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Microsoft Word (or any other word processing software) is great for composing text that will be poured into InDesign for professional desktop publishing. But Word and InDesign are very different programs made by different companies for very different purposes. They don’t always play well with each other.

Some common practices that are OK for a word processor document aren’t appropriate for a professionally desktop published document. Also, text imported from word processors often have hidden codes that control the formatting in the word processing program. These hidden word processing codes can show up in a lot of unexpected and unwanted ways in your InDesign document. It’s up to you (or if you prefer, us) to find and fix them. Fortunately, many can be fixed using InDesign’s Find/Change feature.

To open the Find/Change dialog box, go to the Edit menu and select Find/Change. The Dialog box that opens will have several tabs at the top. The one you’ll use the most is the Text tab. We’ll save a discussion of the other tabs for another blog. (Powerful stuff. Stay tuned.)

Here are some fixes for the most common problems you’ll encounter.

Replace a hyphen with an en dash
Find: [space]-[space] (hyphen with a space before and after it)
Change to: [space]–[space] (the keyboard code for creating an en dash is to hold down the Alt key and then type on your numeric keypad 0150)

Replace two hyphens with an em dash
Find: — (two hyphens)
Change to: — (em dash: Alt-0151)

Replace two consecutive tabs with one tab
Find: ^t^t (two tabs in a row — the carat symbol that you will need for this and many other commands is Shift-6)
Change to: ^t (one tab)

Delete an extraneous tab before a paragraph return
Find: ^t^p (tab before a paragraph return – why do you care? Because a tab before a paragraph return can add an unwanted blank line between your paragraphs)
Change to: ^p (paragraph return)

Use an indented paragraph style instead of a tab stop at the start of a new paragraph
Find: ^p^t (tab at the beginning of a paragraph – use paragraph indent instead of a tab to indent the first line of a paragraph)
Change to: ^p (paragraph return)

Use a properly defined paragraph style with space above or below instead of two carriage returns to separate paragraphs
Find: ^p^p (double paragraph return)
Change to: ^p (single paragraph return – use space above instead of double paragraph returns)

Delete unwanted line breaks
Find: ^n (line break)
Change to:  (space)

They taught you to use two spaces after a period in typing class, but it’s never used in professional typesetting. Delete the extraneous space.
Find: [space][space] (two spaces)
Change to:  [space] (a single space – two spaces are never used in professional typesetting)

Use an ellipsis character (yes, it really is just one special character) instead of three periods
Find: … (three periods)
Change to: … (ellipsis, Alt-0133)

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