by Doug Lewars


Okay, you’ve completed your masterpiece and you’ve written it using Microsoft Word – nothing wrong with that. Now, you’ve decided to self-publish using or something similar, so you haul up their style guide and start figuring out what you’ll have to do to make your masterpiece acceptable to the website.

The good news is that most style guides are pretty straight forward. The bad news is that it’s still a lot of work. For example you probably saved as a Word document and life would be simpler if you saved as a Word 97-2003 document. That’s pretty simple to change. And then you discover that your styles could use some work.

Eventually you come to the part where they recommend nuking the thing. By nuking they don’t mean they want you to destroy your work. What they want is for you to destroy your formatting. So, with a sigh, you select all, copy, paste to Notepad, select all, copy, and paste to a new Word Document, adjust the style and that’s when you discover that all your paragraphs have an extra space separating them where you don’t want it to be.

So you turn on Show/Hide – that’s the little symbol just to the left of your bar containing styles and you discover that you’ve got one extra end-of-line character between each paragraph. Well that’s easily solved isn’t it?

You just delete the extra symbol – except that your work is 100,000 words – plus or minus a few – and you’ve got, say, 50 words per paragraph so that’s in the order of 2,000 paragraphs which means 2,000 separate deletes and the scrolling that is necessary to get to them. You are suddenly a most unhappy camper.

Let’s see if we can simplify this a little by executing the following steps:

  1. Pull up an empty excel workbook.
  2. In your Word document select all, then copy.
  3. Paste into C1 of your spreadsheet.
  4. In B1 enter the number 1.
  5. In B2 enter B1+1
  6. Copy B2
  7. Select cells B3 to Bn where n is the last line of your novel. Then paste.
  8. Copy column B.
  9. Paste VALUES into A1.
  10. Sort columns A, B, and C ascending using column C as your key. This will mudge all the lines of your novel but it will group the blank lines together and then you can select and delete the lot of them in one fell swoop.
  11. Now sort columns A, B, and C ascending using column A as your key. This will put your novel back into its original order.
  12. Select column C and copy.
  13. Paste into an empty Notepad.
  14. Select all and copy.
  15. Paste into a nice empty Word document. Now you’ve got rid of all those annoying extra lines and you can apply the appropriate style template as desired.

I hope this suggestion might save you some annoying work. Even if you’re not using, you may find yourself in the situation where a large number of similar lines need to be deleted and this will assist you with that.

Now it happens that these posts are supposed to be between 400 and 1000 words and I see that I’ve used slightly more than five hundred so perhaps I can use the rest of this to introduce myself seeing as this is my fourth post.

My name is Doug Lewars and for the past 23 years I worked at IBM doing Performance Analysis and Capacity Planning as part of Service Delivery for any number of commercial clients plus IBM Canada itself. During that time I developed some fairly respectable data gathering, data processing and analytical skills that I used to align installations with corporate requirements and to troubleshoot problems. While I was there, I started writing as a hobby and now I do it full time.

I’ve published eight books in four series – Light Fantasy (Midworld Series starting with Betwixt and Between), Dark Fantasy (Dark Lord Rising starting with Photon of Hope), Detective/Humour/Sci Fi (Buck Slade series starting with Life is a Longshot) and Nostalgia (Memories starting with Once Upon a Summer Long Ago). Although I’ve published eight, I’ve written over twenty so as you can see I’m just a teensy bit behind in my editing – but that will come – in time. Am I lazy? Who me? Well maybe – just a tiny bit.

My success has been minuscule but that doesn’t worry me … much. I know the sort of marketing I should be doing and I know the sort of marketing that I am doing and I recognize the disconnect. Maybe someday I’ll take steps to be more aggressive. Yes, that’s it – someday. The important thing for me is that I’m happy with what I’m doing and that can’t be all bad.





Guest post contributed by Doug Lewars.