Archive for February, 2011


I’ve been told I’m too harsh…

February 28, 2011

… when it comes to reading someone’s resume.

But when someone is applying for an editing job (in this case, editing and formatting a university thesis written in Microsoft Word), I’d expect them to be more than a novice Word user. I’d expect them to have at least a basic knowledge of styles.

So when I see a resume like this, with almost everything styled with Normal and with manual formatting and spacing applied, I cringe:


If you don’t want your ‘dirty laundry’ to show, PDF the darned thing! However, all that does is change the cosmetics — puts ‘lipstick on a pig’, if you like. If this person got the job, I’d hate to think what they’d do to the thesis.

Do you think I’m too harsh? Remember, this is an editing job with Microsoft Word and it required formatting the document as well as editing the words.

See also:

[Links last checked February 2011]


When the employer/employee relationship goes bad

February 25, 2011

Oh dear. The other day, I got this email from the CEO of a real estate company I deal with. I guess the person who was my previous contact there did something wrong, and then she added fuel to the fire by contacting her client list… which I’m guessing was a real ‘no-no’. She hadn’t contacted me, so this email from the CEO was out of the blue:

I guess she really burnt that bridge, huh?


Word: Getting a two-line heading onto one line in the Table of Contents

February 24, 2011

Larry had a problem. He had a heading on two lines, and he wanted the heading to display on a single line in the Table of Contents (TOC).

Here’s an example of what he had; both lines are styled with Heading 1:

Because each line is in a separate paragraph, Word treats them as two separate Heading 1s when it creates the automatic TOC:

What Larry wanted was for the two lines to remain in the body of the document but display on one line in the TOC.

The simplest solution to this is to use a ‘soft return’ (Shift+Enter) between the lines in the body of the document, instead of Enter. It looks like this (with formatting marks showing):

And when you update the TOC, you select Update entire table:

Your TOC now displays the text on one line:

Personally, I don’t like how the title butts up against the section label, so I added five spaces after ‘Section 3’ (I could have used a Tab):

This extra space makes the TOC more readable, in my opinion:

[Links last checked February 2011]


WritersUA and SoCal tech writers: Gig in Carlsbad

February 23, 2011

My very good friend and brilliant conference presenter, Dave Gash, is playing a gig in Carlsbad, CA, on Saturday 12 March 2011, the night before the WritersUA Conference. I’m sure he’d love you to come and see him play in his one-man band, The Quimbys. I’ve seen his gigs before, and can highly recommend them — especially if you’re a baby boomer as he plays lots of stuff from the 60s, 70s and 80s.


If you’re driving down from Long Beach, you should be back at the conference hotel before midnight. According to Google Maps, it’s about 80 miles from the Hyatt Long Beach, and takes about 1.5 hours in normal traffic. Maybe hire a car and share the cost amongst friends?


Acrobat: Reduce the file size of a scanned PDF

February 22, 2011

My friend and ex-roomie, Kristin, emailed me with a problem. She had a couple of large PDF documents and she wanted to know if I could reduce them in size without them ‘going fuzzy’.

The documents were a 2-page statement of academic and extra-curricula record from her son’s school, and his end of Year 12 school reference (1 page). Both had been scanned as images from the originals, and both were well over 4 MB in size, even though they were small in their number of pages.

I tried several methods using screen capture tools without much success, then remembered reading about something in Acrobat that compresses or reduces a file’s size. A quick hunt in the menus and I found it (in Acrobat 9 Professional, it’s PDF Optimizer under the Advanced menu).

I ran PDF Optimizer, leaving all the default settings as they were, and it reduced the file size for both documents to just over 200 KB each.

I was happy, Kristin was happy, her son was happy, and I didn’t even have to fiddle with any settings!


Microsoft Action Pack Subscription

February 21, 2011

Wow! It took many many years, but FINALLY Microsoft have streamlined their MAPS (Microsoft Action Pack Subscription) process so that it just worked!

In previous years, renewing my MAPS has been a lesson in what not to do with an online renewal process. It’s taken forever, the information on the Partner website has been conflicting and confusing, the links in the renewal email have gone to the wrong place, I’ve had to call Microsoft Asia-Pacific to get things sorted out and even then my fax number from the past three years didn’t get changed 12 months ago — even after two phone calls and trying to reset it online. All in all, it’s been a bad experience for several years. So when I got the renewal email, I faced the prospect of renewing with some trepidation and fear, based on those previous experiences.

But this year it just worked:

  • The link in the email went to the correct page (though I did have to scroll down some way to find the renewal button).
  • The renewal link went to the correct page.
  • The website ‘knew’ who I was based on my Microsoft Live ID (yeah, supposedly it knew this in previous years, but I’d end up in a loop of multiple browser windows open and still getting nowhere).
  • The renewal process was quick and simple (it took less than 5 minutes, compared to HOURS of frustration in previous years). This was the BEST part.
  • All my details were on one page and when I edited them, the changes seemed to hold, which means the fax number I tried to get changed 12 months ago has now been changed.
  • The payment process was simple and quick, as was printing out the invoice and the receipt of an email confirmation of payment.
  • And almost best of all, Microsoft didn’t force me to use Internet Explorer to do this transaction (as in previous years). The page loaded in Firefox and did not redirect to IE.

It’s taken an awfully long time, but finally Microsoft have simplified what always should have been a simple process. Sure, there’s some room for improvement, but they’ve come in leaps and bounds from the torturous path I’ve had to follow the past few years.

Thank you, Microsoft!


Word 2010: Wishlist for the Navigation Pane’s search

February 18, 2011

One of the neat new features of Word 2010 is the Navigation Pane. It seems to be a cross between the old Document Map, Outline View, and Find, with a few extra goodies thrown in. It really makes a navigating and rearranging a long document much easier.

However, while the Navigation Pane has some great features, here’s one it doesn’t have that I think would be a terrific enhancement — the ability to apply a setting to a selection of multiple objects found in the Search.

If you search for text using the Navigation Pane, you can’t replace that found text with other text unless you use the old Find/Replace dialog box (Ctrl+H). Fair enough — it’s available in another way, though it would be nice to do the Replace from the same place as Search.

If you search for an object (e.g. all tables) using the Search, they all appear to get selected in the document. However, this ‘selection’ is for appearances only — it’s not a real selection. I tried to apply a setting such as Auto Fit to Window to all the tables found in the search, but it didn’t work. It didn’t even work for the one I could see was ‘selected’ on the page to the right of the Navigation Pane.

Next, I did a Search for all graphics and tried to apply center alignment to them all at once using Ctrl+E. That didn’t work either.

I think this sort of functionality would really help with very long documents, and I think Microsoft missed a great opportunity by not providing it in Word 2010.

For those of us who have to edit long documents produced by multiple authors, things like auto fitting all tables and centering all graphics would save us a lot of time. Sure, there may be some tables and graphics that we don’t want to auto fit or center align, but these are the outliers that we can pick up and deal with individually as we’re working through the document.

If Microsoft is concerned that Word users may inadvertently make global changes like these without realizing the repercussions, make the ability to do so a Word Option, or show us a warning message if we try to do it. But to not provide this functionality when it’s SO close in the Navigation Map is a blow to anyone who has to edit many many long and complex Microsoft Word documents.

By the way, I found that you could select an entire node of the Navigation Pane (right-click, select Select Heading and Content) and apply a setting to that selection (e.g. center the lot), but you can’t do it for searched objects.