Formatting Word

Status
Not open for further replies.

Julie

Basic
Joined
Feb 13, 2020
Location
Plymouth, Devon
I wasn't really sure which thread title, but the issue is Formatting. A couple of months ago, I came across some article bemoaning how writers neglect how to use Word properly. Now, I'll be honest, while I have turned on the formatting button to see the pilcrows and space dots, I've never really gone beyond that. In the days of university, it was open Word and type, print and as long as it was neat, double-spaced etc., it never went beyond that.
I mentioned formatting a while ago, and then recently, I saw someone else had mentioned it. So, I went back and looked at my novel. Switched on formatting, and O. My. God. what a mess in places. I had mixed new lines with tabs; there was evidence of double spaces after a word; black squares (uncheck keep lines together); space dot before pilcrow at end of para (unnecessary), and degree symbols that meant non-breaking space (how did they get in there?!).

I've included some links below that I'm using. Apparently, white space is not passive, it's active. So when we (or just me?) blithely tab stop, add paras instead of new lines, and so on, we're causing major headaches for others who receive our work. Perhaps it's part of the reason I struggled to keep the format when an agent required me to put the first ten pages of novel directly into the body of the email.

I used the space bar to put my chapter headings half way down the page. Apparently, this is incorrect and I should be using the 'styles.'

Switch on formatting marks on your own work, and see what comes up. I'm wondering how au fait @AgentPete is on this subject because I would love a seminar on this. It's probably equally important if you're considering self-publishing.

What does everyone think? Are most up to speed on this? Good job no one's asked me to desktop publishing!

 
A long time ago, in a faraway land, I worked weekends as a slush-pile reader. Top of the list of 'reasons to reject without reading' was incorrect format.
When I asked why, the answer was quicker off the mark than a Lamborghini: 'if they don't know the craft well enough to submit with the right format, as detailed specifically in the req's, then the writing won't be any good, 'cos they can't read, or don't read, or don't know what they're doing. Save yourself the headache.'
After a couple of years of reading several boxes of mss each weekend, I agreed with him.
 
A long time ago, in a faraway land, I worked weekends as a slush-pile reader. Top of the list of 'reasons to reject without reading' was incorrect format.
When I asked why, the answer was quicker off the mark than a Lamborghini: 'if they don't know the craft well enough to submit with the right format, as detailed specifically in the req's, then the writing won't be any good, 'cos they can't read, or don't read, or don't know what they're doing. Save yourself the headache.'
After a couple of years of reading several boxes of mss each weekend, I agreed with him.
I wonder if I was one of them :disappointed-face:
 
Never touch the tab key is a golden golden rule. Word indent formatting does the work for you and for others to see the same as you.
I know. And most of work was using 'enter' button. However, I was blithely pressing 'tab' when there was a running conversation. I hadn't even realised until I saw those awful arrows!
 
Gosh! Yer man's instructions seem much more complicated than they need to be.
Well, I find I'm needing (when I have time) to go deep. I've never touched the 'Styles' on the ribbon.
Also, what I've noticed is that if I put in first line indent, and then drag the first line of a new paragraph or scene so that it's not indented, it drags all the other first line indents back.:face-with-monocle:
 
Well, I find I'm needing (when I have time) to go deep. I've never touched the 'Styles' on the ribbon.
Also, what I've noticed is that if I put in first line indent, and then drag the first line of a new paragraph or scene so that it's not indented, it drags all the other first line indents back.:face-with-monocle:
Two short cut ways of indicating a new scene: enter, asterisk, enter (the asterisk indicates the scene break and prevents loss of double spacing on other machines) or press shift and enter together which creates a properly formatted double space (according to the submission guidelines of an anthology I submitted to).

When you remove the indent for the first line of a new scene/chapter, yes, word will start your next paragraph without indent. All you have to do, when you've pressed enter and your cursor is not indented: go to your ruler bar at the top of your word page. Where it says paragraph, you should see a column of lines with an up and down arrow beside it. Click on that then line spacing options then special then first line then ok, and you will have your indents back again.
 
Thanks @Hannah F for the info! I do use an asterisk, but I centre it in the middle of the page using middle justify on spacebar; is that what you do after 'enter * enter?
 
Top of the list of 'reasons to reject without reading' was incorrect format.
Oh, that's harsh, Cage :) We were a bit more forgiving! The only thing that got a submission lobbed straight in the bin was single-line spacing – just not worth the eye strain. And as for single-line spacing AND printed on both sides of the paper...:eek:


When you remove the indent for the first line of a new scene/chapter, yes, word will start your next paragraph without indent. All you have to do, when you've pressed enter and your cursor is not indented: go to your ruler bar at the top of your word page. Where it says paragraph, you should see a column of lines with an up and down arrow beside it. Click on that then line spacing options then special then first line then ok, and you will have your indents back again.
Alternatively, before you remove any indent just do a paragraph return underneath, and the formatting will be picked up. Then go back and remove any indent you want removed. Saves a bit of time.
 
Creating a style is easier than it sounds.
Find the style in the ribbon/bar and right click the style you want to amend - I do this with heading styles all the time -
Right click and select Modify. It opens a display with options for the format of the style. Some on the open section, but if you want to use it for other documents, check 'New documents based on this template'. Some need more work, such as indenting, so click on the 'Format' and then paragraph and work through the things you need for this style.

To create a new style (which is what I did for the indent style), click on the button on the lower right of the style box (the one with a bar above the down-arrow head), and then create new (or create a style, depending on which version of Word you have), modify, and go through the same process as above, save it (or okay), and it's there for another day. However, when you open docs from other sources, you may not have your defined styles, so don't panic cos you know how to create and apply styles now, yes?
 
Creating a style is easier than it sounds.
Find the style in the ribbon/bar and right click the style you want to amend - I do this with heading styles all the time -
Right click and select Modify. It opens a display with options for the format of the style. Some on the open section, but if you want to use it for other documents, check 'New documents based on this template'. Some need more work, such as indenting, so click on the 'Format' and then paragraph and work through the things you need for this style.

To create a new style (which is what I did for the indent style), click on the button on the lower right of the style box (the one with a bar above the down-arrow head), and then create new (or create a style, depending on which version of Word you have), modify, and go through the same process as above, save it (or okay), and it's there for another day. However, when you open docs from other sources, you may not have your defined styles, so don't panic cos you know how to create and apply styles now, yes?
Excellent explanation, Cage! Thank you for taking the time to type it all up!
 
Styles (specifically Header Styles) has been my lifesaver for navigating my behemoth novels - both for writing and editing. I always have the navigation pane open so I can see all the chapter headings and can jump around easily.

My Part One/Two/Threes are in Heading 1 style. Chapters in Header 2.

Screen Shot 2021-11-26 at 5.14.53 PM.png

You can find the navigation pane under View in the ribbon.
Screen Shot 2021-11-26 at 5.19.11 PM.png
 
Hi @Nmlee , thank you for picking up on this thread. Your approach to this is much like how my stories look in Dabble. I then transfer to Word.
I sorted out all the formatting issues, but the final one is discovering that title page must have personal info top left, and then vertically centred is the book’s title, my name and word count.

And what a fiasco that is proving to be. When I vertically centre align the title it sends it to a new page. I’ve just learnt that it’s treating it as a section and forces a break. Aaarggh! Is the word when I’m trying to fix this.

Also, it’s proving the same for the chapters, which have to appear half-way to a third down the page. Before, I was hitting ’enter’ to get it to the middle. All those pilcrows denote this is incorrect. But, when I vertically centre say Chapter 1, it sends the contents of that chapter off to another page.

I think I have to do something with making a section break. But if anyone out there can explain in baby language and steps, that would be great!!!
 
Or you can set the Chapter Heading style to 'spacing before' to a number that brings it to the right position on the page. It may take a few attempts, but once it's set, it's done. It's the same principle for the Title style (I have one specifically for pb) which is centred aligned with appropriate 'spacing before' and 'spacing after' to sit it in the right spot.

I'm assuming you're doing this for pb version (or a hard-copy submission, or do they (agent/publisher) want the submission fully formatted as per pb reqs); eBook version is usually a 'page break before' heading style for chapters, and a Title style that's not too huge for an eReader (and eReaders can be changed (font and text size) to suit the reader).

The problem with sections is the extra memory it takes, which doesn't matter for a pb, but makes a huge difference for an eBook (you may have to pay delivery fees!).
 
Hi @CageSage and anyone else who wants to ride the swell. I'm trying to understand formatting because in my complete ignorance, I didn't realise this could be an editor's nightmare if they looked at my work. I've gotten it much tidier now.

This morning I've just taken myself through keeping my personal details together with the 'soft return' function, which is Ctrl+ Enter.

Then to get my title, name and word count vertically aligned in the centre and on the same page, I selected alignment; used double-spacing, used soft return, and then on LAYOUT, I selected SPACING and chose 210pt before. This brought it down to centre of page.

I then kept on LAYOUT ribbon, clicked BREAKS then SECTION BREAK. Voila! This stopped the title whizzing off to next page.

Okay, all good so far. Now I needed to bring CHAPTER ONE down to the middle. But - if I choose 210pt it's not half way down the page. I had to increase the points, and open up GRID so I could understand where the vertical centre was.

I've attached a document where I've tried the above, and there's a section where I'd started a new chapter title half-way down using ENTER. What I've noticed, and highlighted yellow, is a bizarre instance of a random line centring itself in the body of the text. If anyone would like to look, then please turn on the formatting marks so you can see what I'm talking about.

Apologies for stilted prose, but I've written as I'm thinking the steps through. :rolleyes:

Cage, I think I do need to get my head around the STYLES, but I find it off-putting when I hover cursor over them and they flip my work into all sorts of different fonts and sizes.

Clearly, I've been very remiss in understanding Word beyond the super basics.

I'm now going to down a double-espresso. :disappointed-face:
 

Attachments

If you're submitting to an agent, you don't need to align title and chapter headings half-way down the page (unless they ask you to), especially if it's one where you submit in the body of an email. It just gives them more pages to scroll through. And if, say, they've asked for your first 10 pages, you're wasting pages.
 
If you're submitting to an agent, you don't need to align title and chapter headings half-way down the page (unless they ask you to), especially if it's one where you submit in the body of an email. It just gives them more pages to scroll through. And if, say, they've asked for your first 10 pages, you're wasting pages.
That's my kind of answer :)
 
Hi @CageSage and anyone else who wants to ride the swell. I'm trying to understand formatting because in my complete ignorance, I didn't realise this could be an editor's nightmare if they looked at my work. I've gotten it much tidier now.

This morning I've just taken myself through keeping my personal details together with the 'soft return' function, which is Ctrl+ Enter.

Then to get my title, name and word count vertically aligned in the centre and on the same page, I selected alignment; used double-spacing, used soft return, and then on LAYOUT, I selected SPACING and chose 210pt before. This brought it down to centre of page.

I then kept on LAYOUT ribbon, clicked BREAKS then SECTION BREAK. Voila! This stopped the title whizzing off to next page.

Okay, all good so far. Now I needed to bring CHAPTER ONE down to the middle. But - if I choose 210pt it's not half way down the page. I had to increase the points, and open up GRID so I could understand where the vertical centre was.

I've attached a document where I've tried the above, and there's a section where I'd started a new chapter title half-way down using ENTER. What I've noticed, and highlighted yellow, is a bizarre instance of a random line centring itself in the body of the text. If anyone would like to look, then please turn on the formatting marks so you can see what I'm talking about.

Apologies for stilted prose, but I've written as I'm thinking the steps through. :rolleyes:

Cage, I think I do need to get my head around the STYLES, but I find it off-putting when I hover cursor over them and they flip my work into all sorts of different fonts and sizes.

Clearly, I've been very remiss in understanding Word beyond the super basics.

I'm now going to down a double-espresso. :disappointed-face:
When using the soft enter, the formatting from the previous line is carried forward to the next, so not random (your doc has soft enter for Chapter 1, but not Chapter 2 - do you see the difference?). However, without the use of a heading style for the chapters, I can't use the navigator pane to see things at a glance and have to scroll through each page - makes the reader/viewer work, and there's a risk they may think the end of a chapter is the end of the document.
I've adapted the chapter headings and the title with Styles (using Heading 2 for chapter headings and Title for the title, and Normal for the first paragraph of the chapter).
You may notice the extra pilcrow above the chapter headings. This is because it's a hard break before a new chapter. Either live with the extra pilcrow, or adapt the Style to be on a new page, but use one or the other consistently throughout the document (Not all the chapters have a hard break before, but some do).
 

Attachments

Anyone else work in Zoho then download to Word? I then have to change to New Times Roman font or it goes completely collywobbles. I think I screwed some submissions with this. Because it also seems to undo any edits or rewrites done in Word even after saving. Apparently some of this is due to not running Chrome, why Scrivener never worked for me. If anyone else has encountered this and has some new information on how to tame the beast that is Word I would be happy to hear. Other than pay thru the nose for the new Sword package.
 
Hi @Pamela Jo , I understand the issues with formatting at least where paragraphing and alignment is concerned. I use Dabble and that does send my documents into a bit of an untidy mess, even though there is a export to Word function. I’m sorry I’ve got nothing valuable to add. Hope you get it sorted, and let us know if you do.:)
 
Well I know that when you download into Word you have to change the font to New Times Roman and that takes care of a lot of the collywobbles. But at the moment I'm editing in Zoho and THEN downloading in PDF before submitting. Word is really sneaky passive-aggressive and several times when I double checked the collywobbles were back. Just needing to start rewriting a long manuscript and looking for something less .... onerous.
 
Maybe I'm being daft/ignorant, but why don't you just write in Word from the beginning? What am I missing that people are writing in other mediums then encountering problems while transferring?
 
Maybe I'm being daft/ignorant, but why don't you just write in Word from the beginning? What am I missing that people are writing in other mediums then encountering problems while transferring?
I do some writing in Word, but some years ago while doing NaNoWriMo, I had a cheap deal on the then new Dabble. I really like its interface; the way each page holds a single scene; I can drag and drop to change order; I can write anywhere including on my phone, and everything saves automatically to a server. I like the way I can organise scenes.
 
@Pamela Jo
OpenOffice is probably the least likely to cause problems with the 'save as Word document' function.
Most of the problems come from all the changes made to Word - if what you're using hasn't updated to account for the changes ... biffo! Inexplicable stuff happens. And that generally means that no advice is worth taking on faith, because the software known as Word is likely to change tomorrow.
Maybe I'm being daft/ignorant, but why don't you just write in Word from the beginning? What am I missing that people are writing in other mediums then encountering problems while transferring?
MS office is expensive, and even Word on its own.
 
Maybe I'm being daft/ignorant, but why don't you just write in Word from the beginning? What am I missing that people are writing in other mediums then encountering problems while transferring?
Zoho is more intuitive for me. Word also now costs an arm and a leg. I don't want to run chrome. Lots of different reasons for people to not like Word.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Back
Top