Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Microsoft Word - Indenting Text

Many people are not aware that Microsoft's Word has a tool to help you indent text easily and neatly without struggling to decide where to end lines, inserting tabs etc.

One of the most useful toggle buttons in Word is this one.

It causes lots of unwanted symbols to appear all over your dicument but - relax - they won't be printed and they are there to help you.

The strange character that is the same as that on the button shows where a paragraph ends. You have pressed the Return key at that point.

Tabs are shown as a right-facing arrow.

Spaces are represented by a dot, that can look a little (a lot, let's be honest!) like a decimal point.

All these symbols disappear from the screen if you click the button again.

Ok so let's have a look at a document where the author wanted to indent text but didn't know the Word tool for doing it. The tab key has been used instead to indent the text but now this needs doing on every single line - using our button we can see the tabs as right-arrows.

This takes ages and is really messy if you decide you want to amend some text. Normally this means you have to delete all the tabs and start again for that paragraph.

Let's start by removing all the tabs so the paragraph is not indented at all.

Now we can click the Indent button that you should find (no matter what version of Word you use) on the main toolbar. Before clicking it you should make sure that the cursor is somewhere - anywhere - within the paragraph that you want to indent. You can make sure it is by clicking the left mouse button whilst the mouse pointer is over the paragraph.

If you have an earlier or later (doesn't exist at the time of writing!) version of Word the layout of icons may look a little different but the symbol on the button should be exactly the same.

Note that the button just to the left of the one I have pointed to does exactly the opposite - it will remove one level of indentation.

Clicking the button I am pointing to indents the entire paragraph - all lines - by one tab stop. You can click it more than once to indent the text further.

Clicking it once will make the text look like this:

You can see that there are no right arrow symbols so there are no tabs inserted automatically.

Instead Word has changed the properties of the paragraph to indent by a specified amount from the left margin.

We can see this if we look at the paragraph's properties. The easiest way to do this is place the mouse over the paragraph, then right-click and choose the option Paragraph.

You will now see this dialogue box and I've again highlighted the relevant part. You can see that you could open this dialogue box and amend the distance the text is indented from the margin. You can also indent it from the right margin if you wish.

Happy indenting!

3 comments:

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John

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