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Monday, May 20, 2013

Blogging as an Expert - When You're Not

Anyone who has followed my blog tours knows my background. I've been in the computer industry since the mid-1970's. I spent fifteen years training people in the workforce how to use computer software before moving into custom application development, which led to computer intelligence and computer crimes (working with the good guys, of couse.)

So a couple of years ago when someone formatting one of my books for publication complained loudly about having to manually go paragraph by paragraph through my document, it raised a red flag. It turns out that I, like many authors, type while I'm composing. And I've gotten into the habit of pressing the space bar after each period.

The formatter complained bitterly that she had to remove each of those spaces at the end of a paragraph manually. I knew otherwise but didn't want to get into an argument with her. My silence turned out to be the wrong choice, because a few days later she blogged about it.

Recently, another author was in tears when she told me how the same formatter humiliated her in front of others by chastising her for using a tab instead of an indent before each paragraph. Again, the formatter claimed she had to manually remove each of the tabs and insert the indent. A few days later, she blogged about it.

In reality, the formatter didn't know how to use the software.

Most authors use Microsoft Word and most formatters continue to use it until it's imported into PageMaker or Quark for print publication.

So if you're like me and you press the space bar at the end of a paragraph, here's a twenty-second way to remove them all:

1. Go to the top of the document.
2. Select the "Replace" option on the toolbar.
3. You're looking for a space followed by a carriage return. So press your space bar beside "Find What" and then click on the "More" button. Click on the down arrow next to the "Special" button and select "Paragraph Mark."
4. Now move to the "Replace With" box. You want to replace it with a simple carriage return (without the space.) So select "More" if the rest of the Replace box isn't shown, "Special" and "Paragraph Mark" again.
5. Now choose to "Replace" if you want to see what is happening or "Replace All" to do it in seconds.

If you want to remove all the tabs in front of a paragraph and replace them with an indent, here's how to do it in less than a minute:

1. Go to the top of the document.
2. Select the "Replace" option on the toolbar.
3. This time, you're looking for a carriage return followed by a tab, which together marks the end of one paragraph and the beginning of the next. So select "More" and "Special." Then select "Paragraph Mark" and "Tab Character."
4. Now move to the "Replace With" box. First, you want to replace it with a carriage return. So select "More" if the rest of the Replace box isn't shown, "Special" and "Paragraph Mark."
5. Click OK to exit that box, and either "Replace" if you want to see each replacement or "Replace All" to do it all at once.
6. This removes the tabs but the paragraph are no longer indented. Press CTRL/A simultaneously to select everything in your document.
7. Then drag the inverted triangle on the ruler to the desired indentation. All the paragraphs will now begin with that indentation. (If you don't have the ruler displayed, select "View" from the menu and check "Ruler."

Both of these happen so quickly that you might be tempted to think it didn't work. Just turn on the Paragraph Mark to see the underlying code, and scrolling through your document will show you how the formatting has been updated.

It's just a shame the formatter who spread the word far and wide about how hard she was having to work and how difficult authors made her job... didn't know how to use the tools of her trade. Unfortunately, it's beginner authors and beginner computer users who suffer the most from misinformation such as hers.