HELP!-Big Spaces at the bottom of Word Documents!?

Subject: HELP!-Big Spaces at the bottom of Word Documents!?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Kirk Turner <royj -at- alltel -dot- net>
Date: Sat, 10 Dec 2005 13:00:49 -0500

Kirk Turner reports: <<... at times, for some inexplicable reason, Word puts huge spaces on the lower half of my pages that I can't repair easily.>>

Even with Word, there's always an explanation... it just may not be an easy one to find or understand. <g> Odds are good that this is one of the easily understood situations--if only you knew where to look. The comments below also apply to most desktop publishing software, _mutatis mutandis_, so they're worth learning. You noted:

<<I've checked the "options" and turned on show/hide paragraphs to see the formatting marks, and I can't find out why Word is doing this.>>

Odds are good that it relates to paragraph settings in the style definition. Have a look at the Paragraph definition for the style that's causing the problem, but look in the Line and Page Breaks tab: The usual cause of what you describe is having a checkmark beside "Keep with next", which ensures that headings and the first paragraph that follows them stay together. This is generally a good choice for this setting because it prevents orphaned headings left all by their lonesome at the bottom of a page.

Several other settings here may also cause what you describe. Widow/orphan control is generally selected by default, and this would also force text to the next page. Ditto for "keep lines together" and "page break before". Again, both are good ideas in the right context; the first avoids awardly broken-up paragraphs, and the second ensures that certain key styles (e.g., chapter titles) always start on a new page if that's your layout design.

Using these settings properly can be tricky. If you define them appropriately at the beginning (i.e., to keep things together that belong together), then you'll inevitably encounter occasional situations in which you end up with too much space at the bottom of a page. This is probably more acceptable than the single lines of text that can appear at the top or bottom of a page if you turn off widow/orphan control or "keep lines together".

If the extra spacing is truly offensive to you or is unduly increasing the length of the manuscript (which can be important if you're producing an expensive printed version), you can manually override these settings wherever they cause a problem. Start at the beginning and work your way through the layout one page at a time, fixing problems as you find them. But doing so means that you'll spend lots more time fiddling with the layout, because whenever you override these settings, subsequent additions of text before the pages containing each change will screw up many or even all of those manual page breaks.

The compromise solution is probably best: Live with the uneven spacing until you're ready to print the book, and at the last possible moment, create a copy of the file in which you manually fix the bad breaks. That's the version of the file that you send to the printer. The original version of the file doesn't contain these manual overrides, so you can subsequently modify (update and revise) it to your heart's content without worrying about undoing all those manual page breaks. Then repeat the customization process with a new copy of the file when you're ready to print the updated manual.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca
(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)
www.geoff-hart.com
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HELP!-Big Spaces at the bottom of Word Documents!?: From: Kirk Turner

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