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Do the Math

I recently designed the cover for a book about golf memorabilia. One of the last pieces of information I received from the printer was the exact width of the spine: 22 millimeters.

My design file was laid out in inches. How many inches is 22 millimeters? According to my computer, 22 millimeters is 0.866141732 inches. I typed “22 millimeters in inches” into my search engine (Bing, Google, Yahoo, AOL) and the answer popped up immediately.

Search engines are great for this kind of information: baking measurements, centigrade to fahrenheit, miles to kilometers, currency exchange rates, etc. Very useful.

Of course, if you have a smartphone with a voice activated personal assistant, you can just ask her your question rather than type it. Either way, it’s amazing technology.

Let your computer do the math.

Indenting Text

You probably like Microsoft Word — it’s a user-friendly word processing program — until you have to indent something. Then Word can become just a frustrating four-letter word.

If your inclination is to use the spacebar to push text way from the left margin one space at a time, please read on. My advice: do not use the spacebar to indent text!

The only meaningful function of the spacebar is to put one space between words. That’s it. If you use it to indent text, center text, or create lists, you will be disappointed. It might look ok at first, but try to edit a paragraph in which each line has been indented by the spacebar; you will have big gaps between words and have to fix every line.

So, how should you indent text?

Tab Key
Place your cursor to the left of the line you wish to indent. Push the Tab key on your keyboard (above the Caps Lock key). Each push will move the text one half-inch to the right. (To go back to the left, push the Delete key on a Mac, the Backspace key in Windows). The Tab key will indent the line but not the paragraph.

Indentation Buttons
Place your cursor to the left of the line in the paragraph you wish to indent. In the Paragraph section of the Home tab, click either “Increase Indent” or “Decrease Indent.” Each click moves your whole paragraph one half-inch to the left or the right. (You cannot go any further left or right than your margins).

To indent a section of your text on either the left or right of your document, change the margins for that section only. Highlight the section you wish to indent. With the Ruler showing at the top of your screen (if it’s not showing: View > Ruler), drag the left and/or right margin stops on the ruler to a new location. The highlighted text will go with it.

If you wish to center or right-justify a line or section of text, use the alignment buttons in the the Paragraph section of the Home tab. Highlight the text you wish to modify and choose the appropriate alignment button. Do not use the spacebar to eyeball the center of your document; this will not work.

Numbered or Bulleted Lists
By default, Numbered or Bulleted Lists indent your text while applying the numbers or bullets. The distance the numbers or bullets are indented — and the space the text is placed after the number or bullet — can be managed with the tab stops in the ruler.

Take some time to investigate these indent options before you need them.

Oh, Shoot!

Hi ITgirl,

When you take pictures with your smartphone or your tablet do you hold the device horizontally or vertically? It makes a difference, depending on where you plan to use/show the image.

My advice: take the picture holding the device horizontally — unless you plan to place the image in a vertical frame. See how much more picture shows on a wide screen? (We are so used to holding our phones vertically to talk on them that we naturally use them in that position for other programs. It might take some time to remember to turn it “sideways” to take a picture.)

Of all of the options for what to do with the pictures and videos you take — and there are many — most of them are better served by a horizontal image than a vertical one. Your computer and TV screens are wider than they are tall. The electronic picture frame your kids gave you is horizontal. Digital cameras are oriented horizontally. Most do-it-yourself picture book themes are oriented horizontally. A horizontal image will fill the space completely.

Vertical pictures will work in these applications; but not as well. If the image is vertical and the screen is horizontal, you have to choose to 1) crop the top and bottom of the image to create a full-screen horizontal picture, or 2) see the full image smaller and with black spaces filling in the area to either side).

Please don’t miss an opportunity to capture a great moment — snap it any way you can! — but if you have the time to consider the shot, turn your camera horizontally. You might be glad you did.

Windows 8: Not So Scary

Windows users: here are two good reasons not to be afraid of Windows 8:

  1. You can use it like previous versions of Windows
  2. Windows 8.1 is coming out soon

Windows 8 debuted last fall and some people are still choosing to buy new computers preloaded with Windows 7. This is a shame; Windows 8 is fun. And it’s getting to be more fun. The beauty of Windows 8 is that you can embrace its new features all at once or little by little.

The most noticeable new feature of Windows 8 is the Start Screen. It is a colorful welcome screen with customizable tiles that offer you one-click access to your programs and web pages. If you hesitate to buy Windows 8 because you feel intimidated by this Start Screen, wait! One click on the “Desktop” tile and you will be at your familiar home screen. Ahhh.

The most noticeable missing feature in Windows 8 is the Start Button, the colorful ball/button in the lower left corner of your desktop screen. While all of the controls that you accessed from the Start Button are still available in Windows 8, some of them are easier to find than others. The Windows 8.1 upgrade (free to Windows 8 users this Fall) features the return of the Start Button, among other new goodies. This should make a lot of Windows 8 users very happy.

Don’t be afraid of Windows 8. Even if you are not yet ready to embrace the multi-colored, customizable, touch screen environment, you can still appreciate many aspects of this exciting new operating system.

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