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Sunday, March 30, 2008

More on my Word 2007 Publishing Woes

I had to get assistance from my lovely wife to post the item about the Word 2007 Publish to Blog feature. For no reason I can discern, it simply no longer works for me. If anyone has any ideas how I managed to break this or how/if some combination of Microsoft and google broke it, please send along any information you might have about the problem and, hopefully, anything you may have learned about how to fix it.

Also, has anyone noticed that the keystrokes to get to the publish menu is Alt F U? What are Word’s authors saying with that F U to those of us who want to publish blog entries from within Word? Coincidence? I think not, clearly this is all part of the international conspiracy against my personal happiness.

While I’m writing about MS Word, I will add another problem I encounter with relative frequency that may have a solution somewhere in the Word options dialogues but, for the life of me, I haven’t been able to find it in either Word 2003 or 2007. The symptom, using either JAWS or System Access (I haven’t tried Window-Eyes yet but I’ll take a leap of faith and assume it works in the same manner as the others ifn this case) is that epigraphs disappear, at least in the context of a screen freader’s output.

What is an epigraph? To split up a short written piece of text into “chunks” one may place a few asterisks or some other symbol between two sections of the article denoting to the reader that the next section contains information different but related to the text above it. In Word XP, I could type *** and center it relative to the text above and below it and, using a screen reader, one would hear “star star star,” which our readers could figure out means a break in the story.

Since I switched to Office 2003 and later to 2007, typing three consecutive asterisks and hitting ENTER causes the stars to disappear (to a screen reader at least) and sometimes makes the text flow strangely as scenes in a story change without anything telling the user that one segment had ended and another began. I found this especially annoying in the “Blind Machurian Zone” Gonz Blinko story which jumps from place to place and character group to group pretty frequently and, reading via a SayAll (or the equivalent command in screen readers other than JAWS) it sounds very choppy.

I do not know if the epigraph is translated into anything useful for sighted readers as I haven’t polled any lately. I can only speak to how they don’t work in a usable fashion for readers with vision impairment.

While writing about writing, I’d like to ask our readers a question. Typically, if I have a question about virtually anything regarding grammar or the rules of writing in English, I go immediately to what many consider the Bible of writing guidelines, “Elements of Style,” by Strunk and White. Both Professor Strunk and E. B. White died long before the Internet came to the general public so did not include any style rules regarding usage of URLs and other web related elements. My question: most web addresses (www.google.com for instance) are almost always written in all lower case. What is the rule for starting a sentence with a URL such as, “Bookshare.org is one of my favorite web sites?” Should the author capitalize the “b” or start the sentence with a lower case letter?

Has anyone put out a style guide for the information age and, if so, does anyone pay attention to it?



Blogger hecker said...

"Wired Style" is a book that originated as an in-house guide for people at Wired Magazine. It's received mixed reviews on Amazon, but might be worth checking out.

1:01 PM  
Blogger Deborah Norling said...

I'm having the same trouble with epigraphs, but the asterisks do show up on my Braille display. JAWS doesn't speak them however. This is Word 2003.

9:19 PM  
Anonymous Joe Roeder said...


Your comment about the disappearing asterisks intrigued me so I did some hunting with Word Help. I turned up this interesting tidbit about automatic formatting.

Applies a border above a paragraph as you type three or more of the following characters:

• Hyphens or underscores for a single line

• Equal signs for a double line
• Asterisks for a dotted line

• Tildes (~) for a single wavy line

• Number signs (#) for a decorative line

8:24 AM  
Blogger Jack said...

This is a little behind the time, but if you want to fix the epigraph issue, do the following:

Open the Tools menu (ALT-T), choose AutoCorrect (press A)

Move to the "Auto Format As You Type" (press CTRL-TAB)

Tab once to get to the list of options, and arrow down to "Border Lines" (in the "Apply as you type" section. Uncheck this option.

That should do it. Now when you type *** it should stay *** and not change to a border.

8:40 PM  

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