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Using advanced text formatting features

From: Word 2010 New Features

Video: Using advanced text formatting features

Most of us use fonts without giving them a lot of thought, but every font we use was designed letter-by-letter by a font designer. Times New Roman, for example, was designed 90 years ago for the Times, a London newspaper. When designers create fonts for use on computers, they sometimes build in support for extra smart features that make the text appear more professionally set, and therefore easier to read, or more attractive. Adobe PostScript fonts and Microsoft TrueType fonts were early types of Smart fonts.

Using advanced text formatting features

Most of us use fonts without giving them a lot of thought, but every font we use was designed letter-by-letter by a font designer. Times New Roman, for example, was designed 90 years ago for the Times, a London newspaper. When designers create fonts for use on computers, they sometimes build in support for extra smart features that make the text appear more professionally set, and therefore easier to read, or more attractive. Adobe PostScript fonts and Microsoft TrueType fonts were early types of Smart fonts.

Today, both have been replaced by newer OpenType fonts, including the OpenType fonts that we'll use in Word 2010. The fonts introduced in Word 2007 like Calibri, and Cambria, Constantia and Corbel support some of the OpenType features. Gabriola, a new font that's included with Word 2010 in Window 7, includes even more robust OpenType support. With Word 2010, you can use the OpenType features of these fonts to create more professional documents.

OpenType features are applied in the Font dialog box. There are several ways to get there. First, let's select the text that we want to format, for example, this text. We can either right-click and choose Font, or you can click the dialog box launcher in the lower right-hand corner of the Font group on the Home tab. Our OpenType features are found on the Advanced tab. There are four OpenType options: Ligatures, Number spacing, Number forms, and Stylistic sets.

A ligature is a combination of two or more characters that are written as if they were a single character. There are four categories of Ligatures: Standard, Contextual, Historical, and Discretionary. The font designer decides which category each ligature belongs in. The Standard ligatures are the ligatures that most font designers agree are appropriate for a specific alphabet and language. In English, there are many Standard ligatures that contain the letter F, because it overhangs the next letter.

So, often, it sort of crowds into that next letter's space. So notice that if we apply Standard Only, and you look at the Preview, that we tighten up just a little bit when we apply that Standard look here. Watch here for the F and I in five, when we apply the Standard ligature. You'll notice that a line comes out to sort of separate that I from the F. So the F and I becomes one character, a ligature, almost like a glyph.

Contextual ligatures, on the other hand, are non-standard ligatures that the designer believes are appropriate based on the font that they've created. So if we choose Standard and Contextual ligatures, we don't see a big change here, but we would with some other font families. Historical ligatures are interesting. They were ligatures long before there were computers. On printing presses, there were letters that printed almost on top of one another. So the letters set included some extra type blocks, more than 26 characters, so they'd have a combination F and I or F and O that were used in place of the separate type blocks.

Historical ligatures are the ligatures then that were standard for use in printing presses - think Gutenberg - but are no longer needed today on computers. Historical ligatures can be used to give your type and old-school look. Designers create Discretionary ligatures for specific purposes. In general, Historical and Discretionary ligatures are used for sections of text, not entire documents. Reading 50 pages, for example, with this Discretionary ligature where the C rounds up to the next character would be at least annoying, if not painful.

If you choose all the ligatures, you're choosing every single ligature that was created, whether it's Standard, Historical, Discretionary, or Contextual. I'm going to choose OK to apply this. An interesting thing here. If the formatting changes that we saw in the sample aren't applied when we click OK, then we may need to change one well-hidden option setting. We're going to click the File tab here to go Backstage. Choose Options, and then choose the Advanced category in the Word Options dialog box. I'm going to scroll all the way to the bottom and find that this document actually is laid out as if it was created in Microsoft Word 2007.

Isn't that interesting? Now there are a couple of reasons that might happen. Maybe this document originally was created in Word 2007, ao it retained that layout, even though I converted it to Word 2010. It could be that your setting, your default setting, is to create documents as if they were laid out in Word 2007. You might think, "Layout, why do we care?" Well, we care because the way text is formatted is part of the layout. I'm going to change this to Microsoft Word 2010 right now. I want every document I create, where I want to use OpenType to reflect the best practices out in 2010.

But I'm also going to click this Layout Options link and look one more place. At the top of the D list, it's possible that someone could have disabled your OpenType Font Formatting Features. If that happens, you won't have access to those features, even if you are using the 2010 layout. But now that we've set our layout for Word 2010, let's click OK. When we return, notice that the ligatures we just applied. That was the only barrier in the way. The second choice is a choice for number spacing. We're going to take a look at his table to understand how number spacing works.

There are two kinds of number spacing: Tabular and Proportional. With Tabular number spacing, each number is given exactly the same width. The one is given the same amount of space as the four and the zero; Therefore, in a table like this, the result is the numbers line up so they are easy to review and compare. Your commas, for example, to separate thousandths places will be lined up exactly; so nice to read in a table, but not so nice to read in text. With Proportional spacing, you'll notice that the commas don't actually line up necessarily.

Each number has a different width. It's sort of harder to compare those numbers, if you can look at Calibri versus Gabriola, for example. Proportionally spaced fonts are fine for numbers embedded in text, but it's hard to compare numbers that when they're presented vertically like this in a table, hence the word tabular. Every one of the OpenType fonts is either Tabular or Proportional by default. Calibri and Cambria are Tabular. Constantia, Corbel and Gabriola are Proportional.

Our next setting is the setting for number form. So let's open the dialog box again, but first, let's select some text. Then in the Font dialog box, on the Advanced tab, take a look at our two options for number form. One option is called Lining; the other is Old-style. With Lining, the number will always fall within the zone where an uppercase letter would appear. For example, if we look here, Calibri, the 1 is the same height as the C. But if we look at Constantia, notice how the 3 falls below the line of text.

So Lining is within the lines. Old-style allows the numbers to vary sometimes below, but occasionally above the line. So if you look at numbers like 4, 7 and 9, you'll notice that they appear different in the Old-style fonts. If we wanted, for example, to line that 3 up in this font, we would choose Lining. Then say OK. Notice that the 3 drops up, so that it's in line. There is Lining. I'll do Undo. There is the Old-style look, with the 3 dropped back down.

Our last OpenType option is called Stylist set. So let's select some text, for example, this Gabriola text. Open the Font dialog box. On the Advanced tab, there is the series of Stylist sets. Each is an alternative rendering of a font set provided by the designer. A designer can include up to 20 Stylistic sets for a font design. Gabriola, for example, has seven Stylistic sets, each a little more decorative than the last. So if we choose, for example, Stylist sets 6, and look at our sample and apply that, you'll see that that's far more decorative, clearly not something that you'd want to read pages and pages of text with, but an interesting alternative built-in to this particular font set.

The final OpenText option that we have is the option to Use Contextual Alternatives. When you enable this check box, Word adjusts the letters, or combinations of letters, based on the characters or spaces that precede or follow them. This is a popular option with Script fonts, because the text will look a little bit more like handwriting. But don't expect to see huge differences simply from applying that. It will just usually give more space to a character followed by a space and a character followed by another character. While you may not change OpenType settings often, remember that you can adjust the number spacing to force numbers to line up, or choose an OpenType font, and change these Advanced settings to give your text the polished look of a professionally typeset document.

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Word 2010 New Features

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Gini Courter
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