Word: Reformat text inside quote marks using wildcards

April 16, 2021

A user on an editors’ Facebook group wanted to know if they could use a wildcard find and replace to reformat (perhaps by using different coloured text, highlighting, bold, italics etc.) the text in between quote marks to distinguish the quotations from other text in the document.

This is an ideal job for using wildcards in Word’s find and replace.

But some warnings apply:

  • There are several types of quote marks—single, double, with straight or curly variations for these, and some people may even type two single quote marks to represent a double quote mark, or use prime and double prime characters to represent a quote mark. The only SURE way to identify the marks used by the author are to copy them from the document and paste them into the Find field.
  • This Find/Replace DOES NOT WORK with single straight quotes—the character used for an apostrophe and to start and end a quotation is the same, so you won’t get the results you expect. Any string of text between one apostrophe and another will also be captured.
  • Make sure the quoted passage has both a starting and ending quote mark. If the end quote mark is missing, the change will occur to ALL text from the beginning quote mark to the next end quote mark found, which could be some pages away.
  • Beware of apostrophes used within a quotation when the quotation is surrounded by single curly quote marks—the Find will find up to the apostrophe, NOT to the ending single curly quote mark. This is because the symbol for an apostrophe and the ending single curly quote mark is the same character.
  • The safest practice is to check what’s found and click Replace if it matches, NOT Replace All.
  • ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS test this on a copy of the document before you use it on the original document.

So, if you’re using double quotes (straight or curly), or single curly quotes, you can use this Find/Replace. I explain what the settings mean after these steps, if you’re interested. Meantime, here’s my solution, which works in all versions of Word:

  1. If you want to identify the quoted sections with a highlight colour, choose it first. Ignore this step if you want to change the font colour or styling.
  2. Select the text you want to change (e.g. entire document, selected paragraphs, selected columns or rows of a table).
  3. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  4. Click the More button.
  5. Select the Use wildcards check box.
  6. Put your cursor into the Find what field—what you do next depends on the type of quote mark used in the document:
    • Straight double quotes: type the quote mark, followed immediately by an asterisk, then another quote mark.
    • Curly quotes (single or double): copy an opening quote mark from the document and paste it into the Find field, then type an asterisk immediately after it, then copy/paste the ending quote mark immediately after the asterisk.
  7. In the Replace with field, type: ^&
  8. Click the Format button.
  9. If you want to apply highlighting to the found text, select Highlight. If you want to apply character formatting (colour, bold, italics, etc.), select Font, select the character styling you want, then click OK.
  10. Your Find and Replace dialog box should look something like this, with the highlighting or character styling choice shown below the Replace with field:
  11. Click Find. Check the text found is what you expect—if so, click Replace, then click Find Next. Avoid clicking Replace All unless you are absolutely certain all quotes have a starting and ending quote mark and that there are no apostrophes within a quote.

What it all means

The quotes in the Find are self-explanatory. The asterisk between them says to find any number of characters (including spaces, punctuation marks, letters, numbers, etc.) between the first quote mark found and the next one found. NOTE: If the find/replace doesn’t match anything, check the type of quote marks you’re using and make sure you copy/paste the opening and closing ones into their correct position in the Find.

The ^& in the Replace says to replace whatever is found with itself (in other words, make no changes to the characters), and the font styling/highlighting below the Replace field tells word to make the replaced text that colour or style.

See also:

[Links last checked April 2021]


You can change attitudes, one word at a time

April 9, 2021

One word. That’s all it was. One small word, but a word I’d seen used by those working for my main client a couple of times in the past few weeks (I’ve been working for them for 13+ years, and this was the first I’d seen the word in this context). To me, this word was SO out of context in how they’d used it that I wondered where it came from and why it was used in that way, and why it was starting to proliferate.

The easy thing would be to say nothing, do nothing, and let it slide on by. But I couldn’t, because that one word held a lot of very negative meaning in other contexts, a meaning that was offensive to many Australians and made others, like me, uncomfortable.

In other contexts, it’s a perfectly fine word, but it was out of place in the context where I’d seen it used.

So I spoke up. I emailed two people further up the chain to make them aware that this word was being used, that it was often offensive (uncomfortable at the very least) to many Australians, and suggested other perfectly fine words that could be used instead in that context. Speaking up always carries with it risk, but I’ve been emboldened by what I’ve seen in other situations this past year or so (political, BLM, LGBTQI+, sexual harassment etc.), so I figured the risk was worth it.

Here’s a summary of my email (identifying information removed) and the response I received—it shows that speaking up CAN change attitudes and perspectives. It’s just one small step to a kinder, more inclusive society.

My email

As you are well aware, [company] has policies on inclusion and diversity, including sensitivity to others’ cultures and experiences. In light of this, I’d like to bring to your attention something I’ve noticed recently from some in your team, and that’s the use of the term ‘native’ / ‘natives’ when referring to original Word documents. I’ve seen it used in emails and in folder names in the past few weeks. I don’t know where this has come from as it’s the first I’ve encountered it in 13 years working with [company] docs.

The problem is that this word has multiple meanings, not all of them good or acceptable or appropriate for the context, and for some people, this word is offensive. Macquarie Dictionary has this to say as a usage note: ‘The use of the term native to refer to an indigenous person is associated with European colonialism and is often regarded as old-fashioned and offensive.’

While that usage note refers to usage specifically in regards to indigenous people, it’s a term that is increasingly tainted with its colonial past even when used in other contexts. In terms of documents and their lifecycle, I see no reason to use this word (which could be offensive to many) when there are perfectly fine words that can be used instead—words that don’t have multiple meanings, or that don’t cause offence to others. Words such as ‘original’. The lifecycle of a document as it goes through revisions could be ‘originals’, ‘current’, ‘archived’, ‘in progress’ or similar, with no need to use the word ‘natives’.

I ask that you consider whether this term should be used or if it should be substituted with other, clearer, terms that are more appropriate to the document lifecycle. If you decide to not use this word in this context (it’s fine in regard to describing species), could you please pass on that decision to others on your team.

Response I received

… thank you for taking the time to help me understand that the term has been [is] offensive. I am checking in with our internal Document Control lead to determine the prevalence of this term in our internal systems. … its use here may have originated from our US parent office. As an immediate step, I will ask my team to stop using this term, and I will stop using the term also. … my apologies for any offence caused. And thank you for your ongoing support.

My follow-up email included this

Language use is cultural too—for example, those is the US may not have the same reaction to ‘native’ as we do in Australia, just as we use ‘thug’ here with little understanding of how offensive that word can be in the US.

It’s only by being aware how language can exclude or marginalise people that change can happen. That’s not to say that every word with multiple meanings needs to be sanitised, but that word usage needs to be considered when writing to ensure it doesn’t ignore, offend, or marginalise large sections of the readership.


Word: Subscript and superscript weirdness

March 30, 2021

I received a document to edit last week and noticed that a word, which was spelt correctly, had a red squiggly line underneath it.

I checked the spelling language set for the word and it was English, as I expected. I tried retyping the word, and inserting the correct variation from the spelling options. All to no avail. The red squiggly stayed. Eventually, I retyped the whole thing, from CO2 onwards and the red squiggly went away.

I started to notice that some other words weren’t behaving correctly, particularly those with superscripts and subscripts. I couldn’t identify what was causing the weirdness, but then I noticed a TINY speck on the screen. Was it a speck of dust on my screen (memo to self: clean screens more often!) or something in the document? I increased the zoom on the page to 400% and the specks didn’t change size, but they did remain in the same position, so I knew they were IN the doc, and not on the screen.

Here’s an example of these tiny dots. In the first image, the zoom is 100% and the dots are either side of the ‘8’ but at the bottom of the letter forms. These are NOT the periods surrounding ‘min’, but the tiny dots surrounding the subscripted 8. The second and third images are of the same thing, but at much higher zoom percentages—notice that the size of the dots hardly changes. And that they are almost impossible to see.

My first step in trying to identify these dots was to select some text that contained the superscript and the dots and press Ctrl+[spacebar] to remove the manual formatting and take that selected text back to the base style of the paragraph. And that’s when I was able to unmask the weirdness!

Look at what this passage looked like when the manual formatting was removed.

Those tiny dots were actually text—in this case ‘PPP’ surrounding a superscript character. I did a search for PPP and found 37 instances. Each instance surrounded a superscripted number.

Was this the cause of the spelling error for the word after CO2 I’d first discovered and couldn’t fix easily? I went to one of the CO2 instances and selected the tiny dot—it was set to a weird font and was 1 pt in size. A 1 pt font that’s super or subscripted? You’re never going to see that easily!

Then I removed the manual formatting for some text around ‘CO2’ and found that the subscripted ‘2’ was surrounded by the letter ‘R’. I did a search for COR2R and found 854 instances! Find and replace took care of those for me, then I did another search for R2R as this document included H2S, NO2, etc. as well, and cleaned up some more.

The final oddity I found wasn’t surrounding a superscript or subscript at all—instead it was near a semicolon. In the image below, look for the tiny dot on the first line after the space and before the ‘M’, and immediately after the semicolon on the third line.

When I took the manual formatting off, another string of strange characters appeared—’65T’ repeated several times. Again, find and replace sorted those out too.

What had caused them? I contacted the author to find out if parts of this document had been copied from a PDF (the ZWAdobeF font was a clue). They said it hadn’t. Besides, what I found wasn’t indicative of the usual errors you’d find when copying or converting from a PDF. I also asked if anyone had used Word for Mac or worked on this document in Google Docs. ‘No’ on both accounts, as far as they knew. They said it had only been worked on in the corporate environment, but there are things like SharePoint, OneDrive etc. that may be at play here. Not likely, but possible.

So it’s a mystery as to how these things occurred in the first place. And it’s only by good luck and some sleuthing that I was able to identify them and correct them.


Word: Keyboard shortcuts for macros are not working

March 24, 2021

Whoa! I just discovered this one. All of a sudden my keyboard shortcuts to apply specific macros weren’t working. I’d been using them extensively on a 300p document, but suddenly they stopped working. I closed the document and reopened it, but that didn’t make any difference. I tried a couple of other things, but nope, they still didn’t work. I checked that the keyboard shortcuts were still assigned to those macros, and they were. And the macros worked fine if I ran them from the Macros window. So, there was nothing wrong with the macros or the keyboard assignments.

And then I spotted it—the light for CAPS LOCK was on. Could that be it? It was! When I turned it off, my keyboard shortcuts worked fine. To test it, I turned CAPS LOCK back on and the keyboard shortcuts didn’t work. Turned it off, and they did.

What this means is that keyboard shortcuts you assign to Word macros seem to be case sensitive.


How to get the parts of a YouTube video using JDownloader

March 12, 2021

I was testing out JDownloader2 (an open source download manager) the other day for a completely different purpose when I discovered that it can split a YouTube video into its component parts, which you can then download individually or as a group.

Depending on what was uploaded to YouTube, the component parts may include the audio only (M4A format), the video (MP4; includes audio), the title image (JPG), the description (TXT), and/or the subtitles (SRT file).

It’s certainly an easier way to do it than to use a conversion program—just open JDownloader, copy the YouTube URL to the clipboard, and it will automatically get added to JDownloader, ready for you to expand the entry and then download one or more, or all, parts.



Using Logitech Capture software with a Logitech C270 webcam

March 3, 2021

The Logitech C270 webcam is very limited in its settings. You can adjust it a little (see this earlier blog post of mine: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2020/07/29/logitech-c270-webcam-settings/), but you can’t use the more advanced Logitech Capture software (https://www.logitech.com/en-au/product/capture) with the C270 ‘out of the box’. According to the requirements on that Logitech Capture webpage, the C270 is not supported hardware for that software, and if you download the software anyway, it won’t recognise your C270 webcam.

However, one of my readers, Collin, in a comment on my original post, described how to get Capture to work with the C270. I’ve rewritten his instructions below, adding some screenshots and things I found when I followed them. These instructions are for Windows 10.

  1. Download the Capture software from the Logitech website.
  2. Virus check the exe file (as you should with any software you download), then install it.
  3. On the Start button, search for and open Device Manager.
  4. Expand Cameras or Imaging Devices (on my computer, my webcam was listed under Imaging Devices—I didn’t have Cameras listed at all).
  5. Right-click on the name of the webcam and select Properties.
  6. On the Properties window, click the Details tab.
  7. Click the dropdown arrow next to the Property field and select Hardware Ids.
  8. The IDs are listed and you will need these in later steps. You can either leave this window open (easiest) or copy them to Notepad (or a similar text editor). The settings for MY webcam are shown below—your VID or PID values may be different, so don’t use those in this screenshot.
  9. Now you need to change the Capture configuration file to add your webcam to the list of supported cameras. Go to the C:\Program Files\Logitech\LogiCapture\bin folder.
  10. Find the LogiCapture.exe.config file.
  11. Optional: Just to be safe, copy this file and rename the copy as z_original_LogiCapture.exe.config—if things don’t work, you can always delete the file you’re about to modify, then remove the z_original_ part of this file’s name to revert back to the original.
  12. Open the LogiCapture.exe.config file in Notepad (or a similar text editor; I use EditPlus).
  13. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find window.
  14. In the Find What field, type HD Pro Webcam C920, then click Find.
  15. The first line found will start with <device guid= and end with that device’s name.
  16. Put your cursor in front of <device guid= for that line, then select from there to the first </device> line you find. (My Edit Plus software shows line numbers and the first line is 301 and the last line for the settings for that device is line 389, so you’ve got a bit of scrolling to do).
  17. Once you’ve selected that whole section for that device, copy it.
  18. Go to the end of the </device> line from Step 16 above, press Enter to create a new line, then paste the selected lines for the original device.
  19. You now need to modify this new section. Don’t worry—you only have to change information on the first line.
  20. In this new section, change the name from Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 to Logitech HD Webcam C270 (or whatever YOUR device is called in Device Manager—refer back to the open Device Manager window to get the exact name).
  21. The other two things you may have to change are the VID and PID values in the first line. Again, go back to the list of Device Manager hardware IDs for your device. In my case (the screenshot in Step 8), the VID ID was 046D and that was already listed in my first line, so I didn’t need to change it. However, the original PID was 082D and I needed to change that to 0825 (remember, YOUR values may be different). My changes looked like this:
  22. Save the file. You may be asked to save with Admin privileges—click the option to do so.
  23. Check the file name still ends with .config and not .config.txt—if it ends with .txt, delete that part of the file name and click OK when you get the warning that this could make the file unusable.
  24. You can now close Device Manager and any text editor program you have open.

Confirm that Capture can see your C270 webcam

  1. Open the Logitech Capture software.
  2. When you first open it, no source (i.e. camera) is selected—you have to tell the software what webcam you’re using.
  3. Click Source 1 in the left panel.
  4. Click the arrow next to None to see all available Logitech webcams you have installed.
  5. Assuming you followed all the instructions above correctly, you should see your Logitech C270 webcam listed.
  6. Select it. Your webcam will turn on.
  7. You can now use all the setting options in the left panel to adjust light, zoom etc. As you change the settings, the camera image on the right changes to reflect those settings. NOTE: Collin recommended that you DON’T change the resolution to anything higher than 720p (the default for me); in his words ‘it will just look like crap’. He also said that some other settings may be incompatible, but only trial and error will show what they are. All the settings I tried for 720p resolution seemed to work, except those that are locked unless you are signed into Logitech.

Again, thank you Collin for the information that allowed me to use Capture software with my ‘unsupported’ Logitech webcam.

[Links last checked March 2021]


Finding high resolution artwork from Apple TV, iTunes etc.

February 24, 2021

My husband collects information about music, musicians, and songwriters, and one of the things he uses to find and confirm metadata is album covers. However, the default size of artwork on iTunes is quite small and low resolution. He has all sorts of workarounds he uses (e.g. view the page source, search the HTML code for JPGs, change the pixel size in the URL, etc.). It’s cumbersome at best and adds a lot of overhead in hours to his research.

Until now.

Someone on one of his forums alerted him to a very cool website from a UK developer, Ben Dodson, that extracts just the album art from iTunes (and artwork for Apple TV shows and Apple movies) and allows it be be viewed at various resolutions. It isn’t an app and only works in a browser, as far as I can tell.

For artwork from all sorts of Apple media, including iTunes, for a particular title, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/itunes-artwork-finder/  Once there, select the type of media (1), enter the title you’re searching for (2), select the media’s country of origin (2), then click Get the artwork (4). Wait a few seconds and the artwork matching your search criteria will display. You have the options of Standard or High Resolution (it will take a few extra seconds to display the artwork at high resolution). If the album, for example, has various covers or the title has been used by various artists, then scroll down to see each.

If you want to search by the iTunes web address instead, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-music-artwork-finder/

If you want to search for artwork related to Apple TV shows or Apple movies, go to: https://bendodson.com/projects/apple-tv-movies-artwork-finder/ Once you’ve found what you want, click the resolution and artwork you want to see from the list on the right.

NOTE: Ben Dodson has made this website free but there are some caveats, so read those on each of the web pages above. The main one is that this ONLY works with media products available from Apple, and not any other source.



Office 2021 standalone version announced

February 20, 2021

For those not on an Office 365 subscription who wish to stay with a standalone version, Microsoft has just announced that there will be an Office 2021 available to purchase.

Details: https://gizmodo.com/microsoft-announces-the-next-subscription-less-versions-1846303690

[Link last checked February 2021]


Word: Find a special character written as text

February 15, 2021

When you want to find a special character, such as a paragraph mark, in Microsoft Word, you have to use a special character (in this case, ^p to search for all paragraph marks). And for most situations this works as you’d expect.

But if you’ve written ^p as text in a document, as I did for a document I’m writing on Word’s find and replace functions, where I need to type the characters used to find the special character, then you can’t search for that text string by typing ^p as the search term. Instead of finding what you wrote, you get results that list ALL paragraph marks in the document, and nothing matching what you wrote.

I tried all sorts of things with wildcards, escape characters etc. before asking a specialist editors’ group on Facebook, where one of the members pointed me in the right direction—you have to add another caret before the ^p, so ^^p.

Easy when you know how!


Variations in internet speed

February 11, 2021

A Facebook friend posted some speed checks that compared what he was getting via the NBN and via his 5G-enabled phone in Perth, which has some 5G coverage. The numbers were dramatically different.

But then I did some checking of my own and found that the type of connection, type of device, distance from the modem etc. all have a part to play in what speed you’re actually getting. Here were my results from this morning (all were done using speedtest.net or the Speedtest app on my Android phone):

  • Windows 10 PC, wired via Cat 5 cable to network hub to modem to NBN micronode (my plan is with iinet and is for 100 mbps down / 40 up): 100.48 up / 37.8 down (and it’s been as steady as a rock since we had the NBN installed, even increasing from a baseline of about 85 mbps down when we first got it to just over 100 now—we’re getting exactly what we pay for)
  • Oppo 5G-enabled mobile phone, using Wifi to the same setup above, and in the same room as the modem (i.e. within 2 metres of the Wifi signal): 84.9 / 37.8
  • Same phone, using Wifi, but in the kitchen (2 to 3 rooms away from the modem, brick walls): 52 / 36
  • Same phone, using Wifi, but in the furthest bedroom (3 to 4 rooms away from the modem, brick walls): 31.5 / 35.1
  • Same phone as above, but with Wifi turned off and using Telstra’s mobile coverage, WITH a Telstra-licensed cell booster device inside the house as the signal is so bad without it, I can’t make or take calls: 9.05 / 0.21 (this was the worst of all)
  • Same phone, with Wifi turned off, using Telstra’s mobile coverage, and inside a shop in Bunbury, Western Australia (NOT a 5G coverage areas as yet): 124 / 22.4