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What do you do that others think is like Smoke and Mirrors?

Today March 29th is Smoke and Mirrors day. I know an odd kind of day to mark but it got me thinking. How much of what each of us does appears to be like Smoke and Mirrors or Magic to others?

I was reminded of this recently when helping a client. She had written a huge dissertation, something like 70,000 words! Amazing work. Now all she needed to do was to format it.

The problem was, that she first came to see me when she was half way through and she had not thought through how the document should look.

When working on a very long document, you need to think through a few things and set them up before you start!

Styles

I know I have written about Styles before, but you can’t say enough about them. Styles control the way your document looks and behaves and are essential for generating a Table of Contents.

Now my client, sat with me for a few hours whilst we went through the whole document. Deciding what the Heading levels were and how they should look and how many levels of heading styles there would be too.

We set them all up along with a couple of other styles needed for making things stand out in a particular way.

So far so good. Off my client went to write some more and finish a couple of sections.

A couple of weeks later she was back. She had added several chapters and a lot more words and was very conscious that she would need to cull or rewrite. So we set about fixing the rest up.

Oh No

When left to her own devices, my client had forgotten some of what we had done. As a result, she had forgotten to apply the Styles we had so lovingly created and had simply applied direct formatting.

So what is direct formatting?

Glad you asked. Direct Formatting is when you apply bold or italic or change the font or size or colour to a selected piece of text. When you do this, the text is not in a Style and the Table of Contents will not find it. Apart from that, she had applied styles to images in the document or tables and they were now showing up in the Table of Contents.

Here is where Smoke and Mirrors come in

Together we were able to go through the document on her last visit (her third) and apply the correct Styles to the headings. When things appeared in the Table of Contents that shouldn’t have, I was able to work out why and correct it. My client really thought it was magic.

It was not Smoke and Mirrors or Magic, just that I have invested a lot of time and effort in learning how Microsoft Office works! I know the ins and outs and I also have the ability to transfer that knowledge so that my clients and students can go on to create amazing work in each of the Microsoft Office packages, be that Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook.

Courses for all

Of course, I can’t write all this without reminding you that I have a whole school of courses including one called Work Smarter with Style! ( available for both Windows or Mac) this course will teach you everything you need to know about using modifying and creating Styles in Microsoft Word.

You can find the courses here

What do you do that others think is like Smoke and Mirrors? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time….

 

Hi, I'm Shelley

I would love to show you how to be more productive using Microsoft Office and working in the office generally!

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