Word: Excellent presentation on some advanced tips for Microsoft Word

September 26, 2022

Canadian editor, Adrienne Montgomerie, recently did a presentation for the Northwest Editors Guild (based in Seattle). In it she covers a whole lot of Microsoft Word tricks that editors (and writers) can use in their daily work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBLjEuP_OSo

Her presentation runs for nearly 2 hours but it’s chock full of hints and tips. If you want to get through it a little quicker, adjust YouTube’s playback speed.

One thing I learned from this presentation that I’d never tried or seen in action was Immersive Reader (on the View tab)—I can see myself using some of those functions (like screen background colour) very soon. Track changes works in Immersive Reader view and nothing about the document’s layout changes, just how you see it on the screen. it looks perfect for editors who need to concentrate closely on particular aspects of a document without being distracted by other stuff.

Another thing I learned (maybe I knew it already but I’ve rarely used it) was that in addition to rearranging a document using Outline view (View tab), you can also move sections around within the Navigation pane. Just turn off track changes if you’re going to do this—Adrienne explains why in her presentation.

[Link last checked September 2022]



Word: Text surrounding a cross-reference shows in list of tables

September 7, 2022

One of my clients contacted me about some weirdness she was experiencing with some table cross-references (x-refs) in Word. Some table captions weren’t listed in the list of table at the beginning of the document—instead, the text surrounding the x-refs to these captions was listed. To explain this better, here’s what was showing in the list of tables (I’ve blurred out some text to preserve anonymity; click each image to view it larger): 

As you can see in the screenshot, the first instance of Table 10-10 reports the caption correctly, but the second one is in bold AND it shows 5 lines of the surrounding text AND other table numbers (x-refs) are mentioned in that text. Table 10-12 and Table 10-13 are both correct. This is not something I’ve ever seen before, as far as I know.

My first step was to click the link to that incorrect line item in the list of tables. I then reset the paragraph to the default style by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+spacebar, just in case there was an errant style that was causing the problem.

And then I noticed that while the first two x-refs (Table 10-10 and Table 10-11) in the text were both full fields (as evidenced by the grey shading, shown below; ignore the other grey for the blurring), the next x-ref for Table 10-11 wasn’t—only the section and table numbers had the grey shading that indicated they were fields, not the entire table number and the word ‘Table’, as you should see with a correct table x-ref. (As an aside, I always show field shading in a Word document as it shows me where the fields are and is thus a visual reminder NOT to touch them when writing or editing; in Word for Windows, you turn on field shading under File > Options > Advanced > Show Document Content — set Field Shading to Always.)

To confirm these were different types of fields, I right clicked on each and selected Toggle Field Codes. This confirmed that I was looking at quite different field types. Table and other x-refs should start with { Ref , which is what the first two showed, but the third one had different types of field codes, one for each number, as shown in the screenshot below.

And I recognised that the types of field codes for the incorrect one were the same field codes used in table captions, NOT table x-refs. (Don’t forget to right click in the fields again and select Toggle Field Codes to show them as they should be.)

I think I know how it happened—someone COPIED the table number part of a caption, pasted it and then restyled it like the surrounding text, thinking that was all they had to do to insert a x-ref. But of course, it isn’t a true x-ref—just a copy of the caption, which is why the sentence it was in was appearing in the list of tables.

The solution was to remove the incorrect text and fields and replace them with correctly inserted x-refs. Once I did this, I updated the list of tables and everything was fine again.

(Note: You may also have to update all the fields in the document too as it’s likely that the copied caption caused the other caption numbers to update and they are likely incorrect. In my case, I had to update the fields twice—once to get the caption numbering correct, then a second time to get the x-refs to those caption numbers correct. But typically you only need to update the fields once.)

See also:

And for solving other table of contents weirdness, see these blogs posts too:

[Links last checked September 2022]


Word: Update all fields in a document

September 7, 2022

I thought I’d blogged about this years again, but apparently not!

If you need to update all the fields in your document, there’s a quick way to do it in Word for Windows:

  1. Turn OFF Track Changes.
  2. Check again that Track Changes is OFF (yes, I put this in twice because if track changes is on, you can get all sorts of problems).
  3. Go to File > Print, but DO NOT print anything. This puts the document into Print Preview mode, and doing that automatically updates most of the fields ready for printing.
  4. Click the back button to return to the document.

Most of the fields in all parts of the document will have updated, except perhaps the table of contents, list of tables and list of figures—update these manually.

Now check for and resolve any errors—search for Error! and if you use section numbering, search also for Section 0 (or Chapter 0 or Part 0, however you cross-reference the sections/chapters/parts in your document). Reassign the correct cross-reference for those that are broken. A broken cross-reference typically means that the section number, table, figure, or appendix no longer exists—if it has just moved, the number should have updated.


Word: Outline numbered headings start at a number other than 1

August 4, 2022

A client has a 300+ page document that goes back to their client, and then into that client’s SharePoint system where many authors work on it. Occasionally the outline numbering goes awry. Instead of Heading 1s (H1) starting from 1, they might start from 15, so the first section heading is 15 instead of 1 and the second is 16 instead of 2 etc. Added to this, the Heading 2 (H2) and Heading 3 (H3) numbers have also started from another number (e.g. H2 might start at 4, so you get section 1.4 as the first H2 in section 1, with 1.5 as the next; H3s might start from 8, so instead of 1.1.1, you might get 1.1.8 followed by 1.1.9).

I haven’t figured out what causes this behaviour (both my client and I suspect SharePoint!), but after the first time I got it on their document, I tried all sorts of things before finding a way to fix it.

First I tried right-clicking on the headings and selecting Restart at 1. That didn’t work. Then I tried setting the numbering via the styles. That didn’t work either. What did work was resetting the start number under the Multilevel List numbering settings. Here’s how:

  1. Put your cursor at the first letter after the heading number.
  2. Go to Home > Paragraph and click the drop-down arrow next to the Multilevel list numbering icon.
  3. Click Define New Multilevel List.
  4. On the Define New Multilevel List window, click More.
  5. On the right of the window, find the Start At value and change it to 1. DO NOT change anything else on this screen – there lie dragons!!!
  6. Click OK.
  7. If the erroneous numbering was for Heading 1, then you don’t need to do anything more. But if it’s for Heading 2 (if H1 is wrong, H2 and possibly H3 likely will be too), then you’ll need to repeat these steps for the FIRST H2 in EACH new H1 section—getting it right for the first one will auto flow through to the other H2s in that section. Same if H3 is wrong—go to the first H3 in EACH H2 section and repeat the steps.

Family history resources I use

July 24, 2022

I had lunch with some old school friends last week. In our far-ranging discussions, we spent a bit of time talking about our family histories and trees and I mentioned some resources that I use to manage (and find) all the information (I have some 12,000 people in my extended family tree software). I thought others who are interested in searching and documenting their family trees might also be interested, so I’ve listed below the various tools and websites I use. Note: I’m Australian, with the two threads of my family extending back to the UK and Prussia/Germany/Poland on one side and to South Africa (and the Huguenots) on the other. Part of the UK branch went to Canada and the US. Therefore, I use resources that have records from around the world, as well as a lot of local (Australian and Western Australian) records to track more recent twigs on my family tree.

Software I use to manage it all: Family Tree Maker (FTM), from https://www.mackiev.com/ftm/. About AU$115 (one-off payment, NOT subscription). I’ve been using FTM since the late 1990s and am very happy with it. There are other family tree software programs available, but I haven’t used any of them as I’ve had no need to move to something else. With FTM, you can also upload your family tree to Ancestry.com, but I don’t use that function.

Global resources

  • Ancestry (paid subs): My main source for official records (birth, death and marriage [BDM] records, electoral rolls, census records, baptism records, grave records etc.) is https://www.ancestry.com.au. Originally I just paid for access to Australian and UK records, but with relatives in the US and further back to South Africa, Prussia etc., I now pay for an annual worldwide subs (about AU$470/yr I think; it’s cheaper if you only want to access records just from a specific region). Ancestry has BILLIONS of official records you can search and link to your tree. You can also create your tree in Ancestry (or upload it from FTM), though I’ve never done so. Note: the sites that let you create your own tree on them give you the option of keeping your tree private (i.e. not searchable) or making it public. If you choose to make it public, be aware that living people, typically those under 75 but could be older, are typically NOT listed by any identifiable information.
  • Find My Past (paid subs): Another annual subscription I pay for is https://www.findmypast.uk, which has millions of UK records (quite a bit of crossover with Ancestry, but enough different that I maintain my annual subs with them); also has some US and other records too. About GBP180 per year for full access to all records (thought not the recently released 1921 UK census). Again, you can create your tree directly with them and not use special software.
  • Family Search (free): https://www.familysearch.org/en/ (part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [aka Mormons]). In addition to official records, they have thousands of publicly available uploaded family histories from members, which can cover many other records (e.g. some of my South African links on this site go back to about the 900s in the Netherlands, France etc., but I haven’t verified these, so I take them with a very large grain of salt; actually I treat anything before about 1750 with a great deal of skepticism, unless I can view the actual record). You don’t need to be a Mormon to search on this site and I think you can create your own tree on it too.
  • Cemetery records (free for basic use): Gravestones also carry a lot of information, and the global cemetery site linked to Ancestry.com is https://www.findagrave.com/ (free); you don’t have to be an Ancestry member to use it. Another worldwide gravestone site is https://billiongraves.com/.

Australian and Western Australian (WA) resources

In addition to the global resources above, which have very extensive Australian records, I also use these resources:

  • Newspapers:
    • For Australian newspaper records before about 1980 (date depends on the archival rules for various newspapers and public domain use), you CANNOT go past Trove from the National Library of Australia (free): https://trove.nla.gov.au/search/advanced/category/newspapers?l-artType=newspapers&keyword= This link is for the start of the newspaper search and you can use the filters on the right to narrow your results (e.g. if you’re looking for your own birth notice, you could narrow down to Western Australia / Family Notices / [decade] / [year]). Back in the day most Australians would announce major life events in their state and/or local newspapers—BDM, of course, but also engagements, funeral notices, wedding anniversaries, etc. and these all give information. Trove includes lots of smaller country newspapers as well, and many of these have social columns that read like the Facebook of today (e.g. “Miss Susan Smith visited her sister Mrs Mabel Brown in Albany last Tuesday.” and from that you might find out that Mabel Smith’s married name is ‘Brown’ so now you’ve added another piece of information to the puzzle).
    • The West Australian newspaper has various BDM and funeral announcements online, though it’s a clunky interface. I’m not sure if you have to be a West subscriber or not (I am, so I don’t know if non-subscribers can see these announcements): https://www.westannouncements.com.au/ You can search back ‘all time’ but I don’t think the online records go back more than about 10 or so years.
  • Cemeteries (free):
  • Marriages (free): For WA marriages (up to about 1965?), the reverse marriage search is brilliant as you can search by either party and it tells you who the spouse is (not as easy in the official Australian marriage records on Ancestry where you only get one party and a reference number to try to match to the other): http://www.wamarriage.info/
  • Teachers (free): If your ancestor was a teacher in WA, then the old Education Department ‘stud books’ from 1900 to 1980 are available online here: https://www.carnamah.com.au/teachers These are great for verifying names and where people lived and worked in particular years.
  • Official WA BDM records (free): https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-justice/online-index-search-tool Has birth records only to 1932, marriages to 1936, and deaths to 1971 (there are laws about sharing information about people who are living and/or under a certain age). Other Australian states have similar websites, but the amount of information freely available can vary and some require payment to access details of individuals.

See also: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2015/10/05/the-usability-of-gravestones-and-memorial-markers/

[Links last checked July 2022]


Malwarebytes continually blocks a program

July 23, 2022

We’ve used Malwarebytes Anti-Malware (MBAM) for years and have never had a problem with it conflicting with a particular piece of software on one computer. Until last week, when MBAM decided it didn’t like this software (after years of playing nice together) and decided to quarantine it as soon as we tried to open and run the software. We restored it from quarantine and made sure it was in the Allow List (it was), but it continued to get zapped by MBAM.

A quick internet search didn’t yield any answers that matched our circumstances, so I reached out to the MBAM support team. They were prompt in getting back to me, and with a solution that seems to have worked. This information is for me in case it happens again, and for anyone else who has a problem with a legitimate piece of software getting quarantined by MBAM. The critical steps that I hadn’t done were restarting the computer (twice) AND the second set of steps below. I’ve paraphrased the information I got from MBAM support:

If MBAM is removing something that it shouldn’t, then you can restore it from quarantine:

  1. Open Malwarebytes.
  2. In the Detection History panel on the left, click Total items in quarantine.
  3. Select the checkbox of each detection you wish to restore.
  4. Click Restore.
  5. Restart the computer to complete the restore process.

To prevent MBAM from removing the files again, you need to exclude them from detection:

  1. Open Malwarebytes.
  2. Click Scan to run a threat scan (this can take several minutes).
  3. When the scan is complete, you need to verify each of the items detected. If there are some you want to keep, clear their checkboxes. (In our case, 9 items were detected, all related to this software we wanted to use—the EXE file, the taskbar and desktop shortcuts, a registry item, and a couple of others)
  4. Click Next.
  5. MBAM will ask what you want to do with the unchecked items—select Ignore Always.
  6. Restart the computer for the changes to take effect.

Word: Table cells won’t align

July 13, 2022

A client had an issue with a Word table—the cells, columns, and rows wouldn’t align no matter what she did. I’ve encountered similar situations many times (possibly because track changes is on when people add/remove table rows or cells, or they try do things with merged table cells without realising that they are merged, or they try to join one table to another). Invariably my ‘go to’ method (after spending a few minutes and getting nowhere) is to start a new table from scratch and copy/paste the cell information into it. Tedious for sure, but sometimes it’s the only way to salvage your sanity—and the table!

However, a few weeks ago I read about another trick to get table cells to align (the first method listed here: https://wordribbon.tips.net/T009924_Adjusting_Column_Widths_on_Joined_Tables.html), so I thought I’d try that on the client’s table as a first step, and it worked beautifully!

Here’s what her table looked like—I’ve blurred the content, and added arrows pointing to where things went wrong. In addition to the columns not aligning, the row ends didn’t align, and some parts of the table were missing borders.

Here’s how I aligned it in just a couple of seconds (Word 365 for Windows):

  1. Select the whole table.
  2. Go to the Layout tab (the one to the right of the Table Design tab—NOT the one for page layout).
  3. Go to the Cell Size group.
  4. In the Cell Size group, put a small value in the Width field (I used 0.2 cm). This gives you a narrow table.
  5. Click the drop-down arrow for AutoFit, then choose AutoFit Window. Your table columns and rows should now be aligned and you can now adjust them, as necessary.

NOTE: I’ve since had further issues, and this trick didn’t work for them all. The tables it didn’t work on all had some merged cells, so I split cells to get them back to the same number of columns as the main table, and then this trick worked. If you still need to keep those cells merged, then make sure no further changes will be done to the table and remerge as necessary (or use no borders for the cell dividers if you don’t want to remerge).

[Link last checked July 2022]


Changes to Australian federal government departments

July 11, 2022

With each change of state and federal government after an election (particularly when the other party wins the election), invariably departments are amalgamated, added, disbanded, or functions from one department now come under another, and/or department names are changed. For the government departments related to the areas I work in (environment, water, energy, agriculture, in particular), the list below details the changes to the Australian government departments as at 1 July 2022:

  • Former Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) ==> split into Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW) and Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
  • Former Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) ==> becomes Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR); the Energy function goes to DCCEEW
  • (new) Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR; not to be confused with the old DEWR abbreviation used for the former Department of Environment and Water Resources)
  • Former Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communication (DITRDC) ==> becomes Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication and the Arts (DITRDCA)




Comprehensive list of courses related to editing

July 10, 2022

Katharine O’Moore-Klopf has compiled a very comprehensive list of courses related to editing (and sometimes publishing too) on her website. The courses include formal undergrad and postgrad courses from universities, as well as programs from professional associations and the like. If you’re interested in getting specific training in editing, her page is a great place to start: http://kokedit.com/ckb_2.php

She also has some excellent resources related to copyediting, starting here: http://kokedit.com/ckb.php

[Link last checked July 2022]


Word: Format all cross-references as bold

June 17, 2022

One of my clients does work for a [big company], and I do the occasional bit of work for them. The [big company] wants the all cross-references (x-refs) in bold type (e.g. Table 1-4, Figure 2-10, Appendix F, Section 10.8 etc.). But there’s no way that I’ve found in Word to set this as an automatic attribute when creating x-refs (if anyone knows how, let me know in the comments). So bold has to be applied manually, and for a 400p document with hundreds of x-refs, that’s tedious for the authors and for me as the editor when some have been missed.

However, there is a way to bold ALL the x-refs at any time (ideally as one of the finalisation stages when working on a document). And it’s a simple find and replace solution (no wildcards involved!), but you do have to expose the field codes for it to work.

How to do this:

  1. Make a new copy of your document using Save As (this is just in case anything goes drastically wrong—it shouldn’t, but you never know).
  2. Select the entire document using Ctrl+a.
  3. Press Alt+F9 to toggle (and display) the field codes.
  4. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window.
  5. In the Find field type: ^19 REF (^19 represents a field and the REF tells Word to look for a field that also has REF as part of its code—this gets all the x-refs but ignores things like the table of contents and other field codes).
  6. Click More.
  7. Put your cursor in the Replace field but DO NOT TYPE anything here.
  8. Click Format.
  9. Select Font.
  10. Select Bold in the middle panel at the top of the Font dialog box.
  11. If your cursor was in the Replace field, then immediately below that field Font: Bold displays. (If your cursor was still in the Find field, then Font: Bold will display under that, and that’s not what you want—go back and repeat from step 7.)
  12. Click Replace All.
  13. When the replace has finished, close the Find and Replace window
  14. Press Alt+F9 to toggle the field codes back to readable x-ref numbers etc.
  15. You may need to update the fields after doing this, just to make sure the bold is applied to them all. To do this, go to File > Print (which puts you in Print Preview mode), DO NOT PRINT, then go back to your document—this updates all your fields. Check your table of contents etc. If all the page numbers are the same, update the table of contents etc. separately as you normally would.
  16. If you’re happy with the changes made, continue using the ‘saved as’ document as your current version, or repeat these steps in the earlier current version you saved from (your versioning processes may differ).

I got my inspiration for this post from this very long webpage, written by Susan Barnhill, one of the Word gurus: http://wordfaqs.ssbarnhill.com/FormatCrossReferences.htm