Another ^public service message


Much as some local typists seem addicted to the deplorable habit of hitting the space bar countless times when the Tab key is better suited to the job, I frequently see documents in which the Enter key has been pushed at the end of each line. To be fair, this can also happen when the text has been cut and pasted from another source, but sometimes it occurs through sheer lack of sense. If this has happened to you, you know what a pain it is to go through a long document manually and delete all these extra carriage returns.

In the spirit of the Shift+F3 trick I shared a while back, here is a simple way of fixing this automatically in Microsoft Word using the Find and Replace command (Ctrl+H):

0. Hit the Show/Hide Paragraph button on your toolbar (it looks like this: ¶) to reveal all carriage returns. Or go to Tools > Options and make sure there’s a check mark beside “Paragraph marks” in the “Formatting marks” section. This is step zero because I always have the paragraph marks showing. It’s not necessary, but it helps.

1. Find and replace ”  ” with ” “. That is, replace all the double spaces with single spaces. Repeat until all the double spaces are gone. This is the first thing I do with all documents.

2. Find and replace ” ^p” to “^p”. This deletes any extra space before a carriage return. Make sure the “p” is lower-case.

3. Find and replace “^p” with ” “. This replaces each carriage return with a space.

4. If you wish to separate each paragraph with a blank line, find and replace ”  ” with “^p^p”. That is, replace every double space with two carriage returns. If you wish to mark each new paragraph with a tab, find and replace ”  ” with “^p^t”. That is, replace every double space with a carriage return followed by a tab.

I make no guarantee that your document will be perfect at this point, but it should be looking much better than it was.

6 Responses to “Another ^public service message”

  1. 1 Jimmy Jangles

    Ctrl + F on my computer…..

  2. 2 Peter Lynn

    Ctrl+F is search. Ctrl+H is search and replace. Doesn’t matter, though; your way works too.

  3. 3 Ian

    A typing course, I once took, said to insert a double space before a new sentence and following a colon. Is this bad?Incidentally, web browsers ignore multiple spaces. You need to use the special character code, &#38nbsp; to insert an additional space.

  4. 4 Peter Lynn

    It’s fine to do so when typing, but not really necessary when using a word processor.

  5. 5 Jimmy Jangles

    Im an idiot – I realise now I did the Ctrl H in Internet Explorer….Cheers

  6. 6 Sharon

    A friend of mine has posted a link to your site. That link was a godsend.Thank you for making editing so much easier.

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