Monday, July 30, 2012

Document Map, a Tutorial by Matthew MacNish

Document Map is a setting in Word that lets you navigate around a document quickly, and view the layout of a document at a glance. This is especially useful when dealing with a long document like a novel manuscript. Now that I know how to use this feature properly, I have no idea how I worked on writing without it.

Most of the Project Mayhem authors probably already know about it, but when I learned about the Document Map recently, and then shared about it on Facebook, I was amazed how many writers I know didn't know about it.

So, I'm going to write this post based on Microsoft Word 2007, which is what I own, and what I write in, but my understanding is that the feature exists in everything since Office XP (Word 2003), and is even better in Word 2010. Enabling and using the feature might be a little different in the different versions, but I'm sure you can Google the settings for whichever version you use.

For MS Word 2007, here is a screenshot of how you enable the function:


So that's VIEW on the banner, then click the box next to "Document Map," to place a check mark in it, and then the Document Map pane will appear to the left of the document itself (that dropdown menu can also show thumbnails).

When you're ready to create your first heading (in a novel this might be the title), which is like the highest level in the tree directory of an outline, you need to switch back to HOME on the banner. That will allow you to select style, as seen here:


The default format is probably not how you want it to look in a novel, but we'll get to customizing it in a moment. For now, light blue 14-point Cambria works fine when creating an example outline. I'll show you what this does to the Document Map pane in a second.

For now, you'll need at least one sub-heading to create a directory tree. This is what that looks like:


Keep in mind, that these styles only appear with these default settings when you open a new document. I have found that when trying to add these setting to a manuscript I first started years ago, the styles are all kinds of wonky. You can edit them manually, but I've found it much easier to create a new document, build the headings exactly how you want, and then paste the rest of your text in.

So, now that you know how to enable Document Map, and how to create the first two headings, this is what an example outline looks like, with four levels of headings, and then what that does to the document map pane on the left:


That's a little blurry, so here's a closeup of the map pane:


Isn't that convenient? Imagine a manuscript with 3 sections, and 34 chapters. It is so much faster to be able to jump around the document using this feature, expanding and contracting your headings on the left, and then clicking on whatever section you need to jump to. This feature is amazing during revisions. I have a friend, Adam Heine (who also actually taught me this feature), who even uses a level 5 heading for each scene within his chapters. I haven't found this necessary yet, but the fact that the option is there is pretty nice.

Now, you probably don't like light blue 14-point Cambria to show up in your novel manuscript, so how do you edit the formatting of these headings, so that it fits the style of your writing? There is apparently a way to do it by right clicking the text and then clicking on the paragraph settings, but I've found it much easier to right click the style, and the "modify," like this:


Which will bring up this window, that allows you to customize how you want the style (heading) to look:


Note the outlined font color of "Automatic," (which is basically black), the outlined centering of the paragraph, rather than "aligned left," and the font changed to "Times New Roman," which is the default in the majority of the publishing industry, rather than "Cambria." Now, I didn't change the font from 13-point to 12-point for this example image, but in a novel manuscript, even for a chapter title/heading, you probably should. Some agents and editors may ask for something different, and you can certainly Google, "default manuscript formatting," for better expert opinions than mine, but I keep the entire text of my manuscripts in 12-point Times New Roman, automatic color.

You might not want to center your chapter headings, and that's certainly fine if you don't, but the point is that this window is how you control those formatting options for every single piece of text that uses that style (heading). Modifying Heading 2, for example, will change the formatting for every piece of text that you assigned the style "Heading 2," to.

Does that all make sense? I certainly hope so, because I'm pretty new to this, and am definitely no expert. If you have any questions, please be sure to ask them in the comments, and if I don't know the answer, I'll try to find it for you.

49 comments:

  1. I actually only go down about 3 levels (Parts/Acts, Chapters, then Scenes), but yeah, I've found it really useful to set the opening line of a scene to appear in the Document Map (esp. if you have long chapters).

    To do that, I have to have two separate styles: one for Scene Headers (the first line/paragraph of a scene uses this style) and another for regular text. Both styles are formatted the same, the only difference is the Scene Header appears in the Document Map (called the Navigation Pane in Word 2010).

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    1. I guess I meant the title would be counted as a level, because if that's your heading 1, you can minimize the entire document to that one level in the navigation/DM pane.

      Anyway, I'm still so stoked you taught me about this. I mean, it's not really that big a deal when drafting, but it makes a huge difference (at least for me) during revision.

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  2. I've always wondered how to set headings for new chapters. I'm incredibly disorganized, and do not do any of this. Scrivener just drove me crazy and I fled back to Word immediately. I prefer to simply ... write until I'm done. But the heading/chapter thing is something I could use! Thanks, Matt!

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    1. You're welcome! I hope my explanation for how to include these option makes enough sense for you to use it.

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  3. I've used it for years in Word 97, thanks to "Word 97 for Dummies."

    I use it for chapters, and also for really long scenes, where I need to break it up and jump around quickly as moving parts around. So they might be "Luke jumps into trash compactor," "Luke gets sucked under," and "Walls come in."

    I write the heading in Word at the top of the section and then highlight it and format it to a Heading.

    I've also read that in Word 2010 you can move the headings around, like to reorganize chapters.

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    1. It existed as far back as '97? That's awesome.

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    2. Well, I'll be a pirate's wheel. You CAN drag the headings around in Word 2010. I can rearrange my whole novel!

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    3. That sounds ... dangerous to me.

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    4. I learned about dragging headings in 2010 here:

      http://www.davidhewson.com/blog/2011/11/1/latest-video-outlining-and-navigation-in-word.html

      He's also written a book about Scrivener, and he's a novelist, so he knows what works for writers.

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  4. Never knew about that feature. Of course, I don't insert chapters until the very last thing, so don't think that would work for me.

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    1. Well if you've got a method that works, by all means, don't change it. Thanks for stopping by, Alex!

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  5. This is new to me too, but I'm sure very helpful! I've used scrivener for that reason exactly: it's just easier to jump around and switch chapters if you need to. This will definitely be helpful for Word though. Thank you!

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    1. I have heard that Scrivener has something similar built in, but yeah, it's nice to have this option in Word.

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  6. Thanks for sharing this. I didn't know anything about this. I just got Word 2010 and need to learn how to use it better and some of the cool features like this.

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  7. Wow - thanks for showing me something new. I have often use Document Map for getting around in my novel while editing, since my chapter headings show up there. But I didn't know all that stuff about formatting and thanks especially for the tips about setting up the headings first, so the document formatting doesn't get wonky (I've had this happen to me).

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    1. I'm glad I could help, Andrea! And I'm glad some people haven't heard of this, because I was really worried I might be the only one.

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  8. Matt,
    I use Scrivener for the same reason but this really makes it easier to manipulate WORD and since I export to WORD in later revisions this will be really helpful. Always up for something new that saves time. - Joe

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    1. Glad it helps, Joe! I've considered Scrivener for a long time, and will still probably check it out eventually, but all the industry pros say you still have to export anyway, so it's helpful to know Word does some stuff like this.

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  9. One good thing about my day job is that I've gotten to know Word really well. :)

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  10. Thanks to Matt sharing this on Facebook, I'm adding the chapter headings as I go through my manuscript revising. I was wondering how to mark the scene beginnings -- but I don't know if I'm ready to go that far yet. I can definitely see where it would be useful, but I'm not sure how to format it so it looks like regular text. Hmmm.

    Does mapping your document this way cause any problem when sending your manuscript to an agent or editor?

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    1. You can do scenes the same way you do chapters. You just have to "modify" the style (Heading level 4 or 5, depending) so that the formatting matches the plain text in your scene. I don't have an agent or an editor, but I don't think this would make much difference to how the document is read.

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  11. I am a dinosaur. But thanks for the information.

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  12. Ha! I didn't know about this! Thanks so much for pointing it out!

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    1. No problem. Thanks for stopping by, Kimberly.

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  13. I saw your FB post but figured my ancient version of Word didn't include this feature. Now I know it does & since I'm just starting a new novel, I'll be sure to use it. Thanks for the quick tutorial. I'm bookmarking this page for reference.

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    1. Ooh, that's cool to hear. Thanks, Nancy!

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  14. Very cool, Matt. I have never used this feature but it looks useful. Cool!!

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    1. I had never heard of it until about two weeks ago. It's made a big difference for me already.

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  15. I have Scrivener, which is useful for drafting, but not as useful (in my opinion) for revision. I prefer to revise in Word, so I'll give this a try!

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  16. I had an exam on this!! Seriously!! It's called the European Computer Driving Licence - advance course - ECDL!! LOL!!! I got a certificate too!! I think I showed a pic of my certificate in my blog a few months back! Yay!!! Take care
    x

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    1. Hah! That's awesome. Thanks, Kitty!

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  17. Matthew,
    This was great. I use Scrivener, however, I know a many people would love to have this information. Do you mind if I share this on my blog http://www.cowpasturechronicles? I will link it back to yours. Thanks for the info.

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    1. Sheila,

      That is fine with us here at Project Mayhem. Please just be sure you mention Project Mayhem as a Middle Grade group blog, because even though I wrote this post, this blog is the effort of several authors.

      Thanks,
      Matt

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  18. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for sharing this. I had no idea!

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    1. You're welcome, Jackie. Thanks for reading!

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  19. Oh, I'm definitely bookmarking this. Thanks, Matt! :)

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  20. Very cool! Thanks, Matt! :o) <3

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  21. I'm in the middle of revisions! Where have you been for the past few months? Thank you- I'll start working on this tomorrow!

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    1. Hah! This post is a few months old, but you're welcome.

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Thanks for adding to the mayhem!