With more than ten years experience in software development, technical support and documentation, I know the importance of clear, user-friendly material, presented in the most appropriate way for the audience.

I'm not just aware of it, I'm passionate about it.

Author Ink Blog

Observations and musings of a technical writer based in Hampshire.

Twisty Question #2: Why Does the Appearance of Text In My Document Change When I Alter One Little Thing?

Monday, January 26, 2015

A while ago, I wrote about being asked twisty questions about Microsoft Word in all manner of situations; it's certainly not unusual for me to be explaining the finer points of field codes or the perils of master documents over a vegetarian lasagne and a cheeky little New World Shiraz, whilst some poor victim friend with a glazed expression nods and regrets ever asking.


So, here is my second guide, based on that age-old question...


Why Does the Appearance of Text In My Microsoft Word Document Change When I Alter One Little Thing?


It's that situation where you're working on a document (typically when there's a tight deadline involved), you change the colour of one word - ONE WORD - and then suddenly lots of other text is that colour too and you have absolutely no clue how, why or when that happened.


This is down to an automatically update option that’s associated with styles. Every style in your document has this option - essentially it means: 'If I change the appearance of a piece of text which is set to this style, do I want Word to automatically update all other text that's set to this style in the same way?'


It can be a great thing! For example, suppose you have a long document with lots of headings formatted with the Heading 1 style. Now suppose you decide that these headings should be red and not black - how do you update them? You can:


(1) Work through the whole document and update each, individual heading manually


-or-


(2) Ensure that the automatically update option is switched on for the Heading 1 style, then simply update one heading - all other headings using that style will be updated too.


But, there will be times where this option is switched on for a style and it's just plain annoying - you want to update one, tiny thing, not the entire document...grrrrrrr! In this situation, you can switch the automatically update option off - here's how:


Author Ink - Auto Updating Styles Author Ink - Auto Updating Styles (410 KB)



* If you enjoyed reading this post then please do leave a comment - it's always nice to hear your thoughts. Similarly, if you're looking for a technical writer for a documentation project - large or small - I'd love to hear from you!

Pasting Text in Microsoft Word (Without Trauma)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We've all heard tell of doctors going to dinner parties and being bombarded about the various afflictions of assembled guests, but spare a thought for the humble technical writer. 


Typically, most "And what do you do? " conversations at any sort of gathering begin with varying degrees of blankness when I say I'm a technical writer, closely followed by a spark of recognition and then, often:


"Oh! So you're good with Microsoft Word!"


Generally, I nod and try to steer the conversation towards more pressing issues of the day (What about those buns in Great British Bake Off this week? or Have you noticed how the price of tinned tomatoes has crept up?) but very often the person thinks for a few seconds and then hits me with a twisty Microsoft Word question. 


So, based on these moments, I've put together a series of short guides which are based on some of the most common questions that I've been asked.


Twisty Question #1: Why is my document a mess when I paste content from another place?


The first guide deals with the thorny issue of pasting text into a document, where the text that you need to paste might be in another document, elsewhere in your current document, or perhaps from another source altogether (for example, a web page). In theory, there's nothing simpler - everyone knows you just select the portion of text, press CTRL+C to copy it and then use Word's Paste option. Easy!


Yes, it is. But many of us will have had to deal with cases where the pasted text looks completely different to the existing content and suddenly you're faced with a re-styling task - it's annoying at the best of times, but it's infuriating when you're in a hurry. Understanding how Word's Paste options work can save a lot of time, and a lot of stress - take a few seconds to think about the type of content that you need to paste and choose the most appropriate option for the situation:


How To Paste Text Without Trauma - Infographic

Author Ink How To Guide - Pasting Text Without Trauma Author Ink How To Guide - Pasting Text Without Trauma (801 KB)


* If you enjoyed reading this post then please do leave a comment - it's always nice to hear your thoughts. Similarly, if you're looking for a technical writer for a documentation project - large or small - I'd love to hear from you.



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