How to…Display dates (and a macro to transpose them)

My latest project is a 20,000-word diary about a cat and his cat friends. From what I’ve seen of it so far, it is an amusing and adventurous tale, with some lovely illustrations, but it is not a story aimed at children. It has strictly adult content!

Being a diary, it has daily dates. The British-English standard style convention is to display dates in the order day, month, and year; using cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3, 4…), not ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th…), with no punctuation. Today’s date would be written as 29 June 2018. (In the US style, the order is month, day, year, with a comma after the day.)

A given day preceding the date is separated by a comma: Friday, 29 June 2018.
If being used in a sentence then a second comma is required:
On Friday, 29 June 2018, the sun rose at 4.53 a.m.

A writer would not necessarily be expected to know this, and so dates are presented to me in a variety of ways: with or without ordinal numbers, with or without commas, and in the wrong order.

Before I print a client’s typescript for editing, I always reformat the original version, using my own style, and save it as a new document. I carry out some basic formatting on headings and body text. This is usually a straightforward process, but numerous dates as headings can become somewhat tedious to correct. ‘There must be an easier way!’ I muttered, after spending many minutes cutting and pasting dates from the style Saturday November 3rd to Saturday 3 November.

Now, I’m not a whizz at programming, so creating macros (Word, or otherwise) is not something I actively engage in. I tend to google them, copy and paste them into my document, hope they work, and get frustrated if they don’t. Yesterday, I came across a macro that transposes two words. You simply place the cursor between the two words to be transposed and run the macro. Just what I wanted.

If anyone is interested in the macro, you can find it here, thanks to Allen Wyatt: https://word.tips.net/T000002_Transposing_Two_Words.html

If anyone wants to know how to add a macro to a Word document, you can find it here: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/create-or-run-a-macro-c6b99036-905c-49a6-818a-dfb98b7c3c9c

Now all I need to do now is find a way to get Word to transpose all of the date headings in one fell swoop! Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

How to…Use styles (for headings)

Publishing companies generally use a typographical specification. This document instructs a typesetter on such things as font style, font size, how to display extracts, paragraph indention, styles for headings and other design aspects of a book.

If you are self-publishing, and doing all the work yourself, then you have to become a typesetter, so it’s a good idea to get into the habit of applying simple styles at the writing or editing stage. Not only will it save you time and give you a ‘typeset’ document, it will also be easier for you to navigate to different parts of the text whilst you are editing.

In this post, I am going to cover headings. I use Word 2010, but other versions, and compatible software, will show something similar. To begin with, you’ll need both your Navigation Pane and Styles pane displaying on the screen.

Generally, the Navigation Pane appears down the left-hand side. From the three tabs that display, select the first one: ‘Browse the headings in your document’. This pane will be empty when you have no styles applied.

»Find your first chapter heading. Select the first chapter heading, or click on it. From the Styles pane, choose the style named ‘Heading 1’. You’ll notice two things: one, your chapter heading now appears in the Navigation Pane; two, your chapter heading will have a style applied to it, but perhaps not in a way you would like.

»Format your chapter heading as you would like it to be displayed – for example, bold, centred, in a bigger font, increased line spacing – and then, right-click on the style named ‘Heading 1’ from the Styles pane. From the menu, click on ‘Update Heading 1 to Match Selection’. The style for Heading 1 will now reflect your chosen style.

»Find your next chapter heading. Select it, or click on it, and from the Styles pane, click ‘Heading 1’. Do this for the rest of your document, remembering to save as you go along.

This may seem like a laborious process, but you will benefit in the long run. Not only will all of your chapter headings display in a uniform style, they will also show in the Navigation Pane, which means you can move easily between chapters, just by clicking on the one you want.

If you’re not doing so, you may also like to start each chapter on a new page, as this is how a published book will display them.