Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Worksheets: Get Even Lines, Every Time

I've got a Microsoft Word tip for you today.  I was taught this trick by a mentor teacher while I was in my credential program and I have used it frequently throughout my teaching career.  Many times while I'm lesson planning, I feel like the curriculum given worksheets and assessments aren't exactly what I'd like them to be.  My solution?  Make my own!  This sounds great in theory, but always tends to take more time than I expect.  Now, I do need to admit that I can tend to be a bit of a stickler on symmetry and even lines and spacing and all those details that most people don't care much about.  When I'm making a worksheet, this used to drive me crazy.  I would spend so much time making sure my lines (answer blanks) were even so that they all ended in the same place along the right side.  Well, this wasn't easy!  Using the underscore can take a lot of time, be a bit tedious, and it isn't always nice and perfectly even.  The solution?  Tab stops!

Before you do this, you'll need to set your margins and then decide where you want your lines to stop.  It is best to go ahead and show the ruler at the top of your screen.  If you don't have the ruler showing, click on the "View" menu across the top of the ribbon and make sure the check box next to "Ruler" is checked.  You can choose anywhere you want for the lines to stop, just figure out the mark (in inches) where you'd like for your lines to end.  

Then, in the "Home" menu of the ribbon, click on the little pop-out icon at the bottom right of the "Paragraph" section.

Then click on the "Tabs" button on the bottom left of the menu that pops up.

Now you can choose what position you would like your lines to stop at.  

You can see that I chose 7.5 for my lines to stop, but you of course can choose whatever you wish.  Now, if there are other tab stop positions already set, you can just hit the "Clear All" button before entering in your tab stop location.  

Once you enter in your desired tab stop location, select "Right" under Alignment, and select option 4 with the underline under Leader and then click "Set".  Then you can click "OK".  

Now, when you are finished typing your question, or whatever it is that needs a line following it, you can simply hit the "Tab" key on the keyboard.  You will get a straight line starting from your cursor that stops exactly at the location you set in your tab stop settings.  Even lines, every time!  This also works within columns in case you want a worksheet that has nice even lines in more than one column.  Another perk is that if you need to start typing to fix a question or add something to it, it just shortens the line from the left to make room for your text.  You don't need to readjust your line at all.  

A few things to remember, if you have any other things you want to use the tab key for in your worksheet (indents, spacing, etc.) this may toy with those.  I've never really had an issue with it, but I just use the space bar to make an indent if I need it somewhere on the page.  You can have multiple tab stops on a page, so if you want your line to stop at a certain point, then have more text, then another line ending at the second tab stop location, you can do that as well. 

I hope this little tip comes in handy for you.  Thanks for visiting TeachingTechNix!  See you soon for more handy tech tips!

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