Monday, September 2, 2013

Handy Tools for Writers Using Microsoft Word and Kindle. Making bookmark links, Keyboard customization, eBook creation, and more!


In my experiences, I've stumbled upon a few useful secrets for software tools that I thought I’d share on here.  

You can create links to within your Microsoft Word document to other sections of your document. This is really handy for making an Index to each chapter you’ve written. I use the Mac version of Word, so that’s how I’ll be explaining how to do this:

Highlight the word in your document where you’d like to link to. On the top bar, click “insert” and then, “bookmark.” Type in a word for a bookmark name that is specific to this point. Keep the bookmark name short (you’ll have to type it again when you link to it). For example, for my Chapter 6 link, I use “ch6” for my bookmark name.


Next, go to your Index and highlight the word you want to become the clickable link. Click “insert” and then “hyperlink.” Find the box that says “anchor” and type in your bookmark name. That’s it, you’re done.

And what’s extra handy is that when you make PDF or eBook versions of this Word document, the links will still work. It’s very handy for use in editing and sending it out to friends.


If you didn’t know about Microsoft Word’s “Track Changes” and “Comment” features, then consider this your heads up. For editing, these tools are critical for any writer to know. On the “Review” tab, you’ll find a button that says “track changes.” If you click it, then any change you make in the document will be recorded. Changes on the document can be right-clicked, and, in doing so, you can choose to either accept or reject these changes. This is a useful option for any critique circles you start with your other writer friends.

Comments are one of my most-used editing tools. By clicking “insert” and then clicking “new comment,” any words you’ve highlighted with your mouse will be given a box. You can type notes in these boxes that are separate from the main document. Very handy for marking parts of your writing that you might want to fix at a later time.


Another useful feature on Microsoft Word is keyboard customization.
As a writer, you spend all of your time working with a keyboard, so it’s really nice to be able to customize what your keyboard commands are. You probably already know that “control + i” makes highlighted text into italics, that “control + b” makes it bold, and “control + w” shows you the word count, but you can do a lot more than that!

On the top bar, go to “tools” and then find “Customize keyboard.” The rest is really up to you. I believe that to quickly add a hyperlink, Word automatically has it set to “control + k.” I love being able to quick-fire document bookmarks while I make hyperlinks, so I added “control + l” as a keyboard command. Another really useful command I’ve customized is “control + j” for add a comment. You can do whatever, of course, but these I’ve found to be incredibly useful time saving commands.


Did you know that anyone with a Kindle can make ebooks for free? You need to have a Kindle account for this to work, so go get one if you don’t. Save a copy of your Microsoft Word document, and then attach it to an email. The email address you need is, YOURUSERNAME@free.kindle.com. Obviously, YOURUSERNAME is your Kindle username. Email the attached document (you don’t need to type any subject or paragraph body), and Kindle will send you a copy of your ebook back to you. It usually takes a few minutes, so be patient.

When formatting your Microsoft Word document for making your Kindle version, you’ll note that often the paragraph indentations get messed up. You’ll have to make your document’s margins bigger, and any pictures in your document should be upped in size, too. By the way, the links I told you about in the start of this blog post should work on your Kindle! Cool, huh?


Anyway, I just wanted to share this as I’ve found it really handy. Let me know in the comments if you have any useful little secrets that I should know about!


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