Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Some Neat Word Tips

Since many, many years, I have been using MS Word's AutoCorrect feature to insert the degree Celsius symbol — I type "deg" and the spacebar and ˚C is inserted. What if you need only the degree symbol and not the C? How would you find and replace subscripted text in Word? I have documented some of these tips here.

1. Find and replace superscripts and subscripts

A few days ago, a client gave me a translation job that had several tables containing numbers and units already filled in, but the units for volume of water were given as "m3." I had already inserted the superscript in the rest of the text that I had translated, and didn't want to let go these units in the tables with out changing "3" to a superscript 3. Word does not allow this in the Find and Replace window.

Here's what I did. I first copied "m3" to the clipboard (using Ctrl+C). In the Find box, I entered "m3." In the Replace box, I typed "^c" (without the quotation marks). This copies the contents of the clipboard. Next, I clicked on Replace All and all the hundreds of offending "m3"s were replaced  by "m3" in one shot!

Replace with clipboard contents  

2. Insert often-used characters using the keyboard

a. Degree symbol

I used to insert the degree symbol "˚" (for angular measurements) by first entering "deg" to insert ˚C (degree Celsius inserted together through AutoCorrect) and then delete C.  Just found an easier method. Type Ctrl+@, then hit the spacebar, and Word inserts just the degree symbol (˚).

b. Non-breaking space

Another keyboard shortcut that I use often is the non-breaking space, and I need to use this quite often especially when a number with its unit appears at the end of a sentence and the unit wraps over to the next line. For ex:

"The distance between the aft shaft coupling and the bracket is about 3425 mm.  Measure this distance …."

If you wish to preserve "3425 mm" together, type Ctrl+Shift+Space after 3425 and then type mm so that they stay together.

c. Greek letters

I have most of the Greek letters saved in AutoCorrect so that when I type a "phi" or a "beta" it gets automatically substituted by Φ and β.

d. Fractions through keyboard

I also remember three important fractions that I often use, namely ¼ ½ ¾. These can be inserted by typing 00BC, 00BD, 00BE and pressing Alt X after each (I use Word 2003; this may vary in your version of Word). You can find these Unicode character codes by pulling down the Insert Menu in Word and selecting Symbol (see below).

Symbol chart

Do you know of better and faster ways to insert special characters and symbols? Feel free to comment.

Until the next post, have a great day!


Anonymous said...

Nice tips...thanks! When I need to type superscript, I hit CTRL + SHIFT + + (plus) and then type what I need. Accrodingly, subscript is CTRL + SHIFT + - (minus).

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Alex.
Yes, you are right -- that's how one would insert superscripts and subscripts. The tip was to find and replace them, which MS Word up to Office 2003 does not normally permit.

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