Tag Archives: Word Processor

Do You Have a Productive Printer?

The days of typing a manuscript to send off to a publisher seem like ancient history to younger writers. The number of publishers requiring printed manuscripts shrinks daily. And some authors write, edit, submit, and publish without ever touching paper. The whole eco-arguement aside, is this the best way? The printed -I’m talking ink and toner here- word can be a good thing.
I started using a computer when I was eleven. It was a time when the era of huge inflation was giving way to the era of huge hair, but I digress. To get to the point, I was raised on paper. There are times I hate paper. This time of year is one of them, taxes and the annual file cabinet purge have me surrounded. Then there are times I insist on paper. For final editing, there is no better medium than paper. It’s easier on the eyes, it doesn’t require a battery or outlet, it’s portable, works on most surfaces, and never blue screens while you’re reading a sentence. And a shout-out to the green minded, it’s recyclable. The hidden issue with printing what you write is cost. Ink, toner, paper, the amount of time it takes all add up. This is why we need to look at printer technology. A printer, is not a printer, is not a printer. You would not use a finishing hammer to replace shingles and you would not use an InkJet printer to print your 500 page manuscript.
Printers put words on paper using two different technologies. InkJet, which sprays or paints the words on the page. Consider this the machine version of fountain pens. The other is laser. This technology uses a powered ink, called toner. The toner is transferred to the paper using an electrical charge and then fused to the page with heat.
Why choose one over the other?
Two main items set these technologies apart. Cost per page and speed. Let’s look at two Hewlett-Packard printers. A basic DeskJet 1000 and a LaserJet Pro P1102w.
For comparing the two printers, we’ll use a 100,000 page manuscript, assuming 250 words per page to give a real world example of 400 pages.
DeskJet 1000 LaserJst Pro P1102W
Cost $29.90 $159.99 These are retail prices from hp.com. Most likely you can find either printer on sale
Speed (PPM) 5.5 19 Laser is 3X Faster
Resolution *=(DPI) 600 1200 Laser will be more crisp
Duty Cycle # pages/month 1,000 5,000 You can get 5X more productivity from the laser
Tray Capacity 60 sheets 150 More time writing and less time filling up paper trays
Ink/Toner cost $13.99 for 165 sheets$27.99 for 480 sheets $68.00 for 1600 sheets You’ll spend over $100 in ink for the same capacity of toner
Cost Per Page $13.65 cart – $0.085$27.99 cart – $0.058 $68.00 cart – $0.04 At 400 pages that’s $23.20 vs. $16.  You just paid for lunch!

The cost difference per page is only 0.018. But as Grandma used say, if you pay attention to the nickels and dimes, you’ll soon have dollars?

Given the same number of pages, the InkJet will take over an hour to print what the LaserJet will kick out in 20 minutes. The duty cycle spec tells us InkJet will wear out more quickly. The cost savings in ink will quickly pay for the increased cost of the laser printer.

The numbers indicate that laser technology may be the way to go. But don’t run out to the nearest office supply store yet!
If you write for magazines and only need to print 20 pages per month, InkJet tech may be the most cost-effective and cash flow friendly option for you. However, if you’re working on the next novel that will make War and Peace look like a bathroom read, then laser tech makes more sense. Only you can decide what makes the best productivity fit for your situation.
If you don’t use a printer in your writing process, I urge you to give it a try. I’ve found that printing a manuscript with a 14 or 16 point serif font on yellow paper, makes those punctuation and  spell check errors stand out. Plus I can stretch out on the backyard swing under our red bud tree while editing.
Next week we’ll explore duplexing, scanning, WiFi, Air Print, and color options.
Are you a paperless author or one who will risk the dreaded paper cut? Please share why you think paper or paperless is the best way to go.
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Filed under Best Practices, Writing

Speed Up Your Editing in Word

I’ll state this up front. This post is about Microsoft Word. If you don’t use Word feel free to exit this blog quietly. But please do so in a manner as not to disturb the other readers.

Over the years I’ve used a variety of word processing programs. All have their quirks, strengths, and complex functions that make you want to break your keyboard in half and pound your computer into compost. Don’t worry we not going to get into complex functions. Instead we’re going to go over several handy keyboard shortcuts to increase you editing speed.

For clarity purposes let me explain how I’ll denote these shortcuts. For some of you this may be obvious, but for others I have met, they have only used mouse functions.

Control Key = CTRL,  Alt Key = ALT, you get the idea. I use the plus sign ‘+’ to denote combinations. So CTRL+C means to use press and hold the control key then press the C key.

Some of the shortcuts do require mouse interaction so here is an explanation on my terminology.

All mouse clicks will be for the left button unless noted.

Single click = single left click, Double click = two left clicks, again you get the idea.

Click and Hold = push down on the mouse button and hold it.

Why use keyboard short cuts? For me, moving my hand back and forth from keyboard to mouse to keyboard gets a bit annoying.  Especially if all you want to do is switch to underlining or italic. Also if you’re trying to select text, clicking and dragging that cursor to select everything can be tedious. So let’s start with some easy ways to select text.

Word makes it easy to select a single word, sentence, paragraph or all the text in the document.

To select a single word, double-click the word.

To select a single sentence, CTRL+Single Click on any part of the sentence.

To select an entire paragraph, triple click the paragraph.

To manually select individual characters, words, sentences, or paragraphs, SHIFT+Arrow Key. Using SHIFT+Down-Arrow is a quick way to select multiple lines within a paragraph.

Once you have your text selected you can right-click on it. A pop up menu will appear providing all kinds of options. Did you know you can click and hold on your selected text and drag it to a new location in the document? This can be handy when moving sentences around in a paragraph or rearranging action sequences in a scene.

When editing, I typically hit CTRL+A, this is the short cut for Select All. It highlights every word in your document. Once all the text selected, I right-click, select Font, and increase the font size to an 18 or 20 point size. This makes it much easier to catch typos that spell check missed, find those pesky punctuation faux pas, and any hapless homophones to — or is that pronounced too? Anyway, after I’m done editing, CTRL+A, right-click, Font, and it’s back to 12 point.

I’ll finish this out with a simple list of shortcuts. If you have any handy tricks for Word, please post a comment.

CTRL+C = Copy
CTRL+X = Cut
CTRL+V=Paste
CTRL+B=Bold
CTRL+I=Italic
CTRL+U=Underline
CTRL+Z=Undo last change
CTRL+Y=Redo last Undo
CTRL+F=Find
CTRL+S=Save
CTRL+O=Open File
CTRL+A=Select all

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Filed under Application, Writing

Every Writer Needs a Little Focus Once in a While

You’ve waited all day. You’ve thought of every way to kill off your protagonist’s love interest. Car wreck—too convenient. Serial killer—too cliché. Freak can-opener accident—no one will see that one coming. It’s all worked out in your mind, waiting to be downloaded to your manuscript.

Now the kids are in bed, the spouse is off reading somewhere; it’s just you, the keyboard, and a word processing window partially filling an icon dotted screen. Time to get to work.

But wait—there’s the Quicken icon and you still haven’t balanced last month’s statement.

Done. Time to write.

But wait—there’s the IE icon and you’ve only checked Facebook 18 times today and still haven’t seen anything about your Aunt’s cupcake baking retreat.

Done. Time to Write.

But wait—it’s now 1:30AM and you have a presentation at 8:30AM. Writing will have to wait.

A quick game of solitaire to clear your mind and then it’s off to bed.

Sound familiar? It shouldn’t.

How would you like to sit down to a screen full of this:

All black screen with white text.

Or if you need some inspiration:

Theme with custom image.

This is what FocusWriter can provide. It’s basic. It fills your screen. It blocks out distractions. Best of all, it’s free, the gnu license is a wonderful thing. (But if you like it, you may want to contribute to the tip jar).

It’s a basic word processor that has all the features you would expect, foreground, background, text colors; font formatting; text indenting and offsetting; smart quote formatting; dictionary; you get the idea. It can save files in Rich Text Format (.rtf) or OpenDocument Text (.odt). Both are common file types almost any word processor can use. Most publishers accepting electronic submissions will take rft too.

A couple of nice features. FocusWriter fills your entire screen with nothing but document space. The menu bar disappears unless you navigate your mouse to the top of your screen. This frees you to type, type, and type some more. The other cool feature is a built-in timer. This permits you to schedule your breaks.

There is a bit of assumed knowledge when it comes to installation. There are multiple Linux packages, chances are one will work on your flavor of the OS. There is a Universal MAC install or one just for Intel platforms. I do not have access to a MAC. Maybe a MAC User can leave a comment on how easy or difficult it was to install.

Windows XP, Vista and 7 are supported. The download file is a standard ZIP file. There is no install routine, you simple expand/uncompress/unzip your download file to a directory of your choice. Once unzipped, open Explorer, navigate to that directory and double-click on FocusWriter.exe.

Now your screen is filled with a word processor and you’re ready to write. If not, then you need to take the ruler out of the desk drawer with your right hand and slap it down hard on the backside of your left hand. Repeat until you are focused on your writing. After all you have a work in progress to complete. Now get to it.

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Filed under Application, Writing