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Making Your Words Look Good

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This chapter is from the book


  • 10.gif About the Rulers
  • 11.gif About Paragraph Breaks and Tabs
  • 12.gif Apply Character Formatting
  • 13.gif Apply Paragraph Formatting
  • 14.gif Set Up Page Formatting
  • 15.gif Create a Multicolumn Newsletter
  • 16.gif About Styles, Themes, and Templates
  • 17.gif Use a Style
  • 18.gif Use a Theme
  • 19.gif Use a Template

Word adds flair to your documents. It can not only make your words read more accurately with its automatic correction tools, but it makes your writing look better. Word supports character, paragraph, and even complete document formatting.

When you begin learning Word, don’t worry about the formatting. Just type your text before formatting it so that you get your thoughts in the document while they are still fresh. After you type your document, you can format its text. Many Word users follow this write-then-format plan throughout their entire careers.

10 About the Rulers

tick.jpg Before You Begin

arrow.jpg See Also

2.gif Create a New Document

11.gif About Paragraph Breaks and Tabs

4.gif Type Text into a Document

13.gif Apply Paragraph Formatting

14.gif Set Up Page Formatting

Word has two rulers: the horizontal ruler and the vertical ruler. Both of these rulers are onscreen guides that display measurement values so that you’ll know where on the page your text will appear. For example, if your Word Options Advanced tab’s measurement Display option is set to Inches (see 1.gif Set Word Options), the 2 on your horizontal ruler means that all text beneath that ruler’s 2 is exactly 2 inches from the left margin.

If you don’t see the rulers on your screen, click the View Ruler button at the top of your vertical scrollbar. If you only see a horizontal ruler across the top of your document but do not see a vertical ruler, click your Office button, select Word Options, click Advanced, and scroll down to the Display section. Click to check the Show Vertical Ruler in Print Layout View option.

The ruler measurements are relative to the left and right margins.

In addition to showing margins and the page width, the horizontal ruler can display these items:

  • Tab stop (see 11.gif About Paragraph Breaks and Tabs)
  • Paragraph indent (see 13.gif Apply Paragraph Formatting)
  • Columns (see 15.gif Create a Multicolumn Newsletter)

If you format different paragraphs in your document differently from one another, the ruler will change to reflect those differences. In other words, if the first paragraph has two tab stops and a first-line indent, when you click anywhere within that paragraph, the ruler changes to show those tab stops and the first-line indent, as shown in the following figure.

If a subsequent paragraph has a different set of indents, tab stops, and margins, the ruler will show those differences if you click within that paragraph.

The horizontal ruler is so tied to overall page and paragraph formatting that if you double-click the ruler, the Page Setup dialog box appears. 14.gif Set Up Page Formatting explains how to use Word’s Page Setup features.

Obviously, it’s important that you keep in mind that the current horizontal ruler showing at any one time is only reflecting the current paragraph’s tab and margin settings. A ruler can reflect each paragraph differently. Only when you select your entire document does the ruler reflect every paragraph in the document. If you have formatted some paragraphs differently from others, the ruler displays only the values (such as the first-line indent perhaps) that are universal to all the selected paragraphs.

The ruler does more than update to reflect the current paragraph’s settings. You can use the ruler to change tab, indent, and margin settings without using dialog boxes. Unless pinpoint precision is required, the ruler is actually the best place to make these changes.

For example, click anywhere on the ruler and a tab stop appears at that location. You can drag that tab stop left or right to adjust its position. You can drag any tab stop left or right, even those you applied using the Paragraph formatting dialog box. Word supports several kinds of tabs, as you’ll see in 11.gif About Paragraph Breaks and Tabs. To change the type of tab you place, first click the tab character box at the left of the ruler to change the type of tab you next place on the ruler.

If you want to increase a paragraph’s left-margin indent, click in that paragraph to display its horizontal ruler measurement. Then, drag the ruler’s left-margin indent character to its new location. After you drag the ruler’s left-margin indent character, the paragraph’s actual left-margin indent changes to reflect the new setting. To change the first-line indent, drag the ruler’s first-line indent character to a new location. To change the right-margin indent, drag the ruler’s right-margin indent character to a new location. To add a hanging indent, drag the hanging indent character to the right.

Although the horizontal ruler is constantly linked to individual paragraphs, the page’s overall left and right margins also appear on the horizontal ruler. The margins are set off of the gray areas on either end of the ruler. You can change the left or right margin by dragging the ruler’s edge of either margin (the position between the gray and the white of the ruler’s typing area) left or right.

You won’t use the vertical ruler as much as the horizontal ruler, which is why Word offers the option to hide the vertical ruler. The vertical ruler can be handy for showing the top and bottom margins on a page as well as the general position on a page where certain elements appear. For example, you can tell from the vertical ruler exactly how many inches down a page a graphics image will appear when printed.

You can drag these margins to a different location, and when you’re satisfied with the new margin settings, you can again hide the vertical ruler to give yourself more editing area on the screen.

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