If you are creating a professional document, such as a letter to an editor, business contact or even a resume, knowing some simple formatting options can give your document a professional appearance that will give you an advantage over those that don’t present themselves as well.
Once you begin your document, be sure to save it often just in case your computer freezes or the power is interrupted, so you won’t have to do it over.
Go ahead and open Microsoft Word, and in the ribbon at the top, you’ll see “Paragraph” in small letters under one of the ribbon sections. Take notice of the small icons located above in this section because these shortcuts can be useful too. Go ahead and click the small arrow to the right of “Paragraph” and it will open the Paragraph dialog box. Let’s cover some important options located in this dialog box.
In the first section, “General,” this dictates how your text will be positioned from left to right. For example, if you select “Left” from the drop-down menu, your text will hug the left side of your margin. If you select “Center,” your text will be centered between your left and right margins, if you select “Right,” your text will hug the right margin and if you select “Justified” or “Full” your text will be stretched out between both margins, and it will not have a jagged edge on the right or left side, as it does when “Right” or “Left” is selected.
To see a visual explanation of each option, you can watch in the window below as you change the numbers in the drop-down menus. This will give you a good idea of what happens with each choice.
You can also highlight a paragraph that you have typed in your document by using your mouse or pressing the “Ctrl” and “A” keys on your keyboard simultaneously, (this will select all the text you have typed), and go through each of these options so you can see how they change with each choice. There are certain times when it is appropriate to use each of these options. Search online for formatting rules for the particular type of document you are creating.
In the next section, “Indentation,” you can select how far you want a line or even an entire paragraph you want indented. Place your cursor at the beginning of the paragraph you want to indent and select how far by clicking the arrows to the right. The most common indent is “Left.” Again, research what is appropriate for your particular document.
The next section, “Spacing,” has to do with the amount of spaces between paragraphs and the amount of spaces between the lines in your paragraph. For example, when I submit my article to my editor, Mr. Briggs, it is double-spaced with “0” spacing before and after paragraphs.
Conversely, if you are creating a resume and you have a lot of experience to include, you will probably want to use “Single” space to try and fit it on one page.
It is equally important that you follow formatting guidelines as it is to use these options when you create a professional document. Be sure to research what is acceptable and required.
Next week, I’ll cover “Page Layout” where you can customize margins, orientation and more.
Scott Lindsay actively promotes learning the computer, regardless of age, to better one’s life and circumstances and has helped thousands of people over the past 13 years to become better computer users. He can be reached at Scott@MicroScottPro.com.