Deleting Dotted Lines in Word

I’ve finally figured out the most maddening problem in Microsoft Word. I never could get rid of these lines of small squares that reached from margin to margin.

Nothing would dent them. I couldn’t highlight them, delete them, or overwrite them. The only solution was to erase the whole passage that contained them, and type from scratch. Sometimes that failed. They spread like rabbits.

Here’s the secret. That line is the bottom border on the paragraph immediately above. So you have to attack it in that paragraph. Here’s how.


Highlight the whole paragraph before the line, even if it’s just one carriage return. Click FORMAT, then BORDERS AND SHADING, then BORDERS (1). Under APPLY TO, click PARAGRAPH (2). Under SETTINGS (3), look at the bottom item: CUSTOM (4). That’s the baddie. See that little line of four dots? You have to kill that. Click NONE (5) at the top of that column, then OK (6). Voila, the line is gone, adios.

Maybe it’s not. It’s still there, but moved up one line. The fiends at Microsoft designed in a defense against us. If there’s more than one dotted line, they stack on top of one another, but you only see one. So you have to repeat the whole process until they’re all gone. Last night, I rooted out seven of them masquerading as one.

By the way, if you want to create that line, type a carriage return, three asterisks, and a carriage return.

Different versions of Word may do this in different ways, but maybe you can figure out how to make the proper changes. I use Microsoft Word 2004 for Mac.

[Do you know different ways to get rid of these little monsters?]

Published in: on October 21, 2010 at 2:38 pm  Comments (325)  

Coaching Gigi

I coached Leslie Caron. Yes, that Leslie Caron. Gigi.

During a food writers retreat in Burgundy in October 2006, we ate at Auberge-La Lucarne aux Chouettes (‘Owl’s Nest’), which Ms. Caron owns in Villeneuve/Yonne. With a dancer’s carriage and movie star aura, she joined our table to chat with the food writers about how she converted an abandoned warehouse into her restaurant, about her chefs’ quirks, and a little gossip about Fred Astaire, her co-star in “Daddy Long Legs.” And, of course, about the food. She spoke expertly on every topic and even told how she designed her own website.

Then she mentioned how she’s struggling to write her memoirs. After 61 pages, her agent wanted an outline to show to publishers, but Ms. Caron couldn’t write one. Voila, writing coach to the rescue.

I explained the difference between “planners” and “plungers.” Planners decide what to do, and then do it. Plungers simply do it, and figure it out as they go along. Planner writers create an outline and follow it, but plungers “write by discovery.” They type to figure out what they want to say. I told her that one-third of our group were plungers, and she replied, “So, I’m not alone.” Ms. Caron had recognized herself as a plunger, who needs to write the piece in order to outline it. I suggested that she explain plunging to her agent and tell the agent to wait until most of the memoir had been written. At that point, a “back outline” is a cinch.

Just then, her dog Prunelle, sporting a Veronica Lake hairdo, joined us, and the impromptu coaching session ended. Another plunger freed from the straitjacket of the outline.

[Photo: Spencer Johnson; many thanks.]

Published in: on October 16, 2010 at 8:11 am  Comments (2)