Monthly Archives: April 2013

Justification in Word documents

Today we’re going to learn about the different kinds of justification that you can use in Word documents, and why we would choose to use the particular options.

What is justification?

Justification is the way in which your text is set out on the page. A margin is justified if all of the words on that margin are aligned vertically. For example, this article uses left justification: all of the lines of text start in the same place on the left, unless I manually indent them using tab or bullet points, and all of the ends of the lines present a ragged appearance on the right.

How do I set the justification in my Word document?

You will find the justification menu under the Home Tab, in the Paragraph Section – four little buttons with indications of what the text will look like:

1 justification menu

You can see four little buttons, in order from left to right: left justification, centre justification, right justification, full justification.

To set the justification for text that you have already typed, highlight the text and press the appropriate button. To start typing in a particular layout, press the button, check that it’s gone orange, and then start typing.

Left justification

Left justification means that all of the lines of text are lined up on the left hand side, but are ragged on the right:

2 left justification

Full justification

Full justification is very common and does look neat, although it can have some issues, as we find when we try to type text in a column or table using this form of justification:

3 full justification

Right justification

Right justification can look a bit odd in a text (and can be confused with the right-to-left text direction, which would of course use this as standard rather than left justification). However, it is extremely useful if you want to line up a list of numbers or prices so they look lovely and neat. This works in tables and columns of course, too, and makes it so easy to make things look tidy.

4 right justification

Centre justification

Centre justification is hardly ever used in anything but a heading, a poem, maybe, or something with a special design like a menu. But if you want to do it, here it is. One thing you need to watch out for is that if you hit the enter key to make a new line in order to get the effect or layout that you want, Word will helpfully capitalise the first word on the next line for you (see circled text below). However, at least in Word 2007 and Word 2010, if you change this to lower case once, it will leave it on lower case the next time! Clever Word!

5 centre justification

We’ve learned in this article about what justification is, the different kinds of justification, their advantages and disadvantages, and when you might want to use them.  I hope you’ve learned something useful here!

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.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, 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!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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How to add line numbers to a Word document

This article explains the correct – and incorrect – way to add line numbers to a Word document. Why would you want to do that? Read on and find out! This works for Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013.

Why do I need to add line numbers to a Word document?

I was inspired to write this post after my colleague Katharine O’Moore Klopf mentioned that she’d been asked to do this by the editors of a journal for which she was editing an article. Presumably they wanted to be able to refer to particular line numbers in their criticism of the piece.

Transcriptions will sometimes have line numbers, if they’re going to be discussed in detail, and we can probably all recall from our dim and distant pasts working on critiques of poems and plays which had 5, 10, 15 etc. in the margins.

So these are all reasons for adding line numbers to a Word document.

How NOT to add line numbers to a Word document

If you find the need to add line numbers, it’s kind of natural that you might think – oh, I’ll just make the whole document into a numbered list. Well, to do this you would have to put a return at the end of each line to make it into a new line. Then you would highlight the whole text and add numbered bullets. But, oh, look what happens:

1 what you don't do

The numbers push the lines across and they run over onto the next line; all possibility of right justification is lost; and heaven help you if you want to insert or delete any text once you’ve done it!

So, don’t do that.

How to add line numbers to a Word document – the correct way (Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013)

Line numbering and its options can be found in Word 2007 and Word 2010 in the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup area. There you will find Line Numbers:

2 menu

Click on the arrow next to Line Numbers to bring up its Options menu:

3 numbering options

It will automatically be set to None – choose Continuous and see what happens to your paragraphs …

4 continuous

Line numbers have automatically appeared, but the formatting of the text, its justification etc., remain as they were. This menu also allows to you to choose whether to restart the numbering at the beginning of each page, or each section, or to suppress the numbering for the particular paragraph your cursor is in.

Line numbering options in Word

You also have a number (sorry!) of options to choose from in order to customise your line numbering. You reach these options from the last item on the Line Numbering menu

5 options menu

… although when you click on this option, you are taken into a general dialogue box for Page Layout:

6 options menu line numbers

and you need to click on Line Numbers… at the bottom, which will finally give you a list of options:

7 options menu line numbers

To go through the options in order …

  • Add line numbers – this gives you the chance to add or remove them at this stage
  • From text – the distance between the text and the number. Click on the arrows to choose the distance (I usually just use Auto)
  • Count by – this allows you to display only every x number. I don’t think “Count by” is a particularly useful way to describe this, but scroll down to see it in action
  • Numbering Restart each page / Restart each section / Continuous – this repeats the options you found on the first screen, but it’s useful to have them here if you’re generally messing around in the Page Layout menu and don’t want to go out of it to set your line numbering

Whatever you choose on here, click OK twice to get out of this dialogue box and the Page Layout one.

How do I produce a line number every five or ten lines?

You may remember from literature lessons at school that poetry and plays often have every 5th line marked. You can do this in Word by choosing that Count by option in the Line Numbering Options menu (see above for how to get to it).

Set the number to 5 …

8 count by 5

… and as if by magic, when you return to your document after choosing OK – OK, you will find every fifth line numbered:

9 counted by 5

Working in Word 2003

In Word 2003 you will need to follow these menus: File – Page Setup:


Choose the Layout tab in the dialogue box and the Line Numbers button. Choose to Apply to the Whole document or This point forward. Click on Line Numbers:


Tick Add line numbering and choose to Restart each page/section and Continuous. Click OK twice to accept – in this dialogue box you also find the options Start at, From text and Count by that are explained above.

Thanks to Katharine O’Moore Klopf for the Word 2003 screen shots and instructions.

Copying and pasting a document with line numbers

It’s come to my attention (thanks to a commenter on this post) that it’s not possible to copy and paste text with line numbers into a new blank document.

This is because the line numbers function actually displays a feature of your document (much like if you turn on paragraph marks) but the line numbers are not a part of the document itself.

If you want to transfer your line numbers into another document, you can do this in one of two ways:

  1. Save As the document to make an exact copy (with a different file name) and then add your other text around it
  2. Copy and paste your text into a new document and add the line numbers again

At least we know now …


This article has explained why you might want to add line numbers to your document, and how to do it. If you found this useful, please post a comment, share and like this article! Thank you!

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.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, 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!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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In memory of Boston

I don’t often discuss personal matters on this blog, but I wanted to let my readers and subscribers know that I’ve posted about my reaction, as a runner, to the atrocity in Boston yesterday, over on my other blog.

Leave a comment

Posted by on April 16, 2013 in Blogging


How to add and remove hyphenation in a Word document

This article explains how to add and remove hyphenation in a Word document, and how to work with the options you have in the hyphenation menu.

Why would I want to add hyphens to a document?

This issue doesn’t normally come up with standard documents where the text is in a smallish size and extends across the entire width of the page. In fact I hardly ever see it in the work I do, and was only reminded of it when a client had accidentally set automated hyphenation in part of his document that happened to contain long words. Where did all these hyphens come from, I wondered.

It is useful, however, if you are working with columns, say in a table, or for a newsletter you’re publishing, or some other part of a document where you want to have a narrow band of text running down the page. If you just put your text in your column and don’t justify it on the right hand side, you will end up with a very ragged look:

3 without justification or hyphenation

In fact, as you can see (marked by the arrow), one word is just too long for the line and splits at the last letter, something which doesn’t obey any of the standard rules of hyphenation (I bet this has happened in your tables – it has in my clients’).

Maybe we can neaten it up by applying Right Justification

4 with justification without hyphenation

Oh no! In its effort to make everything tidy, Word has carefully inserted huge spaces between words (unlike someone typesetting properly on a computer or by hand, it doesn’t space out the letters in the words so much as just add massive spaces). And poor old Mr Long Word is still dangling a letter onto the next line.

This looks pretty horrible, doesn’t it. Adding automatic or manual hyphenation is the way forward.

How do I add automatic hyphenation to my Word document?

To work with the hyphenation options, we need to be in the Page Layout tab, and the Page Setup area, and there you’ll find Hyphenation (with a little pop-up box explaining it). This is the case in Word 2007 and Word 2010. In Word 2003, you need to select the following menus: Tools > Language > Hyphenation.

1 menu

If you click on the arrow to the left of the word Hyphenation, you get a menu that looks like this:

2 drop down hyphenation menu

You can choose here between None, Automatic and Manual, and then have some options, too. We’ll look at those options in a moment.

What happens if I add automatic hyphenation to my document?

If you highlight the text and then select Automatic from the Hyphenation menu, Word will automatically insert hyphens into the text to break the words in sensible, permitted places (there is a whole art to this which I will discuss another time. I’m not sure which exact rules Word follows, but a quick look shows that it’s pretty good). So if your text is right justified, you’ll get this:

5 with justification and hyphenation

You can see here that Word has hyphenated all of the longer words that previously caused those big gaps, and made the text an awful lot tidier.

You can do this on unjustified text, too:

6 without justification and with hyphenation

but I personally think that this still looks a bit messy.

How do I remove automatic hyphenation?

To remove automatic hyphenation when you find it in a document and don’t want it, highlight the offending text and choose None from the Hyphenation menu in Page Layout > Page Setup:

2 drop down hyphenation menu

All of the automatic hyphenation should disappear.

How do I use manual hyphenation in my document?

If you choose the manual hyphenation option, based on where your cursor is placed at the time you select this option, Word will give you a choice of where and whether to hyphenate your words:

7 manual hyphenation

(here we can see our unhyphenated text, with the cursor on “demonstrate”). Once you’ve clicked on Yes or No, it will hop along to the next word that’s a candidate for hyphenation.

Why shouldn’t I just hyphenate totally manually?

Of course, you can just look for gaps and manually type a hyphen in the middle of the word, and it will split over two lines. However, this is a concrete character that you’ve inserted into the word, and so if you change the wording in your text so that the offend-ing word no longer comes at the end of the line, you’ll retain the hyphen charac-ter and get artefacts like the ones you can see in this para-graph. Much better to automate the manual process, so to speak …

What are the hyphenation options?

If you click on the Hyphenation Options at the bottom of the Hyphenation dialogue box, you are given a few choices:

6 hyphenation options

Working from the top …

  • Automatically hyphenate document – does what it says on the tin
  • Hyphenate words in CAPS – you may not want to split long acronyms, etc. – if not, then untick this box
  • Hyphenation zone – this is the maximum space allowed between a word and the right hand margin. Increase this number and the hyphenation zone becomes wider – and you will have fewer hyphens. A lower number will give you more hyphens
  • Limit consecutive hyphens to – allows you to prevent Word from hyphenating at the end of every line – best adjusted once you’ve set hyphenation and seen what it looks like
  • Manual… – gives you another way to get to the Manual Hyphenation feature


In this article we’ve learned why we might want to apply automatic hyphenation to a document, how we do it, how to remove automatic hyphenation, and the options that are available in the hyphenation menu.

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. Do like and share as much as you can, and/or leave me a comment if this article has been useful to you.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2003, Word 2007 and Word 2010, 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!

Find all the short cuts here


Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing


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Why has my proofreader not edited my bibliography?

editsWhen you hire a proofreader to work on your thesis or dissertation, you can expect them to make suggestions on changes to layout, consistency in headings, capitalisation and titles, grammar, spelling, word forms and sentence structures, up to a point (past that point being considered plagiarism). But in a few cases, you will find that your proofreader has not worked on your bibliography.

I’ve written this article to explain why I might not have worked on your bibliography. Different proofreaders / editors will go to different extents to work on your content. I tend to have a light touch, because I want to protect myself – and you – from any whisper of a hint of possible wrong-doing. Passing someone else’s work off as your own is the basic definition of plagiarism (whether that’s not referencing a quotation from a source or asking someone to rewrite your text considerably), and unfortunately, some bibliographies need an amount of work which, if done by your proofreader, would constitute them doing work that you should be demonstrating you can do.

PhD theses and Master’s dissertations are not just assessed on their content and novelty. One of the things the student needs to demonstrate is that they are able to create references and a bibliography which has the requisite amount of detail and is consistent in its presentation of that detail. So, if I change too much in your bibliography, it will appear that you understand and have applied knowledge that you actually haven’t done.

We all know that bibliographies are a bit of a pain to get right. But you need to demonstrate that you can get it right, and if I get too much of it right for you, it’s not you that’s done the work at the end of the day.

It can be hard to understand the rules of creating and laying out a bibliography. Of course, it’s the last thing you want to mess about learning at the end of however many years of study and writing up. That’s why I don’t leave my clients stranded – I will tidy up 1-5 pages of the bibliography and provide guidelines on how to make the rest of it consistent, so that it’s your work that shines, and not mine.

I want to protect my clients and myself from any accusation of plagiarism, so if I find I have a very inconsistent set of entries in front of me, and I’m going to need to change something in more than about 1 in 5 entries, I will send the bibliography back to you unedited, with notes explaining why and what you need to do (and now, linking to this article). I don’t do this because I’m running out of time, or I’m lazy, but to make sure that you’re showing your abilities to your examiners in the best light possible, to make sure you get the result at the end of your postgraduate course that you deserve.

Related posts on the Libro blog: On plagiarism, Referencing, Referencing for academic writing, Resources for students