Formatting Your Mac Document

Fancy fonts aren't the only way to doll up a document. You have important decisions to make about proper margins, paragraph indentations, and text tabs. And you must determine whether lines of text should be single- or double-spaced. But it's still a lot easier than using a typewriter.

Set your margins and tab stops by dragging the tiny triangles along the ruler. Now click the Spacing drop-down menu, just above the ruler. Clicking Single separates the lines in the way you are reading them in this paragraph.

If you choose Double, the line jumps down to here, and the next line

jumps down to here.

Got it?

Some control freaks (you know who you are) might want to click Other under the Spacing menu. Now you can precisely determine the height of your line, the way the paragraphs are spaced (that is, the distance from the bottom of a paragraph to the top of the first line in the next paragraph), and other parameters, according to the points system.

Here are other tricks that make TextEdit a capable writing companion:

  • Aligning paragraphs: After clicking anywhere in a paragraph, choose Format --> Text and choose an alignment (left, center, justified, or right). Play around with these choices to determine what looks best.
  • Writing from right to left: This one could be useful for writing in Hebrew or Arabic. Choose Format --> Text --> Writing Direction and then click Right to Left. Click again to go back the other way, or choose Edit --> Undo Set Writing Direction.
  • Locating text: You can use the Find command under the Edit menu to uncover multiple occurrences of specific words and phrases and replace them individually or collectively.
  • Producing lists: Sometimes the best way to get your message across is in list form — kind of like what you see here. By clicking the Lists drop-down menu, you can present a list with bullets, numbers, Roman numerals, uppercase or lowercase letters, and more. Keep clicking the choices until you find the one that makes the most sense.
  • Creating tables: Then again, you may want to emphasize important points using a table or chart. Choose Format --> Text --> Table. In the window that appears, you can select the number of rows and columns you need for your table. You can select a color background for each cell by clicking the Cell Background drop-down list and choosing Color Fill, and then choosing a hue from the palette that appears when you click the rectangle to the right. You can drag the borders of a row or a column to alter its dimensions. You can also merge or split table cells by selecting the appropriate cells and then clicking the Merge Cells or Split Cells button.
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