Thursday, June 13, 2013

Business Basics for Today’s Writer—How to Set Format Settings for Microsoft Word


It’s been a couple of weeks since I had the opportunity to teach at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. I also had the opportunities to meet with numerous attendees and discovered that many were unaware of how to set formatting in Microsoft Word.

If you aren’t aware, Microsoft Word is the gold standard when it comes to submitting things for publication. BUT, there are some basics you need to know.


SPECIAL NOTE: I use an Apple computer, so the screen shots I show you may be slightly different, but the process is identical.

First, set your margins to one inch all the way around. Here’s how:
  • Go to the LAYOUT tab
  • Click on MARGINS
  • Choose the option of one inch for left, right, top and bottom.

Second, set your paragraph formatting:
Go to the FORMAT tab
Click on PARAGRAPH—Here there are several settings you need to check:
  • Make sure the indention is set to 0 for left and right.
  • Make sure the SPECIAL option is set to NONE.
  • Make sure under spacing BEFORE and AFTER is set to 0 – Do NOT set it to AUTO!!!!
  • Line spacing is set where you want, either single or double ONLY.
  • These settings will make sure your tabs and centering on a document is consistent.
Make sure SPACING is NOT set to AUTO!!!

Make sure the SPECIAL box is set to NONE!!


Microsoft Word has a tendency to revert back to strange settings, so if your line spacing, tabs, or centering is off in a document your paragraph formatting is the FIRST thing to check.

I hope this has been helpful. I’m out of town right now, so it will be some time tomorrow (Friday) before I can answer any questions about formatting. Go ahead and submit them in the comments section and I will answer when I get home.

Don’t forget to join the conversation!
Blessings,
Edie

20 comments:

  1. Thanks! I found the spacing was set wrong...

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    1. Jennifer, it does make a difference and I hate the defaults in MS Word! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  2. When I followed your instructions, I lost my indent for the first line of every paragraph. Did I do something wrong? This is for a double spaced novel.

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    1. Steph, you do NOT want it set to automatically indent. If you do, then when you want to center something it's not correct—the indent makes it five spaces too far over on the right. It will also cause issues if you have a blog and copy and past posts into your compose window. And when you submit something, if it's accepted, the editor must remove the automatic indents. It just causes a lot of extra work. Hope this helps, blessings, E

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    2. Ah! Lightbulb on ~ thanks, Edie!

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  3. Thank you, Edie! I just checked and my after setting was set a 10. How, I don't know.

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    1. Pat, that's the automatic default for MS Word. It's a pain. As I said in the answer to Steph, it can cause major headaches when you copy and paste your blog post into the compose window and also must be removed by editors. Hope this helps, Blessings, E

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  4. Hi Edie. I'm confused. My spacing is always set to 0, so I'm fine there. But under "Special" I always set "First Line." If I don't, I have to indent each paragraph myself. I thought that was what they advise against doing. Why use "None?"

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    1. Sandra, it's fine to set your first line to auto indent, but it will cause your any centering to be incorrect. When you center something, it will be 5 spaces too far to the right. It also must be removed by editors if they accept something you send them. And finally, it causes issues when you copy and paste MS Word documents into a website/blog compose window.

      As far as advising NOT to indent each paragraph manually, that's not true. As long as you use the default tab (it's set to 1/2 inch) to indent that is something editors WISH you would do. What we do NOT want you to do is to manually space over 5 characters at the beginning of each paragraph.

      Hope this helps, Blessings, E

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    2. Okay, then I'm all right. I know the centering get off and I have to go back and manually do that, and I do use the tab key that's set to 1/2 inch. Thanks, Edie.

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  5. Thanks so much for this tutorial. Formatting has been a challenge for me. I'm printing this out!

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    1. Susan, sometimes I think MS Word goes out of the way to make life difficult! LOL! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

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  6. Thanks, Edie. I'm running Word 2010 and here's how I found the elusive paragraph settings: Go to the Home tab, then look for the Paragraph Section. It's listed at the bottom of the toolbar. Click on the little box in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section, and the correct box will pop up. Maybe everyone else already knew this, but since it took me awhile to figure it out, I thought I'd pass along the info. Edie, these settings are going to make my life easier. Now I know why the computer was doing what it was doing -- It was the settings!

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    1. Carol, thanks for this! Very helpful. I appreciate that you took time to share the info. Thanks so much, Blessings, E

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  7. Thanks so much, Edie! Very helpful!

    Blessings,
    Andrea

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    1. Andrea, thanks so much for stopping by! I'm glad this is helpful. Blessings, E

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  8. Hi, Edie,

    I'm curious as why you do not recommend first line indent. I request that ms coming to me use that feature and not the tab to indent. So often, I'll get a ms that has a mixture of tabs and manual spacing (AAUGH!!). The first line indent is very important to me.

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    1. Vie, I just answered this above, but I do mean JUST. I got a slow start today after getting in late last night. When you set it to automatically indent, all the centering is off by 1/2 an inch. MS Word, does NOT default to ignoring a first line indent when you hit center.

      I'm with you on the manual indent—that drives me NUTS!!!! But the tab indent keeps everything nice and even, without carrying over into any of the other functions.

      Setting the first line to auto indent doesn't create less work for me because then I have to go in and fix all the centering issues. I'm surprised you haven't had a problem with that.

      Thanks so much for taking time to comment and share your perspective. I love to hear from fellow editors and how they handle formatting issues! Blessings, E

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  9. Thanks for this post. Good to know!

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  10. Love this practical kind of help. Thank you! Blessings.

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