MS WORD for Writers: Views and Working in Web Layout

There’s a simple trick I’ve learned that makes my job easier. Whether I’m writing or processing a client’s Word doc for editing or formatting, I work in Web Layout View.

In the Word Tool Ribbon is Views. Click on that then over on the left side of the Ribbon is the command box for Views. Your choices are Read Mode, Print Layout and Web Layout along with Outline and Draft. Click Web Layout and now your screen acts similar to a scalable website page.

In Web Layout view you are not limited by the “page” size of your document (Word’s default is an 8.5” by 11” page with one inch margins all around). Decreasing the size of the window causes the words to rewrap and adjust to fit the screen—as opposed to Print Layout where decreasing the window can cause text to be cut off. Web Layout has no margins and no pages.

Also in the Views Ribbon is the command box for Zoom. Here you can increase or decrease the size of the text, or change to multiple pages. Word also has a scroll bar at the bottom right of the main screen for quick zooming in and out. The latest version has icons for switching between Read, Print and Web Layout.

(The only time I use Print Layout is when I’m creating a doc for printing. Considering 99% of the docs I process are for digital sharing or for formatting in other programs, that’s not very often.)

You wouldn’t think something so simple as switching views could increase productivity or make writing easier. It’s highly effective for several reasons.

One, I’m a multi-tasker with bad eyes. I keep multiple programs open and viewable so I can quickly switch programs or keep an eye on email or compare one doc against another. I usually work at 150% zoom with a fairly narrow window width. Web Layout keeps everything readable. When I’m working on my own writing, I like to keep the browser open so I can easily look up words or do some research or view images. (Okay, sometimes I play YouTube videos. Inspiration, not procrastination, all right?) Even on the smaller screen of my laptop, this gives me plenty of room to work comfortably.

Two, I’m easily distracted by widows and orphans. Dear Blog Readers, do not for a second pretend you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about. You’re writing along, coming to the end of a chapter, and Word drops you to a new page and there it is—a single word. Or you insert a scene break, start the new scene but after only one line, it goes to a new page, leaving that single line sitting on the preceding page like a lonesome doofus. You know and I know, it drives you nuts. Then your writing flow is interrupted while you compulsively “fix” the problem by cutting or adding words, or screwing around with inserting extra hard returns and other nonsense. It’s a form of procrastination easily resolved by working in Web Layout.

Three, it reduces the urge to “format” while I write. Even I, who definitely knows better, gets caught up by the appearance of the words on the screen. When I’m composing fiction or something like this blog post, I do not format other than using basic styles (a subject for another blog post). I don’t insert page breaks or change the alignment of paragraphs or center text. I just write. It doesn’t matter what my doc looks like. Eventually it’ll be shared or formatted for a specific purpose, but that’s later, down the road when I’m finished writing and all the editing, revising and polishing is done. Any “formatting” in the doc will have to be stripped out, thus it’s a total waste of time and mental energy. Not to mention that a lot of “formatting” writers do in Word is destructive when docs are shared digitally or formatted for ebooks.

What about page count, you ask. Web Layout gives you the word count, but not the page count and how are you supposed to keep track of your productivity? If it really matters, you can switch views with one mouse click. Or, if you’re inclined to track your page progress as you write, go the Home Ribbon and in the Editing command box click Find. That will open a Navigation pane on the left side of your screen. It has three options: Headings, Pages and Results. Click on Pages and it’ll display thumbnails of your pages.

So there you have it. Web Layout for increased productivity and fewer opportunities for procrastinating when you should be telling a story.

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My goal for 2018 is to teach as many writers as possible how to efficiently and expertly use MS Word as a writing and self-publishing tool. Watch this blog-space for more tips, tricks and techniques. Or, if you’d prefer all the information in one package, including step-by-step instructions for formatting ebooks and print-on-demand editions, WORD for the Wise: Using Microsoft Office Word for Creative Writing and Self-publishing is available at Amazon as an ebook and in print.

 

 

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2 thoughts on “MS WORD for Writers: Views and Working in Web Layout

  1. That is brilliant! I find the newer versions of Word hard to use because there are sooooo many features. But perhaps they have just the right number of features if you know how to make them work for you.

    I love how you help writers think “outside the page.” We get way too focused on pages, even though that’s not a good unit of measurement anymore in the modern world.

  2. You’re right in that regard, Alex. “Pages” are a terrible unit of measurement for most creative writing. Knowing the page count is only appropriate for print-on-demand editions.

    And Word is complicated. Despite the fact that I use it all the time for everything from writing to doc clean up to text restoration to editing, I bet I use less than 25% of its features. But it’s getting better. The latest version looks scarier, but it’s easier to use than earlier versions, and it’s producing much better, far more refined results both for digital and print.

    Keep an eye out. I have loads of tricky-tricks to make Word easier to use.

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