Follow up to post on headers and page numbers

Typewriter with questions marksI’m following up here on Connie J. Jasperson’s post from Life in the Realm of Fantasy (previous post) with some strategies that have worked for me. (As is so often the case, I found my way to this post via Chris the Story Reading Ape!)

Jasperson’s post confirms for me that some of these procedures aren’t common knowledge, so they’re worth posting about. If they are common knowledge for you, and you have other pointers to include, please share!

a) If you need to remove tab marks or spaces, as Jasperson rightly directs, you can do so via search-and-replace. I am a Mac person, but as Jasperson says, the general idea is usually the same across versions and major platforms, so you may just have to find where a particular button lives.

  • In your manuscript, Select All by using CTRL (Command on a Mac) + A. (I sometimes do all this in smaller chunks, like chapters, because I also have to deal with centered chapter numbers—see below.)
  • CTRL (or Command on a Mac) + F will take you to the Search (Find) dialogue box. On my Mac, Shift+Command+H opens the “Replace” option as well, but I can also open this from a tab in the Find box.
  • At the bottom of the Find box is a tiny downward-pointing arrow. Clicking on this will open a set of options. Clicking on “Special” will allow you to select the tab character for the “Find” line in the Find box. Or, if you like true simplicity, you can type in ^t. This is the tab symbol. Make sure letters you use with the caret (^) are lower case.
  • Leave the “Replace” line blank.
  • Click “Replace all.” The computer will sweetly get rid of all the tabs.

You can use this same method to eliminate spaces you’ve used for indents as well. Simply type however many spaces you used into the “Find” line and leave the “Replace” line blank. Want to make sure you didn’t miss any spaces at the beginning of paragraphs? Type in ^p for “hard return” (paragraph return) and a space. Then use “Find Next” a couple of times to make sure you’re catching the right things. Then type ^p in the “Replace” line (IMPORTANT!), and click “Replace All”  This will preserve your paragraph returns but eliminate the space.

Similarly, you can use this to get rid of those extra spaces that sometimes get typed by fast-moving fingers, or you can correct consistent misspellings.

b) You can use Jasperson’s method to center chapter numbers or titles. Just select the number or title, then use the paragraph format box to center it. In a later post, I will discuss using Word’s “Styles” to accomplish some of these same effects.

c) My version of Word allows me not just to choose “different first page” but also to “format page numbers.” I can set the document to begin paginating at zero. This means that the title page has no number; the manuscript text itself begins at one. If you’re an editor who would prefer that the title page start with number one, so that the ms. begins on 2, please let us know!

And again, if you have quick tips to build on these, please share!

Typewriter publish





Filed under writing novels

3 responses to “Follow up to post on headers and page numbers

  1. Don’t forget extraneous paragraph spaces. Search for ^p^p and replace with ^p.

    If you used paragraph spaces to mark section breaks, it’s a good idea to mark them with a symbol such as an * instead to make sure they’re clearly indicated as section breaks, rather than mistakenly added carriage returns. So you can search for ^p^p and replace with ^p*^p.

    Then go back and search for ^p*^p and make sure to center the asterick and make sure the line isn’t indented but begins flush left with the margin. (It helps to create a paragraph style and apply the style to the line).


    • Thanks for sharing this good advice! BTW, you can stop Word from adding an extra space after paragraphs in that “Format Paragraph” dialogue box by finding “Before” and “After” and setting both to zero. I like your idea of using a paragraph style. I’ve started doing this most of the time.


  2. Reblogged this on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog and commented:
    Virginia gives a Mac User’s version of Connie’s tips I reblogged at: – Thanks Virginia 👍🐵


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