Thursday, June 10, 2010

Help! Word is Spacey!

On May 13th, I posted a How To. In that case, it was a How To: Remove Section Breaks. We ended up with a great discussion in the Comments Section on deleting those sometimes pesky breaks, as well as quite a few other How To questions and answers.

Today, I thought I’d follow up on one of those questions. This one was from Karen Walker:
Okay, here's my issue. I have Windows Vista and use Word for my writing. If I manually hit enter to go to the next line, it automatically skips a space as if it's a new paragraph. I have not been able to figure out how to change this. Help!!!
Karen Walker
Elizabeth Spann Craig, aka Riley Adams, answered Karen’s question with:
Karen, what I do with the Word line-spacing issue is to hold down the control key and press enter at the same time. Then it'll just single space that one line.
This, of course, is a great answer. Thank you Elizabeth.

On the off chance that Karen’s question about Word skipping a space was referring to Word automatically indenting as if it’s a new paragraph, I’ll add this:

Karen, most likely you have “told” Word to indent each new paragraph (usually 0.5”). When you do that, Word automatically indents each time you manually hit enter because it thinks you’re starting a new paragraph. When I say you “told” Word to do it, I mean either you manually went in to Format and set how far you wanted the indent to be, or Word did it for you when it saw you were indenting each time you hit enter (Word tends to try to read your thoughts and do things for you to make it easier.)

If you don’t want it to auto-indent, then you can go to “Format” then click “Paragraph” and look at “Indentation” and you’ll see where it’s set (by you or automatically by Word) to indent. Then delete it.

If you want it to auto-indent, just not this particular time, just hit backspace. Word will take you back flush with the left margin.

Thank you Karen and Elizabeth. You can find out more about Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams at Mystery Writing is Murder and about Karen Walker at author karen walker…following the whispers.

And thanks to everyone who participated in this month’s How To. There were a lot of questions. If you left one in the Comments Section that didn’t get answered, let me know.
Helen Ginger is a freelance editor, blogger, and writer. She teaches public speaking as well as writing and marketing workshops. In addition, her free ezine, Doing It Write, which goes out to subscribers around the globe, is now in its eleventh year of publication. You can follow Helen on Twitter or connect with her on Facebook.

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  1. I know exactly what she's referring to--it's 2007, not Vista. When MS came out with Calibri as the new normal font, they also gave the default setting a 10 pt spacing after each paragraph.

    To fix (not the best way):

    1. Go to the Home tab.

    2. Click the LINE SPACING button, then click LINE SPACING OPTIONS.

    3. On the INDENTS AND SPACING tab, look for the spacing section. Where it says AFTER, you'll see 10 pts. Change that to zero--NOT auto.

    4. Click OK to close.

    The best way to solve this problems is create your own Word style so you only have to take care of this once, or to go into the normal style and change it (that's more detailed and complex, so I didn't include it here).

  2. Two notes:

    1) Elizabeth Spann Craig's solution is for a Mac. On a PC hold Shift, not Ctrl.

    2) If you make the change garridon suggests you can click Default before OK to change your Normal template so that you don't have to do this for every new file.

  3. Thank you both. This is one of the great things about addressing these issues online. We don't all use the same programs and together we can find answers from all angles!

  4. I'm always hitting 'paragraph' and telling it not to include spaces between lines or paragraphs!! I don't have issues when I type, but if I import anything, the style is always messed up and needs fixing.

  5. Diane, I totally agree about importing into a document. It can be a total hassle.

  6. Have read 4 blogs so far today. One made me laugh out loud. The other three answered questions that made me !@#$% for ages.
    The sun is out (that's a major miracle in OH lately) and "it's gonna be a great day!"

    Giggles and Guns

  7. Maribeth, enjoy the sun for me. We're overcast here and expecting more rain. (Rain is good, but miss the sun.)

  8. @ Helen, L Dianne Wolfe, re: importing document/formatting.
    Helen, Diane: In Mcrsft Word, Preferences, there is an option to "show paste option buttons." If this is checked and you import a document/part of a document, [including the paragraph return] at the end of the copy you will receive a prompt which asks, essentially, "Do you want this formatted as it was, or do you want its format to match the document to which it was imported"

  9. Thank you Bonita. If anyone is looking for the button to do what Bonita suggested, right click an icon at the top of Word that looks like a small clipboard with a little document. A drop down list will appear.

    If you don't see that icon, "on the Tools menu, click Options, and then click the Edit tab. Select or clear the Show Paste Options buttons check box."

  10. I hate all this automatic stuff when Microsoft pretend to know better than you what to write and how to format it. I know how to turn the shit off, but it's default on every new PC.

    It's almost like when the teacher forced us to believe in God in elementary school (I knew how to turn that off too)

    Cold As Heaven

  11. Admit it, Cold As Heaven, you're a turn off. (Tee-hee, kidding.)

    A big problem with Word is that it's not always easy to figure out how to turn things off.

  12. Just to add an even "shorter" version to Garridon's instructions:

    - On the Home Tab on the Ribbon under Paragraph,

    - Click Line Spacing,

    - Click "Remove space after paragraph"

    (This is for Word 2007)

    And I agree with creating your own styles and templates to set things up exactly as you want them.

    Elsa Neal
    Blood-Red Pencil

  13. Thanks Elsa. Love, love, love shortcuts!

  14. Thanks for the mention, Helen! :) Word is a very fluky program, sometimes, for sure.


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.


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