Thursday, March 29, 2007

DO NOT USE SPACES TO FORMAT TEXT IN WORD!!

I am sorry to shout, but I have to emphasize this, because this is the sin of all sins! I received a document from a client just yesterday which was formatted in this way, and I very nearly refused the job, just because of the extra hassle in processing the file. I will certainly be charging more in the future, and let me also say, any CV/resume I get formatted in this way, in which the applicant claims to know how to use Microsoft Word, GETS BINNED!

What people do is if they want, say, a price list that is indented, with the price following, they do this:

...and use the spacebar to make the spaces in between. And then when you have more than one item you get this:


The columns don't line up, it looks awful, you cannot edit it easily after that, and these are only SOME reasons not to commit this heinous crime! I can name plenty of others, but can I repeat again, you must NOT do this! There are LOTS of good ways to get your text spaced out like this, AND for it to line up in columns.

The easiest way is to use TAB. That is not ideal either, but it is better than using spaces!

Just press TAB however many times you want to move the text across and it will move each time, lining up with "imaginary" (actually, you can define them) ruler lines.

An even better way (THE way, in my opinion) is to use a TABLE. Just insert a table (Table -> Insert -> Table), specify the number of columns you want, and enter, say, the menu item in the first column and the price in the second column.

But wait, you say, you don't want the lines of the table showing. Well, just use the borders options on the toolbar:



... and just turn off all the borders by marking the whole table and using the second icon on the bottom row.

If you can still see faint gridlines, these are just indicators of where the border lines would be. You can turn this off too - it's under the table menu - Show Gridlines.

THIS looks SO much more professional.

...and you can change the spacing, copy individual columns, easily add another column with the same width...

Now, repeat after me,

I...
will...
not...
use...
spaces...
to...
format...
things...
in...
MS Word.



Thankyou.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is one of my biggest pet peeves as well. Working in ad layout and design I edited a job created previously by another layout person. There is no bigger annoyance than trying to make changes to something like a menu when someone would use spaces or periods instead of using a leader and tabs to line up the columns. I would usually scrap their text and re-set everything.

rich said...

Some good tips. I have been guilty of "cheating" in this way on documents. I will no longer do this.

markowe said...

If there is just ONE convert, it will all have been worthwhile :)

Seriously though, I have laid it on a BIT thick with this issue, but it is a VERY basic thing - it is a fundamental abuse of Word and its capabilities!

I am in the translating business, and my Computer Aided Translation tool cannot recognize the divisions between phrases/sentences when they are separated with spaces like this and it REALLY slows us down. Also, try doing it in an email, or changing the font style or size :)

4ndyman said...

Amen, brother!

Don't forget that you can put your text into multiple columns without resorting to Word's tables. Not always the best solution, but it can be helpful sometimes.

The quick-fix is to do a search and replace -- find any instance of three or more spaces and replace it with a tab. Then search for two consecutive spaces and replace it with one space and keep running it until no replacements are made. (I still get old-school typewriter folks who put a double-space after periods.)

markowe said...

Nice tip, thanks! Unsurprisingly, though I wrote that post a couple of years ago I still see this very often.

As for the double spaces, yes, I was a double-space man for years, as I was taught that way, but I have been cured for a long time now :)

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