Monday Blog for Fiction Writers #3
MS Word, in its ceaseless efforts to be helpful, offers a variety of "styles," each with a name. Styles are handy and worth getting to know. It takes a little trouble to understand them, but they can save you a lot of effort forevermore (or until you move to a new computer). Adjusting Normal style to suit your needs saves work every time you start a new document. Applying the style named Heading 1 to your chapter titles opens up many useful features.
Hang in with me, experiment a little with these two styles, and see if the effort pays off.
A "style" in Word is a bundle of formatting applied to a paragraph. We will keep this simple by discussing only Normal style and Heading 1 style. (Note: Heading 1 style and Header style are totally distinct.)
"Style" applies to a paragraph. It's a paragraph if it ends in a paragraph mark, even if it's only one word or a period or nothing but a hard return. And now would be a good time to turn on Show/Hide so you can see those hard returns/paragraph marks. You create one every time you hit the Enter key. Those little puppies carry a lot of information and it's best to know where they are and what they are up to.
First, Normal style. This is the default, what you get unless you choose something else. Word tells you which style applies to the paragraph your cursor is in. Open a new document and look at the top tool bars until you find the word Normal. Remember where that box, the style indicator, is. "Normal style" determines the font, font size, and line spacing, among other things, of each new document. The tool bar shows you some of the style's characteristics--the font, size, etc.--but not all of them.
If you are tired of fixing the font and indent and line spacing for every new document, I have good news for you. Change Normal style and every new document will start out the way you want it. Usually authors want double spacing, Times New Roman, 12 point, indent the first line. All that information can be adjusted in Normal style. Here's how.
Word 2003 for XP: Go to Format/Styles and select Formatting. This opens up a side panel. Click on Normal. Pull down the little menu. Select Modify. Either make changes there or click on Format in the lower left corner. To make the changes "stick" for all new documents, find the Add to template box and click it before clicking OK. Do not click Automatically update. This is devil-spawn that will drive you to an early grave.
Word 2007 for Vista: Right-click on Normal and select Modify. Proceed as for Word 2003.
Word 2004 for Mac: Select Format/Style and click the Modify button. Proceed as for Word 2003.
Explore the options. It's not that hard to set up what you want. Save it and open a new document. Is it all good? If you hit problems, try again and/or add a comment below and tell me the problem.
Now for Heading 1. Apply it to every chapter title (but not the novel title). Click on "Chapter 1," then go to the box that says Normal and instead select Heading 1. That's all there is to it. If you don't like looks of Heading 1, change it the same way you changed Normal style.
Having your chapter titles in Heading 1 style opens up a lot of possibilities. For openers, find Document View and turn it on. Now you can jump around in your document at will. Document View is in the View menu. On the Mac, it's called Navigation Pane. I love Document View and I bet you will, too.
Next time: More on chapter titles.
I wasn't born yesterday. I backed up my files.