Formatting Funk

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There are days when I miss my IBM Selectric typewriter.

You had one sized font, unless you purchased those changeable typestyle balls. Spacing and alignment were limited to the options on your keyboard. There was no colored type unless you bought a colored ribbon and then all the type was one color. And there were no hyperlinks.

Basically, you had no formatting. And while I love manipulating text based on my creative mood, formatting can create headaches.

Most of us in the publishing world receive copy from many sources. We copy text from e-mail messages, documents and websites when we use quotes or information sent to us for publication.

But formatting is sneaky. What looks perfectly wonderful on my computer screen, suddenly turns into a visual wreck when copied into a new document or inserted into a file. And while most times I can identify the font style or type size change or the different spacing, there are other times when all I can do to fix the problem is to clear formatting.

Clearing the formatting works great except it also wipes out embedded links. Then I have to locate the URL and hyperlink the text again. Not to mention adding in the italic and boldface changes to match the original text.

Okay, so what’s the beef?

Simply venting over a problem that really can’t be fixed.

The AHP Newsgroup generates a lot of press releases and they come into my inbox from numerous sources using a variety of software and operating systems. In the beginning, I copied and pasted into Note Pad to eliminate the formatting issues, but that pretty much put appearance back to the generic days of the IBM Selectric.

In order to preserve the unique style of every press release, I try to maintain the source formatting as best I can. It’s another reason, AHP doesn’t allow images. The press releases are posted on the website using a style sheet that matches the design of the site.

It would be great to be able to have a one-size fits all system when it comes to formatting, and technology in general, but it’s never going to happen.

I enjoyed my publishing days of the IBM Selectric, Wang computer, and Compugraphic equipment, but times have changed. The creativity and speed with which we operate today is remarkable and allows us to produce amazing results in very little time.

Submissions for AHP For the record may be sent to editor Chris Brune at

Christine Brune

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