How would you like a document template that never forces the issue with "smart quotes," never auto-hyphenates and never mucks with your lines-per-page count? How would you like to be able to start up a fresh document all ready with your font of choice, be it Times or Courier, set up to 12 point, with 1 inch margins (not 1 1/4!), and even double-spaced? Well, here it goes!
These instructions assume Word 2003, which is the version I use both at work and at home. If I have enough demand for it, I'll rewrite the instructions for 2007. It may seem like a lot of steps, but you only have to do this once. I advise you to print this post for easier reference.
- First things first. Bring up Tools, then Options. On the View tab, in the Show box, clear the Smart Tags checkmark. You may also want to check Vertical Ruler under Print and Layout Options.
- Click Tools, Language, then Hypenation. Make sure the "Automatically Hyphenate Document" is unchecked.
- Click Tools, then AutoCorrect. Click AutoFormat. Clear the boxes that begin with Straight Quotes, Ordinals, Fractions and Hyphens. Click AutoFormat As You Type. Uncheck everything. From now on, you will have to hit the Tab key at the beginning of each paragraph. This is useful for sending document chunks (such as via email when sending partials and fulls). You will not have to re-tab everything if the tabs are already gone.
- Bring up Format, then Font. Select the font and size of your choice (12 point Times New Roman or Courier New).
- Click Format, then Paragraph. Under Spacing, select Double. Click Line and Page Breaks. Unclick everything here except Don't Hyphenate. This stuff is only important for business and legal documents when you have headings that you want to stay with the text that they go with. And you don't want automatic hypenation.
- Click File, then Page Setup. Adjust your margins to 1 inch all the way around. On the Layout tab, click Different first page. This will allow you to have a title page without headers and footers. Click the Default button and then click Yes.
- To do so, click File, then Save as . . .
- Drop down the Save as type box, and select "Document Template (*.dot)".
- Name it Manuscript (or something meaningful to you) and click Save. Word will automatically append the ".dot" to the end and save it in the Templates folder.
To use the template, click File, then New. Over on the right side, the New Document taskbar will appear. Click On my computer . . . and the Manuscript template should appear in the General tab, which is the first tab. Double-click your template and it will load.
You're done. Begin writing. The beauty of this approach is that it has absolutely no affect on your default template.
Next installment: Custom Word Styles for the Novelist. Believe me, Word Styles are worth taking the trouble to learn.
I'd love to know if you were able to use these instructions with success.