prevent editing in a Section of a MS Word template/document

Occasionally, I’ve needed to protect a portion of a Word template from accidental editing. There are many reasons to do this, but one example – the one I’ll be using in this particular #pragmaticcomputertip – is to protect the content and formatting of what I call “faux” letterhead. (Note: This tip applies to MS Word 2007 and later.)

Click HERE to read the previous #pragmaticcopmutertip about creating faux letterhead. After finalizing, it’s a good idea to to be protect that section of the form against accidental editing. Here’s how that’s done:

Continue reading “prevent editing in a Section of a MS Word template/document”

create faux letterhead for fax and pdf attachments.

Historically, I’ve created faux letterhead to be used when letters were to be sent via fax. More recently, they are used for letters to be sent as PDF attachments via email.

The reasoning behind this is to save money on pre-printed stationary letterhead. Economically, there’s no reason to print a letter on this expensive paper when the recipient will never actually touch it.

First, I re-create the content and format of a client’s pre-printed letterhead using the same fonts and layout as the printed version. The goal is that the recipients of these letters won’t notice a difference between the paper letters they receive from a firm via USPS and the letters they receive from the same firm via fax or email.
Continue reading “create faux letterhead for fax and pdf attachments.”

“Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?”

Some people love the clean look of Word 2013, but if you’re like me, it feels cold. and bleh.

and empty.

The ribbon only displayed when I clicked on a menu item. As soon as I began typing, it would disappear. This was not helpful. I didn’t want to go get the ribbon every time I needed something on it. That ribbon needed to sit and stay.

Word 2013 Ribbon Hidden

Here’s how to get your ribbon back: Continue reading ““Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?””

cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY

I thought I was crazy. My keyboard was typing stuff I did NOT type. Backslashes when I pressed the spacebar. Numbers when I pressed letters and the other way around. Adding characters when I pressed the backspace button. Weirdness. Nothing short of a reboot would solve the problem and even then, it was only temporary. I searched Google and stumbled upon the possibility that my keyboard was no longer set to “QWERTY.”

To find out if your keyboard settings may have changed:
Continue reading “cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY”

autotext/quick parts/building blocks.

If you used Autotext in MS Word 2003 or earlier, it’s one of the first questions you’ll have:

“Does Word still have Autotext?”

The answer? YES.

What’s the next question?

“WHERE is it? I can’t find it anywhere!”

I know.

Autotext has been renamed. reorganized. buried. Some refer to it as QuickParts. or Building Blocks. or both. But forget names. Let’s cut to the chase:

Alt+F3 and F3.

“Keystrokes?” the die hard mouse people whine ask?

(To you mouse people, go ahead, use the mouse. Click the “Insert” Ribbon, then click the Quick Parts dropdown, then . . . who am I kidding? I’m not typing up mouse instructions for this. sorry)

For you long time Autotext users, the good news is that Microsoft left in the legacy keystrokes for this feature.

Quick and Easy.
To CREATE an Entry:
1. Select the text you never want to type again, whether you open a document which contains that text or whether you type it from scratch – select it.

2. Press “Alt+F3” and the following dialog box will appear showing the first few words of the selected text in the “Name” line: mswordbuildingblockautofill
3. Type the “nickname” for this snippet of text – a short word you would RATHER type. (since it’s already selected/highlighted, you don’t have to erase what’s already there, just type your nickname (in this case “blcn”) and the original text will be replaced.)

4. Press Enter. Done.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 1, Legacy F3 Method:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After 2 or 3 letters, press “F3” and the nickname you typed will be replaced by the text snippet you saved, formatting, spacing and all. Just like always.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 2, Visual Prompt:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After you’ve typed 4 letters of your nickname, MS Word will prompt you (see below).
If you press “Enter” your nickname will be replaced with the corresponding building block text. If you press enter, tab or keep typing, MS Word will assume you mean to type those letters and it won’t replace them with the building block text.

If you want Word to visually prompt you to press the ENTER key to PLAY your entry as soon as it recognizes the nickname, make sure you (a) give it a name that is at least 4 characters long and (2) make it a unique name – NOT a real word you might really want to type. If it’s a real word, it WILL be replaced with your saved Autotext text snippet if you press enter, whether you want it replaced or not.

automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.

In the previous #pragmaticcomputingtip, entitled “automatic random text generation. improved?” I shared a nifty little feature in Word 2007 and 2010 which automated the generation of random text.

Check it out and then come on back and I’ll walk you through you a variation.

no. really. check it out. I’ll wait.

okay, welcome back.

While =rand(p,s) is effective and fun, its use has a potential problem. It generates interesting text. Okay, “interesting” is debatable, but it generates English text that makes sense, which means there’s a potential for distraction.

If you don’t want your reader/learner/audience to focus on the content of your text, there’s another, similar feature that generates nonsensical random text that will keep people focused on the form of your document/website without tempting anyone to read for content absorption. Try this:
Continue reading “automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.”

automatic random text generation. improved?

For YEARS DECADES, I have been creating dummy documents for use in computer training. Usually, I ask someone to type a sentence – any sentence – and then I teach them to use keyboard shortcuts to select, copy and paste their sentence, resulting in a multi-paragraph, multi-page document to work with as I train.

It’s always interesting to see what people type:

the distracted or disinterested: “I can’t wait for lunch.”

and the suck-ups: “The computer trainer is really good!” (umm hmm)

and of course, the ever popular: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” frequently makes an appearance.

I’ve written about that third sentence before in a previous post entitled “automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word“. You could automatically generate paragraphs composed of it using Word 2003 and earlier versions using a little known “=rand()” feature in Microsoft Word.

But now, with Word 2007 and 2010, it’s even better.

Check this out. Open either Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 and, at the top of a new, blank document, type this:


Then press the enter key.

What just happened?

Microsoft Word just reached into it’s help files and copied 8 random paragraphs containing 5 sentences each and pasted them into your blank page.

As a computer trainer, let me just say.


If you’re thinking the “=rand(8,5)” looks like an Excel formula, you would be correct. The first number inside the parenthesis represents how many paragraphs of text you want, the second number indicates how many sentences each paragraph should contain. If you skip the numbers and just type “=rand()” the default result is 3 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

The formula doesn’t have to be typed at the beginning of a document, but it must be typed at the beginning of a line, with no characters before it.

Again, as someone who frequently needs fake documents to play work with, I LOVE this! I’ve tried to think of other uses and the only other one that comes to mind would be for print samples. If you can think of other ways to take advantage of a random text generator, comment and share!

I can’t save autotext!

Do you create autotext entries or buttons in Microsoft Word 2002, 2003 or XP but can’t seem to find them later?

If you also have Adobe Acrobat Professional or Standard loaded on your computer, you’re not imagining things or doing anything wrong! There’s a conflict between Word and Acrobat 7.0 which prevents autotext, macros, preferences and custom setting (like buttons) from saving in MS Word. For those of you who care or understand – Word ‘s “” can’t save changes.

The good news is that Adobe knows about this problem and has issued an update! For detailed info and the download link, CLICK HERE to visit the “Tech Note” in the Adobe Knowledgebase.

WordPerfect Auto Numbering Made Even Easier!

Let’s break this up into three parts, shall we?

1. How to use a custom outline/auto paragraph numbering macro I may have written for you.
2. Tips for working with the WordPerfect auto numbering/outline feature.
3. Issues with using auto numbering when allowing MS Word users to edit your document.

Part 1: Using Pragmatic Macros

To format any document with a custom auto numbering style using a WordPerfect macro written by me:

1. Place the cursor where you want the numbering to begin or at the top of the document. (I always put it at the top of the document so it’s easy to find later.)

2. Play the macro. Depending on your preferences, I’ve either given you a shortcut key (ALT+O) or placed a button on your toolbar which shows a I.A.1. descending top left to bottom right of the button. So either type your shortcut key or click your button. The screen will flash a few times and insert the first number at the location of the cursor. If you don’t need a number in that exact spot (like at the top of the doc), turn it off with “CTRL+H”

3. Once the macro has been played in a document and the document has been saved, the macro never needs to be run in that document again. (Unless you accidentally delete it – another reason I place it at the top of the document instead of placing it at the first numbered paragraph).

Part 2: TIPS for Working with Auto Paragraph Numbering:

1. Toggle auto numbering on and off with the keystroke shortcut “CTRL+H”

2. To move forward one paragraph level, press “TAB” and to move back one paragraph level, press “SHIFT+TAB”

3. When inserting a new paragraph in a document containing auto numbering, place the cursor at the END of the PREVIOUS numbered paragraph and press ENTER. Use TAB or SHIFT+TAB to change the new paragraph to the desired level.

4. To insert a real TAB into a document when in auto paragraph mode, use “CTRL+TAB” instead of TAB.

Part 3: Issues with MS Word

You may be better off using manual numbering when you know MS Word users will edit the document. A simple explanation: While auto paragraph numbering in WordPerfect is document specific (the numbering style is saved in the document), auto paragraph numbering in MS Word is desktop specific (the numbering style is saved in MS Word from desk to desk).

A not so simple (but still not too technical) explanation: Regardless of a whether a document was created/edited in MS Word or WordPerfect, auto numbering appears to the MS Word user in the preferred style saved in that particular installation of MS Word. In other words, it changes all by itself. In my experience, there are two situations when this doesn’t happen:

First, when only one person edits a document using MS Word, this isn’t a problem because the document adopts the single preferred style of that same person every time it’s edited.

Second, when MS Word custom templates and styles are created and used, this problem can be overcome, but many, many, many firms don’t use custom templates and/or styles. Even when templates are used, I’ve never seen a firm share their template with another firm. In addition, most people wouldn’t know how to attach a template even if it was given to them by another firm. So the changes continue.

Yet another reason to use WordPerfect for lengthy, complex documents.

Sweeet New Corel Product for Collaboration!

Corel WordPerfect Lightning!

I’m still exploring this new software to discover everything it can do, but one of the sweetest things is this:

It opens any PDF, Word or WordPerfect document for viewing, printing and . . . copying into a note – which can be easily edited and then automatically inserted into an email.

So . . . You can create a legal document using your current word processor, and email it to your client in PDF. They open it using the (FREE) Lightning viewer, review it, copy any text they want to edit to a Lightning Note and then Lightning can automatically insert the note’s contents into the body of an email! You receive the email and copy/paste the text into the original document – and you guessed it – you maintain control of the editing process!

If clients edit their legal documents in Lightning, they can’t use track changes! You can either edit the original or create a 2nd version for the creation of a redline copy using your word processor’s COMPARE feature (or CompareRite or Deltaview) instead of Track Changes! (Combining Track Changes and Compare doesn’t always turn out so well.) I’m still checking, but I’m thinking NO METADATA! And it’s FREE. And EASY!

I downloaded the (free) beta this morning. Supposedly it will continue to be free, like Adobe Acrobat Reader.

For more robust editing and markup, Adobe Acrobat Reader is still a better choice, but for a clean, simple editing option, this is . . . Sweeeet!

I’ll keep learning and update this post as I go!

Want to try out the FREE beta version? Go ahead, it won’t hurt. Or just learn more about Lightning here: