Helping Writers: Quick tips for word processors

To each of us, the one tool we can not work without is the word processor. Oh sure some of us (me included) start out with our books in old-school ink and paper form, but eventually that work must be transferred to digital format. When this happens, it’s always best to intimately know the ins and outs of your word processor.

Since many people aren’t quite as familiar with technology as others, I thought it best to do a quick article highlighting some of the short cuts that can be used to make your work with a word processor more efficient.

Know your keyboard shortcuts

Many of you may not know there are plenty of keyboard shortcuts you can use to save typing time. Instead of grabbing the mouse, and clicking on various menus, those keys are just waiting for your fingers to tap them. Here are some of the shortcuts I use the most.

  • Ctrl-c — Copy
  • Ctrl-v — Paste
  • Ctrl-a — Select All
  • Ctrl-p — Print
  • Ctrl-s — Save
  • Ctrl-Shift-s — Save As…
  • Ctrl-z — Undo
  • Ctrl-Shift-y — Repeat typing
  • Ctrl-f — Search

Search and replace tips

I am a constant offender of adding extra spaces. Instead of causing my editor no end of headaches, I now do a search for those double spaces and replace them with single spaces. You might be wondering how that is possible without taking an entire day? It’s actually simple. Here’s how:

  1. Find a spot where you have two spaces in a row.
  2. Highlight those spaces.
  3. Hit Ctrl-f to open the search/replace window.
  4. Enter a single space in the Replace text area.
  5. Click Replace All.

Because you highlighted the double-spaces before you opened the Search and Replace window, that tool automatically opens with two spaces in the Search field. Of course, you can always manually enter two spaces in the Search field if you like.

You can use this method to include other non-printing characters such as Returns.

Doc types

Most word processors are set up to default to a certain document type. By default LibreOffice will save as an .odt (open document text), MS Office will save as a .doc (or .docx, depending on the year of the release you are using.)

If you are using a newer version of MS Office, and your documents are saving in the .docx format, you might want to consider changing your default format to .doc. The reason for this change is that older versions of MS Office will not be able to open the .docx format. You will also have problems getting converters (such as Smashwords) to convert your document if you are saving as .docx. In order to change the default, follow these steps:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click on the Save button in the left side of the window.
  4. Select either .doc or .odt from the Save files in this format drop-down.

Click OK.

That’s it. Your default file type is now changed and more universally readable.

Final thoughts

You shouldn’t allow your word processor to bully you around. With a bit of study, you can make that tool work with you so your precious time spent at the keyboard is as efficient as possible.