Using Microsoft Word

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January 2005

Take My Word for It: Using (Not Misusing) Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word is a program we printers both love and hate. We love it because it has substantially improved the quality of the documents our customers bring us to have reproduced.

Originals created in Word have many desirable characteristics that formerly could only be achieved with professional typesetting. Proportional spacing of letters, attributes such as italics and bold, different point sizes for headlines and body copy, special characters, and features such as sub- and superscript, are all available in Word and greatly enhance the appearance of documents.

With all these benefits, it may be hard to understand why we printers sometimes shudder when we learn a document has been created in Word. In this issue of, we’re going to explain why, as well as provide some useful tips on how to use Word to best advantage when you will be giving us a document to print or copy.

Style basics: fonts, spacing, line length
In Word, a style is a set of formatting characteristics that can be applied to text. A character style affects text within a paragraph (font selection, size and attributes) while a paragraph style controls how a paragraph looks (text alignment, tab stops, line spacing). A paragraph style can also include character formatting.

A font is all the characters of the alphabet as well as numerals and symbols. Each individual font has a character that conveys an image and feeling that may enhance or contradict the meaning of the words. Notice how the impact of the words Caution -- Flammable Liquid are altered by the use of two different fonts:

Caution -- Flammable Liquid
Caution -- Flammable Liquid

It is best to develop a character style that includes a few fonts rather than many, and to make sure the fonts convey the image you want to set for the document. For something small like a business card, we recommend limiting your font selection to one or two. In a larger document, you can select up to three fonts for body copy -- the text that forms the main body of your document -- and headlines.

A common and agreeable choice is to combine a serif font for body text with a sans serif font for headlines. However, don’t mix serif or sans serif fonts from two different families in one document, especially if the fonts are similar. The mix may look like a mistake. If you can’t decide whether fonts from two families look right together, select just one font and vary the weight of the type. Use a light weight for body copy and a heavier (bold) font in a larger size for headlines. For body copy, use 10 or 12 point type.

When using a font that is proportionally spaced, use only one space between sentences. The practice of spacing twice after periods was established for fixed-width (monospaced) typewriter characters which needed the extra space to help establish the break between sentences.

The ease with which your document can be read is partly determined by line length. To determine the ideal line length for your document, use one of these rules of thumb:
* Set the line length so that each line contains 10-12 words; or
* Set the line length to equal approximately 1½ alphabets (about 40-60 characters).

Page layout: the anatomy of a page
Regardless of the total number of pages in a document, each has a page layout consisting of a specified number of regions that are organized in a specific way. (The term page layout also refers to the process of arranging text and graphics on a page to conform to the layout.)

A document composition tool such as Word uses three layout regions -- header, footer, and body -- specifies the location (though not the size) of the header and footer. Margin settings are used to control the size (but not the location) of the body. And unless the document creator takes a specific action, the page layout applies identically to all pages in the document.

By contrast, page layout software such as Adobe InDesign, Quark XPress, Adobe PageMaker and Microsoft Publisher have no predetermined number or location for regions, giving the document creator complete flexibility for page layout. In addition, page layout software provides much more control over typographical functions such as kerning and leading; text flow; and positioning of graphics.

Using Word effectively for page layout
Word is a powerful program to use when your finished document consists of one or more pages of text using a standard page size (letter or legal). Flyers, reports, manuals, product bulletins and newsletters are all examples of documents that can be successfully and efficiently produced with Word.

However, when the finished size of your document is not the standard letter (8 ½ x 11) or legal (8 ½ x14), or needs cutting, folding or other bindery, then Word is not the best choice for page layout. Whereas page layout software can easily divide a page into three regions of different widths to take into account compensation for folding and binding, Word is clumsy at this task. Even though experienced Word users may use workarounds such as creating columns to subdivide the area Word allocates to the body of a page, this technique does not allow sufficient control over column width or text flow to ensure a layout that will both print and fold correctly.

Using Word to submit text
When you need to print a brochure, business card or other item whose finished size is not letter or legal, we prefer that you use Word to submit plain text to us. In this case, just give us the words without regard to fonts or point sizes and without formatting such as bold or italics, paragraph indents, or tabs. Since we will be using page layout software and Postscript rather than TrueType fonts, it will be easier for us to set the style commands while we are laying out the document. We will be providing a proof copy for your approval, so you will always have the chance to review and modify anything you wish.

If you have any questions about whether your document is suitable for page layout in Word, please call us at 877-816-4448. We will advise you of the tradeoffs so you can make an informed decision.

Body text: the text that forms the main body of a document.
Clipboard: a temporary storage area in computer memory to which objects are cut or copied and from which they can be pasted directly into a position into a page.
Display text: the headlines of a document.
Font: all the characters of the alphabet plus numerals and symbols. In desktop publishing, font is often used interchangeably with type and typeface.
Footer: information such as a page number that appears at the bottom of every page, within the normal bottom margin of a document.
Header: information such as the title of a report or the name of a chapter that appears at the top of every page, within the normal top margin of a document.
Object: text or a graphic treated as a single item. Word processing treats text as a set of characters; desktop publishing usually treats text as an object.
Page layout (verb): positioning text and graphics in the regions of a page.
Page layout (noun): the composition of a document page.
Pitch: a measure of horizontal character spacing; formed as a contraction of “per inch”. Most commonly used in typing classes.
Proportional spacing: the allocation of space to a letter according to its size. For example, the letter m has more allotted space than the letter l.
Style sheet: a list of standard type styles that can be applied to paragraphs in a publication; promotes consistent layout and presentation.

Idea Corner
Idea #1: If you are preparing a document that you intend to give us to print, we suggest that you format the document with hard page breaks rather than relying on Word to insert page breaks for you automatically. We especially recommend this if your desktop printer is not a Postscript device and you do not have a Postscript printer driver selected as you create the document.

When you manually insert page breaks, they will be preserved even when we substitute our Postscript printer driver to output to our imagesetter or digital printer/copier. This will prevent unintended text reflow that can result from a change in printer drivers.

Idea #2: When your document will be bound or drilled, Word will set mirror margins for facing pages -- margins of the left page that are a mirror image of those on the right page. For all facing pages, inside margins will be the same width, and outside margins will be the same width.
1. On the File menu, click Page Setup, and then click the Margins tab.
2. In the Multiple pages list, select Mirror margins.
3. In the Inside and Outside boxes, enter values for the mirror margins.
If the document to be bound or drilled is single-sided, you can set a gutter margin to add extra space at the side or top. This ensures that text won’t be obscured by the binding.
1. On the File menu, click Page Setup, and then click the Margins tab.
2. In the Gutter box, enter a value for the gutter margin.
3. In the Gutter position box, click Left or Top.
Tips & Tricks
If you are preparing a document such as a program that folds in half to create a booklet, Word has a page setup command that will format the pages to a half-sheet size and order the pages in printer spreads so that when the booklet is printed and assembled, the page will appear in order. It is best to use this feature of Word when you begin creating the document because if you select it later, you may need to reposition some elements.

1. On the File menu, click Page Setup, then click the Margins tab. In the Multiple pages list, select Book fold. Word will automatically set the document to landscape orientation.
2. In the Inside and Outside boxes, type or select the amount of space you want for the inside and outside margins. If you need space along the fold to accommodate binding, type or select the amount of space you want in the Gutter box.
3. In the Sheets per booklet list, select the number of pages that will constitute a single booklet. Be sure the number of pages is divisible by four. If the number of pages in the document exceeds the number of pages you select for the booklet, Word will print the document as multiple booklets.

You can now create your document, including text, graphics, headers, or footers. When you print the document, Word will automatically create printer spreads.

Q. Where can I find a list of keyboard shortcuts for commands in Microsoft Word?
A. Right here! We’ve compiled some of the commands we find most useful. If you haven’t discovered commands, we suggest you begin by looking at the Edit Menu. Here you will find the keyboard shortcuts for popular commands, many of which work in not just in Word, but in all Windows applications.
CARRIE: ok to lay this table out a different way to save space.
Select All
Go To
Undo Typing (may be used repeatedly to undo many actions)
Repeat Typing (i.e., Redo Typing) (can be used repeatedly to re-do actions)
Print Preview
Apply or Remove Bold
Apply or Remove Italics
Apply or Remove Underline
Left Justify Text
Right Justify Text
Center Text
Justify Text
Return to Last Edit Point (may be used repeatedly)
Change Text Case
Repeat Command
1. On the File menu, click Print.
2. In the Name box, click the printer you'll use to print the file.
3. Select the Print to file check box, and then click OK.
4. In the File name box in the Print to file dialog box, type a file name.

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