Archive for August, 2020


Word: Shifting one set of information to a another place in the same paragraph

August 20, 2020

In one of my Facebook editors’ groups, SB had this dilemma: “[I have a big Word document] listing moth species. Each species entry starts with the species ID number and ends with the old species ID number, which is in brackets. Is there a macro/wildcard I can use to move the final ID number so that it follows the initial one? Both ID numbers vary for each species. Here’s an example:

49.204 Species name 5.5mm Nb. May–Jul. In woods and heaths. Flies in afternoon sun and to light. FP Between spun leaves of Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn. (1122)

I would like to move the ‘(1122)’ so that it appears immediately after ‘49.204’. There are literally hundreds of species entries and both numbers change for each species.”

What SB wanted was: 49.204 (1122) Species name 5.5mm Nb. May–Jul. In woods and heaths. Flies in afternoon sun and to light. FP Between spun leaves of Buckthorn or Alder Buckthorn.

This one is tailor-made for a wildcard find and replace, but some assumptions must be made first:

  • Assumption 1: The pattern for the current ID number (2 numbers, period, 3 numbers) is consistent
  • Assumption 2: The only parentheses in the paragraph are the ones enclosing the previous ID number
  • Assumption 3: Only numerals are used inside the parentheses. The number of numerals is unimportant (up to 15) but there should be no spaces, no punctuation or other symbols, and no letters within the parentheses.

If all these assumptions are met, then you can use this wildcard find/replace in Word. The usual caveats apply: Test it on a COPY of your document first, and copy/paste the code from this blog post to avoid errors.

  1. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More to show the checkbox options.
  3. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find field, copy this: ([0-9][0-9])(.)([0-9][0-9][0-9])(*)(\([0-9]{2,15}\)) (There are NO spaces in this string)
  5. In the Replace field, copy this: \1\2\3 \5\4 (Note: There’s only ONE space in this strong, between \3 and \5)
  6. Click Find Next, then Replace.
  7. Assuming it worked as you expected, repeat Step 6 as many times as needed. If you are confident that it does what you want it to do, then click Replace All.

How this works:

  • ([0-9][0-9]): This first element (each separate element is enclosed with parentheses) of the Find looks for a 2-digit number. This first element will become \1 in the Replace.
  • (.): This second element looks for a period (this will become \2 in the Replace). Because it is immediately after the first element, that means that Word will look for two numbers immediately followed by a period.
  • ([0-9][0-9][0-9]): This third element (\3 in the Replace) looks for a 3-digit number. Because it is immediately after the second element, Word will look for a period immediately followed by three numbers.
  • (*): This fourth element (\4 in the Replace) looks for anything—any number of characters.
  • (\([0-9]{2,15}\)): This fifth element (\5 in the Replace) is a bit tricky. You start by opening a new element with an opening parenthesis (as for the others above), but you now want to find an opening parenthesis, but you can’t just type it in because a parenthesis is a special character in a wildcard find/replace. You have to ‘escape’ it by typing \ in front of the opening and the closing parentheses of the string you want to find. The rest of this element comprises any number (the [0-9] part) that’s between 2 and 15 characters long (the {2,15} part.
  • In the Replace, you rearrange the elements into the order you want them, and add any spaces or other punctuation you need. So, \1\2\3 \5\4 means that the first three elements remain the same as they were (in the example, that’s 49.204), then there’s a space, then the fifth element (in the example, that’s (1122)), then all the characters that make up the fourth element.

I’m sure this find/replace string could be improved, but it was what I came up with in a few minutes. And it solved SB’s problem and saved her a LOT of time as she had hundreds of these to do.



Office: Read-aloud functions

August 17, 2020

Earlier versions of Word (and possibly other Microsoft Office programs) had basic text-to-speech options. In Word for Windows 2010 to 2016, this was under the ‘Speak’ icon (see: However, Microsoft has improved text-to-speech options in Office, and has put the ‘read-aloud option on the Review ribbon where you can find it easily.

Instead of writing up all the Windows and Office 365 settings for customising text-to-speech (male or female voice, accent, reading speed etc.), Office-Watch (a newsletter I highly recommend) covered all the bases in some recent articles:

[Links last checked August 2020]




Some keyboard keys are mixed up

August 15, 2020

I hit an unknown combination of keys that changed my keyboard, and it started to do weird things with the @ and # keys—instead of @ I got “, instead of ” I got @, and instead of # I got a British pound (currency) symbol!

Off to Google where I found information about checking my Windows 10 region, language, and keyboard language settings—but everything was fine and as it should be. My next step was to reboot and see if that fixed the problem, but one last attempt at Google… and there I found the answer on a Quora post.

If you press Alt+Shift, you get a little popup that allows you to switch the keyboard language. Alternatively, go to the System Tray area and click ENG then set the keyboard language—the one highlighted in black is the active one.

Screenshot showing the keyboard language settings


Acrobat: Copy comments from one PDF to another

August 14, 2020

Warning! I haven’t done this, so I can’t verify that it works exactly as described, but because I know quite a number of my readers use Acrobat and its commenting and markup features, I thought I’d share this tip from the Accidental Medical Writer. I use Acrobat XI Professional, so the process for earlier or later versions may not work exactly as described in those other versions. I doubt It looks like you can do this in Adobe Reader too (see the comment below from titch990, dated August 2020). Also, I’m not sure if this process ONLY imports comments, or imports all other markups as well—the people who wrote the original tip seemed to use ‘comments’ and ‘markups’ interchangeably. I’m also not sure if you can do this multiple times for copies from different reviewers—if anyone has tried this, comment below to add to the information about this tip.

Scenario: You’ve sent out a copy of your original PDF for review. Meantime, you’ve made other changes to the Word document and have regenerated a clean PDF. Now the reviewers send back their copy of the earlier PDF marked up with their comments. You want to incorporate those comments into the clean copy of the PDF that you have. (The original article from the Accidental medical Writer explains their particular scenario.)

  1. In Acrobat, open the clean copy of the PDF into which you want to import the comments.
  2. Click Comment to open the Comments panel.
  3. Locate the search box below Comments List in this panel.
  4. At the far right of the search box area, click the drop-down arrow next to the Options icon.
  5. Select Import Data File.
  6. Select the PDF file containing the reviewer’s comments you want to import.
  7. Click Open and the comments will be imported into the new PDF.
  8. Because your copy of the PDF incorporated other changes, some of the imported comments may be out of position and you’ll need to drag and drop them to the correct place. This is still much quicker than retyping them!

[Link last checked August 2020]


Word: Some comments disappear in Simple Markup view

August 14, 2020

Nick emailed me asking if I’d ever come across a situation where comments for deleted table rows didn’t appear in Word’s Simple Markup view. I rarely use Simple Markup view when using track changes (I typically work with All Markup or No Markup turned on), so I wasn’t sure what he meant. Off to do some testing…

Assumptions: Track changes is on, balloons are activated for comments and insertions/deletions, ‘show comments’ is turned on for comments (these are the usual default settings). I use Word 365 for Windows.

Here’s what I found based on the assumptions above (screenshots are at the end of the post; click on a screenshot to see it full size and see the circumstances under which comments are shown or not shown for deleted text):

  • If All Markup is on, then all insertions/deletions, comments etc. are shown in a ‘panel’ on the right. This is as expected.
  • If No Markup is on, then none of the above are shown and there’s no panel on the right. This is as expected.
  • If Simple Markup is on, then all insertions and deletions are indicated by a thin red line to the left of the line/paragraph where the insertion/deletion is (as expected). All comments related to visible text are shown in a panel on the right (as expected). However, NO comments are shown that are ONLY linked to deleted (now hidden) text, which could include table rows, one or more characters, whole words, whole paragraphs. If the comment selection covers both normal text and deleted text, then the comment shows.

I expect this behaviour is ‘by design’, but it caught Nick out when he didn’t see the comments from a reviewer who had deleted some table rows.

How do you solve this problem? You have two options:

  • Turn on All Markup view—you’ll see ALL comments, whether they are associated with deleted text or not
  • Turn on the Reviewing Pane (Review tab > Tracking group), where you’ll also see all comments, insertions, deletions etc. However, be aware that some people in my editors’ groups have mentioned that having the reviewing pane open in documents that have thousands of tracked changes/comments can cause the Word document to crash, or can affect the display.

Screenshot of All Markup view – all insertions, deletions, and comments are shown in balloons in the panel on the right and are marked up in the main body of the document

Screenshot of No Markup view – no insertions, deletions, or comments are shown

Screenshot of Simple Markup view – all insertions and deletions are marked with a thin red line on the left. Only comments that link to visible text are shown in balloons—any comments that are ONLY linked to deleted text are not shown.





Acrobat: Split a large PDF into multiple files

August 13, 2020

Thanks to the newsletter from the Accidental Medical Writer for this tip!

Did you know you can split a long PDF into multiple files? You can split it by:

  • maximum number of pages for each new file (e.g. 10 pages per file)
  • maximum data size for each new file (e.g. 2 Mb per new file), or
  • top-level bookmarks. If you use Microsoft Word, typically bookmarks are automatically created when you save the Word document as a PDF AND you have used Heading styles (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.) in that document. Choosing this option means that the file will be split at the top-level bookmarks (e.g. at each Heading 1). However, some PDFs don’t have bookmarks, but you can easily add your own to the PDF and then use this method. (I’ll show you how after the instructions for splitting the file.)

You can also set the Output Options to tell Acrobat where to store the new files and how to label them (by default they are labelled with the original file’s name, followed by Part1, Part2 etc. And you can split multiple PDFs at once. Check the options for splitting a document.

Note: I use Acrobat XI Pro, so the methods for doing this may vary with earlier or later versions. I don’t think this will work in Adobe Reader—I think you need full Acrobat to do this.

Split a PDF into multiple files

  1. Open the PDF in Acrobat Pro (NOT Adobe Reader).
  2. Click Tools to open the Tools panel.
  3. Click Pages, then Split Document.
  4. Choose how you want to split your PDF.
  5. Optional: Click Output Options to set other preferences, and/or Apply to Multiple to split more than one PDF.
  6. Click OK.
  7. The new files are in the folder you set under the Output Options, or, if you didn’t choose a folder, the folder where your original PDF was stored.

Add a bookmark to a PDF

If you PDF doesn’t have bookmarks and you chose the Top-level bookmarks option, you’ll get a message telling you there are no bookmarks in the document. Here’s how to add them:

  1. In the open PDF, click Tools to open the Tools panel, if it’s not already open.
  2. Click Content Editing.
  3. Go to the page in the PDF where you want to split the document.
  4. Click Add Bookmark in the Content Editing section of the Tools panel.
  5. Type a name for the bookmark.
  6. Repeat steps 3 to 6 for all other bookmarks (split points) you want to add.
  7. Save the PDF.

Now you can return to the instructions for splitting a PDF and create a separate file for each section, based on the bookmarks you just inserted.

[Links checked August 2020]



Australian Style Manual update

August 1, 2020

The Australian Style Manual (ASM) was last published in 2002. There have been pushes to get it updated for a long time, and finally, it’s been done. Although it was written for government writing at all levels, the reality is that it’s been the only ‘official’ style manual in Australia and is used by Australian editors, especially for nonfiction writing.

The ASM (and Macquarie Dictionary) are the foundations for the style decisions I make when editing writing written by my Australian clients (as with any style guide, I base my decisions on the ASM, and have exceptions where the client’s preference conflicts with that in the ASM, or where the ASM doesn’t cover the issue).

You can find the free beta version here: (By the way, Macquarie Dictionary online is available for an annual subs of ~$40; they’ve just released their latest print edition [8th], but with 2 hefty volumes, I’ll pass!

I haven’t gone through the online ASM extensively, but I’ve noticed a couple of things related to numerals:

  • all numbers 2 and above should be written as numerals (no more ‘if it’s under ten, write it out in full’)
  • thousands should now be written with comma separators (the previous ASM said to have no punctuation for 1000-9999, and a nonbreaking space as separator for 5 numerals and above; e.g. was 4567 and 25 678 943 – now 4,567 and 25,678,943)

I don’t know when the ASM will be released as a final version or whether they’ll charge as subscription fee for it, but I’ll likely start following its guidelines over the next few months as I become familiar with it.