Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thankful for Ctrl+H by Andy Scheer

I appreciate this versatile shortcut.

This season, it’s easy to think of the usual, big reasons to give thanks.

But the past few weeks as I’ve worked to edit a massive, multipart project, I’ve had many opportunities to appreciate one feature of Microsoft Word.

Because a few of my colleagues on this have worked more as writers than editors, they weren’t familiar with some of Word’s keyboard shortcuts. Of the dozen or shortcuts I listed for them, the one they find most useful for editing is Find & Replace.

If you’re trying to revise a manuscript without it, you’re likely doing some tasks the hard way.

Simultaneously keying Crtl and H opens a world of possibilities for making selective or global changes.

Do you sometimes enter two spaces between sentences? That’s easy to fix. Go to the Find what box and enter two spaces. In the Replace with box, enter one space. Then click Replace all. You’ll even get a tally of how many instances were changed.

In many documents I edit, authors sometimes use the Tab key for paragraph indents. But tabs typically don’t work with typesetting programs. They need to be deleted. Fortunately, there’s no need to remove them manually. Find/Replace has an easy answer. In Find what enter ^t (the carat symbol appears over the number 6). In Replace with, enter nothing. Click Replace all, and all those unwanted tabs disappear.

Do you sometimes capitalize a word that should be lowercase? By clicking the More box, you’ll get a list of options that can enable you direct Word to replace all uppercase instances of that term with lowercase, such as biblical instead of Biblical.

Years ago at a conference, novelist Angela Hunt suggested using this case-sensitive feature to identify words you know you overuse. If you too often type was instead of a stronger verb construction, she suggested using the Replace all feature to change each instance of was to WAS. As you review the draft, they’ll instantly scream for your attention.

But in some instances, Find next is your better choice. My current client wants to refer to places where the ministry operates as centers, not projects. I was tempted to automatically replace each instance. Then I encountered one document that spoke of the center having just purchased a projector. Having made the change globally, I found a reference in the text to a centeror. Fortunately, that got flagged by the automatic spell-check feature. But that’s another topic for another day.


Diana Flegal said...

Incredibly helpful info. Thank you Andy.

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

You're most welcome. I find a lot of writers aren't making the most of the huge assortment of keyboard shortcuts.

Elva Cobb Martin, South Carolina said...

Andy, thanks so much for these timesaving shortcuts for writers. I am sharing this.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving,
Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC Chapter
Anderson, SC www.elvamartin.com

R. J. Skaer said...

I love find/replace. I didn't know it could search and destroy extra spaces though, thanks for the tip!

Andy Scheer, Hartline Literary said...

You're welcome. It's almost as handy as Crtl+C and Ctrl+V.