Tag Archives for " paragraph formatting "

2 Why hanging indents are beautiful things

Okay, The Guru has a confession to make: I used to be afraid of hanging indents.

This, of course, is silly. Of all the things in the world there are to be afraid of — snakes, heights, public speaking, thermonuclear war, global economic meltdowns — hanging indents are pretty innocuous. But I did, until fairly recently, go through a period where I avoided doing hanging indents because I kept getting confused by them. (More on that later.)

Some of you are asking, “What is a hanging indent?” It’s a style of paragraph indentation that has the first line flush with the left margin but indents all of the subsequent lines in the paragraph, like so:


(If you had to write term papers in APA Style in college, you recognize the format.)

Now you’re asking, “So what’s so scary about a hanging indent?” and “Why should I care about ’em?” Let me explain.

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9 How to set tabs (without tearing your hair out)

It ought to be pretty simple, really. Even though Microsoft Word, by default, sets left tabs every half inch (at least in the U.S. version – elsewhere may vary), sometimes you need something different. Even if only for a particular part of your document. So, how on earth do you set tabs in Microsoft Word?

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11 When a tab is not just a tab, part 2: right tabs

Ever have a document that needs to have a paragraph like this?

Left and right justified text on the same line - with tables

I usually accomplish this trick (having left- and right-justified text on the same line) in Microsoft Word with Tables.  For me, tables make a lot of alignment issues a lot easier.  Here, I’ll turn on the gridlines (on the Table Tools | Layout tab that comes up whenever your cursor is in a table) and show you:

Left and right justified text on the same line - with table gridlines showing


Pretty straightforward if you’re use to Tables in Microsoft Word.  The left column is left-justified, and the right column is right-justified.  Easy-peasy … if you know how.

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37 Fixing funky character spacing in justified text in Microsoft Word

I have a confession to make: I love the look of fully-justified text. It’s just so darn … neat. It’s got those nice, straight margins on both sides, not that ragged right margin that looks like it could have been typed on a Selectric.  It makes a document looks so much more polished.

Except when this happens:

Example of a character spacing problem

When I first saw this in my draft, I just thought I’d made a typo — inserted a space in the middle of the word “and.” But when I went back to the document, it looked like this on the screen:

How the same text looks on the screen

“Well, that’s weird,” I thought. “What on earth could be causing that?”

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“But I don’t want to lose my WordPerfect formatting!”

One of the tactics I regularly recommend to users when transferring content from an old WordPerfect document is to use Paste, Special, Unformatted Text instead of just the plain Paste or CNTRL-V commands:

Paste, Special Dialog Box

The advantage here is that Paste Special clears out all of the formatting so the newly-pasted text doesn’t mess up your nice Microsoft Word document.

The disadvantage?  Well … it clears out all the formatting.  And this can be a pain to re-do, particularly if you’ve got a long document with lots of case citations, etc.

What to do?  Here are three tricks to keep in your Microsoft Word skills arsenal.

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5 Using Styles & Formatting

Got a long brief or other document that has lots of headings, subheadings, etc.?  You need Styles, baby.

No, not styleStyles.

The Styles function in Word is a handy tool for, among other things, setting up headings for different sections of a document.  These styles serve a dual purpose: not only do they help keep document formatting consistent (i.e., all paragraph and subparagraph headings at a particular level, for example, will be consistent through the document), they can help later when you create a Table of Contents, since Word can use these styles to create the levels of your Table of Contents.

There are a couple of different ways to use Styles & Formatting (as the feature is formally known) in your document.

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