August #AuthorTip: MS Word

Continuing this series of posts with a tip for anyone using MS Word:

Make full use of all the nifty functions in MS Word to make writing and formatting easier.

When writing: Format your paragraphs to your desired style: extra lines after a paragraph, first line indent, or both. You should never use the Tab key to indent your paragraphs. It only causes formatting issues later on. Separate your chapters with page breaks instead of multiple hard returns. That way, when you make changes to your chapters, those breaks remain constant. Mark scene breaks uniformly throughout your book. I like to use this squiggly thing: ~ but it’s up to you.

When formatting: Set your fonts using the Styles function. You can define several (for your “normal” text, for chapter headings, for dividers, etc.) Then simply assign those styles where necessary. It saves you time having to repeat the same process dozens of times, and keeps everything neatly uniform.

Special note for formatting print books: Look for the widow/orphan control and turn it off. Trust me, it’ll save you a ton of frustration. Use section breaks instead of page breaks for parts where you don’t want to show page numbers. It allows you to have the section begin on an odd page (as if you’re starting a new book) and hide the page numbers on the first page (so it doesn’t mar the design) but then continue the page count throughout the story as if it had never been interrupted.

Extra special note for multi-title writers: You can use your complete, formatted book as a template for future titles! All your styles will be preserved in the file, so you can simply copy/paste your new book into it. This is especially handy for series. Saves TONS of time.

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