Formatting with Microsoft Word: A Guide to Frustration

Formatting with Microsoft Word: A Guide to Frustration


Yes, the above picture sums up my reaction every year I must format and layout a paperback with Microsoft Word. I am currently undergoing this mission again as I work on the paperback version of my latest novel “Memento Mori”. I am fully aware that there are other programs I can use for this task; but since I’m practically surviving on rice and bread right now, I’m not in the position to make that kind of change. I’m also aware that there is a 2013 version, which doesn’t seem to have cleared up some of the issues that have caused me problems in the predecessor. After having spent a substantial amount of time dealing with page alignment, headers and footers, page numbers, glossary writing, and the always tricky page breaks, I’ve decided to create a guide to how I feel about each one of them. 

Let’s start with…

Page Numbers

Seriously. Just make it easier for us to start them on the page we want with the number we want. Don’t give us a 10 step guide that we have to follow if we want the first page number to start on page 9 of the document. Who exactly came up with the “Link to Previous” button? Can’t there just be a window where you input the information and then, BOOM, it does it all without an issue? Don’t think I’m asking too much…


Invisible Pages

When I’m scrolling down and all of a sudden, I find a random invisible page in the midst of my document, I almost want to break things. The “invisible page” can’t be seen, but the page numbers displayed by Word will skip ahead a couple digits to indicate that it’s there…somewhere. So how do I get rid of it? I have to delete content! Or better yet, I have to fiddle around with page breaks (which I just ADORE) until I can get things to be exactly where they need to be. That brings me to my next favorite subject…

Page Breaks

No, even Frank Underwood can’t understand why Microsoft Word has SO MANY DAMN PAGE BREAK TYPES! And why for the love of all that is holy are they in two different tabs?! They put the ‘cover page’, ‘page break’, and ‘blank page’ in the “Insert” tab. Then, just to screw with you, they put all the page breaks in the “Page Layout” tab, a giant tangled mass of various ones that might solve all your problems…if you could only FIND them. Oh, and isn’t that cute? There’s a couple options to add just an even or an odd page…to screw with your page alignment. Which reminds me…

Page Alignment

Right and left page alignment: it’s actually easier to set up than it looks. Until you get further into the manuscript and begin to realize that all of your chapters are starting on the left pages instead of the right, when you discover that somewhere, SOMEHOW you have two pages with right alignments in a row, and when the margins decide to freak out on you and make it so that you can’t tell which one is aligned left or right.

And the last and least favorite…

Headers and Footers

This is what broke me today. All I wanted was to have different headers on left and right pages. In trying to do this, you have to use the correct page break. Of course, when you do this, it also has the terrible effect of making it so that the page numbers only show up on the left or right side and not both…where they should be. Also…one side seems to have more room at the top than the other. And when I try to fix it so that they are even, the text on the opposite page now fall lower into the footer region than on the previous page…

The rage. Oh, the rage.

And yes, I have weathered all of these trials before. I know that there are ways to bypass each and every one of them so that they work as they should. And I know it will take time. But for now, I appreciate that you’ve let me rant…because I oh so desperately needed to.




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