Microsoft Word nightmares--and how you can fix them

When Word treats your prose the way Freddy Krueger treats teenagers, one of these solutions might end the nightmare.

By Lincoln Spector, PC World |  Software, Microsoft Word

First, there's plain old manual file-saving. You've done it. You press CTRL-s and save the file. The first time you do it with a new file, you have to give the document a name and tell Word where to store it. After that, you just press CTRL-s.

It's a good idea to get in the habit of pressing CTRL-s frequently. Do it when you get up to stretch, when you pause for a thought, or when you write a good sentence. There, I just did it.

But since saving a file this way depends on your work habits, it's not entirely reliable (no offense intended). Luckily, Word has another way to regularly save your document: AutoRecover.

It's probably already turned on, but let's make sure. If you're using Word 2007, click the Office orb, then Word Options. Word 2010 users should click the File ribbon tab, then Options in the left pane. Click Save in the left pane. Make sure Save AutoRecover every n minutes is checked. You can change the number of minutes if you like. I prefer 5 to the default 10. Word 2010 users should also check Keep the last autosaved version if it's not already checked.

At the set intervals, AutoRecover saves your document with a different name in a folder that you never need to open. When you close a document or exit Word properly, the file is deleted. That's important to remember--these files are temporary and are no substitute for the real .docx file that you save manually.

But should Word, Windows, or your hardware crash, you'll be glad it's still there. Bring up Word, without loading a document, and a document recovery pane on the left will let you pick between the last AutoRecover and the last regular Save. Pick the one saved last.

3. My Columns Don't Line Up

Ever try to lay out a page where the text on the left has to line up vertically with the text on the right? For instance, a résumé, where the word Experience in the left column lines up with the top of several paragraphs listing past jobs. Then the word Education on the left must start on the same line as your graduate school.

Most people try to set up this type of layout either with tabs or with Word's Columns feature. Both approaches guarantee needless busywork and headaches. You can spend an hour getting everything laid out perfect, then realize that you need to add one sentence, throwing everything off.

The solution: Don't use columns or tabs. Use a table.

On the Insert ribbon, pull down the Table icon and select two columns/one row (assuming you want two columns).

This will make the table appear, but that's a problem. You don't want it to look like a table.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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