Since I make my living as a geek, I’ll occasionally share techie tricks that I use to make my life easier as a writer.
Drop me a comment below or contact me if there’s something specific you want to know. I’ll help if I can.
Here’s my tip of the day:
Using Highlights for Editing
When I’m writing in MS Word, I use highlights to mark places where my document needs work. I use a blue highlight to indicate “unfinished”, a green highlight to indicate “needs research”, and a yellow highlight to indicate “needs to be fixed”. That way, if I’m on a roll, I can just keep writing and come back to the problem area later.
In a 400-page document, it can get difficult to find all the highlighted areas. That’s a lot of scrolling.
Fortunately, you can search your document for highlights and jump to them automatically.
How To Do It: Highlighting
In Word 2003 and earlier, go to the Formatting toolbar. If you don’t have that toolbar turned on, you can enable it by clicking on the View menu, choosing Toolbars, and then clicking Formatting; or
In Word 2007 and 2010, it’s on the Home tab.
Step 2: Choose your colour
Click on the little arrowhead to the right of the button, and choose a colour from the dropdown box.
Step 3: Highlight
Click and drag your mouse over the text to apply the highlight.
Step 4: Stop highlighting
When you’re done, click on the Highlight button again to disable highlighting.
Note: Removing highlights
To remove highlights, click and drag to select the highlighted text in your document, then click the arrowhead on the Highlight button and choose “No colour” from below the coloured boxes.
How To Do It: Searching for Highlighting
Step 1: Set up the search
In Word 2003 and earlier, click on the Edit menu and choose Find; or
In Word 2007 and 2010, click on the Find button on the Home tab.
If the dialog box shows a More button at the bottom, click on it to expand the dialog box. If you see a Less button, you can skip this step (it means the dialog box is already expanded).
Click on the Format button at the bottom of the dialog box, and choose Highlight. You’ll notice that your search box now includes the words “Format: Highlight” right under the “Find What” box at the top.
Step 2: Search for highlights
Make sure there’s no text in the “Find What” box (unless you want to search for a specific word or phrase that’s highlighted). As long as the “Find What” box is blank, the search will find all highlighted text.
Click on the Find Next button. Keep doing this until you find the highlighted section you’re looking for.
Step 3: Remove Highlight from the search criteria**
In the search box, click on the Format button again, and select Highlight. You’ll notice that now your search says “Format: Not Highlight” under the “Find what” box. Repeat the process, and the “Format:” line will disappear.
Type a word, any word, in the “Find what” box, and click the Find Next button once. This saves the settings so that you won’t be searching for highlights the next time you use the search box.
Close the search box.
**This isn’t essential to the process, but it saves you some frustration the next time you want to look for words alone instead of highlighted words.