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Word: Cross-Reference Manager add-in: Review

August 26, 2016

Back in 2010, I wrote a blog post pleading with Microsoft to fix/enhance the cross-reference functionality in Word. Others commented on that post, offering their own suggestions and venting their frustrations with it as well.

Well, someone did see that post and has done something about it, though they aren’t from Microsoft. Lene Fredborg from DocTools (and a Microsoft Word MVP) has written a Cross-reference Manager (CRM) add-in to Word that addresses all my woes, and more. It costs just under US$50 per license for 1 to 4 licenses, and the price per license goes down the more licenses you buy.

Several months ago, Lene asked me to beta test the add-in and make suggestions. Anyone who’s done beta testing knows that process takes longer than expected with the to-ing and fro-ing over time. My tests were done on a 200+ page, 73,000-word document that had more than 350 cross-references, so I really put it through its paces! Lene released the final version in July.

In the interests of transparency, yes, because of my contribution via beta testing I have a free license for my copy of the add-in, but I was not asked to do this review, nor do I receive any financial benefit from it. My aim is to let my readers know that it exists and to test it out for themselves (there’s a 14-day 100% money-back guarantee if you don’t find it useful).

So, on to the review…

Who is the add-in for?

This add-in is for anyone using Microsoft Word on a PC (NOT Mac or tablet versions), from Word 2007 onwards. For those of us who work with long complex Word documents where we use automated caption numbering, outline heading numbering, and the like, and need to insert multiple automated cross-references (to tables, figures, sections, appendices, references etc.) into our documents, CRM is a major improvement on Microsoft’s Cross-reference dialog box.

However, if you don’t use cross-references, or only do a few per document, CRM is probably not for you.

What happens to my ribbon?

Once installed, CRM doesn’t replace the in-built Cross-reference dialog box; instead, it lives on a new DocTools tab (Manage Cross-references group) on the ribbon. You can use whichever you prefer — you aren’t forced to use one or the other.

You can add the functions on the DocTools ribbon to the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking on the function and selecting Add to Quick Access Toolbar.

Note: DocTools makes other Word add-ins, which get added to the same ribbon but in different groups.

What does it do?

CRM adds a huge amount of functionality to cross-referencing in Word. Essentially, it’s cross-referencing on steroids! It addresses most (all?) of the issues I raised in that post from 2010, and issues raised in several of the comments on that post, as well as other issues that frustrated Lene.

There are three icons in the Manage Cross-references group of the DocTools tab:

  • Insert Cross-references:
    • Use this instead of the standard Microsoft dialog box.
    • Has a filter function to just show items with the character you type (e.g. type ‘3’ to see all Headings with a ‘3’ in their outline numbering, such as 2.3, 2.13, 3.1, 3.2, etc.)
    • Can resize the dialog box and increase the number of items displayed at once.
    • Can set your cross-reference defaults from this screen (as well as via Tools).
    • Target types don’t separate Figures, Tables, Equations — the more sensible Captions is used, and then you select the type of caption.
    • Your most recent settings are retained for the next cross-reference you add.
  • Cross-reference Tools:
    • All sorts of functions to identify and fix broken cross-references. (Note: Any highlighting you add/remove via the tools will NOT change any existing highlighting you’ve added to the document for other purposes.)
    • Set defaults for the Insert Cross-references dialog box.
    • Set custom text to go in front of a cross-reference (e.g. ‘See Section’ xx.xx; ‘Refer to’ Table xx-xx; etc.)
    • Update all fields.
    • Toggle display settings for field shading, bookmarks etc. (much quicker than doing it via Word’s Options dialog box)
    • And many many more…. (see the More Details tab on the webpage for CRM for full descriptions of all functions, screenshots etc.: http://www.wordaddins.com/products/cross-references-word_doctools-crossreferencemanager/)
  • Help: Lene has written a very comprehensive Help file to go with CRM. Read it to see all the things CRM can do — I only skim over the main functions in this review.

Summary

This is a terrific add-in that improves on Microsoft’s own cross-referencing function, and makes it much easier to assign cross-references. It’s a great tool for all power Word users.

I highly recommend it.

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Word: Assign keyboard shortcut to paste unformatted text

August 11, 2016

I’ve previously written about using toolbar icons, macros, or other features of Word to paste copied text as unformatted text (see https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2009/07/02/word-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/ and https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/word-2010-keyboard-shortcut-to-paste-unformatted-text/).

However, if you have to do this a lot, there’s another, much easier, way — assign a keyboard shortcut to the ‘paste as unformatted text’ command.

Note: As far as I’m aware you can do this in all versions of Word from at least Word 2010 onwards.

  1. Open Word.
  2. On the File menu, click Options to open the Word Options dialog box.
  3. Click Customize ribbon in the left panel.
  4. Below the left panel of commands, click the Customize button (next to Keyboard shortcuts) to open the Customize Keyboard dialog box.
  5. Scroll down the list of Categories (top left box) to All commands and select it (number 1 in the screenshot below).
  6. In the Commands list (top right box), type p to get to the commands starting with ‘p’.
  7. Scroll down to PasteTextOnly and select it (2 in the screenshot).
  8. In the Press new shortcut key field, PRESS the keys you want to use for this shortcut. Do NOT type them. For example, if you want the keyboard shortcut to be Alt+p+t (‘p’ for paste, ‘t’ for text), then press those keys as though you were using them in the document. They will display in the field similar to this: Alt+P,T (3 in the screenshot).
  9. Checked that Currently assigned to has [unassigned] next to it. If it doesn’t, then the key combination you chose is already used for something else and you’ll have to assign a new combination in the Press new shortcut key field.
    paste_text_only
  10. Click Assign (4 in the screenshot). The new keyboard shortcut will shift into the Current keys box.
  11. Click Close.
  12. Click OK to close the Word Options dialog box.
  13. Test your keyboard shortcut by copying some formatted text from another source (web page, another document, etc.), then use the keyboard shortcut you just assigned to paste it into your Word document as unformatted text.

[Links last checked August 2016]

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Visio: Open two windows

August 5, 2016

I’ve been doing a bit of work with Visio files for my main client. I am NOT a Visio expert in anyone’s imagination, least of all mine!

One of the things that’s frustrated me as I’ve tried to copy objects from one Visio diagram to another is that, by default, Visio only opens a single instance of the program, with each file within the same window. This is REALLY frustrating when you have two monitors and want your files side-by-side for comparison or copying purposes. There had to be a way to open the files in separate windows that you could move around the screen(s). And there is.

There are a couple of simple ways to do this, which I’ll discuss here. There’s also a way to do it via a Registry setting so that Visio always opens a new window each time you open a file. I won’t discuss that method — you can Google it.

The instructions below are for Windows 7 and Visio 2010, though I believe the same/similar techniques also work in later versions.

Simple method 1

  1. Open Visio from the Programs list off the Start button.
  2. Repeat step 1.
  3. Once you have your two instances open (yes, you can have more — just keep repeating Step 1), use File > Open or File > Recent to open an existing file.

Simple method 2

  1. Open Visio.
  2. Hold down the Shift key as you click the Visio icon in the taskbar — this opens a new instance of Visio.
  3. Once you have your two instances open (for more, repeat Step 2), use File > Open or File > Recent to open an existing file.

Simple method 3

  1. Open Visio.
  2. Right-click the Visio icon in the taskbar and select Microsoft Visio — this opens a new instance of Visio.
  3. Once you have your two instances open (for more, repeat Step 2), use File > Open or File > Recent to open an existing file.

 

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Word: Find expanded text or spaces

July 26, 2016

Problem

Today I edited an activity guide. It had a formatting oddness that took me a while to figure out. Every so often (not consistently, but at least once or twice per paragraph), there would be a single space that looked like a double space.

It took me forever to figure out what the problem was (Expanded font style), then research how to fix it. I couldn’t find anything that indicated that I could do a global search & replace. If anyone knows a way to search & replace on particular formatting on Word, I’d love to know.

Solution

In Word for Windows, you can search for expanded text and replace it with normal, BUT you need to know how much it’s expanded by, and hope that all is expanded to the same degree.

In the screenshot below, some spaces (highlighted in green) are expanded by 2 pt. All others are not expanded. The yellow highlight shows an instance of a normal space followed by a ‘Y’ so you can see the difference between that and the green one with the expanded space in front of another ‘Y’. These things are hard to see, so make sure your formatting marks are turned on and zoom in — I zoomed in to 150% in this example.

FR_expanded space01

  1. Select one of the expanded spaces and check the Font settings > Advanced tab to find out what degree of expansion is used (e.g. 1 pt, 1.1 pt, 2 pt etc.). Write it down.
  2. Go to the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl+H), then the Replace tab.
  3. Type the space into the Find what field.
  4. Click More.
    FR_expanded space02
  5. Click Format > Font.
    FR_expanded space03
  6. Click the Advanced tab and select Expanded from the Spacing options, then enter the point size you found out earlier into the By field.
    FR_expanded space04
  7. Click OK to return to the Replace tab — you should have ‘Expanded by xx pt’ below the Find what field.
    FR_expanded space05
  8. Go to the Replace with field, type a space, then More > Format > Font > Advanced tab, select Spacing = Normal.
    FR_expanded space06
  9. Click OK to return to the Replace tab. The Replace with field should have ‘Not Expanded by /Condensed by’ below it.
    FR_expanded space07
  10. Click Find Next and then Replace to find each expanded space and replace it with a normal space (if you’re confident, click Replace All).

 

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Black screen on computer bootup

July 24, 2016

My computer wouldn’t boot up this morning. The lights were on, but the screens were black. I’d seen the manufacturer’s logo, but then nothing. No Windows login screen. Nada.

I tried a second reboot — same result. Then a third. No joy.

And then I saw that I still had my fancy Parrot Zik bluetooth headphones plugged in to a USB port to charge. Hmmmm…. Every time I’ve plugged them in, I get a message about a new device and do I want to open files, etc., so the computer thinks they are an external device. My husband has an external drive that won’t allow his computer to start up if it’s plugged in on bootup, so perhaps the headphones were the reason?

I unplugged the headphones, rebooted the computer, and everything booted up as it should. The headphones were the culprit!

Interestingly, I have an external hard drive that’s always plugged into this PC, but it’s ignored on bootup. I probably need to talk to my PC Guru guys to see if I can alter the startup sequence to look for the hard drive first, instead of any external drives.

Update 25 July 2016: I checked the BIOS boot sequence the next morning, and found that my hard drive is listed second, in front of USB storage devices, CD/DVD, onboard NIC, and the external HDD (last). However, ‘Diskette Drive’ is listed first (who’s used a floppy drive in the past 10 years???), so I’m pretty sure the PC thought the plugged in USB headphones were a floppy disk! Also, a quick Google search of “usb headphones boot sequence”gives many articles from others who have had this problem with various headsets/headphones.

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Word: More lesser known keyboard shortcuts

June 15, 2016

Following on from an earlier post (https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2012/09/20/word-lesser-known-keyboard-shortcuts/), here are some more keyboard shortcuts in Microsoft Word for Windows.

Shortcut Does this
Ctrl+Shift+8 Toggles formatting marks on and off
Ctrl+1 Applies single-line spacing to the selected paragraph(s)
Ctrl+2 Applies double-line spacing to the selected paragraph(s)
Ctrl+5 Applies 1.5-line spacing to the selected paragraph(s)
Ctrl+0 (zero) Toggles the ‘space before’ setting for the paragraph where the cursor is to 12 pt (if some other value) or 0 pt (if the previous setting was 12 pt)
Alt+Ctrl+z Jump to your previous editing location

See also:

[Link last checked June 2016]

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World domination achieved!

June 11, 2016

Yesterday I got an email from a US friend. He’s in Budapest (Hungary) attending a tech writing/user assistance conference (UA Europe). He’s in a session presented by someone from The Netherlands when he spots a screenshot of a page from this blog! He has enough time to capture it on his phone and send it to me. How cool is that — a Dutch presenter showing a page from an Australian’s blog, seen and captured by an American, in Hungary!

Even cooler, the presenter said that it was great example of a ‘perfectly complete task explanation’ and ‘This rocks!’ My work here is done — I think with this, I have achieved world domination ;-)

20160610_100935

(In case you’re interested, the blog post the speaker referenced was: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/word-insert-a-multi-page-pdf/)

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