Thursday, November 4, 2010

Ask the Word Expert

This month we’ll go through some of the questions and comments you’ve submitted recently. But firstly a useful piece of information submitted by Cold As Heaven following a discussion on the doc and docx file extensions in Are You Missing Something?:

Cold As Heaven said...

The reason why they created the new docx [extension] (and pptx for Powerpoint) was to reduce file sizes (it's based on xml).

Elle's response:

To try that out, I re-saved an old 15MB document in .docx and it crunched it down to 150KB. That's 1% of its original size. Inspired by that I tried a bigger experiment and my 204MB megalith has crunched down to 6.5MB! Thanks CAH.

In How to Stop Word Messing with Your Manuscript, Anonymous said...

I type my book manuscript into Word 2010, save, then close. Then I open it to discover the font and spacings have changed in various places. So I fix it, save and close. Next day, same problem spacings and fonts have changed in several places.

Elle's response:

Try right-clicking on some of the text that has changed font on you. Then select "Styles" and then "Select text with similar formatting". Now click "Normal" on your Quick Styles section of your Office Ribbon. If it's still not quite right, make the necessary changes to a paragraph, then right-click "Normal" and select "Update Normal to match selection".

In Trouble-Shooting Headers and Footers, Patricia Stoltey said...

I never had trouble with headers and footers until I got into Word 7. I'd enter name/title and when I went to insert the page number, the other part of the header disappeared. The same thing happened when I inserted the page number first then spaced over to enter the other info.

Elle's response:

To get around this, don't use the Header feature, but the Page Numbering feature instead:

- Insert the page number first (Insert, Page Number, Select top right position)

- Place your cursor to the left of the page number and type in your name and title text.

Ask a Question:

If you’ve upgraded Word and you’re missing a tool, or if you have a general Word question, fire away in the comments and I’ll try to find the answer for you. If you know the answer to someone else’s question, feel free to jump in and share your knowledge. Due to time zone differences (I’m in Australia) I will only get online much later in the day for those of you in the U.S., so check back in the evening or tomorrow morning, after you’ve read Kathryn’s post.

If you think of a question later, you can submit it here.

Elsa NealIs Word driving you crazy? Then Word 4 Writers is for you. Learn to tame the monster and save your time in front of the screen for writing not fighting. Elsa Neal has been strong-arming Word for 14 years and teaching others to do the same. She is based in Melbourne, Australia.

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  1. I have Microsoft Word 2007 and Vista. Recently, I accidentally clicked something, and now when I click on "Open" to find and open an existing document, the view has changed to the point where the two columns are no longer there, so I can't move docs to folders, etc. It's really annoying and is slowing me down a lot. Also, I have a lot of folders, and in this view, they're no longer in alphabetical order, so it's harder to find the one I want.

    Any idea what I may have inadvertently clicked on, and how I can fix it? I've tried clicking on "Views" and "Organize" but nothing there works.

    Thanks a lot!



  2. @Jodie, I don't have Vista, but in Windows 7, when you choose "Open", the window pops up to find your documents. In the top left hand corner, there is the "Organize" button. In the drop down menu, there is a "Layout" selection. Select "Navigation Pane." I remember having this problem in Vista, but I can't remember how I fixed it. There is probably a way to find a "Layout" option in Vista. Hope this helps in some weird way. :\

  3. Elle, I always enjoy your posts and sometimes even understand what you are writing about. What I don't understand I send to my techie son who translates for me. LOL

    Thanks for providing helpful information for using Word.

  4. Hallelujah! It worked! Thanks so much for your great advice, Brooke!
    That's a relief!

    Jodie :-)

  5. Jodie,

    (Oops, just saw Brooke's comment - I should read all the comments first... ;-)

    [I think you've clicked "Hide Folders". If you have a button on the Open Dialog Box (bottom left) that says "Show Folders", click that. If that button is not there, click "Organize" on the top left and select Layout and Navigation Pane. ]

    To sort your folders into alphabetical order, click the word "Name" above your list of folders and files. You might have to click twice if it initially sorts Z-A.


    Thanks for jumping in to help Jodie.

    Maryann and Sheila,

    You're welcome :-)

    Elsa Neal
    Word 4 Writers on HearWriteNow
    Blood-Red Pencil

  6. Thanks, HearWriteNow! Good to know how to put the files in alphabetical order. Every bit of information helps.

    - Jodie :-)

  7. I have windows XP and whatever version of Word that goes with it. I've suffered, more than once now, the mishap in which I lose most of my formatting in the entire manuscript. 300 or 400 pages! I had to go through the entire document and hope I found all the missing italics and indents that went missing. I was forced to work on another computer which doesn't use Word. Any advice?

    Weeping over my keyboard.

  8. Oh, Frank, I hear you! That's happened to me too.

    It's usually Word 2003 with XP. And, yes, it does seem to get temperamental with italics in particular over large documents. What happens is that a change is made to the Normal Style and Word also applies that change to all the formatting that begins "Normal+" (e.g. Normal+Italics). I think it's a bug, because Word 2007 seems (so far) to be much more stable with keeping formatting changes separate.

    My advice is not to use the "I" button (or "B" for bold, etc) to italicize your text, but to create a whole new style using the Styles and Formatting TaskPane. This will be a style based on your Normal Style but italicized, and is likely to be more stable than using "Normal+Italics". This also means that any changes that are made to "Normal Style" won't affect "Italics Style".

    Hopefully this helps.

    Word 4 Writers on HearWriteNow
    Blood-Red Pencil

  9. Hi Elle,

    I am using Office 2010. I have a word document with just 6 pages. Page 5 had a diagram and hence I changed the orientation to landscape. But then the header and footer disappeared for that page and all the subsequent pages.

    Thanks and Regards

    1. Hi Sam,

      Try inserting a Section Break before and after the landscape page. You can then copy the header and footer content across to each section, and the fact that you've changed the orientation won't impact on your formatting.


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.