Thursday, March 10, 2011

Shift + Tab = Game Changer

I usually think of myself as pretty computer savvy. I give a ton of computer instruction when I’m teaching and tutoring, and my coworkers often ask me for tech advice, though that might just be because I’m the young one. Plus I’m married to a computer geek, so I’ve at least heard all of the lingo. (Sidenote: I love that Fortran, Lisp, Gnu, and Python are all programming language names that people take seriously, and that they aren't even the strangest ones.)

But right now I feel extremely n00bish. 

I was helping a student with the text of his Powerpoint today when he blew my mind with Shift-Tab, which lets you move out a level in a Word or PPT outline. Maybe everybody already knew this,  but I’ve been spending time and effort clicking around and cutting and pasting to “trick” the programs into letting me get from some subpoint back out to a new Roman Numeral. And trying to teach my haphazard “technique” to confused students always failed miserably. I'm so excited to finally have an easy solution.

I guess it might be silly to blog about Shift-Tab here since it applies more to students and teachers than to writers, but I’ll just assume that there’s at least a few anal meticulous planners out there who like their story outlines to be perfectly formatted, and that shift-tab and I just changed their lives forever.  

I also can’t seem to get a handle on the nuances of Blogger, which is sort of embarrassing. For example, I’m confused by the fact that I seem to have two profiles: the Blogger one and the Google friend connect one. Can I only follow other blogs using the Google friend one, and if so, how do I put a picture on it or get it to link to my blog? Do I have to do so through my gmail account somehow? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

I'd also like to know how to set up those nifty “You Might Also Like” previews eventually. I guess I should go browse the widgets once I have enough entries for such a feature to be worth it.

And I thought the Great Font Size Battle of 2010 would be my last Blogger issue.

I have so much to learn.


  1. "Move out a level?" This sounds like it'd be useful, but I'm not techie enough to know what it's for! lol. Please tell me. I want to be cool too :D

  2. I know -- I had trouble figuring out how to explain it clearly but concisely. Now we see why I will never get into technical writing :-) Here goes:

    Say you're this far into an outline:
    I. Words that are amusing
    A. kumquat
    B. defenestration
    1. to throw someone out of a window

    And now say you want to type a new word under C., or maybe you want to start a new category under II. But if you press Enter, Word will keep you at the number level. I found a few ways to get back to the letter level or the roman numeral level, of course, but they were all more labor intensive and unpredictable than the simple shift+tab.

    Thanks for asking!

  3. ...shakes fist at Blogger formatting, which took away the indents on the sample outline...

  4. umm...if you are using Office 2007, there are buttons for that in the Paragraph box at the top of the page.

  5. Hmm, so there are. I told you this entry was about me being completely computer oblivious. :-/