It’s midnight, and all the cubicles are dark except one in the back corner, where you’re struggling to standardize the formatting of all the subheadings in your document. You select one with your mouse, click Format --> Font, and select Arial, bold, and 14 point. Then you click the Character Spacing tab and set spacing to be condensed by one point. Finally, you click Format --> Paragraph and set alignment as centered. And then you realize: You’ve done only 100 pages of this 500-page book. Isn’t there a better way?
Yes, there is, and that way is called styles. Using styles is easy. Instead of selecting every subheading and going through all those steps, all you have to do is this:
1. Put your cursor somewhere in the text you want to format—in a subheading, for example.
2. Click Format --> Styles and Formatting.
3. In the list on the right, find a style that fits what you need. For example, Heading 3 is great for formatting subheadings because it leaves Heading 1 for part headings and Heading 2 for chapter headings.
4. Click the style you want to use.
The paragraph where your cursor was resting will be formatted automatically with the style.
Now repeat steps 1 and 4 for all your subheadings. Click a subheading, click a style. Click a subheading, click a style. Isn’t that easier than selecting each subhead and drilling through half a dozen dialog boxes?
But there is a potential problem: What if you don’t like the formatting in that style? What if you want Baskerville instead of Arial? Just do this:
1. Point your mouse at the right side of the style in the list on the right. A dropdown arrow will appear.
2. Click the arrow and click Modify.
3. Under Formatting, set the font as Baskerville.
4. Click OK.
Your subheading will now be formatted in Baskerville. In fact, all the subheadings to which you’ve applied Heading 3 will be in Baskerville—and you had to make the change only once instead of selecting and changing each subheading. Magic!
You’ll want to format all your text elements in a similar way. Body text is styled by default as Normal, and you’ll probably want to modify the Normal style to use justified paragraph formatting.
Take Advantage of Templates
Once you’ve formatted the styles you want to use, you should save your document as a template so you can use it with other books in the future. Here’s why:
Just as styles have this relationship to paragraphs—
Styles --> Paragraphs
—so do templates have a similar relationship to styles:
Templates --> Styles
And just as you can modify a paragraph’s formatting by applying a style, so can you modify all a document’s styles by applying a template:
1. Format your document using Word’s built-in styles, such as Heading 3. Don’t worry if the formatting doesn’t look the way you want. All that is about to change.
2. Click Format --> Theme.
3. Click the Style Gallery button.
4. In the Template list, select a template that looks interesting. You’ll see a preview of how your document will look if you use that template. Select a few other templates and watch the preview change.
5. If you find a template you like, click OK to copy the style formatting from the template into your document. This will automatically format all your styled text to match the formatting used in the template. Note that the style names used in your document must match the style names used in the template, which is why I suggested using Word’s built-in styles.
Don’t like any of the templates? You may be able to find just what you need from Microsoft:
Or, you can make your own:
1. Format your document with styles, using the typeface and other settings you want.
2. Save your document as a template (File --> Save As --> Template).
From then on, that template will be available to apply to other documents—very handy if you have a series of books you want formatted in the same way.
Using Typographic Characters
Sometimes it’s the small things that make a big difference in good typography—things like typographical dashes and quotation marks. The dashes include the en-dash (used between numbers, as in “pages 2–4”) and the em-dash, used to signal a break in thought—like that. On a typewriter, em-dashes were set with double hyphens (--).
If your numbers are separated by hyphens rather than en-dashes, you can fix the problem like this:
1. Click Edit --> Replace.
2. In the Find What box, enter this: ([0–9])-([0–9])
3. In the Replace With box, enter this: 1^=2
4. Click the More button.
5. Put a check in the checkbox labeled “Use wildcards.”
6. Click the Replace All button.
All your hyphens between numbers will be turned into en-dashes.
If you’d like to learn more about wildcard searching (very useful!), download this paper:
Now let’s look at those quotation marks. Back in the days of typewriters, there was only one choice—straight quotation marks, which looked "like this." Typeset text, however, should use curly quotation marks, “like this.” You can fix them, along with double hyphens used for em-dashes:
1. Click Format --> AutoFormat.
2. Click the Options button.
3. On the AutoFormat tab, uncheck everything except these two options:
• “Straight quotes” with “smart quotes”
• Hyphens (--) with dash (—)
4. Click the OK button.
5. Mark sure “AutoFormat now” is selected.
6. Click the OK button.
You should now have curly quotation marks and real em-dashes. Your book is starting to look professionally typeset already.
While we’re talking about professional-quality typesetting, let me mention one other problem: double spaces between sentences. These are a holdover from the days of the typewriter, when the only typeface was a monospaced Courier, and double spaces made it easier to keep sentences separate. In typesetting, you’ll be using proportionally spaced typefaces, and double spaces just make type look, well, as if it were done on a typewriter.
To get rid of them, use Word’s Find and Replace feature to search for double spaces and replace them with single spaces. Rinse and repeat until Word can’t find any more.
Fixing Bad Breaks, Widows, Orphans, and Loose Lines
As a final touch, manually look for and fix bad word breaks, widows, orphans, and loose lines.
To force a word to break at a certain spot, press CTRL + HYPHEN.
To keep a word from breaking, click Tools --> Language --> Set Language --> Do not check spelling or grammar.
To keep two words together, select the space between them and press CTRL + SPACE.
What about widow and orphan control? Word can do that automatically (Format --> Paragraph --> Line and Page Breaks --> Widow/Orphan control), but it will throw off your beautifully aligned pages.
Robert Bringhurst, author of The Elements of Typographic Style, explains, “Balance facing pages not by adding extra lead or puffing up the word space, but by exporting or importing single lines to and from the preceding or following spreads. The same technique is used to avoid widows, and to extend or shorten any chapters that would otherwise end with a meager few lines on the final page. But this balancing should be performed with a gentle hand. In the end, no spread of continuous text should have to run more than a single line short or a single line long.”
In other words, a little editing may be in store. You may have to remove a few words here, add a few there, and maybe break or join existing paragraphs. Once you do, you’ll have professional-quality typesetting, using a program you already have—good old Microsoft Word.
A Typesetting Bookshelf
If you’d like to learn more about the details of typesetting, here are some books you might find useful:
- Books, Typography, and Microsoft Word, by Aaron Shepard (downloadable e-book)
- The Complete Manual of Typography, by James Felici
- Stop Stealing Sheep and Find Out How Type Works, by Erik Spiekermann and E. M. Ginger
- The Elements of Typographic Style, by Robert Bringhurst
Next time: converting to PDF for the printer.