Thankful for Ctrl+H

I appreciate this versatile shortcut.

by Andy ScheerIMG_7508 adj 2to3

This season, it’s easy to think of the usual, big reasons to give thanks.

But the past few weeks as I’ve worked to edit a massive, multipart project, I’ve had many opportunities to appreciate one feature of Microsoft Word.

Because a few of my colleagues on this have worked more as writers than editors, they weren’t familiar with some of Word’s keyboard shortcuts. Of the dozen or shortcuts I listed for them, the one they find most useful for editing is Find & Replace.

If you’re trying to revise a manuscript without it, you’re likely doing some tasks the hard way.

Simultaneously keying Crtl and H
opens a world of possibilities for making
selective or global changes.

Simultaneously keying Crtl and H opens a world of possibilities for making selective or global changes.

Do you sometimes enter two spaces between sentences? That’s easy to fix. Go to the Find what box and enter two spaces. In the Replace with box, enter one space. Then click Replace all. You’ll even get a tally of how many instances were changed.

In many documents I edit, authors sometimes use the Tab key for paragraph indents. But tabs typically don’t work with typesetting programs. They need to be deleted. Fortunately, there’s no need to remove them manually. Find/Replace has an easy answer. In Find what enter ^t (the carat symbol appears over the number 6). In Replace with, enter nothing. Click Replace all, and all those unwanted tabs disappear.

Do you sometimes capitalize a word that should be lowercase? By clicking the More box, you’ll get a list of options that can enable you direct Word to replace all uppercase instances of that term with lowercase, such as biblical instead of Biblical.

Years ago at a conference, novelist Angela Hunt suggested using this case-sensitive feature to identify words you know you overuse. If you too often type was instead of a stronger verb construction, she suggested using the Replace all feature to change each instance of was to WAS. As you review the draft, they’ll instantly scream for your attention.

But in some instances, Find next is your better choice. My current client wants to refer to places where the ministry operates as centers, not projects. I was tempted to automatically replace each instance. Then I encountered one document that spoke of the center having just purchased a projector. Having made the change globally, I found a reference in the text to a centeror. Fortunately, that got flagged by the automatic spell-check feature. But that’s another topic for another day.

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About Andy Scheer

With more than 30 years in publishing, Andy Scheer has provided freelance editorial services since 2010. He has edited fiction and nonfiction for publishers including Moody, WinePress, and BelieversPress, as well as for clients including Dirk Cussler, McNair Wilson, DiAnn Mills, Heather Day Gilbert, and Sammy Tippit.

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