Archive for May, 2016

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Word: Get your computer to read your document

May 13, 2016

One final checks that many editors do is to read a document aloud. But until you’re used to doing that, reading aloud to an empty room seems really weird. Reading aloud to others who don’t care about the document can be awkward. Of course, if you have a pet, you could read aloud to it, but it might want to play (dog), or ignore you (fish, reptile), or ignore you and walk off (cat), or reply (bird).

Windows comes with an in-built text to speech reader, and the easiest way to get it to read some or all of your Word document is to add the ‘Speak’ icon to your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).

Here’s how in Word 2010 – later versions should be similar:

  1. Open any Word document.
  2. Go to File > Options.
  3. Click Quick Access Toolbar on the left ([1] in the screenshot below).
  4. Click the drop-down arrow next to Popular Commands [2], then select All Commands [3].QAT_speech01
  5. Type the letter ‘s’ to go to the commands starting with ‘s’, then scroll to Speak and select it [4].
  6. Click Add [5] to add it to your QAT.
    QAT_speech02
  7. Click OK to close the Options window. The Speak icon (a speech bubble) should now be on your QAT.
  8. To test that it works, make sure your headphones or speakers are connected and on.
  9. Select any of the text in your Word document, then click the Speak icon. (To hear the entire document, select it all — Ctrl+A).
    QAT_speech03
  10. To stop, click the Speak icon again.

NOTE: I tested this on my Windows 7 64-bit computer, and there’s only one voice available by default — Microsoft ‘Anna’, a robotic female US voice. I couldn’t find any easy way to get other voices (without paying for them), though I believe there are more free voices available in 32-bit Windows 7, and in Windows 8 and later.

See also:

[Links last checked May 2016]

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Word: Change the gap between a footnote and the separator line

May 12, 2016

When you insert a footnote in Word (References tab > Insert Footnote), by default it gets added to the bottom of the page along with a short line and an empty paragraph to separate it from the body of the text. The footnote separator line and the empty paragraph are styled as ‘Normal’, so if you’ve adjusted the paragraph spacing (leading) above and/or below in the style, you may get way more space than you need, as shown in the screenshot below.

word_footnote_sep01

It’s that empty paragraph that annoys a lot of people — it just adds unwanted space in front of the page’s footnotes, when there’s already a visual separator in the partial line. You can’t get rid of the the empty paragraph using normal deletion methods either. But you CAN get rid of it.

Here’s how:

  1. You must have at least one footnote in your document before you can do the steps below.
  2. You must be in Draft view to do this (View tab > Draft).
    word_footnote_sep02
  3. Once you’re in Draft view, go to the References tab then click Show Notes.
    word_footnote_sep03
  4. A mini Footnotes window opens at the bottom of the page:
    word_footnote_sep04
  5. Change the Footnotes setting from All Footnotes to Footnote Separator.
    word_footnote_sep05
  6. Now you can see the separator and the empty paragraph:
    word_footnote_sep06
  7. Place your cursor at the end of separator line, then press Delete to remove the empty paragraph below.
  8. Click the X at the far right of the Footnotes mini window to close it.
  9. Change the view back Print Layout (View tab > Print Layout).

You’ve now got rid of that empty paragraph for ALL footnotes in your document.

 

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Create a folder name with a period at the beginning

May 11, 2016

A tech writing colleague, Stuart B, sent me this information to share on this blog. He wanted to create or rename a folder in Windows that started with a period (e.g. .foo). Now, I don’t know WHY he wanted to do this, but he did. He found that Windows Explorer won’t let you create or rename a folder if you put a period at the beginning of the name — you get an error that tells you to type a file name, which of course you already did!

It seems you can do this in DOS using the mkdir command (mkdir .foo), but that’s clunky.

However, there’s a trick to getting Windows Explorer to create or rename such a folder — you add a period before AND after the file name (e.g. .foo.). Windows then strips the trailing period, but leaves the beginning one alone. And no error message.

Stuart said this trick seems to work in all versions of Windows he tested (Windows 10 back to Vista).

Thanks for sharing, Stuart!