This is not some asinine April Fool’s joke, but an actual post. Enjoy!
Time really is money, and one way to save a great deal of time when using Microsoft Word is to set up your Quick Access Toolbar. Doing so will also give you more screen space, a bonus if you’ve had your eyes more than about 12 years.
We talked about the menu (also called the ribbon) last time, but the fact is, I actually use the tabbed menu items in the Ribbon very little.
For most of my writing and editing tasks, I use the Quick Access Toolbar instead. It takes a little getting used to, but there’s almost no learning curve and it’s much cleaner, quicker and easier once you get used to it.
The Quick Access Toolbar is the small gray horizontal area below the Ribbon and above the horizontal ruler. (If your ruler isn’t there, in the menu select View > Ruler.) Here’s mine:
Whereas with the Ribbon, some commands have to be retained or removed in groups, it’s easy to truly customize the Quick Access Toolbar for your specific needs.
Left to right above are New Document, Save, Save As, Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Bold, Italic, Underline, Insert Page Break, and Left, Center, Right and Full Justified.
Then come some features useful in publishing or setting up ebooks. The little blue flag is a Bookmark symbol. I use that to create a table of contents when I’m publishing a new book. Then there are Remove Header and Remove Footer commands (ebooks don’t have headers and footers), then the Add Hyperlink and Remove Hyperlink commands. Next is the font face, size and color. Then comes the excellent editing (and revision) tool, Track Changes. Here’s the drop-down menu for Track Changes:
When you click Change Tracking Options, you’ll get this dialogue box:
When I’m working on an edit for someone else or a revision of my own work, I typically uncheck Track Moves and Track Formatting. The other setting in Figure 7, Change User Name, is self-explanatory.
Back to the Quick Access Menu, the next item after Track Changes is the Replace feature. The Replace feature is so important that it has its own section later. Then comes the Insert Symbol function and the Change Case function (from All Uppercase to Capitalize Each Word, for example). Following that are a few admin functions: the Thesaurus, Spell Checker, Zoom and Word Count features, and then the Paragraph Formatting function. Again, this one is so important that it has its own section later.
Back to more editing and/or revision tools, we have the Accept Change dialogue and Reject Change dialogue. (These also are important for you if you’re having your manuscript edited by someone else who uses Track Changes.) Then comes the Insert Comment function, then Go To Previous Comment, Go To Next Comment, and the Delete Comment dialogue. Finally, near the end I added a highlighter. I don’t use it very often, but it’s off to the side when I need it. At the end (click the down arrow) is the Customize Quick Access Toolbar menu. If you select that and then click More Commands, you’ll see this dialogue box:
As you can see, in the left pane I’ve selected All Commands. That’s the best place to start. (If you want to choose from fewer commands, you can begin with Popular Commands.)
To add a command to the Quick Access Toolbar, simply select it in the left pane and click Add in the center. It will be added to the right pane. (Note too at the top of the right pane you can select a Quick Access Toolbar For All Documents or for the current document only.)
If you want to remove a command, select it in the right pane, then click Remove. Finally, to rearrange the order of the commands in the Quick Access Toolbar, select the command you want to move and use the up or down arrows to the right side of the dialogue box to move the command.
I encourage you to spend whatever time it takes to set up your Quick Access Toolbar exactly the way you want it. Once you’ve set it up, you’ll use the Ribbon Menu a lot less.
Finally, here’s an important public service announcement of interest to writers. I suspect many readers of this column have or will consider self-publishing through a subsidy POD publisher. Before you do, I urge you to read this article: P.O.D. Secrets Revealed: Ridiculous Contract Clauses!
Note: I recommend publishing your work yourself (You Can Get Help Here). I no longer recommend ANY subsidy publisher.
I recommend strongly against AuthorHouse, Xlibris, Trafford and IUniverse and any other POD publisher who wants to charge you thousands of dollars, no matter what “services” they claim to provide.
If the company you’re considering charges you any up front fees for formatting, cover, etc. AND splits the royalties with you, avoid them. Get a lot more advice in this free PDF guide.
Next up, Setting MS Word Options. Until then, happy writing!
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