Justify Paragraphs for a Clean Finish but Avoid Wide Gaps in Text

Have you ever tried to block justify your paragraphs (make your right margin even) in a Word document and ended up with an amateurish look of too much space between words? Try this instead (Word versions 2003, 2007, 2010, 2013+ listed).

  1. Select the text you want to block justify.
  2. Right-click on the text, and click Paragraph.
  3. On the Indents and Spacing tab, click the drop-down next to Alignment, and click Justified, OK.
  4. Right-click on the text again, and click Format, Font.
  5. Tick the Kerning for fonts box (on the Character Spacing tab, and set font size to match the size of the font in your paragraph* (kerning is the spacing between characters and each font set has its own kerning). Spacing should be set at Normal.**But play around with this until you’re satisfied by changing everything in this step. Also try using “condensed” and alter the spacing until you’re satisfied.
  6. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2003)

  1. Click the Tools menu, Options. Then click the Compatibility tab.
  2. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...”
  3. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2007)

  1. Click the Office button, Word Options, Advanced.
  2. Go to absolute bottom of Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  3. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...” (this Options list is in alphabetical order)
  4. Click OK.

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2010). 

  1. Click the File tab, Options, Advanced.
  2. Go to absolute bottom of the Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  3. Tick “Do full justification like WordPerfect...” (this Options list is in alphabetical order).

To fine-tune the spacing (Word 2013 and above). 

Justification has been fixed so it’s no longer necessary to change anything. If you end up with text with too much spacing on a short sentence, read below.

Fixing a Short Sentence

If you ever have a very short sentence at the end of a paragraph that spreads out in spite of your adjustments, click behind the last character of that paragraph, and press Tab to close it up. Occasionally, you’ll have to reword to fill up space.

UPDATE: In Word 2013:

  • Click the File tab, Options, Advanced.
  • Go to absolute bottom of the Advanced options, and click to expand Layout Options.
  • Tick “Don’t expand character spaces on a line that ends with SHIFT-RETURN“.

This tip does not work if you use the Courier font. This is a monospaced (or non-proportional) font which is a typewriter-like, fixed-width font, and each letter occupies the same amount of space. Other computer fonts are variable-width (or proportional) and the software adjusts the spacing automatically. (This is why since the advent of computers, only one space follows a period, not two.)

BTW, you can receive regular computer tips from me by joining my private email list (and get lots of free stuff too). And if you want to dig deeper and register for one of my workshops or Webinars, it’s all on my Website.


When You Send Press Releases Does Google or Yahoo Know?

In my seminar and ebook on shameless self-promotion, I share how I’ve received international media coverage by doing my own public relations. One of my suggestions is to send weekly online press releases because they will boost your search engine rankings and attract reporters and clients. (I am on the first page of Google for my expertise and this is just one of the things I’ve done to make this happen…without using Pay-Per-Click.)

Several fee-based services are available for distribution of your media releases, including: BusinessWire.com, PRWeb.com, PRNewswire.com, BlackPR.com, USAsianWire.com, and HispanicPRWire.com. 

In addition to improving your search engine rankings, online press releases could get picked up by Google News and Yahoo News. This is important because 64% of journalists use these two sources for story ideas, 79 percent of journalists find story ideas from newswires in general, and 74 percent from Websites [Arketi 2008]. I started digging more into Google News and Yahoo News and what effect sending an online press release has on it, and which services produced the best results (showing up on the news sites).

In checking the Google News and Yahoo News archives, I discovered that some free press release technologies such as PRLog.com don’t even show up. I also found that although the fee-based service, PRWeb.com, costs less to use than PRNewswire.com per release, it shows up WAY more: 45,200 compared to 14,400. And BusinessWire.com leaves them all in the dust with 161,000 results.

I’m going to have to dig a little deeper to find out what makes one service get so many more results over another. I’m sure it has something to do with the popularity of the sites and how many links there are to the site, but I want to discover other related factors. I’ll update this post when I do.

The service that I use, FastPitchNetworking.com, doesn’t show up either, but it’s terrific for keeping me high in the regular Google search. And I can send as many releases as I want to for one very low monthly fee. I used PRLog.com for the first time last week and am waiting to see how my press release (Email Etiquette in the Workplace Can Reduce the Stress of Email Overload) will place in a standard Google search (that is, not in Google News). This is important because journalists also do regular searches, not just on the news sites.

The bottom line is that before you pay for a wire service, check before you buy. Here’s how.
  1. Go to http://news.google.com/archivesearch and search for all news releases from the service you’re considering.
  2. Type the following and replace prweb.com with whatever service you’re considering (see site:prweb.com in the search box. Google will return the press releases on this site only.)
  3. Then check the total of results.
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Email Etiquette Can Reduce Email Overload

Email overload is that mess that’s packed and stacked in your Inbox…hundreds and thousands of messages that you scroll through every day. You can lighten the load if you stop using your Inbox for storage and also think through every message you handle.

My solutions that work are outlined in my book, Conquer Email Overload with Better Habits, Etiquette, and Outlook 2007. Here is a recent testimonial I received from Suzette Eaddy, Director of Conferences for the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Inc., in New York.

I am forcing myself to put Conquer Email Overload down and go to bed. I am up to page 74. I have flagged and highlighted many items.  I can’t wait to finish it…I have made several changes to my laptop and can’t wait to get to work on Monday to make the same changes on my desktop...I knew that I wasn’t taking advantage of Outlook’s full potential but I didn’t realize how much of a difference a few, quick changes could make. This book is invaluable.

This post focuses on improving email etiquette. It’s important because it will reduce the flurry of messages going back and forth, your messages will be clearer and have more meaning, and your recipients will be able to answer more thoroughly.

  • Protect the privacy of the recipients with Bcc. If you’re sending a message to a group of people, send it to yourself and blind copy (Bcc) everyone else. You’ll protect the privacy of everyone’s email address and you’ll prevent a Reply to All fiasco (with Bcc, if a person clicks Reply to All, only the originator receives it).
  • Make your subject line sizzle. Your subject line should read like the headline in a newspaper. The recipient should know precisely what your message is about just by reading the subject line. It should always match the message.
  • Add a salutation. Always greet the person you’re writing with Hi Mary, Dear John, Hello John, etc. Otherwise, your email will come across as an order, especially if you’re making a request.
  • Remind the recipients of who you are. If you’ve met someone once or it’s been awhile since you’ve reached out to them, remind them of previous encounters.
  • Treat email as a business letter. Email should receive the same treatment as a letter on your company’s stationery. If you wouldn’t put smiley faces, ivy growing down the side, shorthand as in an instant message, etc., in a letter, then don’t do it in email. Proper grammar, capitalizations, and punctuation should be standard.
  • Be brief but be clear. Spend time crafting a well thought-out email and get to the point quickly. Use bullets if you’re making several points so the message can be quickly scanned. Put any deadlines in a bold font near the top and bottom of your message.
  • Thank people in advance. You can reduce email overload if you simply thank people in advance. Then you won’t feel compelled to send a useless one-word thank you email later.
  • Avoid receiving numerous useless replies. When you send a message to a group, add at the top and bottom of the message whether you need a reply (e.g., NRN for no reply necessary).
  • Keep the body of the previous email with your answer. Set your email software to include the previous message when you reply. Don’t make the originator have to go back to figure out what they asked you for.
  • Answer within 48 hours. An email message is not a 9-1-1 call, but it should be answered within a reasonable time. Your company should set this standard.
  • Think before you send. Read the message before you reply, giving the sender everything they’ve requested. If you’re in a meeting with your PDA under the table, you’re not going to send a good answer. Wait until you’re back at your desk and can think more clearly. And don’t answer any messages when you’re upset.

Start practicing better habits and etiquette today and keep me posted on your progress.


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Using Autoresponders is Not the Way to Manage Email
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Put Business Cards to Work or Dump 'Em

Hi, Peggy! I have lots of business cards from others. What is the most productive way to store them. I originally thought I’d use a desk top Rolodex; then I thought I should group them according to services, photocopy the page and then file the pages. What do you suggest?

None of the above. I batch scan all my cards into categories using the CardScan. For example, when I speak at an event, I’ll create a category for it and scan all cards into that category. Later if I want to send an email message (or mail merge email or letter) just to those people, I can.

I trash all cards after scanning because CardScan creates an image of each one. All of my files are backed up online at MozyPro.com so no worry there.

If you don’t want to invest in a CardScan, decide how cards can become electronic (Excel spreadsheet, Outlook, etc…either way, add categories so you can filter later). If you never intend to contact the people, dump them because they’re junk. Only keep the few you actually need.

I also have a card file and keep cards for vendors such as gardener, barber, etc. I don’t file them by the person’s name but rather by what they do. So the barber’s card would go under B because that’s the first thing I’d think of when I need the number.

Hope this helps.

If you have questions about improving your personal productivity, Ask Peggy by leaving a comment on a related blog post or send to email address on the Contact page above.


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