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Layout Tips for Microsoft Word

Make sure the look of your documents is as good as the content

Neat layouts with non-breaking spaces

Most of the time you won't mind that Word will decide to wrap text on to the next line at the most convenient break between words. Sometimes though you'll want to avoid ugly or confusing text breaks, for instance in dates or names.

A non-breaking space is the answer, and it does exactly what it says; it's a space, but Word sees it as solid character. So a non-breaking space prevents the phrase being split on to different lines: instead Word will have to break the line at the last ordinary space before it.

Delete the space in the phrase you want to keep together

press Ctrl + Shift + Spacebar to insert a non-breaking space

Sometimes you'll need to remove non-breaking spaces - cut-and-pastes from web pages, for instance, often arrive with non-breaking spaces. In that case you can just search for non-breaking spaces and replace them with ordinary spaces.

Use Ctrl + H and enter ^s in the Find box

In the Replace box, just press the Spacebar once and hit Replace All

Create tables quickly

You can create a single-row table in Word by using the plus and minus keys on the number pad or the QWERTY layout. First make sure the facility is switched on:

Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options | AutoFormat | As You Type and make sure the Tables checkbox is ticked

Go to the numeric keyboard and type + followed by a - and another +

Increase the number of - to make the cell wider. More + will give you more columns

This is a perfectly standard Word table, so the quick way to add further rows is simply to position the cursor in the last cell and press tab.

Drawing perfect shapes

It is possible to draw a perfectly symmetrical shape from the Drawing toolbar.

Display the toolbar (select View | Toolbars | Drawing) then click on the required drawing tool.

Hold down the Shift key while you drag to create the shape. With the rectangle tool this will result in a square, with the oval tool you'll get a circle, and with the line and arrow tools you'll have perfectly horizontal or vertical lines plus click-to 15-degree increments.

You can also use the Shift key with AutoShapes to create perfectly proportioned shapes.

Using placeholder text

If you need some sample text in a document to test a macro or design some formatting, you could type in some rubbish and then use cut and paste to reproduce it. There's an easier way, though:

Type this at the start of a fresh line: =rand()

Then press Enter. Word will respond with three paragraphs each containing "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" five times.

If you want more, use: =rand(p,s)

Where p is the number of paragraphs and s is the number of sentences per paragraph.

Finding invisible characters

You can use Find and Replace to search for many non-printing characters - use Edit | Replace or Ctrl + H, click in the Find what: box, click on More and then Special. That lists just about every non-printing character or formatting mark.

Alternatively, click on the Format button and you'll be able to change all the normal formatting options. You don't need any text selected in the Find or Replace boxes if you simply want to convert every instance of a particular format or combination.

For instance, text copied from a web page is often formatted by Word with the Normal style. To convert all of it to your Normal style, just use Format | Style and go for Normal (Web) as the Find option and Normal as the Replace selection

Be sure to select No Formatting the next time you use Find and Replace, because those format options will now apply by default to all subsequent searches.

There's actually a quicker way to swap one style for another. Select a bit of text formatted with the style you want to change, then open the Styles and Formatting task pane (if the task pane isn't currently visible, use Format | Styles and Formatting), The formatting of the selected text should be named at the top of the task pane. Locate the style in the list, right-click on its entry, and click Select All Instances. This will highlight all the occurrences of that style. You can move to any other style in the list - including Normal - and click on it. That will change the style for all the selected text.

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