing


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What I’ve been up to in October

October is traditionally a quieter month after the student Master’s dissertation rush of August and September, and I have certainly seen a slight drop-off in workflow, although it’s still kept ticking along. I’ve …

Edited some PhD theses – some ongoing, some in their entirety; some large documents and a PowerPoint presentation for one ongoing client (discovering that, even if you can’t Track Changes, you can stick sticky notes all over the slides); quite a few blog posts for a new ongoing client who is not a native English speaker (picking up a lovely reference along the way); and all sorts of business and academic writing for my translator client.

Edited and proofread my usual American magazine’s quarterly publication and the MoseleyB13 local magazine.

Edited two articles for publication, ensuring they conformed to the journal’s style guide.

Set up a coaching relationship with one PhD student, where we talk via email every week about the new work he’s completed in an effort to get his thesis written up this year.

Transcribed interviews for my journalist client, who’s got some cover stories in women’s magazines as well as the usual music magazine pieces, and a new client who presents teleseminars and interviews on writing and marketing your work (learning a lot as I go along!).

And I also …

Ran my fourth Birmingham Half Marathon, with a personal best time!

Wrote some blog posts on starting your own business, including starting a proofreading business, pre-launched my new Libro Newsletter by telling people about it and inviting them to sign up, and placed some more guest posts.

Attended a Social Media Cafe, where I talked through a business problem with my peers – very useful.  I attended the Kings Heath Business Association AGM and will hopefully be helping out on their committee in the New Year, and I went along to the Entrepreneur meetup and met some more lovely, enthusiastic people with great business ideas.

Phew! I’ve also received the 22nd questionnaire response for my Iris Murdoch research project, and this month/December I will be applying to present a paper on it at the next Iris Murdoch Conference and writing up some results!

Coming up …

The Big Decision is coming up now: when to take Libro full-time. Working part-time while running the business is getting tiring, and where I haven’t had to turn any work away, I have had to turn down a few opportunities for networking and other events which could potentially drive some new business my way. I also want to be able to be more flexible for my clients as to when I can do their work, and have time for my partner and my friends! So … it’s decision time this month!

Libro offers copyediting, copy writing, proofreading, transcription, typing and localisation services to other small businesses, individuals and corporations. Click on the links to find out more!


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