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Mysteriously Moving Margins in Word

In Microsoft Word 2008 (and older versions), if you put your cursor in a paragraph and then move a tab or indent marker in the ruler, the change applies to just that paragraph. If your markers are closely spaced, you may have trouble grabbing the right one, and inadvertently work with tabs when you want to work with indents, or vice-versa. The solution is to hover your mouse over the marker until a yellow tooltip confirms which element you're about to drag.

I recently came to appreciate the importance of waiting for those tooltips: a document mysteriously reset its margins several times while I was under deadline pressure, causing a variety of problems. After several hours of puzzlement, I had my "doh!" moment: I had been dragging a margin marker when I thought I was dragging an indent marker.

When it comes to moving markers in the Word ruler, the moral of the story is always to hover, read, and only then drag.



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This issue comes a day early since I'm spending much of the week at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Hypertext here in Seattle. Monday night I hope to attend a reception in honor of Ted Nelson, the father of hypertext and creator of the Xanadu system. If you want to read more about Ted Nelson and Xanadu, I suggest you dig back into the TidBITS archives for TidBITS #30, in which Ian Feldman focused on Xanadu. And of course, I'll have a report on the entire conference, probably in next week's issue.


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