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Setting Word Spacing


The heart of the WordSetter program is its Set Word Spacing feature, which makes it possible to condense the spacing between words and thus improve typographical quality in Word documents. WordSetter does this by creating a new character style with smaller character spacing than the surrounding characters and applying it to the spaces (actually, any “white space,” as Word calls it) in your text. If you decided to change the spacing for the paragraph style Heading 1, for example, WordSetter would create a character style named Heading 1# and apply it to the spaces in paragraphs that have the Heading 1 style. (Warning: Your document should not already contain styles ending with the “#” character. If it does, WordSetter may overwrite or delete those styles.)

Here’s how to use the Set Word Spacing feature:

1. Click the WordSetter menu item.

2. Click “Set Word Spacing.”


(You can also click the Set Word Spacing button on the WordSetter Document Formatting toolbar.)

The Set Word Spacing program will start, and you’ll see a dialog box with two windows. The first window, on the left, displays the paragraph styles used in your document. One of the styles will be selected—the style for the paragraph in which you placed your cursor before starting the program. You can also select a different style in the first window, even though your cursor wasn’t resting on a paragraph with that style when you started the program. For example, if your cursor was originally resting on a paragraph with Normal style, you could still click on the Heading 1 style in the window and change the word spacing for that style.

Below the window will be three measurements:

1. The character point size for the selected style. If the selection point was in a paragraph formatted with Normal style when you started the program, for example, the character point size might be 10 or 12—whatever point size is being used in the Normal style. This is displayed to help you get a feel for the relationship between point size and character spacing.

2. The character spacing for the selected style. If you haven’t yet applied new word spacing to your document, the character spacing will be set at zero. If, however, you’ve already applied word spacing, the character spacing will be the size you previously specified.

3. The new character spacing to apply. This is the character spacing that is currently selected in the second window.


The second window displays the various settings you can use to adjust character spacing, measured in twips. A twip is 1/20th of a point, which gives you a fair amount of flexibility.

The program will “remember” the new character spacing you select for various styles, making it possible to change the spacing for several at a time. For example, you might select the Normal style, with character spacing set at 0, and select a new character spacing of -.6. Then you could select Heading 1, with character spacing of 0, and select a new character spacing of -2.5. And so on. Warning: If you’re using justified type, be careful not to set this too tight. If you do, the last lines of paragraphs (which Microsoft Word doesn’t actually justify) will probably look too tight in comparison with other lines.

As you select a new setting for character spacing, the Preview window at the bottom of the Set Word Spacing dialog will display an approximation of how your text will look with the new spacing (except in Word 2002 [XP], which has a bug that prevents this).

On the right of the dialog window will be three options:

1. Apply selected spacing. This option uses Word’s Find and Replace feature to find spaces formatted with the paragraph styles you selected and replace them with character styles that have the character spacing you selected. You can use this option to apply word spacing for the first time, or to reapply word spacing that has become messed up with text changes and corrections. On long documents, this option may take a few minutes to finish its work. The spacing will be applied for the styles and settings you specify, in body text, footnotes and endnotes, and headers and footers.

2. Adjust selected spacing. The main purpose of this option is to change the character spacing of the character styles already applied to the spaces in your text, which is much faster than applying the character styles in the first place (which is what option 1 does). However, if you try to use option 2 to adjust spacing never before applied with option 1, option 2 will go ahead and apply it, understanding that it was your intention to do so.

3. Remove all spacing. This option deletes all of the spacing character styles that the program has applied to your document, leaving the word spacing as it was before you used the program. Just to be safe, however, you should not rely on this feature to restore a document to its
original condition. Instead, you should go back to your backup copy of the document. (You did make one, didn’t you?)


You’ll need to experiment in order to learn what character spacing looks best with various styles, fonts, and point sizes. For a style with 10-point type, try an adjustment of -.3. For 12-point type, try -.65. For a 24-point heading, try -2 or -3. With some experimentation, you’ll soon get a feel for what needs to be done.

You can also adjust the formatting of the character styles created by WordSetter just as you would any other character styles—by using Word’s Style feature under the Format menu.

Warning: If you adjust spacing too many times in a row, you may get this Microsoft Word error message: “The formatting in this document is too complex. Please full save the document now.”

If you click the Help button to get more information, you’ll get this message:

You added too much formatting to the document—for example, you applied different styles multiple times to the same text.

Do one or both of the following:

• Add fewer changes at one time to the document, and save the document more frequently.

• Free up more memory.


If you get this message, I recommend that you do what it tells you. Also, if you have Fast Saves turned on, be sure to turn it off:

1. Click “Tools.”

2. Click “Options.”

3. Click “Save.”

4. Uncheck the box for Allow Fast Saves.


Finally, you may need to break your document into shorter documents or make your document formatting less complex.