1 January 2003

Word Processing for Biblical Scholars

Everyone needs word-processing skills, but we need some skills which others can live without.

1) Upgrading. Which version is best?
2) Saving as web pages
3) Styles and Master Documents
4) Exporting to a Palm
5) Unicode Greek and Hebrew fonts
6) Recording Macros
7) Tips and Little-known features

1) Upgrading. Which version is best?
Most of what follows will assume that you use Word.
So first, a note about the others, i.e. (mainly)
Word Perfect, Office Star, Lotus, NotaBene
These are all good word processing packages, with good points.
* Word Perfect has the wonderful View Codes feature and unsurpassed Table functions.
* Office Star is free and very powerful. Think about it.
* Lotus is often bundled free and used to be cutting-edge, but hasn't kept up well.
* NotaBene handles Hebrew and Bibliographies very well, but it is sometimes difficult to share a document with other users, though this may be getting better. See http://www.notabene.com/

Personally I am a reluctant Word user. I use Word because it is good at most things, and because everyone else uses it and asks me questions about it.

Which version?
Word 2000 is better than Word 97, though I haven't been persuaded to upgrade. The best improvement is html export. (See "Saving as Web pages" below). The Visual Keyboard in Word 2000 is good for typing foreign fonts but it doesn't come on the CD. Get it from:

Word XP is even better, apparently, though I can't see it personally. It doesn't seem to freeze so often when it crashes, but it seems to crash more often. Later patches may have fixed this.
Word 2002 does have an important new feature - Uniscribe, which allows real Hebrew typing (see "Greek and Hebrew fonts" below). This may work with earlier versions, but it is installed as native with Word 2002.
I'm sticking with Word 97 for present, mainly because the Hebrew software which I prefer doesn't work with Word 2000+. Perhaps I am a luddite at heart.

2) Saving as web pages
You can write web pages directly from Word documents simply by clicking on "File: Save as: (File type: HTML)".
This works in Word 97/98 but it doesn't export footnotes properly.
It is much improved in Word 2000, where footnotes are 'clickable'.
The file you produce ends with ".htm" but it isn't a very nice htm file, because it has lots of extraneous codes which only Word understands. These are not visible in web browsers, but they make the page much longer, so they take longer to download. Before using it as a web page, it is polite (though not necessary) to filter out the Word codes using the HTML Filter from

3) Styles and Master Documents
If you are writing long documents you should certainly use Styles and perhaps a Master Document.
Using Styles is the only way to ensure consistent formatting in a large document.
Use Heading2 or Heading3 for subheadings. The advantage is that when you modify a Style, the formatting is changed throughout your document, to maintain consistency.
Create other Styles such as Quote:
Format a paragraph the way you want (eg indented, smaller font), then highlight the whole paragraph and click on "Format: Style: New" then name it.
You can list your Styles in the left edge if you click on "Tools: Options: View" and set the "Style area width" to 1cm.

If you are writing a book, you should consider saving each chapter as a separate file, then link them by creating a Master Document and adding each chapter as a Subdocument.
To do this:
Make a new file (e.g. Book.doc). Click on "View", then "Master Document".
A new Master Document toolbar should appear, but if it doesn't, click on "View: Toolbars: Master Document"
Click on the icon for "Insert Subdocument" and browse to insert chapter 1.
etc. for chap.2, 3, ...
This makes it much easier to change formatting throughout the book, because the Styles of the Master Document are inherited by each chapter. The computer also finds it easier to cope with several largish documents than one huge one.

4) Exporting to a Palm
If you have a Palm you probably want to share some documents with it so that you can work with them 'on the road'. I have tried two utilities for this, WordSmith and DocsToGo. They both export to Palm and re-import without loosing formatting. But there are some limitations:
Fonts: DocsToGo does not show the actual fonts, such as Hebrew, Greek or fancy English fonts. WordSmith does - making it amazingly easy to edit Greek and Hebrew on your Palm.
Formatting: DocsToGo doesn't show all your formatting but it does preserve it all. Wordsmith shows a little more formatting, but shows none in footnotes or tables, and when you try to change footnotes you are liable to lose the formatting. Wordsmith also loses some complex formatting (such as character kerning).

Backup: WordSmith does not backup documents which are saved in extended memory (ie your Memory Stick etc). Both are good at synchonising with versions on your PC.
Get WordSmith from Blue Nomad (a free trial is available)
Get DocsToGo from DataViz:
You might also want to try QuickOffice from Cutting Edge Software:

5) Unicode Greek and Hebrew fonts
I still recommend the Tyndale FontKit - mainly because I'm used to it, but also because it is free and because it is so easy to touch-type accented Greek and pointed Hebrew. Get it from:
BUT it doesn't work with Word 2000 or anything later, and it isn't Unicode.

Unicode is the new revolution in the font world.
In the old days fonts had 256 characters, so you loaded a different font for each language. Unicode fonts contain room for 65,000 characters, so they can include many languages at once. This means that Unicode fonts are largely interchangeable, on Macs and PCs. If you write Hebrew or Greek in one unicode font, it won't be garbled if someone views it with another unicode font - though some less common symbols may not be present or in the same place in all fonts.

Word 97 is unicode capable. It comes with Times New Roman as a unicode font and you can add other unicode fonts later. There is a good collection at:
Word 2000, Word XP and Word 2002 are increasingly happy with unicode.
Read more about Unicode at: http://www.alanwood.net/unicode/
Word 2002 has Uniscribe which allows real Right-to-Left Hebrew formatting. Unlike most right-to-left systems, this justifies and word-wraps properly. It also allows for encoding variable width pointing.
Uniscribe can be made to work with earlier Word Processors. I've seen it implemented on Word 97 within Win'98, but I haven't done it myself. See:

For the best Unicode Hebrew font get LaserHebrew from LinguistSoftware.
It contains ALL the characters, symbols, pointing, and accents which are in BHS.
$100 (or $80 if you bought LaserHebrew).
While you are at it, buy their BHS text for $60 - it will save you a lot of typing.
They say that real right-to-left requires Windows 2000 or XP and Word 2002.
A cheaper option is Antioch Greek & Hebrew with right-to-left utilities for Windows 98 (and soon for Windows XP/2000) - $50.
For free Unicode fonts with Hebrew and/or Greek go to
The best of these is probably the SIL fonts, at

No version Word on Macintosh implements unicode - even Word X lacks Unicode, despite the fact that OS X supports it. This is a very serious problem for biblical scholars, which will hopefully be rectified in a future version. In the mean time there are a few alternatives which can use Unicode on Macs. See
ThinkFree apparently implements Unicode on a Mac - worth looking at:

6) Recording Macros
There are umpteen times when you have to do the same thing umpteen times. So record a macro.
To record a macro:
Click on "Tools: Macro: Record". Or double-click on REC in the bottom status bar.
To stop recording:
Click on the blue box which appeared, or double-click on REC again.
To play back a macro:
Click on "Tools: Macro: Macros". Or make a button for your macro (see below)
You can't record mouse activity so:
- use the cursor keys with shift to select text,
- and use Alt-F and cursors to get to the menus.
To make a button for your macro:
Click on "Tools: Customise: Commands: Macros"
- then drag the macro you have recorded onto your menu bar
- then right-click on the new button to change the name
When you record a new macro with this same name, the button will enact the new macro.

7) Tips and Little-known features
These tips won't work the same way on all versions of Word. Be flexible and hunt around a little.
Use invisible Tables instead of columns:
Columns are tricky to use, so insert a Table instead, and make its lines invisible.
Each column can be formatted differently (which is difficult in columns).
To remove the lines, click on "Table: Table AutoFormat: (none)"
Use the "Format Painter" to copy formatting:
In the Format toolbar is a paintbrush. Highlight some formatted text, click on the paintbrush, and brush it over other text. It will paint the formatting of the first text onto the new text.
Add the "Save All" button:
There is a very useful SaveAll button which is often not installed. One click on it saves all the open documents - which is worth doing regularly if your computer is apt to crash.
To get it, customise your toolbars, i.e.:
Click on "Tools: Customize". Click on "File" and find the "Save All" icon.
Drag it onto an existing toolbar and close the Customize box.
Use the Document Map:
If you have large documents, click on "View: Document Map".
This shows an outline of your document in a left-hand pane.
Clicking on a heading sends you to that place in the document.
Note: It tries to guess which lines are headings, and sometimes gets it wrong.
Add "Work" to your Menu:
This menu can hold up to 9 shortcuts for favourite documents.
To install it, click on "Tools: Customise: Built-in menus". Drag "Work" onto the menu bar.
To add a document, open the document then click on "Work: Add"
To remove a document, press Ctrl-Alt-Hyphen. The cursor becomes a thick minus sign which removes an item from the work menu.
Turn on Macro Virus Protection:
Word macro viruses aren't as problematic as they used to be, but they are still out there.
Click on "Tools: Options: General" or "Edit: Preferences: General" and tick "Macro Virus Protection".
If you think you have a macro virus, find the file "Normal.dot" (use Find File in Explorer) and rename it. Don't delete it because it contains all your Word settings, and if your problem isn't gone, you can re-instate the file.
Use AutoCorrect for abbreviations:
I'm forever typing "doubtfully tithed food" and suchlike, so I use the abbreviation "dtf" which Word automatically expands when I type it.
To add an abbreviation, highlight the full word or phrase and click on "Tools: AutoCorrect" then type your abbreviation.
Use the keyboard whenever possible:
Every time you do something with the mouse you lose 4-10 seconds, so use keyboard shortcuts. For example:
* use Ctrl-PageDown and Ctrl-PageUp for Find Next and Find Previous.
* press Enter or Esc instead of clicking OK or Cancel.
* use Ctrl-S (or Apple-S on a Mac) for Save or Ctrl-P for Print
* look at the menus to find this and many other keyboard shortcuts
* use Alt-Tab (or Apple-Tab) to switch between programs which are running
Create your own keyboard shortcuts:
eg to switch between Word windows by pressing Ctrl-Alt-W:
- click on "Tools: Customize: Keyboard"
- put the cursor in "shortcut key" and press the key combination
- click on "Categories: Windows" then on "Commands: NextWindow"
- click on "Assign" and "Close"
Display Styles continuously:
To display styles in the left hand margin, click on "View: Normal" then on "Tools: Options: View" and set "Style area width" to 1.
More tips, especially for Mac Word 2001 (but most also applies to PCs), by David Clines:


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