Thursday, June 28, 2012

Formatting in Word

I've been getting quite a few questions about formatting lately. Even I have to admit, it can be a tricky sucker. For many years (many, many), I've dealt with formatting documents in Word and various other word processing software, including teaching people how to format. One key thing that few realize is that every key stroke you make adds code to your document. Now in the old days, that was extremely important because we had very little space to save documents. So you didn't want your document bloated with unwanted code.

For instance, many people like to hit the space bar 5 times to indent a line. Big no no and one of my absolute pet peeves. Use the tab key. One code versus five codes. Saves space and makes it neat and tidy. Also, with trying to line text up with the space bar, printing becomes an issue. The text might appear straight on the screen, but sometimes when you print, it is a wavy vertical line down the page. Some letters take up less space on a line than others, i.e. a W takes up more room than an I, causing the text to shift on a line. If you don't use a code such as a tab to line it up, then it's not necessarily going to be straight.

Now today with our huge hard drives and big flash drives, we have a ton of storage space and saving documents from bloat took a back seat. Of course, many people are self taught in Word and don't even realize what all the functions and key stroke saving abilities are in Word. Trust me, there are five different ways to do everything and quite a few of them will save you time in the long run!

However, if you are going to load a document into a Kindle format, then you want to have as small a document as possible because of download size. You want your reader to have the smallest possible file size. For Kindle formatting you especially have to use the functions of Word. For instance, to indent a line, you need to use the Format, Paragraph, Indent function rather than a tab or spaces. You also need to turn off page numbering. An ebook is a flowing document that shifts with all the different screen sizes out there...what is on page 35 for one reader is on page 20 for another, becasue people can re-size text and some are reading on a tablet, some on a computer. Another tip is to have a consistent font. Different font colors are really not a good idea as colors appear different on different systems.

There's a lot to consider when formatting a document, but it's nothing you can't handle. If you get in a bind or have a question, just let me know!

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