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Word: Get your computer to read your document

May 13, 2016

One final checks that many editors do is to read a document aloud. But until you’re used to doing that, reading aloud to an empty room seems really weird. Reading aloud to others who don’t care about the document can be awkward. Of course, if you have a pet, you could read aloud to it, but it might want to play (dog), or ignore you (fish, reptile), or ignore you and walk off (cat), or reply (bird).

Windows comes with an in-built text to speech reader, and the easiest way to get it to read some or all of your Word document is to add the ‘Speak’ icon to your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

Here’s how in Word 2010 – later versions should be similar:

  1. Open any Word document.
  2. Go to File > Options.
  3. Click Quick Access Toolbar on the left ([1] in the screenshot below).
  4. Click the drop-down arrow next to Popular Commands [2], then select All Commands [3].QAT_speech01
  5. Type the letter ‘s’ to go to the commands starting with ‘s’, then scroll to Speak and select it [4].
  6. Click Add [5] to add it to your QAT.
    QAT_speech02
  7. Click OK to close the Options window. The Speak icon (a speech bubble) should now be on your QAT.
  8. To test that it works, make sure your headphones or speakers are connected and on.
  9. Select any of the text in your Word document, then click the Speak icon. (To hear the entire document, select it all — Ctrl+A).
    QAT_speech03
  10. To stop, click the Speak icon again.

NOTE: I tested this on my Windows 7 64-bit computer, and there’s only one voice available by default — Microsoft ‘Anna’, a robotic female US voice. I couldn’t find any easy way to get other voices (without paying for them), though I believe there are more free voices available in 32-bit Windows 7, and in Windows 8 and later.

See also:

[Links last checked May 2016]

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Word: Change the gap between a footnote and the separator line

May 12, 2016

When you insert a footnote in Word (References tab > Insert Footnote), by default it gets added to the bottom of the page along with a short line and an empty paragraph to separate it from the body of the text. The footnote separator line and the empty paragraph are styled as ‘Normal’, so if you’ve adjusted the paragraph spacing (leading) above and/or below in the style, you may get way more space than you need, as shown in the screenshot below.

word_footnote_sep01

It’s that empty paragraph that annoys a lot of people — it just adds unwanted space in front of the page’s footnotes, when there’s already a visual separator in the partial line. You can’t get rid of the the empty paragraph using normal deletion methods either. But you CAN get rid of it.

Here’s how:

  1. You must have at least one footnote in your document before you can do the steps below.
  2. You must be in Draft view to do this (View tab > Draft).
    word_footnote_sep02
  3. Once you’re in Draft view, go to the References tab then click Show Notes.
    word_footnote_sep03
  4. A mini Footnotes window opens at the bottom of the page:
    word_footnote_sep04
  5. Change the Footnotes setting from All Footnotes to Footnote Separator.
    word_footnote_sep05
  6. Now you can see the separator and the empty paragraph:
    word_footnote_sep06
  7. Place your cursor at the end of separator line, then press Delete to remove the empty paragraph below.
  8. Click the X at the far right of the Footnotes mini window to close it.
  9. Change the view back Print Layout (View tab > Print Layout).

You’ve now got rid of that empty paragraph for ALL footnotes in your document.

 

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Create a folder name with a period at the beginning

May 11, 2016

A tech writing colleague, Stuart B, sent me this information to share on this blog. He wanted to create or rename a folder in Windows that started with a period (e.g. .foo). Now, I don’t know WHY he wanted to do this, but he did. He found that Windows Explorer won’t let you create or rename a folder if you put a period at the beginning of the name — you get an error that tells you to type a file name, which of course you already did!

It seems you can do this in DOS using the mkdir command (mkdir .foo), but that’s clunky.

However, there’s a trick to getting Windows Explorer to create or rename such a folder — you add a period before AND after the file name (e.g. .foo.). Windows then strips the trailing period, but leaves the beginning one alone. And no error message.

Stuart said this trick seems to work in all versions of Windows he tested (Windows 10 back to Vista).

Thanks for sharing, Stuart!

 

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Naming names: part 2

April 15, 2016

There’s a reason you should use quite different first and middle names for your children AND use names that are different from their parents/grandparents… Your descendants ancestors searching records for genealogical information will thank you for it!

Below is an image of the information I found in some South Australian records — I’ve confirmed the names and years of birth based on the parents’ names, but I can’t confirm dates of marriage/death etc. as there are SO many names the same, or variations of the same names! What a mess!

johann

Note the names of the parents… and then the names of the children. Note also how there are male and female variations of the same name (Johann/Johanna/Johanne and August/August), and repetitions (brothers: Johann Freidrich and Johann Friedrich William; father and son: Johann Gottlieb; mother and daughters: Johanna Caroline, Johanne Caroline, Caroline). Some of the repetitive names may have been the result of infant deaths, but it’s very hard to confirm this with so many names the same.

It’s possible that ‘Anna’ was christened ‘Johanna’ based on the pattern here. I think Maria and Hermann got off lightly.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2016]

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Word: Resize a SmartArt graphic or a chart

March 17, 2016

In more recent versions of Word, you can use commands on the Insert tab to add a chart or SmartArt. When these objects are inserted into your document, they automatically resize to fit the page width. However, you can’t resize them exactly the same way you can resize an inserted graphic. You know if you’ve got one of these objects because when you click on them, you get a thick border around them (graphics have a very thin border), as shown below.

word_chart01

Below are some of the methods you can use to resize one of these SmartArt or chart objects. Choose the method that best suits your way of working.

Method 1: Drag a handle

The simplest method is to click on a ‘handle’ indicated by the three dots on the sides and corners of the object, then drag the handle in or out to resize the object. I’ve circled the handles in red on the image below.

NOTES:

  • Drag a corner handle to keep the height and width in proportion.
  • Drag a side handle to make the object wider or narrower while maintaining the height.
  • Drag a top or bottom handle to increase or decrease the height while maintaining the width.
  • This method is not exact, and depends on your skills with the mouse.

word_chart01a

Method 2: Resize by percentage or value

This method is more exact and doesn’t rely on fine motor skills with a mouse. It’s similar to a method you can use to resize a graphic, but the options are harder to find.

  1. Right-click on the object’s border.
  2. Select More Layout Options.
    word_chart02
  3. On the Layout window, select the Size tab.
    word_chart04
  4. Either adjust the absolute height and width, OR the scale.
    • My preference is Scale, as you can enter a percentage to increase or decrease the size by. To keep the proportion, either make both percentages the same, or select the Lock Aspect Ratio check box, then just change one of the percentages — the other will automatically adjust.
  5. Click OK.

Method 3: Resize by percentage or value (ribbon)

This method is very similar to Method 2, except for how you get to the Layout window.

  1. Select the object to display the SmartArt Tools ribbon.
  2. Select the Format tab on the SmartArt Tools ribbon.
  3. Click Size on the far right of the ribbon.
  4. Although you can specify exact measurements on the fly-out ‘menu’, if you want to specify a percentage, click the tiny icon in the lower right corner (I’ve circled it in red in the image below).
    word_chart03
  5. This opens Size tab on the Layout window.
  6. As for Method 2 above, either adjust the absolute height and width, OR the scale.
  7. Click OK.

 

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PowerPoint: Link to a specific place in a Word document

March 14, 2016

I’m doing a presentation at a conference later this month. As I’m a Windows and Microsoft Office user, the presentation will be in PowerPoint, but I’ll be demonstrating some things in Microsoft Word.

I know how to create a link to my example Word document (see Create a standard hyperlink to a Word document below), but I want to link to a specific place in the document. In PowerPoint 2013, a standard link to a Word document opens the document at the top of the first page — every time. At various stages in my presentation, I want it to open to specific places so I can demonstrate the function I’m talking about and not waste time scrolling to that location.

Off to the internet, where after quite a bit of searching I found an answer for another application, but it works beautifully for my circumstances with Word and PowerPoint too.

Before you start

  • I strongly recommend that you put the Word document into the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. That way, you just move the whole folder to your thumb drive/laptop and the two documents will maintain their links.
  • If you want to use an image for the link (e.g. the word ‘Demo’ in a starburst shape), either create it outside PowerPoint, or insert a PowerPoint shape (Insert > Shapes) on one slide and style it how you want (outline and fill color, shadow, etc.) — you can then copy that shape to other slides and change the hyperlink destination as required.

Create a standard hyperlink to a Word document

Note: This standard hyperlink will only open your Word document at the beginning. To open to a specific place, do the steps below AND all the steps in the Link to a specific place… subsection.

  1. Open your PowerPoint presentation and go to the slide where you want to add the link.
  2. Optional: Insert an image for the link (see Before your Start above), then select it.
  3. On the Insert tab, click Hyperlink.
  4. Settings:
    • Link to: Existing File or Web Page
    • Look in: Current Folder (see Before you start above)
  5. Select the Word document you want to link to from the folder — the file name goes into the Address field.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Test your presentation to make sure the link works as you expect.

word_ppt01

Link to a specific place in the Word document

  1. Open the Word document you want to link to.
  2. Insert your cursor where you want it to open.
  3. On the Word ribbon, go to the Insert tab, then click Bookmark.
  4. Type a name for the bookmark — no spaces, no punctuation characters (e.g. DemoPassive). (Hint: Copy this name as you’ll use it in step 8 and it must be exact.)
  5. Click Add.
    word_ppt02
  6. Save the Word document.
  7. Open the PowerPoint presentation and add a hyperlink to the Word document (as per steps 1 to 5 in the Create a standard hyperlink to a Word document above).
  8. At the end of the file name, add a hash symbol followed immediately by the bookmark name you added at step 4 (e.g. <filename.docx>#DemoPassive). DO NOT add any spaces and make sure the bookmark name is exactly as you typed in step 4; if you copied it at step 4, paste it after the hash symbol.word_ppt03
  9. Click OK to save the hyperlink.
  10. Save your PowerPoint presentation.
  11. If you need to add links to other specific places in the Word document in other slides, repeat the steps above for each new location. (Hint: If you want to use the same location for different slides, copy the hyperlinked image to those other slides.)
  12. Test your presentation to make sure the links work as you expect.
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What year is it?

February 3, 2016

I spotted this notice on a website I visited today (Feb 2016). I guess it takes some organizations a long time to adapt to change… (BTW, Microsoft announced end-of-life support for IE 10 in January 2016 [http://www.infoworld.com/article/3020534/security/microsoft-will-end-support-for-internet-explorer8-9-and-10.html])

browser_what_year

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