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Author Topic: Computer Formatting Problems
Crystal Stevens
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I believe this topic has come up before, but I'm asking anyway. Does anyone know how to format Microsoft Word so that your documents have the same amount of lines on each page? I've tried "HELP" with no success. I don't understand the terminology and am afraid of screwing up something else on my computer instead of solving my problem.

I have my entry for WOTF about ready to send, but my last page is the last two lines of my story. Several of my pages are shorter than others by number of lines, which means that last page shouldn't even be necessary. How do I get the same amount of lines on each page?


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skadder
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I presume that you have switched off the extra line before and after a paragraph and checked that everything is in the same font size (select all->Courier 12pt)?

Unless you have line breaks (scene breaks) every page should have the same number of lines.

Otherwise, don't worry if your last page has only two words on it (The End); just post it.

[This message has been edited by skadder (edited June 18, 2009).]


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DWD
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Word's double spacing is actually more than standard 24-point double spacing for a 12-point typeface. If you set the line spacing of the style you're using for your paragraph text to exactly 24pt, you'll get more lines per page.

Where this is done depends on the version of Word you use, but in Word 2007 (Windows) you get to it through the Modify Style dialog, which you reach by right-clicking on the style you use for standard paragraph text:

From the Modify Style dialog, click the Format button (lower left corner), then select "Paragraph..." In the Paragraph dialog, Spacing section, set the "Line spacing" option to "Exactly" and the "At" option to "24pt."

It's much easier to modify the style (e.g. the "Normal" paragraph style, or in some templates the "Body Text" style) than to select all the text and hard format all the paragraphs.


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Crystal Stevens
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I guess I should've added that I use Windows XP. But when I click on the "Format" button on the tool bar at the top of my screen, I saw something that said "Exactly". Could this be the same thing?
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WBSchmidt
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Another thing you may want to try is to work with the widow and orphan lines in your paragraphs. I don't know which of those is which but basically if only a single line of a paragraph is at the bottom of the page it is automatically pushed to the next page. The same thing for a single line on the next page: it is pushed to the previous page. So, to remove this "feature" do the following.

1) I think you need to select the text you want to remove this feature (perhaps the whole document in this case).

2) Click on Format in the menu then Paragraph.

3) Click on the Line and Page Break tab

4) Uncheck the "Widow/Orphan control" check box.

I don't know if this is what you're looking for but it is another option to look into.

--William

[This message has been edited by WBSchmidt (edited June 20, 2009).]

[This message has been edited by WBSchmidt (edited June 20, 2009).]


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DWD
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Probably the easiest approach then is:

1) Select the text of the entire document, then
2) From the Format menu, select "Paragraph..."
3) Click the "Indents and Spacing" tab
4) About 2/3 of the way down the dialog box, you'll see a "Spacing" section. In that section is a drop down labeled "Line Spacing". Set it to "Exactly."
5) Next to the Line Spacing entry is an "At:" text box where you enter the amount of spacing between lines. Type in "24pt."
6) Click OK to exit the dialog.


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darklight
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Yes, I had this problem, it was the orphans thing that was doing it. Uncheck the orphans box in options and that should do it.
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TaleSpinner
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Assuming line spacing is the same everywhere and fonts are the same, Word is formatting different numbers of lines per page because of the widows and orphans feature, as WBSchmidt and darklight suggested.

According to MS Word Help: "A widow is the last line of a paragraph printed by itself at the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph printed by itself at the bottom of a page."

So if the last line of a para would be at the top of a page by itself, Word will move the second-last line of the para to the next page so now that page has the last two lines of the para at the top. The previous page will now be a line short.

If the first line of a para would appear at the bottom of a page by itself Word will start the new para at the top of the next page, and the previous page will be a line short.

If you switch this feature off, you might or might not have two lines at the end of the piece, and there will almost certainly be some widows and orphans elsewhere. They're generally regarded as bad things because they disturb the reading flow:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Widows_and_orphans
http://desktoppub.about.com/od/typelayout/a/widowsorphans.htm

Also, if the changes you make to the formatting get saved in the "Normal" template, they may affect other documents that you or others you share the computer with have written.

I'd leave it alone. I have played much with formatting in Word. That way lies madness. I would suggest either mastering the formatting features by studying one of those fat books on Word, or letting Word do its thing automagically. Nobody is going to reject a story because the last page holds just two lines.

(If you mess with the line spacing as has been suggested, and if it works, that will be because there is no start or end of a para near a page break; but then, if you add or delete lines subsequently such that the start or end of a para does fall close to a page break, widows and orphans will kick in and you'll be pretty much back where you started.)

[This message has been edited by TaleSpinner (edited June 19, 2009).]


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DWD
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TaleSpinner's advice is good. I stayed away from the widows and orphans change because you normally want the "help" it provides. On the other hand, changing the line spacing will only work if you are completely finished editing, have a couple of lines on a page at the end, and want to compress the text a bit to pull them onto the previous page.

I think we're all struggling with this because there's really no way to guarantee the same number of lines per page without risking widowed and/or orphaned lines. Lots of trade-offs in formatting, and Microsoft has made the whole thing much more complex than it needs to be, IMO.

Several steps above manually typing on a Selectric, though...


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Crystal Stevens
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I had to leave and go to work before those last two posts, and you're right. It was the "orphan" thingy. I knew I could rely on my fellow Hatrackers for sound advice. Thanks, everyone.
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