Last week we discussed Microsoft Word’s paragraph dialog box and how to get 25 lines per page if an editor asks you for it.
I have friends who angst every time they start a new manuscript. Formatting tasks such as margins, font, headers and footers and, yes, that 25 lines per page setting make them long for a Formatting Genie. (Or some really strong cocktails.)
My fellow software trainers have long called me the “Word Dominatrix” and I’m here to show you how to MAKE Word give you a great looking new manuscript every time. My goal for you after you finish reading this blog: no more fretting about setting up a manuscript properly!
Make a template.
How do I do that, some of you ask?
In fact, when I told one of my writing friends I was doing an post on templates, I was appalled at her response. She said, “Templates are for people like legal secretaries or whiz kids like YOU, not for an old computer klutz like me.” She gave me hairy eyeball, and ATTITUDE!
I’ll tell you what I told her (though you get the cleaner version): “Pucker up them lips and prepare to kiss my very cute toes. Templates are HUGE for writers and I’m going to show you 10 easy steps to make one in Word. You will build a shrine to me by the time I’m done.”
Here’s the 10 Easy Steps to Template-making in Word. (I’m hoping Gene Lempp will do a post on how he did this in Scrivener…if he doesn’t, I’m gonna have to figure it out.)
Step 1 – Open your current work in progress.
Make it look pretty. It is so much easier to format a document with a few chapters in place than it is to format an empty document where you can’t see the results. Here is your chance to make it double space, change the font to the one your editor loves, add in the first line indent and do the twenty-five lines per page setting. When you are done formatting and you have completed the next step, you can delete all the text (after you have completed Step 2).
Step 2 –Save these great changes to the current work in progress, before following the rest of the steps to create a template.
This document is going to be the basis of your new manuscript template but you have to be certain that you’ve saved your writing before you proceed. Any of the following three methods will allow you to save your changes to this document – pick the way you like best:
1) Hit the Ctrl + S buttons on your keyboard (you don’t type the plus)
2) Click on the little blue disc icon (fourth button down in the Circle menu in Word 2007 – it’s located on the Quick Access toolbar in version 2010)
3) Go to the File menu and choose Save (again, the File menu is in older versions of Word…this also applies if you are using a MAC)
Important Note: Be certain that you have saved all of your writing before you delete it!
Step 3 – Go back to File and choose the Save As command. If you are a keyboard person, hit the F12 key – this takes you directly to the Save As dialog box.
Step 4 – Click the drop down arrow to the right of the “Save as type” box at the bottom.
Step 5 – Choose the Document/Word Template (*.dot) option.
Word will automatically take you to the place on your computer where Word templates are stored.
Write this down if you feel the need to know this but I can promise with 99% certainty that your computer is the only one who needs to know where the templates are stored.
Step 6 – Name your template and click Save.
Now comes the most important part, mainly because this is the step where people think they are home free so they leave the next four steps off!
You are still in your template…don’t forget this. Everything you do from this point on is done to your new template, which is still open.
Step 7 – Save any additional changes you want to add and close the template.
You must close this document before you begin to use it or all the things you type will be part of your template. You have no idea how many times I’ve forgotten this and pounded my forehead against my desk in exasperation when I open a new template with a bunch of text in it.
Step 8 – Go to File and choose the “New…” command.
This is always located in the File menu (Circle Menu in version 2007) and will get you to the template you just saved.
In older versions of Windows, you will see the list of templates and the name of the one you saved will be right there. If you use Windows XP, the New Document Task Pane will show up on the right side of the screen and give you options. You want to choose “On my computer.” (Newer versions just say “My Templates.”)
Step 9 – Choose the new template that you just named (I recommend New Manuscript or New WIP as a title) and click OK.
Step 10 – Save the document immediately as the name of your new manuscript, the same way you would any document.
You may now begin creating your new bestseller without fretting about all those pesky details like font and whether you have the 25 lines per page setting done correctly. Enjoy your writing!
Are you feeling your Techie Roots growing? Are you gonna turn into your very own Formatting Genie now? What tricks do you use to save time at the beginning of a new manuscript? Enquiring minds always want to know here at More Cowbell!