Mac Efficiency: TextEdit Efficiency - Part 2
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The power of a great ruler setting...

More TextEdit Efficiency

In every word processor (that I know of), the ruler contains a good amount of power, enabling you to set indents, outdents, tabs, and margins. I wrote about word processing efficiency in the original Mac Efficiency 101 columns at MacCentral, was sure to teach the ruler in my Clarisworks/Appleworks for Dummies books and Office 98 Bible, and always teach it when I do corporate training.

I wrote this article with the intent to show that TextEdit, Apple’s free and very simple word processor even contains the power and that it can be put to good use. I would be remiss though, if I missed the opportunity to point out the power of the ruler in general. For this reason, you may find this article linked from more than one place within

I’ve already shown you how to create styles in TextEdit.
But I can’t resist showing you one of the most productive — oops, efficient — styles you can create:
One that automatically indents the first line of a new paragraph and automatically places space after that paragraph.
This is a paragraph-level style, as opposed to a character style.

In this case, I'm counting on you reading the other article, adding little comment here.

Here ya go...

1) I begin with unformatted text. Notice, too, there are no extra Returns between paragraphs.

This is an image or a page of unformatted text which says: Some people like to indent the first line of every paragraph. (Some people do not.) If you happen to be one of the people who likes to indent the first line of every paragraph, I have great news for you. You can create a style that will do this for you.�
Yes, it’s true! You can easily, consistently indent the first line of every paragraph, simply by choosing it from the Styles menu — after you follow the brilliant instructions here and create that style. �
Oh yes... you can also have that style (or another) automatically add space between your paragraphs. �


2) Set the indent.
Using the left-side margin and indent control, I drag to tell TextEdit to indent the first line of every new paragraph.
By leaving the lower part of that control in place at the margin, I’m telling the text to return all the way to the margin for all secondary lines in that paragraph.
You only need to do it in one paragraph but could do it in all at the same time if you'd prefer.


3) To add spacing between each paragraph,
choose Other from the Spacing pop-up menu.

 4) Set the spacing that will occur automatically after you hit the Return key.

As you click the “after” spacing up (or down) arrow for the paragraph attribute,
you see your selected text change in your document, making it easier to choose a setting.

You could also just type the desired number.

5) I like to have about one line of space added after each paragraph, so I set it to 12 points, then click OK.

Now that you have the look you want for your margin and first line indent,
it’s time to create the style.

I cover style creation in this other article, so this is just a quick pictorial of the specific process for this particular style.

6) Back in your document, choose Other from the Styles menu.


7) Click Add to Favorites.


8) Give your style a descriptive name.
(I could have used “Indent & 12 pt of space after” as my style name.)


In this case, the style is about the ruler and not at all about the font face, so check only the option to include the ruler.

Then click Add.


9) Back in your document, select all the paragraphs to which you want this style applied.
In this case, I want it on my multiple-line paragraphs but not my one-word ending lines, so I leave those out of my selection.

You don’t actually have to select all of the contents of the paragraph or paragraphs.

Because it’s a paragraph-level style, you can simply place your cursor anywhere in the desired paragraph, or select part of a paragraph.

For example, select the last word of the first paragraph and the way thru to just the first word of the last desired paragraph.


10) In your Styles menu, choose your style.


That's all!

The selected paragraphs now have the settings you set up within your new style.

Most importantly, any time you want to apply that same indent and paragraph spacing, all you need to do is select the paragraph or paragraphs and choose that style.

[Note: This article was written during TextEdit version 1.5 under OS 10.5.4.]

Until next time...

PS: If you like this article and want more, please sign up to receive a simple email each time I publish a new piece. It's easy.

Thanks to...
Ettore Software and Mariner Software
for sponsoring this article.

This page was last updated 12/5/08.
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