Archive for April, 2008


Keyboard shortcuts galore!

April 30, 2008

I came across this terrific site ( that lists ALL the keyboard shortcuts for many applications, operating systems, etc.

Here are the specific pages for Word 2003 and Word 2007 shortcuts:

Other application groups covered include most from Microsoft, Adobe, and Google, as well as web browsers, HTML editors, photo and imaging applications etc.

If you’re a keyboard person, you’ll drool over these lists and thank those who put them together.

About TinyURL addresses: TinyURL shortens very long web addresses—there’s nothing sinister about them.

[This article was first published in the December 2007 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Lorem Ipsum random text generator

April 29, 2008

Ever seen that random text that appears to be Latin? It’s ‘filler’ text for content that hasn’t been written yet, and gives a designer (web, magazine, newspaper, book designer, etc.) some idea of how the finished document will look.

If you want to provide your own filler text, then use the Lorem Ipsum website to generate random sets of Lorem Ipsum text. Where?

Plenty of other random text generators abound—just search for “lorem ipsum” and you’ll get millions!

Update December 2008: Woody’s Office Watch article from 21 November 2008 explains how to automatically generate lorem ipsum text from Word 2007.

Update March 2010: Now there’s HTML-ipsum! Go to then click on the type of text you’d like — ordered list, unordered list, paragraph, empty table, etc. It gets copied to the clipboard and you can then paste it into your HTML editor. Neat!

Update October 2011: And for fun there’s Cupcake Ipsum:

Update July 2013: How about 56 different types of lorem ipsum generators?

[Links last checked October 2011]


About functional specifications

April 28, 2008

Functional specifications (‘func specs’) or requirements specifications are used when designing many software and web applications.

For a complete tutorial on what they are, how to write one, what gets included, examples from the various stages, etc., take a look at

Other resources and samples:

Update 15 August 2008: Thanks to Wade C for alerting me to this blog post that shares various Google search methods to find lots of examples of functional specifications, requirements, use cases, etc:

Update 16 June 2009: More from members of the STC Lone Writer SIG email list:

[Links last checked June 2009]


Word: Automated tables of figures

April 27, 2008

If you create long Word documents with lots of captioned diagrams, tables, or figures in them, then you may be faced with the nightmare of having to update the numbering whenever you add a new figure or table to the document. And if you refer to this number within the text (e.g. “See Table 4”), that’s another place you have to remember to keep up to date.

You can automate this process—and produce automated Tables of Figures as well, just like an automated Table of Contents.

These instructions apply to any captioned tables, figures and diagrams. I will use ‘figure’ to refer to each of them—if you are creating table captions and a list of tables, substitute ‘table’ and choose the ‘Table’ option in the steps below instead of ‘Figure’.

Labeling a figure in Word

  1. Position your cursor beneath the figure.
  2. Open the Caption window:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Caption from the menu.
    * Word 2007 and later: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Insert Caption.
  3. Select Figure from the Label drop-down list.

    Default caption

    Caption – default settings for Figure

  4. Optional: If you use headings with Outline Numbering, you may want to add a Chapter number. To do so, click Numbering and select the Include chapter number check box. You can also specify the number format, style, and separator.
    Caption with chapter numbering included

    Caption with chapter numbering included

    Caption settings for chapter numbering

    Caption settings for chapter numbering

  5. Add any extra caption information after the caption number (e.g. Figure 3: xxxx).

    Caption complete

    Caption complete

  6. Click OK.

The caption is added, using the Caption style (you can modify this default style on the Styles and Formatting task pane in Word 2003, or the Styles floating window in Word 2007 or later). The number is automatically sequenced even if you add another figure between two existing figures with captions inserted like this.

NOTE: If the number doesn’t update automatically, or if you’ve copied an earlier caption and pasted it in another place then modified the caption’s text, update the field by selecting it and pressing F9. Update ALL the auto captions [and all other fields such as the TOC, List of Figures etc.] by pressing Ctrl+A, then F9.

Referring to a figure in the body text

The caption must exist (see above)—you can’t reference something that isn’t there.

  1. In the body text, place the cursor when you want the cross-reference text to be inserted.
  2. To insert a cross reference:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Cross-Reference from the menu.
    * Word 2007 and later: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Cross-reference.
  3. Select Figure from the Reference Type drop-down list. All figures that have been inserted as a caption are listed in the bottom half.

    Cross-reference settings

    Cross-reference settings

  4. Click once on the figure that you want to refer to.
  5. In the Insert reference to drop-down list, select how you want the information displayed (e.g. select Only label and number to just display “Figure x” and not the entire caption; select Entire caption to display “Figure x: yyyyyy”).
  6. Click Insert, then click Close. The reference is added to the document—if you click in it, you should notice the gray shading indicating that it’s a field.

    The cross-reference is inserted as a field

    The cross-reference is inserted as a field

Creating the Table of Figures

  1. Position the cursor where you want the Table of Figures to be placed (it usually goes immediately after the Table of Contents).
  2. Insert the Table of Figures:
    * Word 2003: Select Insert > Reference > Index and Tables from the menu.
    * Word 2007 and later: Go to the References tab > Captions command group, then click Insert Table of Figures.
  3. Click on the Table of Figures tab, if it’s not already selected.
  4. From the Caption Label drop-down list, select the type of table you want to create—Figure in this example.

    Table of Figures settings

    Table of Figures settings

  5. Make any other changes as required.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Add a title (e.g. List of Figures) above the list just like you do for Contents.

    A table of figures

    A table of figures

Update February 2012: Really long captions: Several people have asked questions in the comments about dealing with really long captions, and there have been some excellent suggestions. Take a look at the comments from March 29, 2010, June/July 2011, and especially August 8, 2011 — one of these may solve your problem.

See also:

[This article was first published in the March 2003 CyberText Newsletter; steps last checked and updated for Word 2007, 21 August 2008; screen shots added February 2009]


Word: Turn off Reading Layout view

April 26, 2008

If you’ve been emailed a Word document as an attachment and open it in Word 2003 or Word 2007, it displays in the new Reading Layout view by default. While this is OK for some documents, I generally find it annoying (as do others I work with—they keep asking me how to turn it off!).

An extra click to close the Reading Layout view is required to get back to the usual Word view. So, if you also find this annoying, here’s how to turn off this Reading Layout view default:

  • Word 2003: From the menu, select Tools > Options, select the General tab, and then clear the Allow starting in Reading Layout check box.
  • Word 2007: Click the large Microsoft Office button in the top left corner, click the Word Options button, select Popular, then clear the Open e-mail attachments in Full Screen Reading view check box.

It’s that easy!

[This article was first published in the September 2004 CyberText newsletter; steps checked and updated to incorporate Word 2007, 21 August 2008]


Word 2007’s numbering explained

April 25, 2008

Someone from the Microsoft Office Word Team has posted about Word 2007’s numbering on the MSDN blogs. He starts with the heading “Numbering is not possessed…”

I’m sure many of you would beg to differ! Here’s the full article:

[This article was first published in the December 2007 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Pet peeves: Pronunication

April 24, 2008

For a list of the 100 most commonly mispronounced words, go to

Here are some of my pet pronunciation peeves, and some from my readers:

  • The lazy pronunciation of et cetera as exetra.
  • As an Australian, the mispronunciation of my country’s name by fellow residents (particularly sportspeople). It’s pronounced ‘Oss-tray-lee-ya‘ not Shtray-ya or shtray-yun. Locals have no excuse except laziness. And for the Americans, ‘Aussie’ is pronounced ozzie not ah-see.
  • Heinous is pronounced HEE-nus or HAY-nus depending on where you live, NOT HEENY-yus as I’ve heard TV News announcers say.
  • Mischievous does not have an extra i in it, so it should be pronounced MIS-che-vus not mis-CHEEVY-yus. And while I’m on about this one, ‘grievous’ is GREE-vus, not GREEVY-us.
  • Richard in Western Australia has “a local pet hate: “…the arcade in Perth is Carillon City—almost always pronounced Carilly-yon—seems there is an invisible ‘i’!” (This one annoys me too, so I did a quick search of some online British and US dictionaries and this word has two ‘correct pronunciations: karri-LON and ka-RILL-yn. The local pronunciation is close to the second version—but still isn’t correct. More lazy Australian speech…)
  • Substituting ‘k’ for ‘g’ at the end of words such as ‘something’ so that it sounds like ‘somethink’.
  • “It’s a mute point”. No it’s not… it’s a ‘moot point’.
  • Sports commentators who put extra letters into words such as athlete and triathlon, making them ath-a-lete and tri-ath-a-lon.
  • Antarctic has two Cs, so should be pronounced Ant-ARC-tic, not Antar-TIC.
  • Library has two Rs, so should be pronounced lie-BRARE-ee, not LIE-bree.
  • February also has two Rs, so it should be pronounced FEB-roo-airy, not FEB-ree.
  • Nuclear is the bane of many a US president! It’s pronounced NEW-clee-ar, not Noo-KOO-lar.

[This article was adapted from several published in the 2004 CyberText newsletters.]



April 23, 2008

I can’t recall where I found out about PhraseExpress, but it sounded handy so I installed it and set up about a dozen shortcuts to phrases I type regularly.

It’s similar to Word’s Autocorrect but the neat thing about PhraseExpress is that it works across all applications—even within a Virtual Machine and via Remote Desktop across a VPN. Very clever. It also keeps statistics on how much you’ve saved in typing time and therefore money, which is a bit scary!

Details: Free for personal use; US$19.95 for professional use. A network version is also available.

[This article was first published in the September 2007 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Shortcuts to multiple drives and folders

April 22, 2008

Are you annoyed that you have to navigate from the default My Documents folder to your most-used drives or folders every time you open Windows Explorer? Do you have many folders on your computer or your network that you regularly use? Would you like a way to manage these so that you can jump to them quickly and easily?

A tech writer on one of my email discussion lists has written some instructions for how to do this, detailing lots of options that you probably didn’t know that you could set.

For details, see:

[This article was first published in the September 2006 CyberText Newsletter; link last checked January 2008]


Migrating legacy content

April 21, 2008

Kyle Short has written an excellent article on the hidden costs of migrating existing content into a content management system.

This article is well worth reading if you’re trying to realistically calculate the costs of changing from one system to another (whether it’s existing CMS content to another CMS, or older document formats such as Word, Frame etc., into a CMS or authoring system).

Most vendors skip over the cost to the organisation of migrating legacy content as it isn’t part of the quote, or it isn’t their responsibility. But as a writer or documentation manager, it’s a cost you have to factor in to the total cost of a tool.