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Monthly Archives: August 2013

How do I print out table headings at the top of every page in Excel?

I recently wrote about retaining your headers across multiple pages in a Word document. This post will tell you how to make your header rows (or columns) in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 print on multiple pages when you print them out.

What is the header row in Excel?

The header row is the row in a spreadsheet that contains the headings for all of the columns in your spreadsheet. It’s usually Row 1, or maybe a few rows at the top of the spreadsheet.

(If your columns have headings in Column A instead or as well as your rows, you can use all of the stages in this post but choosing the columns option where appropriate, or both.)

1 spreadsheet

Why would I want my header rows to print out on multiple pages?

If you’ve got a complicated spreadsheet that you want to print out in a report, as a handout, or as a pdf, it’s useful to have the header row show on every page. When you’re using Excel itself, you can freeze the rows and/or columns so you can see them as you scroll down. But this doesn’t carry over to the printout.

How do I check if my header row will be printed on every page?

To check what the printout will look like, you need to change from the standard Normal view of your document (see the first image in this post) to the Page Layout view.

To do this, choose the View tab, then the Workbook Views section and press the Page Layout button. Your view will change to what the document will look like on the page (this is also where you add headers and footers to an Excel document – more on that another time)

1 view menu

If we scroll down to the second page of our document in this view, we can see that the second page just starts with the next line of the spreadsheet – not very useful if you want to be able to see the headings at the top of each page:

2 no headers

How do I make the heading row print at the top of every page?

Staying in the Print Layout view, choose the Page Layout tab and look at the Page Setup section. In the bottom right corner, you’ll find a little arrow. Click on the arrow to access the Page Setup menu:

3 page layout menu

The Page Setup menu will default to showing you the Page tab. Click on the Sheet tab at the extreme right:

4 page setup menu

At last we’re in the Sheet menu. This is where you can choose the print area, titles, gridlines, quality, etc., but what we’re interested in is Rows to repeat at top (and/or Columns to repeat at left, if you have either or both of these):

5 page setup menu sheet

Now, how do you tell Excel which row you want to print at the top of every page? I got a bit flummoxed by this at first, I have to admit. Here’s how you do it:

Make sure your cursor is in the appropriate input box – in this case I have left-clicked with the mouse in Rows to repeat at top.

Then click with the mouse on the far left of the row you want to select. Can you see the dotted line round it on the image below? That means that it’s been selected. If you just click on one row, $1-$1 will appear in the text entry box. If you highlight more than one row, it will read $1-$2, etc.

6 page setup menu sheet choose

If you want to make sure that a heading column appears on every page of your printout, make sure the cursor is in the Columns to repeat at left box and click above the column you want to choose. You can choose a row(s) and a column(s) if you want to!

Once you’ve clicked on OK, you can scroll down in Page Layout view to see the top of the second page. There are the headings, ready to print on every page! You can change back to Normal view: the instructions that you’ve given Excel here will stay the same.

7 done

We’ve learned how to make sure that your heading row (or column) prints on every page of your printout when you’re printing out your Excel 2007 or Excel 2010 document.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, please do share it using the buttons below!

Related posts:

Freezing rows and columns in Excel

How do I keep my table headings over multiple pages in a Word document?

———————

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

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Excel currently in use – Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 for PC. Mac compatible versions of Excel 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

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Scheduling blog posts, scheduling writing, and keeping going

Things to doAs part of my series on blogging, in this article I’m going to talk about how frequently to blog, keeping going, and how to get down to writing those posts. This is primarily aimed at people who are blogging for their business, but this advice applies to anyone who wants to build the audience for their blog and needs help getting down to writing posts and sticking to blogging.

So that’s everyone, right?

How often should I blog?

How often should you publish a blog post? Well, that’s up to you to a certain extent. But if you’re looking to appear high up in the search engine results and keep your readers happy, you should keep it regular.

Most advice that I’ve read suggests posting at least twice a week. This will keep your readers engaged, keep your content updated enough for the search engines to promote it up their lists, and get enough keywords and content out there to keep your statistics nice and busy.

Varying your blog posts

Even a book review blog could do with a bit of livening up every now and again. A good example is my friend Ali – she mainly posts long-format book reviews, but she also takes up general topics or talks about book-buying trips – which varies things for her readers and gives them something new every now and again.

I choose to vary things and give myself a structure by running series in different topics every week. I tend to publish a short Troublesome Pairs post about a pair of easily confused words or at present an article on blogging on a Monday, a Word tip or business post on a Wednesday, and I always run a Saturday Business Chat or Chat Update each Saturday. I don’t stick to this slavishly – this post is coming out on a Tuesday to avoid the bank holiday, but it helps me to structure things and means that there’s something for everyone every week (I hope).

You don’t have to just publish text pieces, either. I’m sticking to text for the moment, but you can include video and audio pieces as well.

This article by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn has really good advice about when she schedules her text, audio and video content. Her blog is really popular, with loads of comments and great search engine optimisation, and if you’re planning on using different media, this would be a good plan to follow.

Including guest posts on your blog

I’ve talked about this a bit already in my article on Reciprocity in Social Media, but hosting guest posts (and having them on other people’s blogs, too) is a great way to spark up interest in your readers and get reciprocal links and readers. I’m going to write more about the etiquette of guest blogging soon. But again, it varies things a bit. I wouldn’t personally have a guest post more than once every couple of weeks.

How do I remember my ideas for blog posts?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have ideas and inspirations for blog posts at the oddest moments. If I’m anywhere near my desk and PC, I pop into my WordPress platform and create a Draft blog post, sometimes with just a title, sometimes with a few jotted notes. If I’m learning something new (like turning footnotes into endnotes, just today), I’ll take screenshots as I go along, and save them ready to insert into a post on the subject. If I spot a picture I want to take or have a document with a feature I want to use, I take a photo and email it to myself or save the document in the relative folder.

If I’m out and about, I use the note app on my phone to make a quite note of what I want to write about, or, if I’m feeling brave, I go into the WordPress app and create a draft from there!

How do I organise my images for my blog posts?

Because many of my blog posts are very screen shot based, and I always include some kind of image in my posts (looks good when sharing, attracts readers, etc.), I have a folder in my Windows Explorer called Blog posts. This has sub-folders for all of the blog posts I write, or plan on writing, so I can pop screen prints and pics into the appropriate folder and know they’ll be there for later. I have a set of generic pictures in the Blog posts folder, too, that I can use as images at the top of posts. I prefer to use my own images to avoid copyright issues.

How do I get down to writing my blog?

Here’s my secret: blogging SESSIONS.

You do not have to write your blog posts on the day you publish them! You can write them in advance, save them up, and publish in advance!

I’ve always got some draft posts on the go – either because I’ve had ideas (see above) and not yet written them up, or I’m part way through a series and I’ve planned the whole thing out. So when I can see at least a 90 minute slot in my schedule, I’ll schedule in time to write blog posts.

I’ll then bash through as many as I can, using my draft posts for inspiration and possibly already having pictures ready to go, either saved or inserted into the posts. Then I just need to write the text. In a good session I can get at least a week’s worth of posts ready in one go.

I’m used to having to write because that’s some of what I do in my job. If you have to wait for inspiration to strike before you write posts … just make sure that inspiration has plenty of room to keep going! Anyway, it’s surprising what you can produce when you sit down and tell yourself that you have 90 minutes to generate a load of blog posts!

Scheduling publication of blog posts

schedulingI would imagine that all blogging platforms have a scheduling feature. Here in WordPress, I can edit the Publish Immediately field to the right of my writing pane, and choose a date and time to publish the post (I also automatically post a link to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. This means I can schedule a post to publish when I’m going to be away from my desk and the post will still be publicised).

If you don’t know how to schedule blog posts on the platform you’re using, Google your platform name plus something like “schedule blog posts” and you should be able to find instructions.

So, when I do a big writing session, I write the posts I want to write, then schedule them all in for the appropriate days. I can view just the posts I’ve scheduled to make sure there aren’t any clashes, then I can get on with work or even go on holiday, knowing that my blog will be publishing when I’m away.

How do I make myself keep on blogging?

If you get stuck and don’t post for a while, or don’t feel like posting, don’t panic! Here are some things you can consider doing:

  • Have a think about why you’re blogging and whether you do actually want to continue (try reading my article on 10 reasons not to blog or the one on 10 reasons to write a blog!)
  • Have a little brainstorm and think of some ideas for blog posts – just jot them down and write them up later
  • Get into a writing routine that suits you – whether that’s posting once a day or having a weekly blogging afternoon
  • Sign up for one of the various schemes that suggests something to post, or ask your friends or readers to make suggestions about what to write about
  • Consider creating some themes – it’s easier to come up with an idea for a Word tips post than an idea for “a post”
  • Don’t beat yourself up. Look at other people’s posts for inspiration. Ask for some guest bloggers. Review something you use in your work life. Write about something personal

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This article has talked about how often to blog, how to organise your blogging, how to schedule posts and what to do if you get stuck. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topics – do post a comment, and if you’ve enjoyed this post, please share it using the buttons below.

Related posts:

10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!

10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!

Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely

Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2013 in Blogging, Business, PowerPoint, Social media, Writing

 

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How do I keep my table headings over multiple pages in a Word document?

If you have got a table that extends over several pages in a Word document, it’s useful to be able to repeat the header row at the top of each page automatically, so that it stays there no matter what you change in the table itself. This article shows you how to do that in Word 2007 and Word 2010 (we use the same procedure for both)

Why would I want to repeat my header row on multiple pages?

If you’re presenting a table which contains fairly self-explanatory information, for example, name, surname, book title, year, then you probably don’t need to repeat the heading row, even if the table runs across more than one page. But if you think that the person who will consult the table will need to keep reminding themselves about what the different columns contain, it’s useful to add the header row at the top of each page.

Doing this automatically rather than manually inserting a new row into each page of the table ensures that however much the table changes, the header row will stay at the top of each page.

How do I repeat the header row in Word?

We’re going to use the example of a list of books I have read. Here’s the table:

1 table

Now, this is a long list, and it goes over more than one page. OK, it’s fairly self-explanatory, but I might forget what the Acquired and Read headers are.

At the moment, when the table goes onto the next page of the document, the table just carries on, with no  header rows on the second and third pages:

2 table

Please NOTE that we’re in Print Layout view on the View menu at the moment: when we repeat the headers, the repeat is only visible in Print Layout or Print Preview, both of which show you what your document will look like when it’s printed. Word defaults to Print Layout view, but check, just in case:

3 view

Select the header row of your table so that you can tell Word that this is the header row by left-clicking with your cursor to the left-hand side of that row:

4 select

Now, because you’ve got a table in your document, Word will have added the Table menu tabs to your ribbon. There are two: Layout and Design. Choose the Layout tab. Find the Repeat Header Rows button:

5 repeat header rows

Click on the Repeat Header Rows button. Like magic, if you scroll down the page, you will now see that your header row is repeated!

6 repeat header rows done

Note: if you don’t have a row selected, the Repeat Header Row button will be greyed out and you can’t press it.

Here’s the magical thing: you can of course do this manually by inserting a row at the top of each page of your table. But then, if you move the text of the table around or resize it, you risk your manual header row not being the top row of your page.

Using the automatic function means that, whatever you do to your table, the top row of a new page will always be the header row (UNLESS you force a manual page break).

Here, I’ve changed the text size to make it larger. You can see that the first entry on the second page is no longer Coleridge, but the header row is still in place:

7 repeat header rows done

How do I repeat multiple header rows in Word?

You can display multiple header rows in Word in the same way. Make sure that you highlight BOTH rows that you want to repeat, and press the Repeat Header Rows button as before:

8 repeat multiple header rows

And there you go: the first two lines of the table repeat on each page:

9 repeat multiple header rows done

How to repeat header rows in Word 2003

In Word 2003, you will need to use menus rather than the ribbon.

Highlight the header row of your table.

Select the Table menu and click Heading Rows Repeat.

———–

Today we’ve learned how to make the header rows repeat in a Word document. This is part of a series on Tables which I’ll be writing and publishing over the next few weeks.

Related posts:

Tables 1 – how to create a table

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

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Top 10 blogging sins

pens and ink bottleI’ve been talking about why and why not to blog recently. Once you’ve committed to your blog, it can be a bit of a minefield. Here are the top ten blogging sins that I see over and over again, or hear other people complaining about. No one can be expected to know everything straight away, and we’ve probably all made at least one of these mistakes, so hopefully I’ll help you to avoid the big, bad ones with this list.

1. Not having an RSS feed

File:Feed-icon.svg RSS is a way to allow blog reader software to collect your content whenever it’s  updated and send it on to any of their readers who subscribe to your blog This Wikipedia article explains it all and examples of RSS readers include Feedly.

If you look at the top of this blog page, you will see that I have an RSS feed logo in the top right-hand corner, and a link in the right-hand menu bar, and I also offer a link to subscribe by email. All blogging software will have something in their settings that allows you to add this. If you don’t add this link, it makes it that bit harder for people who want to subscribe to your blog to do so (they can usually put the URL in their reader software, but are they going to do that extra process? Not always). Not having a button to use to do it quickly and easily can give the impression that you’re not interested in people reading your blog. That’s probably not true. But I’ve seen people get really cross about this and say that they’re not going to look at a person’s blog any more if they don’t have this. I know … but if one person’s saying it, how many are thinking it?

If you get stuck trying to add this button to your blog, the easiest way to find out how, is to Google your blogging software’s name and “RSS feed button”. You should find a YouTube video or set of instructions telling you how to do it.

2. Not updating your blog

If you set up a blog and you then don’t update it, it won’t help you to get more readers or to promote whatever it is you’re promoting. Google and the other search engines thrive on updated, fresh content. If you don’t update your blog regularly, it will fall further and further down the search rankings and no one will be able to find it. If you want to write a blog, commit to updating it regularly.

I’ll be publishing a post about scheduling and keeping active with your blog posts soon, so watch this space!

3. Stealing content from other people

It’s fine to “reblog” other people’s blog posts onto your own blog (where a snippet of the post appears on your page, with a link to the real thing). It’s fine to link to other people’s blog posts and tell other people about them. It’s even fine to be inspired by another person’s blog or content – one of my friends has started a questionnaire series a little like my Small Business Chat one but with an emphasis on marketing techniques: similar idea, different content, that’s fine.

It’s not fine to lift content wholesale from another person’s blog or website. If you quote large amounts of text written by someone else, it’s just the same as if you were using that in an article or essay – you need to reference where it came from and acknowledge the author. It’s fine to talk about newspaper articles or reports in your blog and react to them, not fine to quote them verbatim, or quote people they have quoted, and not give the original source.

Never be tempted to take someone else’s content for your blog post. At best, you won’t get picked up by the search engines anyway (see below). At worst, you’ll find yourself slapped with a lawsuit for plagiarism! And it’s just not right.

4. Reusing content in exactly the same form

Say you’ve had a guest post on someone else’s blog and you’re really pleased with how it’s turned out – so much so that you want to share it. So you post it in its entirety on your blog, too. Not a good idea.

All of the search engines, like Google, like to offer their users varied content. So if the same content appears in two places, both places won’t come up in search results. Effectively, one of them will be invisible to search engines, therefore invisible to people searching for keywords that might lead them to that content.

To look at it from a different viewpoint, if you’ve published information in a guest post, the owner of the blog you’re guesting on will want to be posting up original content, not things that can be found elsewhere. Some people actually specify that the content must be original in their guidelines for guest posters. See more about this in a week or so when I blog about guest posts.

How do you deal with this? Publish a snippet of the post on your blog, with a link to that post. Put some of your own text around it, then the search engines will find your post and your guest post, both of you will get found and viewed, and no one’s copied anything. There are clever ways to deal with all of this in the coding behind your blog, but I’m guessing that most of us aren’t the kind to deal with that level of complication – I’m certainly not!

5. Being rude or negative

I feel like a  bit of a hypocrite writing this, because obviously this post is a little bit negative. But I’m also genuinely trying to help people to avoid making common mistakes! In the same way, I tried to make sure that my 10 reasons not to write a blog article talked about reasons for reviewing your blogging and content and making a positive decision. Whining and moaning and relentless negativity won’t make your readers like you any more than they would like you in real life.

Being rude can get you views in the short term. But it’s like those restaurants that people go to only because the waiters are desperately unfriendly. Fine for a laugh: but will they go back regularly for birthdays and anniversaries? Probably not. Even ranty blogs about politics or issues have to be constructive as well as rude!

If you want to have a rant or talk about a mistake you’ve made, try to vary and space out these posts, and make them as constructive as you can. We can all get a good blog post out of a bad experience, but make sure that you and your readers come away having learned something. I’m going to post soon about managing your social media brand, and this comes very strongly into that, too.

6. Posting inappropriate content

I don’t just mean lurid or dirty pictures here. If you want to share information about your management courses, then blogging about your exercise classes won’t get you the audience you want to buy your courses, unless you’re doing some very clever keyword placement and making the articles valuable to both groups of readers.

I have to admit to having a laugh at funny spelling mistakes as much as the next person. However, I’m careful not to mock or talk about or post pictures on this blog, because a lot of the people I work with as an editor are unsure about their English and using it as a second, third, fourth language … and would be mortified if they thought people were laughing at them (I don’t laugh at their English: I know I couldn’t do half as well as my overseas clients if I was writing in my second language. Bong joor toot le world).

7. Not giving your guest posters what they need

If someone takes the time to write a guest blog post for you to to give you more, fresh content, bring their fans over to your website, give you a marketing opportunity, etc., etc., then you need to do certain things to make the experience a good one on all sides. Chief among these, and something I see people having issues with all the time, is making sure that you provide live links back to their website and whatever it is they’re promoting, be it another website, their book on Amazon, or whatever. A live link is one that your readers can click on and be taken to their page, like this one which takes you to a post I wrote telling you how to add links to your blog posts!

Formatting guest posts that have come through in an email or an attachment can be tricky, full stop. I recommend pasting the text into a Notepad file on your computer, then pasting it from there into your blog post. Lots more on this in an upcoming article. But please make your guest blogger’s links live so that your readers can visit them online!

8. Not letting people respond to your posts

I like responding to blog posts. We all like responding to blog posts. We like to feel it’s a two-way conversation when we read something online, don’t we. But I still come across blogs every day that either don’t allow any comments at all, or make the commenting process so complex that people give up.

I have to say that the blogging software can be a culprit here. I can never seem to reply to Blogger posts, and WordPress itself can give the impression that you have to sign up to a WordPress account in order to comment on one of its blogs (you really don’t, you just need to add your name and email address).

Enable comments, even if you moderate and check all of them for spam (most blogging platforms allow you to set the level of moderation, for example, I hand-moderate the first post by anyone, and am alerted to all new comments, so I can check they’re not spammy or inappropriate). And listen to your readers – if you’re getting complaints about how hard it is to reply to a post, have a look at your settings and see if you can make it easier. One of my blogging friends has a note whenever you go to comment with an email address to use if the process won’t work – very helpful!

9. Not responding to comments

Allied to the above, if people take the time to reply to your blog, it’s only polite to take a moment to respond to them. Some people who get a lot of comments will do a general reply mentioning all of the previous commenters with a sentence addressed to them, and that’s of course fine. But I get a bit frustrated if I comment thoughtfully on a blog post and the author never responds. You don’t have to do it immediately, but I try to do it within 24 hours, a couple of days at most.

Conversations on your blog can be one of the most interesting things about blogging – so get out there and engage with your readers!

10. Only advertising, never helping

Yes, I and other people have told you again and again that having a blog will help your business. That’s true. But just blaring out adverts to your readers won’t make them keep coming back. Imagine two blogs, both about plumbing:

  • One lists the different areas of plumbing the plumber can do, and has carefully inserted keywords to attract the search engines
  • One talks about the jobs the plumber has done this week, including how she solved a particularly tricky question. She sometimes posts a question and answer about a common type of issue, like changing the washer on a tap

Which blog will you go to once, to find a plumber? Which one will you bookmark and read, share and tell other people about? Which one will actually bring the plumber more business in the long term?

I give away quite a lot of free advice on my blog, but just because I tell people how to set up a table of contents doesn’t mean that none of my clients ever ask me to do that now. On the contrary, seeing my expert advice, they trust that I can sort it out for them!

———–

That’s my personal top 10 list of blogging sins. Would you add any to that? Are any of those NOT sins in your book? I’d love to know what you think, and whether you’re enjoying this new series of articles all about blogging!

Related posts:

Top 10 reasons to write a blog

Top 10 reasons not to write a blog

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

You can find a growing set of articles on blogging and social media in the resource guide. Do click on the share buttons below or comment if you found this article interesting or useful!

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Blogging, Business, New skills, Writing

 

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Portrait and landscape orientation in Word and Excel

In this article, we’re talking about the Portrait and Landscape orientations in Word and Excel, what they are, why you might want to use each one, and how to swap between them.

What are Portrait and Landscape?

Portrait and Landscape are the terms used for the orientation of the page in applications that deal with pages, such as Word and Excel. Orientation means the relative position of the page when you’re looking at it:

1 pages

Portrait means that the page has the shorter sides at top and bottom. Think of a portrait in a gallery or museum. They are usually this way round. Landscape means that the page has the shorter sides on the left and right. Again, think of an art gallery. Which way round are views painted of the landscape? Exactly.

Why would I want to use the landscape orientation?

Word and Excel documents default to being in the portrait orientation. That’s the format of most books, reports, folders, etc. But landscape can be very useful if …

In Word

  • Your layout is such that it comes out wider than it’s high – maybe a poster or a sign to put up in your office or building
  • You have a wide table to insert into the document with lots of columns and it gets too squashed up and hard to read if you try to fit it onto a standard portrait A4 page
  • You have a diagram to insert into the document that’s wider than it’s high
  • You have a picture to insert into the document that’s wider than it’s high

In the last three incidences, you might only want one page of the document to appear in landscape. That’s easily done, and you can find out how to have portrait and landscape in one document here.

In Excel:

  • Your spreadsheet is too wide to fit comfortably onto a portrait A4 page

How do you change between Portrait and Landscape in Word 2007 and Word 2010?

You swap between Portrait and Landscape using the Orientation menu in Word. This can be found in the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup section:

2 menu

Press the Orientation button (or the little arrow at the bottom) to access the menu:

3 menu

Choose your orientation, and the whole document will change to that orientation, unless you’re only changing one section (see below)

How do you change one page in Word to be in Landscape?

To change one page in Word to be in Landscape, you need to set Section Breaks first, so that Word knows which pages you want to change. See this post on Section Breaks for instructions on how to do this and change just one page or section.

How do you change between Portrait and Landscape in Excel 2007 and Excel 2010?

Changing the orientation in Excel works in exactly the same way as doing it in Word. Find the Orientation menu by going into the Page Layout tab and Page Setup section:

4 excel

Then press the Orientation button to make your selection.

How do you change between Portrait and Landscape when you’re printing?

Sometimes you don’t realise that you need to print your document in Landscape rather than Portrait (it’s usually this way around, I find) until you have printed out one copy and find that your lovely picture or table falls off the edge of the page.

You can change the orientation of the printing while printing – however, the orientation of your original document will NOT change if you use this method, and if you want it to change to Landscape permanently, you will need to go back and follow the instructions I give above.

If you want to change the orientation of your printing (in Word or Excel or when you’re printing off a web page or a map or anything!) …

First, select the Print option. When the Print dialogue box comes up, click the Properties button:

5 printer

You will usually then be given a screen something like this which will have a Features tab:

6 printer

Find choice buttons for Portrait / Landscape, select the one you want, and OK, and then your printout will be in that orientation.

—————–

In this article we have learned what the portrait and landscape orientations are, why they are useful, how to change them in Word and Excel and how to change orientation when you are printing.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share the link using the buttons below or sharing the Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn alert that you followed to get here!

Other useful posts: Section breaks in Word

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!

Find all the short cuts here

 
27 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

10 reasons not to write a blog

pens and ink bottleWe’ve already looked at reasons to write a blog. But what are the reasons for not writing a blog, or for taking an informed decision to stop writing one, even if you started?

Note that this, like the last post, is mainly targeted at business bloggers. However, if you have a blog that you want to gain an audience and maybe earn some money from in whatever way, these points will interest you, too.

So, what are the reasons NOT to write a blog, or to give up?

1. You are only doing it because someone told you that you should

I go on about blogging to people ALL THE TIME. I even did it when I was buying vegan food from a stall in Greenwich at the weekend. But don’t just do it because someone tells you to. OK, it’s worth looking at the reasons why having a blog is good (see my previous post) and making an informed decision, but if someone just tells you, “start writing a blog” and you do, it’s not so likely that the habit will stick and it will be useful and fun.

2. You actually dislike doing it

So, you’ve started blogging and you’ve got into a routine, and then you realise that you’re just dreading writing that next post. I’m going to talk in another post about slumps and maintaining momentum (if I forget to link to it here, look in the index). But what I’m talking about here is hating it all the time, disliking putting fingers to keyboard and putting the thing together, resenting the time it takes up. If you don’t enjoy doing it

  • get someone else in your organisation to do it
  • pay someone else to do it
  • stop doing it entirely

3. You haven’t got time to post regularly

Although if you have a personal blog and you’re not worried about statistics and search engines, you can get away with blogging very irregularly, if you are doing it so as to appear in search results and get more exposure for your business, you really do need to post regularly. I find that, for me, three posts a week are the sweet spot. When I publish three posts a week, I get the most visits to the blog. It’s worth noting that not all of those are long posts (my Troublesome Pairs certainly are not), but it’s regularly updated content, full of relevant keywords and useful to different groups of readers.

Once a week is, I think, the minimum you can get away with and still gain value from the process. If you don’t have the time to do this, again, consider outsourcing, or consider not doing it at all.

4. You’re not organised to post regularly

Following on from the time issue, you do need to be organised enough to generate new content fairly regularly. Again, I’m going to talk about this in detail in another article, but you do need to be able to plan what you’re going to talk about, gather photographs and illustrations for the posts, and organise yourself to sit down and write them, and then publicise the posts and deal with any comments that might ensue. If you fly by the seat of your pants and do everything as and when, and find organisation in general to be a tricky thing, blogging for business might not be for you.

5. You’re only in it to make money

You do read loads of posts about making money from your blog. And you can make money from your blog, for example by …

  • Allowing adverts to appear on your blog (but be very careful with this and make sure you only allow adverts relevant to your readers or this will be a big turn-off. The best way to do this is through carefully selected product placement that matches with your content and readership)
  • Hosting affiliate links on your blog so that readers can click a button or picture on your blog to be taken through to buy a product, while you get a percentage of all sales (this is notoriously difficult to make money from)
  • Selling your blog to a publisher to make into a book (but not many people make money writing and selling books, and there’s more to a blog-to-book than just bunging all your blog posts in one place – I have direct experience of this)

It’s not common to make money directly from your blog. It’s hard to say how many page views you need per month to do well out of advertising, but recommendations start at 10,000 unique visitors per month. Not many publishers convert blogs into books outside the big ones we’ve all heard about. What my blog does is let people know about me who then become customers … but that’s using your blog to build your business, not to make money per se. If you’ve read an article or been to a seminar about easy ways to make money online, be VERY careful what you sign up for and get into.

6. You are not interested in engaging with your readers

People who read blogs like to comment on them. People who comment on blogs like to see the blogger reply to these comments. I know that personally I’ve stopped reading and commenting on blogs when I’m never responded to, especially if I can see that the blogger never responds to any comments. This is actually one of my Top 10 Blogging Sins, too.

If you’re not actually interested in having a conversation, in engaging with your readers, in replying to their comments, and you just find it a chore; if you just want to broadcast and don’t want to engage in two-way conversation, I don’t personally think that blogging is for you. You will lose readers as fast as you gain them, and it will never be personally or professionally fulfilling for you.

7. You are not interested in engaging with other bloggers

This is similar to point 6, but we’re talking here about other people in the same line of business as you (whether that business be small business support, engineering or book reviewing). If you see other people blogging on a similar topic to you as rivals, and you want to keep apart from the, set yourself apart and distance yourself, then you may not find blogging to be useful. You probably can’t “beat” the most successful blogger in your industry, and if you don’t want to engage with them, share guest blog spots, link to their material and comment on each other’s blogs, then it might be wise to disengage with the process.

8. You haven’t got anything interesting to say

If you’re boring yourself with your blog content, you will probably be boring your readers. If you’re constantly scratching around for topics to write about, or covering the same ground time and again, consider scrapping that series, if you have various topics you cover on your blog, or the whole thing. I used to post up an update about what I’d been doing in the previous month at the beginning of each month. Although some readers said they enjoyed it, it was becoming very repetitive and boring to write. So I stopped doing it and added something else in that slot on the blog.

Note: what you think isn’t interesting might be to other people – it’s always worth doing some market research. When I meet people like locksmiths, carpenters and electricians, I always tell them they should write a blog about their daily lives and the jobs they do (keeping their clients’ confidentiality, of course) as many of us would find that sort of thing really interesting. I’m talking about when you’re struggling for ideas and you’re maybe not getting any positive feedback or a growing readership, and your blog becomes bogged down and repetitive. Have a rethink or ditch the blog!

9. Your blog isn’t relevant to your target market

If you’re blogging for business, your blog posts need to be relevant to your target market(s). For example, I blog about …

  • Word tips and hints – because most of my clients and target market use Word
  • Language tips and hints – because my business lies in improving written language
  • Business tips and hints – because I’ve written a book about business and I am passionate about engaging with other businesses
  • Blogging tips and hints – because I get asked about this a lot and because of the business reason above and because I noticed that I get searches coming through to my blog on that topic already, so people want to know about it

If you sell garages but blog about hairstyles, the people who read your blog are not likely to have a huge overlap with the people who are going to buy your services. If you have a book review blog and want to engage with mystery authors but only review romance, that’s not going to engage your audience. There needs to be a big overlap between what you talk about on your blog and the people you want to attract to read it. Even “the general public” has niches – people who like to read about fashion, or the work of an ambulance driver, or about low cholesterol eating.

10. Nobody is reading your blog, even after 6, 12, 18 months

It takes time to build a blog and its audience. Both of mine have grown over the months, pretty gradually. My book review blog wasn’t growing its audience much for a while, and I did wonder whether to cancel it. I actually published a post asking if people found it interesting to see whether anyone was reading it! What I found out was that many people were reading it on blog aggregators, which don’t show up on my statistics. So it was worth doing, but I also took steps to add value, beefing up my reviews, adding some more web pages to the blog, and importing a whole wodge of old reviews from another blogging service I used to use. My traffic improved and the blog was saved. But if you do that, and you change things and no one’s looking, maybe it’s time to consider other ways to market and raise awareness.

———–

These are not necessarily ten reasons to stop blogging altogether. They certainly are reasons to stop, look at what you’re doing, reconsider things and maybe tweak your posts, style, content or other aspects.

Have you stopped writing a blog? Why?

Relevant posts:

10 Reasons to Write a Blog

Reciprocity and social media

Top 10 blogging sins

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

Coming soon …

WordPress blogging 101

 

 
19 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Blogging, Business, Writing

 

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10 reasons to write a blog

pens and ink bottleWhy should you write a blog? Why should you start writing a blog, and why should you continue writing a blog? Here are my top reasons why. I’m really looking at business blogging here, but the first one applies to everyone!

1. Because you want to

This reason covers both personal bloggers and business bloggers. You should start writing, and continue writing, a blog, because you want to. Forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do is no fun, and you should enjoy the time you spend designing and honing your blog and writing those entries. Whether you want to share holiday pictures or reviews of restaurants or share your professional expertise, do it because you want to.

2. You’ve got something interesting to talk about

There are so many interesting things to talk about. I often meet people running businesses where I have no idea of the nitty gritty of their everyday lives. How does a carpenter learn his trade? What does a freelance solicitor do, day to day? How many projects does a crafter have on the go at any one time, and how does a mobile hairdresser help their clients to choose a new hairstyle?

I have found that my posts on building my business struck a chord and interested many people. A series of posts that I started really for myself about Word hints and tips has turned into a popular series. If you run a business, think about some of the behind the scenes things, some of the aspects of your knowledge that people might be interested to know about (don’t worry about giving away your secrets – I might publish articles on Word headings and tables of contents, but I still get asked to do them by my clients!).

Of course, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t share personal details about your clients. But I think it’s fine to talk about them if they’re heavily disguised – or ask if they’d like to have a case study published with links back to their website!

3. It will set you up as an expert in your field

This is invaluable when you’re building your reputation and your business. Don’t see it as giving away information for free, think of it as sharing your expertise with the world. Once you start appearing in people’s Google searches when they’re trying to resolve a problem, they’ll be more likely to come to you for help when they need your services. If you can offer a back catalogue of useful, targeted advice on your blog when you’re negotiating with a new prospect, they will see that you can walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

This may not lead to direct sales – but I’ve often seen my blog posts shared among other people and organisations in my field. Keep your name in front of them as well as prospects, and you never know where the next recommendation and job might come from!

4. It will attract people to your site

This links in to the above point. The more content you have on your website which is packed full of keywords and language to do with your business, the more findable it is in the search engines. The more people find information that is useful to them and engages with them, the more time they will spend on your website. The more time people spend on your website, or the more repeat visits they make, or the fact that they’ve signed up for your RSS feed and get regular updates into the RSS* reader or email inbox, the more likely they are to remember your name and your products or services when they or a contact need them.

More website visitors does not directly lead to more sales in a quantifiable relationship. But as long as you do show genuine expertise and a willingness to engage with your audience, you will build your exposure, get more visitors to your site, and this will help you to become better known and gain more sales.

5. It will build your platform

Your platform is the group of people who are engaged with you in whatever way – through personal connections, social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, through your email newsletter, through your blog – and who can then be “leveraged” (horrible word) when you want to get the word out about something new that you’re offering.

For example, if you’re self-publishing a book, it’s vital to have built a circle of connections before it comes out, so you have a guaranteed audience of at least a few people. If you start offering a new service, for example when I added transcription services to my proofreading and editing offering, it’s useful to have people who you can tell, and who will then hopefully spread the word.

Having a blog builds your platform because it engages people’s interest. It brings them to your website, it gets them reading your content regularly, and it encourages them to sign up for your RSS feed or to receive your posts by email as they’re published. Once you have subscribers, you can get information out to that guaranteed audience when you need to. That’s much harder if you only have a static website for them to visit.

6. Regularly updated content will boost your position in search engine search results

It’s fairly common knowledge that the search engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) like content that is regularly updated. This means that their complex and little-known (and ever-changing) algorithms will promote websites that are frequently updated above those that are static. Updating your blog once a week or more gives all of the content on your website a better change of being found by potential contacts and clients, because it gives it a better chance of appearing in a higher position in the search results.

7. So will information crammed full of the keywords that are important in your industry

Keywords are vital for search engines, too. If you just write a set of keywords over and over again, the chances are the the search engines will pick up that it’s not real content, and will not show it to searchers. But if you are writing well-crafted copy which includes a good sprinkling of keywords among the text, you will find yourself doing better in the search engine results.

I write natural text in my blog posts that is (hopefully) interesting and gives something to the reader – but I am also careful to include relevant keywords at a regular rate in the blog posts I write, which does improve my search engine optimisation no end (it’s also good to get them into sub-headings and the blog title itself). SEO is a fairly dark art, but the more keywords you can sensibly insert into your content, the more the search engines will be happy to find and display your content to their users.

8. You want to engage with your readers / prospects / clients

Blogs are not a one-way conversation. Once your audience has built a bit, you will get comments, shares, etc. on your blog posts, and on the places where you promote them (I will get almost as many comments on my Facebook post advertising a new blog post as I will on the post itself).

One of the golden rules of blogging is that you need to respond to your comments. Some bloggers are very good at this, some are not. I’m sure everyone’s commented excitedly on a blog post, only to find their comment is effectively “ignored”, with no reply from the writer. I think that’s quite rude, and I am likely to engage a lot less – or stop engaging – with bloggers who have a habit of not replying. Obviously, we all get times when we’re away or too busy to reply that moment, but most blogging platforms alert users to replies, and you want to keep that feature switched on and engage with your audience, otherwise they will stop coming back.

And those commenters might just be your friend Ali or your ex-colleague Steph, but every person who engages with your blog is a potential client or recommender.

9. You want to engage with other bloggers

There’s nothing like blogging for building communities of like-minded people. Once you’re blogging in a niche area, whether it be fiction writing, editing, ironing services or Sage, people who are interested in the same sorts of areas will start to follow your blog, comment on your posts and share what you’re saying.

This is useful for a couple of reasons: firstly, it’s always good to have colleagues. I’ve written elsewhere about how I treat other people in the same line of business as me as colleagues rather than competitors. It’s always good to have people to recommend prospects on too if you’re fully booked and can’t take them on, and to have people to send you referrals. Sometimes you need to have a moan or a chat or ask advice, and you might want to do this privately rather than publicly, which is where your network of colleagues can come in very handy. You can also read what they’re saying, get new ideas, keep up to date, and slot into networks that offer mutually useful posts, services and applications.

Secondly, this may give you the opportunity to guest post on other people’s blogs, and vice versa. We’ll talk about sharing your content in other places next. But just to give you some examples, if I hadn’t started blogging, I wouldn’t have got to know many of the editors I now know who link to my blog articles, share them on social media, and act as a sounding-board when I need to talk things through. That’s worth every hour of effort I put into my blog, to be honest!

10. You want to share your content in other places on the web

The good thing about your URLs and name appearing in places on the web that are not connected directly with you, your website and social media is, you guessed it: it boosts your position in search engine results. The more times your URL appears on a website that’s on a solid standing itself and has followers and people talking about it, the more the search engines will consider your website to be appropriate to present in their search results listings.

These links to your content on other people’s pages are called backlinks. You can secure these in a number of ways:

  • Comment on someone else’s blog post, including your URL
  • Contribute when someone asks for examples, experiences or feedback, again making sure that your URL is included
  • Write a guest blog post for someone – ensuring that the biography at the end includes all of your links

Now, you’ll know if you’ve ever allowed comments on a website or blog that a lot of companies do this seemingly randomly, just to get their URL into other people’s comments, and now you know why they do it. So do make sure that the content and comments you share are appropriate to the topic of the post on which you’re commenting! But this is a great way to increase traffic to your website and blog.

So, there are 10 top reasons for writing a blog. Do you have any others? Why did you start yours? Do also read … 10 top reasons NOT to write a blog!

File:Feed-icon.svg *What’s this RSS stuff I keep talking about? RSS feeds are file formats that allow your regularly updated content to be collected and sent on to readers, usually involving them reading all of the blogs etc that interest them using an RSS reader that accumulates them all in one place. This Wikipedia article explains it all and examples of RSS readers include Feedly. RSS feeds can be found on blogs around the symbol at the beginning of this explanation.

Related topics:

10 top reasons NOT to write a blog

Reciprocity and social media

Top 10 blogging sins

Scheduling blog posts and keeping going

 
39 Comments

Posted by on August 9, 2013 in Blogging, Business, New skills, Writing

 

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Using the split screen view in Word

In this article, I’m going to tell you all about using the split screen view in Word, including why you would use it, how to use it, and how to stop using it. I’ve also added an alternative way to get the split screen view, which explains the problem: “help! I’ve got a split screen and I don’t know how I got it!”

What does split screen mean?

If you split the screen in Word, it means that you can see two parts of the same document in the same window, allowing you to scroll through both parts independently or keep one section on screen at all times. It’s a bit like splitting panes in Excel, although you can only do it horizontally.

Why would I want to split the screen in Word?

It’s often useful to be able to see two sections of a document at one time, without having to open two copies of the document (if you do that, one will be read-only and you can’t make amendments to it). Some examples of why split screen view is useful:

  • You are creating a large table and want to be able to see your column headings all of the time (this is similar to the use of Freeze Panes in Excel)
  • You’re creating a lesson plan and you want to look at the plan and notes at the same time.
  • You’re checking that a contents page includes the correct titles and page numbers and you don’t want to keep whizzing back and forth through the document.
  • You’ve written an introduction to a chapter and want to make sure that it refers to all of the content in that chapter.
  • You’re working on some worked examples in a textbook and you want to check the answers at the end of the document

In this worked example, I want to review the text in the February chapter of my book to make sure that the content within it is reflected in the introduction to the chapter. I want to keep the introduction (circled in red) visible on the screen while I scroll through the rest of the chapter.

1 all one screen

How do I make the screen split in Word 2007 and Word 2010?

This is another example where Word 2007 and Word 2010 operate in exactly the same way.

The Split button can be found in the View tab, in the Window section:

2 menu

Once you press this Split button, the screen will automatically split into two. Initially, a grey line will appear – this is a guide line that you can move and position as you wish:

3 line

Once you’ve positioned the screen split (it can go anywhere horizontally on the page), it turns into a second ruler:

4 ruler

Your screen is now split and ready to use.

You can scroll up and down both halves of the screen, although usually you will want to keep the top half still and just move the bottom. Here, I’ve scrolled down to the bottom of the essay on tea to see what comes next:

5 scroll

The scroll bars on the right hand side will remind you of your position in each part of the document.

Remember that you must have your cursor in the half of the screen that you wish to scroll!

How do I cancel Split Screen view?

You can revert to a single viewing pane at any time by pressing the Remove Split button (which was the Split button):

6 remove split

Your document will return to single pane view – starting at the top point of your upper pane:

1 all one screen

Using the Split Screen button

You can also use a tiny button on the top right of the screen to split your screen (and you can use this in any Microsoft Office application). I didn’t realise this until I was trying to sort out a problem for someone who had got stuck with split screen and couldn’t make it go away – I couldn’t work out how he’d got a split screen without choosing those particular menu items above. Now I know.

In the top right of your Word screen, you’ll find a tiny button like a letterbox, just above a bigger button:

7 split button

Here it is in close-up:

8 split button

Left-click on this button and the cursor will change to having two horizontal lines. Drag the cursor down, holding the left mouse button down, and the grey line will follow, just as with the other method.

9 split down

Return it by clicking, keeping the mouse button down and moving the split line up to the top of the screen.

You can mix and match these ways of adding and removing the screen split, so if you start one way, you can remove it in the other way.

So, if you’ve got a split screen and you don’t know why, you probably clicked on that little button by accident, and you can remove it in one of two ways: go into View and Remove Split or click on the split bar and move it up to the top of the screen.

In this article, we’ve learned about splitting the screen in Word, why we might want to do that, how we do it, and how to return to standard view.

If you have enjoyed this post, please share the link!

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!

Find all the short cuts here

 
17 Comments

Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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Ferment or foment?

I can’t remember where I came across this one now, but it’s an interesting pair that I thought got confused in certain circumstances regarding the stirring up of unrest. But wouldn’t you know it – a different picture emerges when I look into it more deeply, and this joins the select ranks of words such as decimated or gunnel that I am not really allowed to be as picky about as I’d like to be!).

To ferment as a verb means to undergo the process of fermentation (“His beer was fermenting nicely and would be ready to drink in a few weeks”) or to stir up disorder. A ferment (as a noun) means social unrest and agitation.

To foment, as a verb, means to instigate or stir up something like strife or revolution – i.e. the same as the secondary meaning of ferment as a verb. What a shame! I think we should still use this for revolutions and ferment for beer, myself (to foment has a nice archaic meaning of bathing a part of the body with a warm or medicated lotion, or fomentation. I doubt any of us will ever use that, but it’s quite jolly, in my opinion).

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

 

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Section breaks in Word

Today we’re going to be talking about adding section breaks in Word documents.

Why would I want to add a section break?

Section breaks are used if you want to have different formatting in different parts of your document. For example, you might want to …

  • have your page numbering in Roman numerals for part of your document and Arabic numerals in the rest of it
  • have some pages in portrait and some in landscape (for example if you’re including wide tables or images in your document)
  • include watermarks for branding or protection in parts of your document but not other parts
  • have different headers and footers associated with different parts of your document

Basically, if you want to change parts of your headers, footers, background or page layout for parts of your document only, you will need to divide up those parts using Section Breaks.

We’re going to use a document where one page should be in portrait and one in landscape for demonstration purposes.

What happens if you don’t use Section Breaks?

In this example, we want Page 1 to be in portrait and Page 2 to be in landscape orientation.

If you don’t enter any section breaks, even if you have your cursor on Page 2, changing its orientation to landscape …

1 without section break 1

… will change the orientation of Page 1, too:

2 without section break 2

Where is the Section Break menu in Word 2007 and Word 2010?

The good news is that the Section Breaks menu is exactly the same in Word 2007 and 2010.

Go into the Page Layout tab, and you will find the Breaks menu in the Page Setup area:

3 section break menu

Note that you can apply Section Breaks to automatically happen continuously and on every odd or even page. I’ve never needed to do that: what I have done many times is insert a section break and start the next section on a new page.

How do I insert a Section Break into my document?

Make sure that your cursor is flashing where you want your Section Break to appear (i.e. at the end of your current section). Then select Section Break – Next Page:

4 section break menu

Once you’ve done this, the section break will have been inserted at the point at which you had your cursor. But you can’t see it – it’s one of those hidden messages that is only displayed if you use the Paragraph Mark button (see this article for further information):

c

Once you’ve pressed the Paragraph Mark button, you will be able to view your section break:

5 section break visible

If you look at your Header and Footer, you will see that they also show that Page 1 is part of Section 1, and Page 2 is part of Section 2:

6 header and footer showing section break

This is a good way to check which parts of the document belong to which section.

What effect does inserting a Section Break have?

Now that your document is divided up into Sections, you can apply different formatting to different sections of the document. Page numbering is covered in this post, and in order to have Section 2 in landscape, all we need to do is make sure that the cursor is in Section 2, and select the landscape option:

1 without section break 1

Now that it has been separated off into Section 2, Page 2 will change to landscape, while Page 1, in Section 1, will stay in portrait orientation:

7 portrait then landscape

How do I add more sections to my document?

There is no limit to the amount of sections you add to a document, however, it’s worth keeping track of them and remembering that your formatting will need to be set individually for each section – if you’ve changed everything in Section 2 into landscape, if you add a new section, it will stay in landscape and you will need to change it back to portrait if that’s how you want it to orientate.

How do I delete a Section Break?

To delete a section break, simply turn on Paragraph Marks so you can see the section breaks (see above), put the cursor next to the break and press the Delete button on your keyboard.

—-

In this article you have learned about Section Breaks, what they are used for, how to apply them, and how to use them to change the page orientation in your document. If you’ve found it useful, please share!

Other useful posts:

Proper page breaks

Page numbering – how to have different page number formats in different parts of your document

Changing between Landscape and Portrait (to come)

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

 
14 Comments

Posted by on August 2, 2013 in Errors, New skills, Short cuts, Word, Writing

 

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