By Sam Kruit (ERWA Editor)
The deed is done, the manuscript (MS) complete. But in the
course of submitting or getting feedback, it’s likely it’ll have to go through
the formatting wrangler a few times before it’s ready to post in Storytime, or fit to be submitted to an editor’s inbox.
One of the most annoying things about writing is having to
rearrange the appearance of your MS to fit the layout requirements of those who
are going to read it. So, this editor’s corner article is devoted to the
practical art of making MS Word work for you.
- Pull up an old document,
- make a copy,
- switch on the paragraph marker (the fat, back-to-front P
with the double stalk), which you’ll find on the home menu under ‘paragraph’
- and prepare to experiment with tips and tricks.
Before beginning any
mass change in a document, it’s worth standardising things like your scene
breaks first. For example:
- Open find and replace
- In Find, Type a space
and then your scene marker
- Find next (you might
not have any leading spaces. If so, good.)
- If you find one, type
your scene marker into Replace with no spaces.
- Repeat for spaces
after your scene marker
- Repeat to find any
incidents where you’re an asterisk short (* * * ), and any other combination of
mess-up you can think of.
Once all your scene
markers look as you want them to, you can do your global reformats and fewer
things will slip the net.
Aghhh moment #1 –
scrunched post syndrome
You’ve posted your story to ERWA Storytime in good faith,
but when the email is returned to you through the list, you find that all your
line breaks have disappeared. The whole thing appears in one lump, with or
without indents, and you struggle to pick out the starting point of each new
- Open Find/Replace
- In Find, type ^p
- in Replace, type ^p^p
- replace all.
This will double up your paragraph spacers so that it
appears normal on the email. If you find your story has indeed been scrunched,
simply re-post in the expanded version with a quick note to say that the
documents are the same, but that the format has been tamed. It’s worth just
emailing it from one personal account to another to experiment before you post.
Aghhh moment #2 –
‘more white space, please!’
The editor wants scene break markers separated from the text
with an extra blank line either side. Currently, yours look like these:
Waffle waffle waffle rhubarb waffle rhubarb Waffle waffle
waffle rhubarb waffle.
* * * *
“Rhubarb!” Waffle waffle. “Waffle rhubarb waffle?”
- Open find/replace
- In Find, type ^p* * * *^p (this shows the single carriage
return between the end of the last line, the scene marker line, and the break
to the start of the next scene).
- In replace, type ^p^p* * * *^p^p (this will add in an extra
line break for you)
- Find next, make sure it works, then replace all.
Aghhh moment #3 – ‘My
scene breaks have all shifted to the left!’
Whether you’ve just tried the trick above, or simply
discovered that your entire manuscript has to be left/fully justified
(whichever format your MS isn’t in at
the moment), it is rather exasperating to find that all your scene breaks have
moved from their tidy central spots. Don’t foam at the mouth just yet.
- Open find/replace
- Click the ‘more’ button
- Copy your scene marker into Find (with no spaces either
- Go to the bottom of the screen, where it says ‘format’
- Select paragraph, and in the paragraph dialogue box (PDB for
short!) go to the alignment selection and choose left/fully justified,
depending on what your entire text has been converted to. Click ‘ok’.
- Now, in Replace, paste your scene marker again (still with
no excess spaces)
- Go back to format, paragraph, PDB, and select ‘centred’ from
the alignment section.
- Click Find next, and watch your asterisks ping back into the
middle of the page.
Aghh moment #4 – the manuscript
Currently your manuscript is in the ‘online’ format. In
other words, all paragraphs are flush to the left margin with no indents, and
there is a blank line between each paragraph. In MS Word, this is also called
the ‘normal’ style.
BUT your editor/publisher/agent wants the full manuscript
Double-spaced; Times New Roman 12; normal margins; indent of
a half inch at the start of each paragraph. No gaps between any paragraphs
except for scene breaks or special effects.
Oh, and their rules say ‘no tabs’. In other words, don’t
press the Tab key to create the indent.
Solution (select a sample of a few paragraphs to practice
- open the PDB
- under ‘indentation’ select ‘first line’ from the ‘special’
- Under ‘by’, type 1.27 if that isn’t automatically set for
you as soon as you choose ‘first line’. This is the standard half-inch indent.
- Under ‘spacing’, click the box that says ‘no extra lines
between paragraphs of the same style’.
- Click ok.
You should now have several indented paragraphs with no gaps
between them. You can now change spacing and font as you require. To reverse this process (from US MS format to ‘online’):
- Select the paragraphs you want to change
- Open the PDB
- Under indentation and ‘special’, select ‘none’.
- Under ‘spacing’, make sure the tickbox for no spacing
between paragraphs of the same kind is EMPTY.
- Click ok.
- You should be back to online format.
There are countless things you can do with Find/replace. You
can standardise the type-setting, removing extra spaces between punctuation and
following words. You can also use it to find an over-used word by typing into
both Find and Replace, but assigning a highlight colour to the replaced version
(go to format at the bottom, select ‘highlight’ and pick your shade.
By the time the next Editing Corner comes around, I’ll have
type-setting standardisation document I can share. And perhaps, in the next
editing corner, I’ll be able to dip into Find/Replace’s little magical world of
‘wild cards’. Until then, have more fun and less stress making MS Word behave