Thursday, February 16, 2012

Step Away from the Tab Key and No One Will Get Hurt

Microsoft Word is a wonderful program that's pretty much the standard for authors and writers. It has many good features and I love the editing tools. However, one has has to take the good with the bad, and Word is not without its problems.

One of the more common mistakes I'm finding in the Word files people are sending to me is treating the software like a typewriter. Microsoft Word is not a typewriter, and should never be used like a typewriter. Doing so can corrupt your files and create all kinds of problems.

One of the biggest no-nos for Word users is using the tab key to indent the first line of a new paragraph.  Never, ever, use the tab key to create a new paragraph in Microsoft Word! It will cause all kinds of issues that will come back and bite you in the fanny, big time, if you attempt to publish your manuscript as an eBook with either Amazon Kindle or Smashwords. It will also create a nightmare for whoever is formatting the print version of your manuscript in Adobe InDesign.

It's very simple to create paragraph indents in Microsoft Word.  Simply go to the "Format" menu and select, "Paragraph." When the new window opens, go to the "Indents" section, and select the words, "First Line" from the pull-down menu underneath the word, "Special."  Once you've select it, type  how much you want to indent your  in the box underneath the word, "By." If you select "0.5" you'll have the same indent that you would have had with the tab key. Click on "OK" to close the window and you're done. Your manuscript will automatically indent the first line of your paragraphs.

Again, never, never, never use the tab key to indent the first lines of your paragraphs. They can only be undone manually, and that can be a time-consuming process that can delay the process for publishing your book.

My tip for the day.


1 comment:

Bryan Holland said...

MS Word gave me all sorts of problems so I switched to Corel Word Perfect and never turned back; with the ability to convert to MS Word, PDF, HTML, or nearly any other format I can think of with absolutely zero side-effects or formatting nightmares, I'll never return to Word again. I remember this particular problem as well and it made my teeth grind in frustration. I assumed they would have fixed that problem by now but now that I realize they have not, I'm glad I upgraded my Word Perfect rather than test the waters with Microsoft again.

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