Monday, January 12, 2009

How NOT to create a document in Microsoft Word...

More often than not, I come across some pretty messed up documentation created in Microsoft Word by others with absolutely no knowledge of  how to use a word processing program.  (...and, by absolutely no knowledge, I mean that the user inevitably uses the space bar, or tab key to make multiple spaces or tabs to line up their text. Even worse, are those who consistantly use the 'Return' key to start a new line instead of allowing the program to wrap the text automatically.)

It's funny how creative some people can be when using Word to create a document. I've discovered some even adjusting the margins on the ruler in order to line up text throughout their document. So, I've got to wonder, how is it that such users fail to grasp the concept of setting tabs or spacing paragraphs without pressing the 'Return' key twice.  I've had to clean up a multitude of such messy documentation to make it easier to update for future revisions. Although I am able to clean up most of these challenging pieces of work in a fairly short amount of time, I still get the occasional document that's better off being retyped, than being modified. 

The following is an example of one type of poorly drafted document that I come across frequently. In this particular example, the user decided it was best to adjust and line up type via the space bar.

In this example, I've tried covering up as much indentifying information as possible, but retained the hidden marks that illustrate how this document was originally constructed. Cleaning up such work can be a daunting task, especially when a document is 45 or more pages in length!

What I find peculiar about drafting a document like this is that it takes so much longer to do than if the user had taken a little time to familiarize one's self with the simple 'basics' of the program. Simply typing in text without even thinking about using the return key until starting a new paragraph would speed up the process considerably.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More "hints & Tips" to come!

I'm sorry for neglecting to update this blog more often, but I've been busy working on a bunch of different freelance projects these past few months, thus, I fell behind.

However, I am currently in the process of putting together some more helpful material to post and should have it up shortly--so keep checking back periodically!

Thanks for your patience!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Using Single Quotation Marks

Single quotation marks are used when you insert a quotation within a quotation. An example has been provided below:

The student said, 'I heard the teacher tell the class, "Don't forget to study for next week's exam," and then I heard the bell ring.'

If both single and double quotations appear at the end of the sentence, the period falls within both sets of quotation marks-as demonstrated in the following example:

The student said, "I heard the teacher tell the class, 'Don't forget to study for next week's exam.' "

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Computer and Web Terminology

Internet and Web should always be capitalized. As with all fairly new terminology invented by Silicon Valley's "super" developers, some inconsistencies appear every now and then-such as with the term "intranet," which is not capitalized. (You'd think it would be because "Internet" is capitalized.) 

The other thing that everyone can be certain to count on with computer and Internet terminology is that it will also include some pretty interesting acronyms and expressions.  

Some of my favorites appear below:

WYSIWYG - what you see is what you get
Dromedary case or Camel case - a naming convention used to type a variety of programming languages where compound words or phrases are joined without a space and are capitalized within the compound. (e.g.: "camelCase") because it suggests the humps of a camel. 
GIGO - garbage in, garbage out
RTFM - Read the F...'n manual
NURBS - non-uniform rational B-spline
WORM - write-once, read-many
Bloatware - sarcastic term for software that requires considerable disk space and RAM
PnP - Plug 'n Play
POTS - plain old telephone service
Dongle - a device that attaches to a computer and  controls access to a particular application
SMURF - a network security breach in which a network connected to the Internet is swamped with replies to PING requests.
ID10-T - sarcastic codename used by IT to describe a user that doesn't know what he/she is doing on the computer. 
MUD - Multi-user dimension

Monday, April 14, 2008


Quotation Marks
Quotation marks are placed after the period, or other punctuation in a sentence.
e.g.: I asked, "Where are you going?" She said, "I'll return once I've had lunch."

Hyphens are used when a prefix is followed by a proper name.
e.g.: mid-Atlantic

Hyphens are also used when the compound forms the adjective followed by a noun.
e.g.: a fast-moving train

Compounds formed from a phrase are hyphenated.
e.g.: Jack-of-all-trades, one-at-a-time, or mother-in-law

Question Marks
Use question marks for direct questions only. Use a period for questions that are being reported.
e.g.: Did you have lunch yet? (a direct question)  I wonder if she is done. (a question that is stated)

Spaces Between Sentences
Always use one space between sentences. Two spaces were used for text typed with a typewriter to make documents easier to read. Because word processors generally kern letter spacing, the two-space rule is no longer necessary.
Incorrect:  Read the word carefully and attempt to spell it from memory.   Then, confirm the spelling is correct by checking the dictionary.
Correct:  Read the word carefully and attempt to spell it from memory. Then, confirm the spelling is correct by checking the dictionary.

Ellipsis (…)
Use ellipsis to indicate the omission of one or two words in a sentence or passage.
e.g.: You know the saying, "It's always darkest…"

Long Dashes (or the em-dash)
Use em-dashes when inserting an afterthought or an explanatory sentence.
e.g.: All food—whether wrapped, or unopened—must be placed into a bear-proof container.
A single em-dash is used when changing a thought in a sentence.
e.g.: I wasn't able to make it to the party after all—but that's another story.