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What's the best way to ensure that a figure or note stays with the paragraph that precedes it?

Greg Edwards
Contributor

For starters, I know about the "keep with next" setting. ;)

Here's the thing that's always bugged me about Word. I write a lot of technical instruction sheets, and my typical model for steps is something like this:

  1. Instruction
    Figure
    Result
    Note
  2. Instruction
    Figure
    Result
    Note

While that's pretty easy to do in Word, I've always found it tedious to ensure that my entire step stays together as a unit. In other words, if the entire step won't all fit on page 1, then it all needs to move to page 2.

Normally, I make each component of the step (e.g., instruction, figure, result, note) a separate paragraph. Then, I go into each paragraph (except the last one) and format it using the "keep with next" setting. The problem with doing this is that not every step will have all four components, so I can't really bake it into my custom styles. Either way, I'm going to have to visit and hand configure each paragraph.

One of my colleagues suggested formatting the entire step as a single paragraph, using line breaks instead of paragraph breaks to separate the components, and then changing the formatting of the paragraph to prevent it from breaking via the "keep lines together" setting. While I guess that might work, it seems awkward at best...sort of like using <br /> tag to create line breaks in HTML.

I guess I could use Find & Replace or a macro to parse and apply the necessary formatting for me, but I'm looking for more of a "set it and forget it" solution.

Does anyone have another, better suggestion? Thanks!

2 Replies

Hi Greg

 

On a small tangent, my company uses PowerPoint for instructional/technical and other docs, etc. I am the training coordinator and write heaps of stuff and have found PowerPoint to be surprisingly awesome to work with and easier to move things around.

 

They made A4 (or Letter) sized dimensions for the slide (if there is heaps of text or something procedural), Portrait orientation, and then templated something that you could easily use anytime you want to a standard.

 

They have also have designed Landscape slides for when you use the instructions on computer as monitors are landscape not portrait, so it's easier to see info. I have also found that I could fit more content (2 A4 pages into one) if I used the landscape option.

 

You could also use two columsn on an A4 page to fit more content on as well.

 

Just my thoughts.

 

Best wishes with your work!

 

Cheers

Damien

 

I would approach formatting your instruction sheets this way:

  1. Set up style for instruction paragraphs that include numbering, indicating that following paragraph should be result style, and keep with next activated. While you're at it, create a keyboard shortcut for this.
  2. Result style would be indented (to align vertically with instruction text), no numbering, with following paragraph to also be result style, and keep with next activated. This will give you flexibility to add additional paragraphs.
  3. Create Result style 2, which would look like the first Result style, but omit the keep with next option. Also, create a keyboard shortcut for this style so that when you're ready to use it, you can switch to it without taking your hands off the keyboard. ;)
  4. Create a Note style that behaves like the Result style 2. Create a keyboard shortcut for this one also, so that if it will be the last paragraph on the sheet, you'll use it instead of Result style 2.

Now when you're ready to write up instructions, process goes something like this:

  • Keyboard shortcut for Instruction style. ENTER
  • Word automatically switches to Result style. Insert Figure (I hope you found the Option in the Advanced panel of the File tab that enables you to insert images with text wrap top/bottom - it's in the Cut, Copy, Paste section). ENTER
  • Word holds Result style, but this will be the last paragraph on the page. Keyboard shortcut for Result 2 style. Type results - blah, blah, blah. Keep with next is not active.
  • OR for pages with notes...
  • Don't switch to Result 2 style. Type results using Result style, then ENTER
  • Keyboard shortcut for Notes style. Type notes. Keep with next is not active.

Unfortunately, there is no way to make the Lock Anchor setting the default behavior when inserting figures. :(

 

You could also set up an instruction paragraph, followed by a placeholder image for the figure, then save it as AutoText. Then insert the blank instruction paragraph by typing a short name, then F3. Right click on the placeholder picture and change picture, inserting the relevant figure.

 

Lastly, I recommend using space before rather than space after paragraphs. Why? Because Word will ignore space before at the top of a page, but it won't ignore space after at the end of the page. That means that if your last paragraph on the page doesn't also have enough space for the space following the paragraph, it will go to the top of the next page.

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