How do I reformat my tabs in Word?
March 17, 2014 9:17 PM   Subscribe

What is the quickest and most accurate way to undo manual tabbing in Word and reformat those lines with paragraph alignment?

I am publishing a book on Amazon Kindle next month. In order to avoid the pitfall of repeating too many "she said's", "he said's", I offset dialogue on a new line with tabbed spacing. For example:

"Character one says something." This line is a half-inch from the left margin.

"Character two responds to character one." This line is an inch from the left margin.

When I looked through Kindle's formatting requirements, I read that tabbed text will not register on Kindle devices. Instead, text should be indented with paragraph alignment changes. The page recommends using this method to change indentations, however, I only see an option to do the first level of indentation, not further levels. (Keep in mind I am trying this on a Mac using Word 2007).

Other than the above listed page, what are methods I could try? Ideally, I'd like some kind of macro that could both undo the manual tab and redo with the paragraph indentation. It would be fine if I needed a macro for each level of indentation.

I have access to both a Mac and a PC, as well as Word 2007 and Word 2010.
posted by msk1985 to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you have multiple styles; have one as indent style one, the next as indent style two.

Identical paragraph styles but for the indents.

Are you sure Kindle will respect that, though? I had something similar in a book I'd done up for someone & it didn't seem to turn out that way.
posted by tilde at 9:25 PM on March 17, 2014

Okay, just checked. What I described should work; when you proof your book, make sure you view it on all the kde layouts, but be advised it will still vary between what kde says it will look like & what it really looks like; not so much on true kindle devices - more on iPhones and iPads.

Para style 1 (remark): indent .25
Para style 2 (response): indent .5
posted by tilde at 9:33 PM on March 17, 2014

As for replacing the styles? I'm not a macro kinda guy; I would just search for double tabs, nuke those while applying para2 style, the go baxk & repeat for single tabs on para1 style.

But even before going that far, I'd upload it first as a Word doc, then a PDF if it's not respected; I never have tried a PDF upload so I don't know how it might behave.
posted by tilde at 9:37 PM on March 17, 2014

I've formatted ebooks for a living, and if you actually manually hit the tab key, you can just go to find/replace. In find, put in "^t", no quotes, and leave replace blank. No space, nothing. Hit replace all, and it'll delete all your tabs. The previously tabbed lines are probably already formatted in normal style, so the previously tabbed lines will now line up with the rest of your text, or can be formatted (presumably to normal, which will have the same paragraph spacing/indents as the rest of your text) along with everything else.
posted by MeghanC at 9:56 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

MeghanC, that works but you have to understand the workflow - he wants the two tab ones to be para2 (inch indent) and the one tab ones to be para1 (half inch indent).

If he just nukes them all, he has to then re read everything to remember which ones are para2 and which ones are para1 - unless I'm misunderstanding you and you are saying "nuke them after you have reapplied the paragraph styles properly".

Thanks for bringing this up, msk1985. I have to redo a book this week for someone who changed their mind about some layout stuff and I was going to change it to look more like another style I've seen ... NO indent in the first paragraph of a chapter or after a major break, then indented for the following paragraphs.
posted by tilde at 4:58 AM on March 18, 2014

I was doing something similar with removing tabs a while back. I'm pretty sure it was using the find and replace function. SOmething like find ^9 and replace with ^11

gets rid of the tabs and replaces them with line breaks. It doesn't indent but a 'return' line break serves the same purpose essentially.
posted by cicadaverse at 6:34 AM on March 18, 2014

OK, I'm bored. Here is something which works on Word 2011 on a Mac, it requires Advanced Find and Replace which is in the Edit > Find submenu and takes longer to describe than to do.

First, working with a copy of your document, define all styles you will need, you don't have to get them complete but having a paragraph indent will help you monitor progress. Choose sensible names like indent1, indent2 etc.

Next: choose a character which is not found in your document, I use '$' below. I assume there are no tab characters within the text body, if there are you will need to delete them first.

Now do the restyling, this is done in 2 stages because there isn't an advanced find and remove option.

Starting from the most indented paragraph open advanced find and replace. In the find tab search for '^t^t^t' (say). In the replace tab set the replacement text to '$'. In the format menu at bottom select style and choose indent3 as the style. Now click Replace All. This will restyle all third level indents leaving '$' at the start (for now) to prevent re-processing tabs.

Repeat this with '^t^t', '$', indent2 and so on.

When you have finished. Close the dialog box and click the Edit > Find > Replace. This opens a side bar. Now delete the '$' characters by finding '$' and leaving the Replace With box empty. Do Replace All and you are done. Adjust your styling settings as needed.
posted by epo at 6:39 AM on March 18, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks all for the suggestions. Unfortunately, the "^t^t" and "^t^t^t" commands are picking up any kind of space that fits the default normal width for the command, and not necessarily the tabbed lines themselves. I even tried after copying and pasting into Text Wrangler and back into Word to get rid of any meta-data.

For now, the best solution I could figure out was to record a macro for each of the two types of undo tabs and redo indents and to set a shortcut keyboard command. It'll take awhile, but at least now I can point to the right place, hit two keys, and changes will made to that line.

Any other suggestions would be great. Thanks!
posted by msk1985 at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2014

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