Vertical Selection

You probably use your mouse to select text in Word all the time, but did you know you can select vertically as well as horizontally? For example, let’s take the following text as an example:

Circumstance does not make the man;

it reveals him to himself.”

(James Allen, As a Man Thinketh)

You can easily select just the first few words of each line down through the whole quotation, something like this:

Circumstance does

it reveals him to

(James Allen, As

To do so, just hold down the ALT key (PC) or OPTION key (Macintosh) as you select your text with the mouse. After you’ve made your selection, you can cut, copy, format, and so on.

Please note that if you’re going to cut or copy and then *paste* the text somewhere else in your document, you must make enough room for the multiple lines to fit. They won’t just go in at the insertion point the way regular text does. If you don’t make enough room (by inserting carriage returns), the text will get mixed up with existing lines of text. This is difficult to explain, but if you try it you’ll see what I mean.

Selecting text vertically is especially handy if you need to copy or format the first part of a list. I hope you find it useful.



Last week’s newsletter discussed the Dvorak keyboard (a more efficient layout than the traditional QWERTY keyboard). I’ve been practicing about half an hour a day for a week now and thought some readers might be interested in my experience. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

1. Practicing on my own the first couple of days produced uneven results, so I decided I needed a more structured approach. Since then I’ve been practicing with the MasterMind Typing Tutor, available at no charge from DvortyBoards (check out their keyboards!):

A program with more thorough instruction and fancier features is TypingMaster, which you can try and buy here:

2. At first I had to consciously think about what finger to use on each key, with a fingering chart to help me. After about three days, though, my fingers *mostly* knew where to go on their own, although sometimes I’d have to think about it. At the end of the week, this is still true.

3. I’ve had trouble learning particular keys, especially I, D, X, and B, all of which require stretching the index fingers outside the home position.

4. I now have considerable accuracy on the Dvorak keyboard if I type *slowly* (about 15 words a minute). As soon as I try to speed up, my fingers revert to their 35 years of QWERTY training.

5. Typing whole words is much more difficult than typing individual letters, because my brain is accustomed to instantly converting words into keystrokes in QWERTY. I’m still on the letter-by-letter level with Dvorak.

6. The Dvorak keyboard is exceedingly easy on the fingers since it doesn’t require the constant stretching and moving needed with QWERTY.

Next week, I’ll give you a final report with some recommendations about learning the Dvorak keyboard.



David Stacey wrote, “The general public react to the use of different colors when marking their documents. Do you have any recommendations about the choice of colors? (Too much red seems to cause them stress.) I’m now using red for strikethrough and blue for insertions.”

I think this is a good question, and I like the idea of using blue for insertions. How about using 25% gray for strikethrough? (You have to scroll down in the list of colors to see this one.) That would help communicate the idea that the text has been deleted because it would be lighter than the surrounding text.

Here’s an exchange between subscriber Miriam Bloom and me:

MIRIAM: When comparing (merging) documents in MS Word for Windows XP, is there a way to format different font colors for the “delete” vs. the “add” function? I used to be able to do it in older versions of both Word and WordPerfect, but now I can’t figure out how to do it in either.

JACK: As far as I can tell, Microsoft has removed this feature from Word 2002, which makes me very grumpy indeed. In fact, I’m unhappy with nearly all of their “enhancements” having to do with merged documents and tracked changes. If you like, you can read my rant on the subject here:

MIRIAM: Moreover, I can’t figure out how to do it after the fact because find-and-replace doesn’t seem to work on merged documents.

JACK: That’s because “red underlined” (for example) for revision tracking is a different kind of formatting. If you simply format some text as red underlined using the Font dialog, you should be able to find and replace it, even in a merged document.

MIRIAM: Is there an alternative way of searching it–or any way at all of getting around the color problem short of going through documents and redlining them manually?

JACK: You can use Word’s Reviewing toolbar to go to each new change, but this won’t alter appearance. You could go back to Word 2000, which allows you to use separate colors for insertions and deletions. That’s what I’ve done. 🙂

Thanks to David and Miriam for their questions.



Many editors have used the popular CompareRite program to identify and display document revisions. Unfortunately, CompareRite has been “retired” by LexisNexis. You can read about this here:

Fortunately, alternatives are available. You can learn more here:

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