Adventures in Word Processing

Back in the day…

I learned to type on a clackety old manual typewriter in an after-school class at Seaforth Tech. At the time, my parents told me that, all else failing, I ‘could always get a job as a typist’. It was impossible to foresee that, within the next two decades, we’d all be multi-skilled and tapping away at keyboards that were connected to word processing technology with more memory than we could possibly fill.

Not much had changed by the 70s. (Queensland State Archives, Digital Image ID 2855, public domain)

However, the trouble with learning to light fires by rubbing sticks together is that you can wilfully ignore the many automated features of new developments such as butane lighters, declaring that ‘it’s quicker if I just do it the way I usually do’.  Recently, I hit this internal wall with a thud during my preparations of a manuscript for self-publication (more about that elsewhere!).

Yes, it needed a list of footnotes and a bibliography.

Yes, it needed a list of illustrations with page numbers that automatically updated when other changes were made in the manuscript.

Yes, it needed an index that similarly updated itself. I was fortunate enough to have my references and bibliography already formatted using 21st century technology (software Endnote), through having to use it in my work.

It was the list of illustrations and the index that I had persevered ‘doing it my way’: i.e., the very, very, very SLOW way. One week later, I am a born-again aficionado of the capacity of Word to create these. Dr Google threw up a lot of fellow-searchers, many of whom were asking questions about things a little to the side my exact needs, so I ended up at the Microsoft Office Support pages more often than not.*

Of course, many people are across this stuff and are technologically expert but, just in case you find you have similar blind-spot, I’ve done some other posts to that provide a potted summary.

(*I’m using Word 2016, Windows 10, on a PC, so my apologies to MAC users for any PC-centricism)

Author: Alison Ferguson

Back in the 1970s, Alison Ferguson completed one of the first Bachelor of Arts degrees in Professional Writing and then went on to qualify as a speech pathologist, working as a clinician and academic for over thirty years. As well as writing research-based book chapters and papers for international refereed journals, Alison authored two scholarly books (published by Plural Publishing, and Palgrave Macmillan). Recently retired, Alison is pursuing her long-standing fascination with story writing in both non-fiction and fiction.

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