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Or How To Please Your Newsletter Editor With Results Presentation In a recent article Mike raised the matter of results formatting and the use word-processors and spreadsheets. Unfortunately since software these days does not come bundled with a manual many users are left to work most of it out for themselves or to go out and buy a third-party book. Generally these books cover the basics but not a lot more unless it’s one of the thick and therefore more expensive ones. As a result of this many people do not know the full power of the word processor installed on their computers. Hopefully this little piece will go some way to helping explain some of the more useful features to events organisers compiling their results lists, and go some way to making Mike’s life a little easier.
First of all in order to go through these examples it would be better to make the non-printing characters (spaces, tabs and paragraph markers) visible on the screen. To do this in Word click on the menu TOOLS > OPTIONS, then click the tab marked VIEW and click in the selection box for each character as required. Tabs appear on the screen as arrows, spaces as a dot at half alphanumeric character height and the paragraph marker as a backwards ‘P’ with a filled in circle and double vertical line. Below you can see an example of your rather unordered results list with just the normal tab settings. posn . 9 10 11 name … Joe Bloggs Katie Jones Tom Brown club …. Devon Devon IND class …. M10 W35 M75 time …. 89:23 102:27 109:44
If you were to click on one of the lines you would see a little capital L in the ruler at the top of the screen, just underneath the normal Word buttons. This is the LEFT TAB marker. What you might not have known is that there is more than one kind of tab in your word-processor. These are the left, right, centre and decimal tabs and when used correctly can be quite powerful. By default if you were to click on the ruler you would insert on the current line a Left Tab. If you now move your eyes over to the left side of the ruler you should see a very small button with the little └ tab marker on it. Click this button to cycle through the variety of tab markers. Clicking once will bring up the Centre Tab that looks like └. Clicking a second time will bring up the Right Tab, looking like ┘. Clicking a third time will bring up the decimal tab that resembles the centre tab with a small dot on the right hand side. See below for an example of each different tab in use. This is a left tab Another left tab This is a centre tab Centre tab again This is a right tab finishing with a right tab
Below you can see the decimal tab in action. It lines up the decimal points or colons for you. 0.00111 101.12 1.1254 10:01 100:23 1:12
Sometimes you may notice that when you type TAB at the beginning of an existing line (i.e not at the end of the file) then Word will try and replace it with an indented margin instead. To force a TAB in this condition simply press the CTRL key and TAB together. Another thing you can do with tabs is link them together. You probably already know that when you set your tabs on the ribbon, when you press return you tabs get transferred to the new line, but you if you wanted to change the position of one of the tabs you’d have to select both lines before dragging the tab position on the ruler. Well there is an easier way when you’re working with long lists – but you should not use it on fully justified lines. Instead of pressing Return at the end of the line, hold the SHIFT key down and press RETURN. You should notice that instead of the normal paragraph marker you now see a bent arrow. This indicates that from the line where the bent arrow first appears, until the next line with a proper paragraph marker, all your tabs are linked. Now you only need to click anywhere in one of the lines, drag the tab marker and all of the lines will be altered to match. You can see an example next. posn . 9 10 11 name … Joe Bloggs Katie Jones Tom Brown club …. Devon Devon IND class …. M10 W35 M75 time …. 89:23 102:27 109:44
Finally there is another way built in to word to enter tabs at exactly the points required and in the type you want. You can start with a fresh page or by selecting a block of text that is already tabulated and from the menu choose FORMAT then TABS. Start by selecting CLEAR ALL then enter the tab positions and the type you require, pressing SET each time. To clear a tab position select it from the list and press CLEAR.
Next I will cover tables. If you have data presented using tabs, commas or a particular character you can select every line, then from the menu bar select TABLE then CONVERT and TEXT TO TABLE. Depending upon the format of the text Word may automatically try to convert it into a table for you or will bring up a dialogue box prompting you to select which character separates the cells in your table. Be warned – the number of tabs (or other) must be equal on all lines or you may get strange results. posn . 9 10 11 name … Joe Bloggs Katie Jones Tom Brown club …. Devon Devon IND class …. M10 W35 M75 Time …. 89:23 102:27 109:44
An alternative way of doing this is to select the text and on the menu click TABLE, INSERT then TABLE and Word will automatically convert the text to a table without showing the dialogue box as the previous example. If your table appears rather strange the first time you can easily change it back to a tabbed format by clicking TABLE, SELECT, TABLE then clicking TABLE, CONVERT, TABLE TO TEXT and choosing how you want the data separated. You can add extra formatting to your table by setting TABS on the ruler within selected columns. To ‘type’ these tabs however you must press CTRL and TAB at the same time. Pressing TAB on it’s own will only cause the cursor to jump to the next cell of the table.
Super Search and Replace
Finally to round off I will cover the search and replace function. You can find it under the EDIT menu. You can pick either FIND or REPLACE from the EDIT menu. Changing from FIND only to FIND and REPLACE can be done by selecting the appropriate tab in the dialogue box that appears. This function works in much the way you’d expect. You enter the text for Word to search for and the text you wish to replace with, press OK and let Word do all the work. You can get a better search ‘filter’ and more replace options by clicking the MORE button. This brings up a host of extra options such as searching for whole words only or a ‘case sensitive’ search where the capitalisation or lack of will affect the search. It is here where we can also use some of the more powerful search options available. Mike’s article in the previous issue related the case of an email message containing results in a non-formatted way that could easily have been converted into a formatted version with just five minutes work. In the example below each field such as position, name and class etc. is separated by two spaces. In addition a persons name is separated by a single space. After copying and pasting the text into a Word article the text is unformatted. The first step is to turn the spaces on viewable by using TOOLS, OPTIONS and the VIEW tab as detailed earlier. Next the user needs to see how many spaces separate the fields. In our case it is two. posn name club class time . … …. …. …. 9 Joe Bloggs Devon M10 89:23 10 Katie Jones Devon W35 102:27 11 Tom Brown IND M75 109:44 This is where it gets cunning for as well as searching for normal text the Search and Replace function can also look for special characters including tabs, paragraph markers and with a little bit more effort, spaces. Most of the special characters can be referred to with a ^ (named ‘caret’) before a single letter code for the item. For example a single tab would be ^t and a paragraph marker would be ^p. You can pick from a list if in the Search and Replace dialogue box you click MORE then SPECIAL. Alternatively you can get a list by clicking the question mark in the top right hand corner of the dialogue box and the pressing the SPECIAL button. A help file (if you have installed this feature) will appear detailing the caret codes. Incidentally to search for a ^ in a block of text you would need to enter ^^. Using this we can search for double tabs to replace with a single tab, for example: SEARCH for ^t^t REPLACE with ^t Spaces are however a little bit more complicated. There is no caret code to search for a normal single space. If you’ve been observant you may have noticed under SPECIAL the options Whitespace or non-breaking space. These are not the same as a single space and will not work for what we want to do. Instead in order to search for a single space character and replace it with something else we need to tell word to search for the ASCII code for a space. An ASCII code – in simple terms - is a number that represents a character to the computer. Every character including spaces, tabs and paragraph markers has its own unique ASCII code to identify it. To search in Word we have to use ^0nnn where nnn is the ASCII code for a single space, 032. Therefore to search for a sequence of two
spaces we need to enter ^0032^0032 in the Find section and to replace with a tab, a ^t in the replace section. posn . 9 10 11 name … Joe Bloggs Katie Jones Tom Brown club …. Devon Devon IND class …. M10 W35 M75 time …. 89:23 102:27 109:44
If you only had single spaces separating the fields then you could do the Find and Replace functions with the single ASCII code, ^0032, replacing the spaces with tabs. The next step may be to convert the tabbed format to a table and if you wanted to be extra neat you could select the two cells containing first and last names and click TABLE, MEARGE CELLS to combine the two. Of course you could have converted the space-separated fields to a table straight away but going to tabs first makes it a little bit easier to see on the screen if you need to do a little extra editing.
Lastly I will cover one item under Excel. In his article Mike mentioned using the hours, minutes and seconds format in Excel to display results in that format (eg. 11:31:23) but there is a better way. Assuming you’ve setup the columns for your spreadsheet but not entered any values yet, if you select the fields you want to use for the result time, press the right hand mouse button, select FORMAT CELLS then instead of clicking any of the preset time settings, select CUSTOM and enter in the box for the required format: [mm]:ss The fields for start and finish time can be the normal format of hh:mm:ss. Using this format times over one hour will appear as minutes, for example 1 hour 30 minutes and 29 seconds will appear as 90:29. If you apply this format to a field you will be entering a time into, then you can either input the time as 1:30:29 or you must enter a ‘null’ figure for hours, for example 0:90:29 and Excel will still accept either format and convert it to 90:20 for you.
So there you have it, the ‘basics’ although there is a lot more to Word than what I’ve covered above.