Common Errors Made By Microsoft Word Users

By: Andrewwhiteman
Everybody knows Microsoft Word. It's on almost every PC in the world and fair few Macs as well. However, a lot of users have picked up bad habits, things that detract from the usefulness of the document being created. This article looks at the most common basic errors among Microsoft users.

* When creating a document to be printed on a particular type of stationery, such as letter-headed paper, many Word users have the habit of using the Return key to create space at the start of the document. What they should be doing is changing the top margin. To change the margins in Word 2007, click on Margins then Custom Margins in the Page Layout tab on the ribbon. In previous versions of Word, choose Page Setup from the File menu.

* Leaving two spaces after the period which ends each sentence is another common error among users. In fact, one space is fine with modern typefaces since they are proportionally spaced (e.g., the letter "w" takes up more space than the letter "i"). The two space habit is a throwback to the days when people were using typewriters with monospace typefaces such as Elite and Courier.

* Do you habitually press the Return key two times to indicate the end of a paragraph? If so, you should consider pressing the Return key just once then using the paragraph spacing commands which can be found by clicking on the Page Layout tab of the ribbon in Word 2007 or by clicking on Format then Paragraph in Word 2003.

* Casual users who have never attended any Microsoft Word training courses are often at a loss as to how tabs work. At worst, they use the space bar to attempt to align elements on the page. This never works and when the document is printed the columns do not align properly. The Tab key should be used instead of the space bar.

* Word, like most text handling software has default tab stops. So, a lot of users align their columns by pressing the tab key repeatedly if necessary to move to closest default tab. This leads to inconsistency in the number of tab characters between columns and should be avoided. It's much better to click on the Word ruler to set up your own tabs just where you need them.

* Some Word users, even experienced ones, are so seduced by the Format Painter, that they rely on it to maintain consistency of formatting throughout a multi-page document. It is much better to use Microsoft Word's styles to make your text formats consistent. With styles, at any time, you can go back and change the attributes associated with a style and your changes will update all text in that style.

* Word has a number of AutoCorrect options which can seem intrusive to new users and who complain about them without attempting to switch them off. To modify Word's AutoCorrect and other settings, choose Options from the Tools menu (Word 2003/2002 etc.) or choose Word Options from the Office button in Word 2007.
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