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Monday, August 9, 2010

MS Word for Authors--Put it all in one file!

This Blog #2 For Fiction Writers combines persuasion and instruction.

Here's the pitch: Create your novel in one big file, rather than each chapter in a separate file. (Already there? Read on for a couple more points.)

Why not one file? Let me count the ways:
1) You get a page count and word count at the bottom of the screen (and I will not yield an inch to those who say automatic word counts won't do.)
2) You can do a global search-and-replace, say if "Billy" must become "Tyrone", instead of opening and repeating the change in 30-odd chapters,
3) If you fear you have overused "just" or "irrevocably" you can easily search the whole document,
4) Your chapters are in the right order and can be re-ordered and renamed.
There are probably more reasons, but that's enough for now.

But wait, you cry! The file will be too big and therefore slow. The file for my latest 256 page, 85,000 word novel Did Not Survive is 676 kb. A recent picture of my dog came in at 4.38 mg, or over 6 times as big. Text files are small. If your computer can't handle a file of less than 1 mg., no one can help you.

But what if I want to print only one chapter at a time? You still can. Put a section break at the end of every chapter instead of a page break. (Instructions follow.) Don't add any other section breaks. (We are keeping this simple.) Then, go to the print dialog box. Where it offers you the option of entering a page range, enter S3 for section 3, which is chapter 3, or S12 for chapter 12. Then click the print button. That chapter is all that will print. You can even enter S1-S4 to print Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4.

But it's hard to find the chapter I want to work on. One way to find the start of the chapter is to search for the title, say, Chapter 3. But I will describe a more elegant way in a future post, when you assign a style (Style 1) to each chapter title and turn on Document View.

How to insert a section break: You want it the end of the chapter (or beginning of the next chapter, same thing).
Word 2007 for Vista: Go to the Page Layout tab, then the Page Setup section. Find "Breaks". Look at the list and select Section Break/Next Page.
Word 2003 for XP: Insert/Break. Select Section break types/Next page.
Word 2004 for Mac: Go to Insert on the top tool bar. Find Break/Section Break (Next Page).

With Show/Hide turned on (see previous Monday blog), you'll now see a double line with the words "Section Break (Next Page) in mid-page".

If your WIP is in separate chapters now, here's how to put them all into one file. Back them up first, of course. Then open Chapter 1, go to the bottom, and enter a section break. Leave the cursor right where it is.

Word 2007 for Vista: Go to the Insert tab. Way over to the right in the Text section is Object. Pull the menu down and select Text from File.
Word 2003 for XP: Insert/File
Word 2004 for Mac: Insert/File
A dialog box opens up. Navigate to the next chapter and select Insert. Repeat as needed.

Next week: Assigning a style to your chapter titles and the benefits thereof.

As ever, comments, corrections, and criticsm are welcomed.

I'm sleeping easy because I backed up my WIP.


Anonymous said...

Okay, you lost me already. I recently switched from Word 2003 to Word 2010 and am having to relearn everything. Also lost some of the things I used to do in WordPerfect. I write in separate chapters but put them all into one document as I go along so I can email the one doc file to my agent.

Ann Littlewood said...

Nancy, I don't have Word 2010 but I understand it is similar (has the ribbon) to Word 2007. Let me know more specifics about where you fell off the trolley and I'll try to help. I have to agree that the transition from Word 2003 to the newer ones is a rough haul. My website has my email address.

nosleepingdogs said...

Also works in Word 2008 for Mac. Might be clearer punctuated as "Go to Insert on the menu bar and find Insert> Break> Section Break (Next Page)."

Is the "ribbon" the part across the top of the Word document that shows formatting tools/icons, such as the box showing what font, the icons for paragraph alignment etc,? I never have found a diagram in the Word help that identifies parts of the window.

Eloise Hill said...

Ann, Many thanks for following through on this; your knowledge on Word is much appreciated. I learned, after my first book, to keep all the chapters in one file! I am currently using page breaks and I have no problem copying off individual chapters, but your blog has me contemplating the advantages of section breaks. And you've helped me get up the courage to actually go in and poke around Word a bit more on my own—don't know if I'd get up the courage to cozy up to the sleeping beauty in your picture, though:)

Ann Littlewood said...

Yes,experimenting is good. Just be sure you have a path back to where you started in case it doesn't work out.

Diane A.S. Stuckart said...

Sorry for the late reply...catching up! I think I was the one who asked about putting all one's chapters into a single file, so thanks for the tips. I'll experiment tonight. But I have to say, I still do like seeing all the individual files when I open my WIP folder. Since I know my average number of chapters per book, I can see my progress more easily. Kind of like X'ing out the days on a calendar, LOL. But your way makes sense, sigh...

Ann Littlewood said...

Diane, see yesterday's post. With Heading 1 style on the chapter titles and Doc View, you'll have it all.

Ann Littlewood said...

Nosleeping Dogs, The ribbon is a Wonderful New Feature starting with MS Office 2007. It is a new interface that will drive experienced users nuts for several months. The thing lives at the top like the old menu bar. Good luck finding the Print button. Later I'll offer a 10 step plan to transition without horse tranquillizers.

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