Three things you probably thought you couldn't do in Word.
Many years ago, in a faraway Kingdom called CompuServe, there once lived a
group of curmudgeons known as gadflies. These gadflies were testy and contrary,
and enjoyed nothing more than embarrassing "officials" of the kingdom.
Users of the royal word processor, known then as WinWord 1 and later as WinWord
1.1 and 2.0, would ask the king's men how to do something. And, the king's men,
who were the official authorities, would dutifully report way too often "It
simply cannot be done."
It was the gadflies' sport to step in and boldly contradict the king's men,
saying, in effect, "Oh, yes you can
and here's how." And, so
it came to be that the long list of things WinWord (now more commonly called
just Word) could "not" do, grew shorter and shorter. Yet, though the
gadflies usually could refute the king's naysayers, there actually were (gasp!)
some things that Word could not do. To do such things would be contrary to Word's
Some things, however, are not cast ever into stone. And, over the years and
versions, while many have grown up believing that some things are ever beyond
Word's grasp, the king's programmers have nonetheless violated the laws of Word
physics and the commandments of the Church of CompuServe, and rendered the impossible,
In this fairy tale, we will explore three of these possible impossibilities.
All we ask is the suspension of disbelief.
In Word, you cannot select different sections of text or other parts of a document
unless they are next to each other (i.e., contiguous).
Oh, yes you can!
When was the last time you tried? Sometime in the
past few versions, Word's "non-contiguous selection" commandment was
rescinded. If you haven't tried it lately, go ahead. Here's how. Suppose, for
example, that you want to select three occurrences of the word the
in this paragraph.
Begin by double-clicking the first instance. Now, press the Ctrl key
and double-click the second. Continue holding down the Ctrl key and double-click
the third instance.
And, it's not just a cute parlor trick. You can actually do something with
the selections. For example, with the the's selected, press Ctrl+]
(the grow font one point keystroke they taught you in kindergarten) and watch
the the's. Press Ctrl+] repeatedly until your the's are noticeably larger
than the surrounding text. See! It works! Moreover, writing this paragraph is
driving Word's grammar checker nuts. That alone is worth the price of admission.
You cannot select a vertical column of text, unless it happens to be a column
in a table or in a snaking newspaper-style column.
Oh, yes you can!
And, actually, this one has been with us for quite a long time. It's simply
that with proportional text, the payoff usually isn't very good, since you seldom
have text doing anything meaningful in a column. Moreover, the method also isn't
widely advertised. So, even if you were to contrive a use for it, for example,
by using a fixed-pitch font, you might not be aware that it's possible, or how
to do it.
here's how. Suppose, for some reason (too much Irish coffee, perhaps), I wanted
to decorate a paragraph or two in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, with the
colors of the Irish flag. It might be fun to do.
Position the mouse where you want the upper edge of the selection to begin.
Hold down the Alt key and use the left mouse button to drag diagonally
until the area you want selected has been selected. Now, with your left foot...just
Now, perform the desired formatting action. In this case, I applied font coloring.
Repeat the selection and formatting for each additional area, and presto!
when would this actually be useful? Suppose that you have a numbered list wherein
numbers have been applied manually, and you want to replace those numbers with
one of Word's automatic numbering options. Rather than deleting each of the
numbers manually, use column selection to select them. In the case of numbers,
you're in luck because most numbers are the same width, even when text is proportionally
spaced. As shown here, start with the items that actually form a nice column.
After doing the single digit items, then do the double-digit items, etc.
If you're dealing with text and proportional fonts, then your column might
not neatly align. No problem. Temporarily convert it to a fixed pitch font (such
as Courier New), do your column manipulations, then change it back to the previous
font. That might seem tedious, but it's often less tedious than the alternative.
Multiple Paragraph Styles in the Same Paragraph
You cannot have multiple paragraph styles within the same paragraph.
Oh, yes you can!
You need to be really quiet about this one, since it was just introduced in
Word 2002 (XP), and even a number of Word experts don't know about it yet. Close
the door and then come back to the computer when you're sure it's safe. We'll
Back? Good. In Word 2002, Microsoft introduced something called the style
separator. It looks exactly like a paragraph mark. It allows you to include
multiple paragraph styles within a given paragraph. Among other things, this
feature lets you opt to include part of an otherwise non-heading level paragraph
in the Table of Contents, since it lets you mark just part of that paragraph
with a heading style. It also lets you, for example, use just part of a given
heading in a StyleRef field (often used in headers for creating dictionary-type
use this feature, use your InsertStyleSeparator key to mark the end of
where you want/need to apply a distinct paragraph style. Then, apply the desired
style to that text.
What's that? You don't have an InsertStyleSeparator key?
Oh, yes you do!
It's Ctrl/Alt/Enter. When you press Ctrl/Alt/Enter, Word inserts
the style separator as a hidden character. So, make sure that hidden
characters are turned on: press Ctrl/Shift/8, or click the Show/Hide
tool on the Standard toolbar.