Hidden Articles

In our last newsletter, we talked about how to work with lists.

You can read the newsletter here:

http://www.topica.com/lists/editorium/read/message.html?mid=1702467672.

I presented the following list of book titles, noting that I’d removed the initial “The” from The Old Man and the Sea and The Great Gatsby so they’d sort properly:

To Kill a Mockingbird

Jane Eyre

Old Man and the Sea

Great Gatsby

Moby Dick

A subscriber wrote to ask if there isn’t a way to preserve the initial articles (like “The”) but still sort correctly, mentioning that he’d had to delete opening quotation marks from items in a list so the items wouldn’t be sorted to the top.

It would certainly be possible to write a macro that would take care of such items. Another approach, however, would be to format initial articles as Hidden. Let’s say you’re working with a list like this (notice the articles on the third and fourth items):

To Kill a Mockingbird

Jane Eyre

The Old Man and the Sea

The Great Gatsby

Moby Dick

You could use Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace feature to find “The” (using Match Case) and replace it with “The” in Hidden format. In Word 97, 98, and 2000, you’d do it like this (the procedure is basically the same in earlier versions):

1. Click the “Edit” menu.

2. Click “Replace.”

3. If it’s available, click the “No Formatting” button.

4. Type “The ” in the “Find what” box (include a space after the word).

5. Type “The ” in the “Replace with” box (include a space after the word).

6. If it’s available, click the “More” button.

7. Check the “Match case” box. (Uncheck any of the other boxes.)

8. Click the “Format” button.

9. Click “Font.”

10. Check the “Hidden” box.

11. Click the “OK” button.

12. Click the “Replace All” button.

13. Click the “OK” button when Word tells you how many items it found and replaced.

14. Click the “Close” button.

You could repeat this for anything else you want to be ignored when you sort the list, such as “A,” “An,” quotation marks, and so on. (You could even record all of these together as a macro.)

Now sort your list (Table/Sort Text). When you’re finished, it should look like this:

Great Gatsby

Jane Eyre

Moby Dick

Old Man and the Sea

To Kill a Mockingbird

But wait! We’re not done yet. Now we’ll get our articles (etc.) back by reversing the Find and Replace routine we used to hide them:

1. Click the “Tools” menu.

2. Click “Options.”

3. Click the “View” tab.

4. Check the “Hidden text” box (under the “Formatting marks” heading).

5. Click the “OK” button (revealing the hidden text so it can be found).

6. Click the “Edit” menu.

7. Click “Replace.”

8. If it’s available, click the “No Formatting” button.

9. Type “The ” in the “Find what” box (include a space after the word).

10. If it’s available, click the “More” button.

11. Check the “Match case” box. (Uncheck any of the other boxes.)

12. Type “The ” in the “Replace with” box (include a space after the word).

13. Click the “Format” button.

14. Click “Font.”

15. Clear the “Hidden” box.

16. Click the “OK” button.

17. Click the “Replace all” button.

18. Click the “OK” button when Word tells you how many items it found and replaced.

19. Click the “Close” button.

Now your list will look like this, which is what you were after in the first place:

The Great Gatsby

Jane Eyre

Moby Dick

The Old Man and the Sea

To Kill a Mockingbird

Hidden text is useful for other things, too–but we’ll talk about that another day.

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