Every so often we perform a batch of operations in Word that require troubleshooting and endless Google searches to try and get right. In this article we’ll share a few quick tips from some of the issues we’ve run into over the last month.
Positioning images: one of Word’s weakest aspects is a lack of a proper grid and coordinate system. So when it comes down to moving objects like images around the page, you really have no idea of their precise position and it’s difficult to know if they line up with other objects.
If you dig around a bit however, you’ll find that Word actually does have a basic coordinate system. Simply click on your image, select the Format tab, hit the Position drop down in the Arrange group and select More Layout options. On the dialog go to the Picture Position tab which will provide you with a number of options for positioning the image. If the options are disabled, switch to the Text Wrapping tab and choose a different wrapping option, and then return to the Picture Position tab.
While this feature is clunky, requires too many button clicks, and ends in a modal dialog, it is thankfully there and can be used for precision placement of images.
Uncovering bad numbering: Word’s numbering system for header styles is extremely flawed and very buggy at best. Even with outline numbering configured correctly, numbering in Word headings can still behave in strange ways.
In recent versions of Word, MS included options to either continue numbering or to set/force a new number, the latter of which can be very useful. What we discovered however is that this inserts hidden numbering characters which can make it very difficult for other authors of a document to track down strange numbering issues. So, if you come across numbers which won’t reset or conform to the numbering of parent headings, try turning on hidden marks/symbols and see if there are any hidden numbered items that you can remove.
Adding section breaks: section breaks allow you to partition your document so that you can have different headers/footers and even different sub tables of contents for sections of your document. However, inserting section breaks “after the fact” can make toggling header and footer options such as “Link to previous” function incorrectly.
Our recommendation here is to avoid adding section breaks after the document has been created. Instead focus on how you want to break your document up before you write if possible, and do your section break inserts as you create your new pages.
While it really shouldn’t matter when you do your section breaks, we’ve found that doing so when creating the document instead of inserting them into an existing document, seems to avoid many issues around configuring different headers and footers for different sections.
Dealing with images versus objects: when pasting an image into Word, there are some cases where Word will embed the image an object instead of image data. It’s not clear why this happens, but we’ve found that if the image is transformed into an object, it will not, in many cases, retain its position after saving the document, and may even disappear completely once the document is reloaded.
So every time you paste an image, right click on it, and ensure that the “Format Picture” menu is available to confirm that it is in fact an image. You should also double check the type of text wrapping that has been applied by Word and to ensure that resulting placement will keep the image where it’s supposed to be.
Adding a table of contents for a section: adding a table of contents (TOC) to a Word document which looks and updates correctly is often a dicey operation at best. But what happens when you want to have a “sub” TOC for a section of your document?
This can in fact be done, but it’s a bit tricky. For this tip, we came across a great article from Cybertext that we recommend you check out: http://cybertext.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/word-adding-a-toc-for-a-section/.