Word Processor Tricks for Easier Formatting

Planning on self publishing your next book title? Formatting is one of the aspects that self published authors have to undertake by themselves – and if you’ve never done it before, the first thing you should know is that it’s not as hard as you think.

Here are some essential word processor tips, tricks and shortcuts that can make the entire formatting process a lot easier for writers and editors. 

First, Ignore It

The first step to being a writer is to write. Don’t put too much time into thinking about the final formatting aspects while you’re doing the actual writing in the first few drafts of your manuscript: This can hold your writing back and slow you down.

Once your manuscript has been written, edited, edited again and then proofread can you consider it ready for the formatting process.

Choose the Right Word Processor 

Choosing the right word processor from the start can help to make the formatting process a lot easier for you. No, you don’t need specialized or expensive “formatting” software to format a book or e-book for self publication – most word processors will do just fine if you know how to use them to their full capacity. 

The most popular word processor used to be Microsoft Word, but this stopped being true since there are better, free options out there. 

LibreOffice offers a powerful alternative to paid MS Word software. Alternatively, check out Apache OpenOffice too. Google Docs also offers a comparatively powerful word processor that continues saving all changes to the cloud. 

Start On the Right Foot

While you don’t want to worry too much about formatting while you’re writing, you can do a few of the formatting basics to your starting manuscript that can save you a nightmare of re-formatting later on. 

Choose the right, readable font. Calibri and Times New Roman are common. Comic Sans isn’t – and shouldn’t be – the choice for any form of any manuscript and is well-hated by readers, writers and editors all over. 

Also choose the right font size: Point 12 is the most common size used for manuscripts and publication. Anything smaller and it becomes harder to read, while anything larger will take up too much space on your page. 

It also helps to set your manuscript to double-spaced by default. It makes things easier to read, easier to edit and it’s easier with printed notes. 

Stuck? Unformatted Text

Sometimes copying and pasting things from one document to another (an often necessary evil during the formatting process) can lead to various formatting nightmares that mess with the entire document. 

To avoid this, use the right click, paste, paste special and paste unformatted text options. 

This removes any weird formatting issues before pasting the text, and it’s useful if you’re having formatting issues.  

Looking for Something?

If you’re looking for something, use CTRL + F instead of fumbling around for the search option. Type in and enter – and it’s a lot quicker than reading through the entire manuscript. 

This is also how you can access “replace all” – great for formatting and editing disasters where you  need to replace something as drastic as a formatting error or character’s name throughout. 

Track Changes Are Useful

Track changes is an available option in most word processors (and so are comments by clicking CTRL+ALT+C). These are a useful way of keeping track of anything you’ve changed, still want to change or thought of – and you can delete or hide all track changes or comments and “save as” a separate file. 

Basic Keyboard Shortcuts

Learning basic keyboard shortcuts can be one of the best ways to increase the speed at which you format and write. Things like CTRL+C (Copying), CTRL+V (Pasting), CTRL+X (Cutting) and CTRL+S (Save) can save you incredible amounts of time. 

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