< Previous Chapter | Next Chapter >

67 Chapter 4. Text Basics

In this chapter, you’ll learn…

In this chapter, we begin looking at the nuts and bolts of word processing in Nisus Writer. While I assume that you are familiar with Macintosh conventions, I will nevertheless cover most of Nisus Writer’s basic features here in some detail. One reason for this is that there are a lot of subtleties to the interface that may escape you if you don’t know where to look. But more importantly, I want to make sure you have a solid foundation in the ins and outs of working with Nisus Writer’s controls—you’ll appreciate it a few chapters from now when we move on to more advanced features.

68 In a distinct departure from the organization of Nisus Writer’s documentation, I have deliberately left out some information from this chapter—namely, the use of named rulers and user-defined styles (which I return to in Chapter 10), and WorldScript-specific features (covered in Chapter 13). While all of these arguably have to do with text editing, they presume knowledge of more basic ways of doing things, and I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. You can create quite complex documents using the features described in this chapter, and once you’ve mastered them, you’ll be ready for the added convenience and power that the more advanced features provide.

The Nisus Writer Working Environment

Before we can do anything else, we need to look at Nisus Writer’s working environment. In this section we’ll explore Nisus Writer’s windows, controls, and on-line help features.

The Document Window

When you open a document or create a new one (by choosing New from the File menu), you’ll see a window like the one in Figure 4.1. This is your document window (or Document View), where the bulk of your text entry and editing will take place. There are some controls on the perimeter of the window with which you’ll want to be familiar. (I’ll assume that you already know how to use the title bar, scroll bars, and close, zoom, and resize boxes.)

Figure 4.1. A document window (also referred to as Document View).

The buttons on the Vertical Button Bar give you access to text, graphics, sound, and layout controls. The top button () displays the Info Bar across the top of your document window (Figure 4.2). Depending on how your preferences are set (see Chapter 9), the Info Bar will display some or all of the following indicators. The pencil icon () means you’ve made changes to your document since it was last saved. The floppy 69 disk icon () indicates that automatic saving has been set. The insertion point indicator tells you how far you are into your document and/or paragraph. In the center is the page number indicator. If your document has multiple columns, it will show the page number followed by the current column number in brackets (). If you have reset page numbering at any point in your document, the first number will be the number that will print on the current page, while the physical page number will be in parentheses (). On the right side of the Info Bar is a battery indicator (if you have a PowerBook), the current time, and the amount of available RAM you have.

Figure 4.2. The Info Bar.

The memory indicator is not always very reliable. For the gritty details on how Nisus Writer handles memory (and what this indicator really means), see Chapter 9.

70 The next button () displays the Text Bar, which we’ll discuss in detail below. The Display Graphics Bar button () activates the graphics layer and its associated tools; we’ll cover these in Chapter 5. Likewise, the Display Sound Bar button () gives you access to the sound controls, which will be covered in Chapter 6. Clicking the Display Layout Page button () displays—you guessed it—the Layout Page, where you can set document margins, columns, frames, and other options (see Chapter 7). The last item on the Vertical Button Bar is actually a handle—the Vertical Split Screen Bar (). Click and drag this bar to split your window vertically into two “panes,” which allow you to view and scroll in two different parts of your document at the same time. To return to single-pane viewing, double-click the handle.

You can copy and paste text between panes of a split window, but you can’t drag and drop text from one pane to another.

The Horizontal Button Bar controls the display of various regions of your document and formatting indicators. Most of these buttons will be discussed shortly in connection with the features they control, but I’ll mention a couple of them here. The Display Vertical Ruler button () places a ruler along the left edge of your window, giving you an exact indication of your vertical position on the page. On the other end of the button bar, the Horizontal Split Screen Bar () lets you split your window horizontally into two panes just as you can 71 split it vertically. To unsplit the window, double-click the handle. You can split your window both horizontally and vertically at the same time if you wish (see Figure 4.3).

Figure 4.3.A window split both horizontally and vertically using the Split Screen Bars.

Menus and Dialog Boxes

There are some general facts you should know about Nisus Writer’s menus and dialog boxes. First, be aware that many of the menu commands change when one or more modifier keys (Command, Shift, or Option) are pressed. For example, Copy becomes Append Copy when the Shift key is pressed, Copy to Find when the Option key is pressed, and Copy to Replace when both Shift and Option are pressed. Unlike most other programs, Nisus Writer’s menus change dynamically—you can see the menus change before your eyes when you press modifier keys while the menu is pulled down. Some of the submenus also change when modifier keys are pressed, but changes on submenus don’t update dynamically; you have to move the mouse off the submenu, press the modifier key(s), and pull down the menu again to see the change.

Nisus Writer now has a separate menu item for each of the commands that formerly required a modifier key to make it visible. This increased the number of submenus, but it was an important step in revealing features that many users felt were “hidden”—who would think of trying all those modifier combinations to find some obscure menu command?

The second thing you should know is that any command on any menu in Nisus Writer can be activated from the keyboard. Only a few commands have predefined shortcuts, but you can add as many as you like using the Keyboard Shortcuts… command on the Preferences submenu of the File menu. Shortcuts can have up to three characters (plus modifier keys), so you could, for example, choose Show Catalog by pressing Command-C-A-T. We’ll explore all the options for keyboard shortcuts in Chapter 9; for a complete list of the predefined shortcuts, see Appendix A.

In addition to menu commands, almost every radio button, checkbox, and control button in Nisus Writer dialog boxes can be controlled from the keyboard. When a dialog box is visible (such as the Define Styles dialog box in Figure 4.4) you can press the Command key to display all the shortcuts next to the controls they activate. Although the mouse is great for some tasks, for experienced users it’s usually a lot quicker and easier to activate commands from the keyboard.


Figure 4.4. The Define Styles dialog box as it appears when the Command key is pressed. Any button or checkbox can be activated from the keyboard.

Window Management

Nisus Writer offers some unique shortcuts for controlling your windows (see Appendix A for a complete list). Normally, clicking the zoom box of a window will expand it to show the entire width of your text, and clicking a second time returns it to its previous size. But if you press Shift while clicking the zoom box, the window will expand to fill your screen—if you have only one document open. If you have two or more documents open, shift-clicking the zoom box will place the top two windows side by side on your screen. And if you press and hold the Command key, you can move, resize, or scroll an inactive window without bringing it to the front.

You can also zoom a window by double-clicking its title bar. (This will not work, however, if your WindowShade control panel is set to activate with two clicks.)

The Amazing Option Key

The Option key does some very cool things. The general rule is that holding the Option key applies whatever action you choose to all open windows. For example, clicking the close box closes a window; option-clicking the close box closes all your windows. Or let’s say you have several documents open that all need to be saved. When you quit Nisus Writer, you’ll see a dialog box asking if you want to save your first file. You click 73 OK, then the same dialog box appears asking if you want to save your second file. If you press option while clicking OK, it will automatically answer “OK” to all the subsequent dialog boxes. But wait—there’s more! If you have some text selected in each of several windows, and hold the Option key while choosing a font, size, or style, you’ll see the dialog box shown in Figure 4.5. In other words, you can apply nearly any action to all open files at once by pressing the Option key.

Figure 4.5. This dialog box appears when you hold down the Option key while making a formatting change (and have text selected in more than one document). Clicking Yes will apply the change to the selected text in all open documents.

The Windows Menu

The Windows submenu of the Tools menu (Figure 4.6) contains more options for controlling your windows. If you have several windows open, choose Send Back (or press Command-=) to send the front window to the very back. Toggle Front Two will move the front window back just one layer. If you want to compare the contents of two windows side by side, choose Synchronized Scrolling. The synchronized scrolling icon () will appear at the right side of the Info Bar. With this option active, when you scroll one window, the other will automatically scroll the same amount. To turn off synchronized scrolling, choose the command again.

In Nisus Writer 5, the Windows menu was “promoted” to be a full menu, rather than a hidden submenu. To save menubar space, an icon was used instead of the word “Windows.” In addition, more tiling commands were added (with explanatory icons) to expand Nisus Writer’s window management capabilities.

Figure 4.6. The Windows menu.

The Stack command arranges all your open windows so that some part of each window is visible—in most cases, the title bar. This makes it easy to switch among windows using the mouse. Or choose Tile to shrink all your open windows and arrange them so that each window is showing in its entirety on the screen. Tile Two Windows places the top two windows side by side, just like shift-clicking the zoom box. At the bottom of the Windows menu is a list of all the open windows in Nisus Writer. To switch to another window, choose its name from the menu.

For quick access to the Windows menu, press the Command key while clicking on the title bar of any window.

One final note about windows. When you save a document, your window’s size and location on the screen are also saved—and so is the location of your insertion point 74 and any selection(s) you may have active. This means that when you open a document, you’ll always go back to exactly where you left off.

Floating Tool Bars

Although I just mentioned how easy it is to control all of Nisus Writer’s functions from the keyboard, some people prefer to use the mouse as much as possible. Still, it can be tedious to scroll through menus, particularly menus as long and complex as Nisus Writer’s. To address this problem, Nisus Writer includes a set of floating tool bars. A floating tool bar (see Figure 4.7) is a palette of buttons that floats above your other windows. You can position tool bars anywhere on your screen, and you can use them to activate many menu commands with a single click.

Figure 4.7.The Text Tools floating tool bar.

75 The nine built-in tool bars are listed in the Floating Tool Bar submenu of the Tools menu (Figure 4.8). To display a tool bar, choose it from this menu. Tool bars appear at the center of your screen when first activated, but you can move them to a new location by clicking and dragging the “grab bar” at the top. Clicking the zoom box on the grab bar will switch the orientation of the tool bar from horizontal to vertical and back. To hide a tool bar, click the close box on its grab bar (or choose the tool bar’s name again from the menu). Tool bars will “remember” their location and orientation the next time you use them. To hide all displayed tool bars at once, choose Floating Tool Bars from the Display submenu of the Tools menu. When this option is checked, all selected tool bars are displayed; when it is unchecked, they remain hidden.

Figure 4.8.The Floating Tool Bar menu.

In case you’re wondering when I’m going to tell you what each button on the tool bars is for, I’m not. Most of the icons are self-explanatory, and if you have any doubts, you can turn on balloon help and point at the button in question. Each button corresponds to a command on some menu. If a menu item is dimmed (not applicable in a certain context), 76 then the corresponding button on a tool bar will be dimmed. An X through a button means that the menu command it’s supposed to activate isn’t present on any menu. (You might get an X-ed icon if, for example you display the Mail tool bar and you don’t have PowerTalk installed.)

Depending on the configuration of your Mac, you may encounter a situation in which the balloon help for a tool bar button isn’t accurate—it may be off by one or two icons. This anomaly is due to limitations in the way balloon help is designed, and it may never go away. Once you’ve tried a button, though, it’s usually easy to remember what the icon means.

Nisus Writer doesn’t give you an easy way to customize tool bars, so I’ve created some new ones for you. The new tool bars and instructions for installing them are found on the enclosed CD-ROM.

On-Line Help

Nisus Writer contains two different sources of on-line help. While these do not give very thorough details (and are of course no substitute for this book!), they can be helpful for quick reminders. Balloon help is activated by choosing Show Balloons from the Guide (or Help) menu. When you point at a button, menu item, or other object, a balloon will appear to tell you its function. Balloon help is especially useful for learning the functions of the buttons on floating tool bars. Unfortunately, balloon help is not available within the Nisus Table Tool. The other on-line help feature is called e-help. It’s a separate window that contains a searchable summary of commands and functions, plus brief directions for performing various tasks. To activate e-help, choose Nisus Writer Help… from the Guide menu. Ironically, there’s no balloon help available to tell you the functions of the controls in the e-help window! Figure 4.9 shows what each control is for. Using e-help is straightforward: click a topic for more information on it. Underlined terms are hyperlinked to other reference pages—click an underlined term for more information on it. To search for help on a particular word, click the Search button, type in the word you want to find, and click Find for a list of topics that contain that word.

Figure 4.9. The e-help window.

The latest versions of Nisus Writer no longer use the proprietary e-help engine, but rather rely on the more conventional Apple Guide.

Entering, Selecting, and Editing Text

It’s time to talk about the one activity you’ll be doing more than anything else in Nisus Writer: typing. Nisus Writer is first and foremost a tool for writing, and there are a lot of 77 things the program can do at this very basic level to make your writing experience more enjoyable. Here we look at the basic ways of entering, selecting, and editing text in your document.

Entering Text

The insertion point ( ) indicates where text will go when you type. It moves as you enter text to keep just to the right of the last thing you typed. If you want to move the insertion point to a different location in your text (say, to insert something), position your I-beam cursor () at the location you want the insertion point to be and click the mouse button once.

As you type, your text automatically wraps at the end of every line. Pressing the Return key inserts a return character (or carriage return) into your document to begin a new paragraph. If you want to begin a new line without beginning a new paragraph, you can insert a line break (or line feed) character by pressing Shift-Enter. To insert a nonbreaking space between words (to prevent line wrap from occurring), press Option-Spacebar. Nisus Writer paginates your document automatically as you type. If you want to force a page break to occur at some other point in your document, place your insertion point there and choose Page Break from the Insert menu. To display normally invisible formatting characters like returns, 78 line breaks, and forced page breaks, click the Display Attributes button () on your Horizontal Button Bar.

Selecting Text

As in all Macintosh applications, the paradigm followed in Nisus Writer for making changes is first to select (or highlight) the text or other elements you want to change, then to perform a command by choosing something from a menu, clicking a button, or pressing a key combination. The usual way to select text is to click and drag across a block of text to highlight it. If you position the cursor over a word and double-click the mouse, the whole word will be selected. Likewise, if you triple-click, you can select an entire sentence. Clicking four times selects an entire paragraph, and clicking five times selects the entire document. You can also select the entire document by choosing Select All from the Edit menu or by pressing Command-A. To select a large range of text, you can also position your insertion point at one end of the range, then press Shift and click at the other end. Everything between the two points will be selected. To deselect the text you’ve selected, simply click once anywhere outside the selection. To deselect only part of your selection, hold the Shift key while clicking and dragging over the portion you want to deselect.

A little-known yet very useful fact about selecting—in almost any Mac application—is that if you double-click and then (without releasing the mouse button) drag in either direction, you can extend your selection in word-sized chunks. Triple- and quadruple-clicking and dragging have the same effect for sentences and paragraphs, respectively.

You can also use the keyboard to select text or to extend a selection you made with the mouse. (Refer to Appendix A for a complete list of keyboard shortcuts.) Holding down the Shift key while moving the cursor with the keyboard causes the text to be selected as the insertion point moves. For example, to move forward by one word, press Option-right arrow; to select the next word, press Shift-Option-right arrow. Once you’ve made a selection, you can extend it using the same shortcuts. For example, if you’ve selected a word and you want to add the word on its left to your selection, press Shift-Option-left arrow. There are no keyboard shortcuts for shortening a selection.

Ever wish you could move the cursor or make selections from the keyboard one sentence at a time? Macros that allow you to do just that are included on the enclosed CD-ROM.

79 Noncontiguous and Vertical Selection

One of Nisus Writer’s most unique features is called noncontiguous selection. This means that you can select any number of text blocks—a word here, a sentence there, a few characters someplace else—all at the same time, without selecting the material between them. To select text noncontiguously, start by selecting the first block of text in the normal way. Then hold down the Command and Option keys and make another selection. (You can, of course, double-, triple-, or quadruple-click the additional selections, with or without dragging, just as you can the first one.) You can select as many blocks of text noncontiguously as you like, but you must hold down Command and Option while clicking in your document window. If you click without holding the modifier keys down, everything will be deselected.

A companion feature to noncontiguous selection is vertical selection. Vertical selection allows you to select a rectangular column of text—very handy when making changes to tab-separated tables, lists, and so on. To select a vertical column of text, hold down the Option key while you click and drag with the mouse. The pointer will change () and you’ll see a dotted rectangle defining the selected area.

When you make a vertical selection, any character that is at least 50% enclosed in the dotted rectangle is selected. Thus, the vertical selection may have “ragged edges” if it does not match up exactly with character boundaries.

Editing Commands

Once your text is selected, you can replace it, delete it, move it, or change it in some way. To replace text you’ve selected with new text, you can simply start typing, and the new text will replace the old. To remove selected text from your document, press the Delete key or choose Clear from the Edit menu. If you choose Cut from the Edit menu instead of Clear (or pressing Delete), your text will be removed from your document but stored temporarily on your Clipboard—from which you can paste to another spot in your document (or in another document). Choosing Copy places a copy of the selected text on your Clipboard without removing it from 80 the document. Paste places a copy of whatever is on the Clipboard at the current insertion point.

When you clear or delete your text, it is removed without being placed on the Clipboard. If you delete text and then realize you need a copy of it, simply choose Copy with nothing selected and the last thing you deleted will be placed on your Clipboard.

Nisus Writer has a preference called Intelligent Cut and Paste, which ensures that words pasted into another part of your document have the right amount of space before and after them. (You can enable/disable this option by choosing Editing… from the Preferences submenu of the File menu.) To use Intelligent Cut and Paste, select a word by double-clicking (or multiple words by double-clicking-and-dragging). Cut or Copy the text and Paste it somewhere else. Nisus Writer automatically inserts a space before and/or after the text if needed to separate it from the text in its new location. Intelligent Cut and Paste also works with drag-and-drop (see below).

Other Editing Controls

The Edit menu has some additional commands worth mentioning. First is the Convert submenu (see Figure 4.10). The first two commands on this menu, UPPERCASE and lowercase, allow you to change the selected text to all uppercase or all lowercase. When you choose these commands, Nisus Writer doesn’t merely apply a style—it changes the ASCII value of each character. The lowercase command is a great timesaver if you accidentally type a sentence with the Caps Lock key down! Capitalize will capitalize the first letter of each selected word; other letters will not be affected. Toggle Case converts all capital letters to lowercase and vice-versa.

Figure 4.10. The Convert menu.

Tab Right inserts a tab character at the beginning of the paragraph containing the selected text; Tab Left removes a tab character from the beginning of the paragraph. Choosing Sort Paragraphs will rearrange all selected paragraphs in alphabetical order. Some types of computer systems don’t understand the Macintosh’s method of wrapping text, and if your file will be used on such a system, it may be very difficult to read. To avoid this problem, select your text and choose Break Lines to insert a hard return at the end of every line. On the other hand, if you download a file from a mainframe or IBM-compatible computer, you may find your text littered with “garbage” characters that make it hard to read. Select your text 81 and choose Remove Gremlins to delete all unprintable upper-ASCII characters and extraneous trailing spaces.


Any action you perform in Nisus Writer can be undone. Just choose Undo from the Edit menu (or press Command-Z). To redo what you just undid, choose Redo. However, you are not limited to undoing and redoing just one activity—you can undo the last 32,767 things you did! This is referred to as unlimited undos, a fair statement considering how inconceivable it is that someone would actually find this a limitation! (As a practical matter, you can set the maximum number of undos to a lower number in the Editing Preferences dialog box—the preset value is 300.) To undo a series of actions, choose Undo repeatedly. A brief description of the last command will appear on the menu along with the current number of undoable actions (as in Undo Replace All 32). Each action you perform is stored in an “undo list,” which is kept in memory until you close your document (or manually clear the list).

The keyboard equivalent for Undo is Command-Z. To redo an activity immediately after undoing it, press Command-Z again. If you want to keep undoing (instead of toggling between undo and redo), press Command-Shift-Z for each subsequent undo you perform. Likewise, if you want to redo a series of activities, press Command-Z the first time, and Command-Shift-Z for each subsequent redo. (You can always check the shortcut listed on the Edit menu if you forget what the correct keystroke is!)

82 Drag and Drop

Nisus Writer allows text and graphics to be moved or copied within a document just by clicking and dragging. To use drag and drop, first make a selection in your document. Then position your pointer over the selection, press the Control key, and click and drag to move it to a new location. Your pointer will change to a caret () if your destination is earlier in your document and an inverted caret () if the destination is later in your document. When your insertion point is at the location you want your text or graphic to be moved to, release the mouse button and your selection will be moved there. To copy text, rather than move it, hold down the Option key as well as the Control key while dragging. (To set drag and drop to function without requiring that you press Control, uncheck Drag & Drop Requires Control Key in the Editing Preferences dialog box.) Since Nisus Writer does not yet support Apple’s Drag Manager, you cannot drag and drop text between windows or applications.

Special Characters

Macintosh fonts generally contain a complete set of accented characters (é, à, ô, etc.) and special symbols (®, ¶, •, , etc.). To find out which keys to press to insert these characters in your document, choose Apple’s Key Caps desk accessory from the Apple menu. It will display a diagram showing the location of each character on the keyboard; the diagram changes when you press a modifier key. Another way of accessing special characters is to choose Character Table… from the Editing Tools submenu of the Tools menu. The Character Table (Figure 4.11) lists each character in the font you’ve chosen, along with its ASCII and hexadecimal values. To insert a character from the Character Table into your document, double-click it and it will appear at your insertion point. To place a character from the Character Table onto the Clipboard, choose Copy. You can change the font that the Character Table uses by choosing a new font from the Font menu while the Character Table is the frontmost window.


Figure 4.11. The Character Table window.

Display Options

The characters used to represent spaces, tabs, returns, and other formatting characters are normally invisible. If you’d like to see where they fall in your text, click the Display Attributes button () on the Horizontal Button Bar. Invisible characters will be shown, as in Figure 4.12.

Figure 4.12.Text with formatting characters visible.

84 If you click and hold the pointer on this button, it becomes a pop-up menu (Figure 4.13) that lets you choose other display options. Currently selected options are indicated by a check mark.

Figure 4.13. The Display Attributes pop-up menu.

Figure 4.14. The Line Number Options dialog box.

Double-clicking the Display Attributes button brings up the Display Attributes dialog box (Figure 4.15), which can also be shown by choosing Display Attributes… from the Display submenu of the Tools menu. This dialog box enables you to choose all your display options at once instead of choosing each individually from the pop-up menu.


Figure 4.15. The Display Attributes dialog box.

Moving Around Your Document

In addition to the standard scrolling methods, Nisus Writer offers some unique navigation shortcuts. If you press Option while clicking on a scroll bar or scroll arrow, it will scroll in the reverse direction. Pressing Command while clicking the scroll bar will scroll your document up or down one physical page at a time (whereas clicking without the Command key scrolls one screenful at a time). To scroll in a background (inactive) window, hold the Command key down while clicking on the scroll bar or scroll arrow of that window. (A good use for this is scrolling in your document while the Find/Replace or Spelling Checker window is in the front.) Maximum scrolling speed is set in the Scrolling Preferences dialog box (which we’ll discuss in Chapter 9).

If you have a lot of graphics in your document, they may be cached to disk and loaded into memory only when they need to be displayed. This can produce pauses when you scroll through your document while you wait for the graphics to load. To prevent cached graphics from loading, hold the Command key as you scroll.

To move to a particular page or line number, choose Page… or Line… from the Jump To submenu of the Tools menu and enter the page or line number you want to reach. To jump to a bookmark you’ve defined (see Chapter 10), choose its name from the Jump To submenu. If you want to select all the text between the current insertion point and the bookmark, hold the Shift key while choosing the marker name. Other navigation shortcuts are found in Appendix A.

If you have scrolled so that your insertion point is no longer visible and you’d like to jump to its location in your document quickly, simply press the Enter key.

87 Character Formatting

Each character in your document has font, size, and style attributes that contribute to its overall appearance. In this section we look at the commands that shape individual characters. To apply character formatting, select some text. It can be as little as a single character or as much as your whole document. Then choose a command from the Font, Size, or Style menu.

You can set a default font, size, and style for your new documents (as well as other default settings) by creating a stationery document with the desired settings, naming it Nisus New File, and placing it in your Nisus Writer folder. For further instructions, see Chapter 9.


A font in Macintosh terminology is actually a typeface—a set of characters that share a common design. Helvetica, Times, and Palatino are examples of fonts. The Font menu contains all the fonts installed in your System (whether TrueType, PostScript, or bitmap). To change the font of a region of text, select it and choose the font name you want to apply to it from the Font menu. If you choose a font name with no text selected, whatever you type at the current insertion point will be displayed in that font. Only one font at a time can apply to any given character.

Font names are normally displayed on the Font menu in Chicago, the standard System font. To see fonts in their own typefaces, press the Option or Command key while you pull down the Font menu (Figure 4.16). If the document you’re working on uses any fonts that are not currently installed in your System, those font names will appear in italic at the bottom of the menu. You can apply such fonts to other text in your document, but they will be displayed and printed in Geneva until the original fonts are available. The last item on the Font menu, Any Font, is used in Find/Replace expressions, glossaries, and macros to indicate text in an unspecified font. This command is normally dimmed while your document window is active.


Figure 4.16. The Font menu as displayed when the Command or Option key is pressed.

When you apply the command Any Font to text in a Find/Replace expression, glossary, or macro, it looks like Chicago on the screen, but it also includes some special characters to represent modifier and arrow keys. If you want to display text in your document using the special Any Font font, enclose your text in chevrons (« [Option-\] and » [Option-Shift-\]). Select the entire range of text, including the chevrons, and the Any Font command will become active on the Font menu. After applying the font, you can delete the chevrons.


The Size menu lets you determine the point size of your characters. A point in Macintosh terms is 1/72 of an inch. So a 12-point font will be approximately one-sixth of an inch high. The exact height will vary according to the design of the font. To apply one of the preset sizes (9, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 36, 48, or 72) to your text, select one or more characters and choose the size you want from the Size menu. To apply a size that is not on the menu, choose Other…. A dialog box will ask you to type in a size; enter any whole number from 1 to 255. If you choose a size without having made a selection, the size you pick will be used for whatever you type at the current insertion point. To increase or decrease the size of your selected text one point at a time, choose Increase or Decrease from the Size menu. Pressing the Shift key will change these two commands to Increase by… and Decrease by…, which allows you to enter the number of points by which the size should be increased or decreased. The Any Size command, as with the Any Font command, is used only in certain windows.

89 Style

In Nisus Writer, the term style refers to any embellishment to a font, such as bold, italic, or underline. It also includes character attributes like color and tracking. Nisus Writer’s style commands are found on the Style menu (Figure 4.17) and its submenus. To apply a style, select some text and choose a style command. A style chosen while nothing is selected will apply to whatever you type next at the insertion point.

Figure 4.17. The Style menu (also showing the More Styles submenu).

The Style Menu

On the main Style menu, you’ll see the familiar commands Bold, Italic, and Underline. There are also commands for Superscript and Subscript. Choosing Superscript or Subscript actually does two things—it reduces the selected characters to 60% of their original size, and it raises (or lowers) them on the line. There is no direct way to change the percentage of reduction; if you want superscripted or subscripted characters to be smaller or larger, you must select 90 them and increase or decrease the size manually until you get the desired result. The command Plain Text will remove from the selected text any other styles that have been applied to it (but it will not affect the color). And + Any Styles is analogous to the Any Font and Any Size options we just discussed—it normally works only in certain contexts.

More Styles

The More Styles submenu (refer to Figure 4.17) contains additional character styles. Most of these are self-explanatory, but I will point out a few things that are not obvious.


The Color submenu lists the eight colors that can be applied to text on the text layer: Black, Red, Green, Blue, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and White. Text will print in these colors if you use a color printer; if your printer only supports grayscale printing, a suitably dense shade of gray will be substituted for each of the colors. As you might have guessed by now, Any Color is only applicable in certain contexts and is not normally available in your document window.

You can now choose any color in the spectrum; if the one you want isn’t on the menu, you can use any Apple color picker to select your own. In addition, you can now set the background color of your page to something other than white.


The Format menu contains commands for controlling the way text is formatted. These are considered style attributes, even though they don’t really affect the appearance of individual characters.

Nisus Writer does not have a “Keep with Next” style or conventional widow and orphan control. The Keep on Same Page style must be applied to any range of text you want to prevent from breaking across pages or columns. Fortunately, this attribute can be made part of a defined style (see Chapter 10).

Figure 4.18. The effects of tracking on a single character. Notice the size of the selected text block for the letter A with positive tracking (top) and negative tracking (bottom).

To set tracking, select one or more characters, choose Set Tracking (Figure 4.19), and enter a positive or negative value in points. The maximum resolution of tracking is 1/16 (0.0625) of a point. Check Proportional to Font Size if you are applying tracking to text that contains multiple font sizes. Enter the tracking value for the first character, and the remaining characters will be tracked proportionately based on their size. Track Wider and Track Narrower increase or decrease tracking one point at a time. If you press the Option key, these commands become Wider by 1/4 and Narrower by 1/4 (meaning 1/4 of a 93 point); press Command to make them Wider by 1/16 and Narrower by 1/16. Or press Shift to make the choices Wider by… and Narrower by…, allowing you to enter the number of points by which the tracking will be increased or decreased.

Figure 4.19. The Tracking dialog box.

Paragraph Formatting

A paragraph in Nisus Writer is any number of characters followed by a return character (a return character by itself does not count as a paragraph). The changes you can make to paragraph formatting include the left and right line wrap, the first line indent/outdent, tab stops, justification, line spacing, and paragraph spacing. All these settings are made using the Text Bar (Figure 4.20), which you can display (if it’s not already showing) by clicking the Display Text Bar button on the Vertical Button Bar.


Figure 4.20. The Text Bar.

Any change you make on the Text Bar will apply to whatever paragraph currently contains your insertion point. If you have a selection of text that spans multiple paragraphs, the change will affect all of those paragraphs. Any formatting changes made to a paragraph governed by a named ruler (see Chapter 10) will apply to all paragraphs using that ruler.

Margins, Line Wraps, and Indents

One thing many people find puzzling is the difference between the margin and the line wrap in Nisus Writer. Let’s begin by solving this mystery. As you look at the Text Bar in your document window, you’ll notice that just below the ruler markings is a white area with some triangular indicators at each end. These indicators show where the text will wrap to the next line, and you can move them just by clicking and dragging. But you can’t move them into the gray area on either end, try as you might. The gray areas are your margins. Your paragraphs can never, ever extend into the margins—the outer limits of your possible text area. Within the margins, however, you can set the left and right edges of your paragraphs to wrap wherever you like.

Adjusting Margins

“Fine,” you say, “but how do I adjust the margins?” The margins are adjusted on the Layout Page (Figure 4.21), which you can display by clicking the Display Layout Page button on your Vertical Button Bar. On the Layout Page, you can simply click and drag the margins to place them anywhere you like within the limits of your chosen printer. We’ll look at other ways to adjust the margins and other uses of the Layout Page in Chapter 7. In the meantime, just remember: margins are adjusted on the Layout Page; line wrap is adjusted in the document window.


Figure 4.21. The Layout Page. Margins and other document-wide settings are adjusted here.

Adjusting Line Wrap and Indents

To adjust the point where the right edge of your paragraph wraps, click the solid black triangle on the right edge of the Text Bar (the right line wrap indicator) and drag it to the desired location (see Figure 4.22). As you drag it, you’ll notice that a vertical dotted line extends down through your window. This will help you to see where text will align as you position the line wrap. You will also notice that the insertion point indicator changes to a reading in inches (or whatever your preferred unit of measurement is) of the current location of the right line wrap. When you release the mouse button, your paragraph will wrap at that point.

Figure 4.22. Changing the right line-wrap position.

On the left side of the ruler, we see two triangles—a hollow one on top and a solid one on the bottom. The bottom triangle is your left line wrap indicator. If you click and drag it, you can set your left wrap to a new position (again aided by the vertical guide line and position readout). You will also notice that the top triangle moves along with it. The top triangle is the first line indent/outdent indicator. It determines where the first line of each paragraph will begin, which may or may not be the same as the position for subsequent lines. To change this setting independent of the left line wrap, click and drag the top triangle to a new position. If the first line begins to the left of the 96 line wrap, it’s called an outdent. Outdents (also known as hanging indents) are commonly used for poetry and bibliographies. If the first line begins to the right of the line wrap, it’s an indent. If you like to indent the first line of every paragraph, you can set the indent so that this occurs automatically without requiring that you press the Tab key every time. (Figure 4.23 shows both an indent and an outdent.) Any time you click and drag the left line wrap indicator, the indent/outdent indicator will move with it. If you want to move the left line wrap independently of the indent/outdent, press the Shift key while dragging the line wrap indicator.

Figure 4.23. Indent (top) versus outdent (bottom).

If you’d rather enter measurements for your line wraps and indent/outdent than drag them into position, double-click the left or right wrap indicator or the indent/outdent indicator to display the dialog box in Figure 4.24. If you display this dialog box while you have a selection that includes multiple rulers, you can click Make settings relative to all selected rulers to apply the same change to all of the paragraphs. Again, any change made to a paragraph governed by a named ruler (Chapter 10) will affect all paragraphs using that ruler.


Figure 4.24.The Edit Line Wrap dialog box.

Working with Tabs

Tabs allow you to align text and numbers in columns and to position material precisely on a line. A tab stop is an indicator on your ruler that shows where and how your text will align. A tab character is a (normally invisible) character that is inserted into your text when you press the Tab key. The tab character tells Nisus Writer to move the text that follows it to the next tab stop.

Nisus Writer has five types of tab stops. Figure 4.25 shows examples of each type. The Left Tab () is the one that is most often used. Like a tab stop on a typewriter, it will cause the left edge of a block of text to be aligned to that spot on the ruler. The Center Tab () and Right Tab () will align the center and right edge of a block of text, respectively. The Decimal Tab () will cause the decimal points of any numbers beneath it to align. The fifth tab () is called a Forced Justify Tab. It spreads out the text between two arbitrary points in a line. This type of tab was designed for use with Arabic poetry, but can also be used to create special effects in other languages. When you press the Tab key in a line with a forced justify tab stop, everything between the insertion point and the next return or tab character will be stretched out to reach the tab. Thus, if you want to have text on the line after the forced justify tab, you must place another tab stop after it.


Figure 4.25. Examples of different tab stops (with and without leaders).

If you have created an outdent (hanging indent) by moving the Indent/Outdent indicator to the left of the Left Line Wrap, the line wrap indicator will also function as a left tab stop. This makes it easy to create bulleted lists, for example: type a bullet (Option-8) and press the Tab key; the rest of your text will be aligned in a block. There is no need to insert a tab stop on top of the line wrap indicator.

To set a tab, click a tab stop icon on the tab bar and drag it onto the horizontal ruler. To set multiple tab stops of the same type, click a tab stop icon once to select it, then click once on the ruler each place you want a tab stop to appear. You can reposition a tab stop by clicking and dragging it. To remove a tab stop, simply drag it off the ruler. The pointer changes to a garbage can () to confirm that the tab is being deleted. You can also move or delete multiple tab stops at once. Click a tab stop once to select it; Shift-click to select multiple tab stops.

If your paragraph has no tab stops set, Nisus Writer assumes default tab stops every half-inch. However, as soon as you insert a tab stop anywhere on the line, the default tabs are ignored and each tab stop must be explicitly set.

Any tab stop can have a tab leader, a series of periods or other characters leading up to the tab. Tab leaders are often found in tables of contents, and they help the eye to follow a line across the page. To set a tab stop with a leader, click the Leader Bar before placing your tab stop. The tab will have three dots below it () to indicate that it has a leader. Figure 4.25 shows some examples of tab leaders. You can change the leader character by double-clicking the leader bar. In the dialog box that appears, select a preset leader character or type in your own. If you want to change the attributes of a tab stop that you’ve already placed on the ruler, double-click it. A dialog box (Figure 4.26) will let you manually change the tab’s type, leader, and position on the line.


Figure 4.26. The Edit Tab dialog box.


Justification refers to the way the left and right edges of your paragraph are aligned. Figure 4.27 shows the appearance of different kinds of alignment. Clicking the Left Justify button will align the left edge of your paragraph at your left line wrap position. The Center Justify button will center the text in each line between the left and right line wrap positions. Clicking Right Justify will align the right edge of your paragraph with the right line wrap position. And clicking Full Justify will align both edges flush with their respective line wraps.

Figure 4.27. Four different justification methods.

100 Line and Paragraph Spacing

The last set of controls on the Text Bar (Figure 4.28) governs the vertical spacing within and between paragraphs. These controls are grouped together because they interact in important ways. The Line Height Methods pop-down menu sets the method used to determine line and paragraph spacing.

Figure 4.28. The Text Bar’s line- and paragraph-spacing controls, showing the Line Height Method pop-down menu.

Figure 4.29. Auto, Fixed, and Line methods of determining line height.

The Line Height box allows you to manually enter the measurement for the current line. If your Line Height Method is set to Auto or Fixed, the number you enter here will be interpreted in points; if the option is Line, the number represents a number of “lines” (in half-line increments). After entering a number in the box, press Return or Enter to apply your setting. To increase or decrease the line height (in either one-point or half-line increments), click the Increase Line Height or Decrease Line Height button.

Entering 0 (zero) in the Line Height box will cause the Line Height determination to become fully automatic, regardless of what method is set in the Line Height Method menu. Line height will be based entirely on the actual character sizes in the line. It is not possible to have a line whose actual height is zero points.

The Paragraph Spacing controls allow you to change the amount of space added before the paragraph. As with the Line Height controls, enter a number in the Paragraph Spacing box to use an arbitrary value; click the Increase or Decrease button to increase or decrease the number. The value you enter in this box is added to whatever line height is in effect. So, for example, a line height of 12 points plus a paragraph spacing of 6 points will give you 18 points of space before each selected paragraph. However, if line height is set to zero (Auto), then a paragraph spacing value of 6 might not have any effect; the two numbers combined must be greater than the point size of the font being used for any effect to be visible.

Nisus Writer does not have a Space After feature; paragraph spacing is always space before the paragraph. To include space after a paragraph, you must insert a new line after the paragraph and adjust its height to achieve the desired spacing.

102 Rulers

All the paragraph formatting information we’ve discussed—line wrap, indent, tabs, justification, line height, and paragraph spacing—is stored in what’s known as a paragraph ruler (or just ruler for short). To see the paragraph rulers in your document, click the Display Paragraph Rulers button () on the Horizontal Button Bar. A series of small ruler icons will appear along the left edge of your window (see Figure 4.30). Each of these icons contains the formatting settings for the paragraph(s) that follow it. A single paragraph ruler can govern the shape of many paragraphs; a ruler remains in effect for all paragraphs subsequent to the one where it’s inserted until a change in formatting is made. You can easily name rulers so that they can be reused throughout your document; a named ruler icon is distinguished from an unnamed ruler by a horizontal line (). We’ll explore named rulers in detail in Chapter 10. The comments that follow refer specifically to rulers that have not been named.

Figure 4.30. The document window with ruler icons displayed.

103 Changing Rulers

When you change the formatting of a paragraph that is governed by an unnamed ruler, a new ruler is automatically inserted before it to store the formatting information. In addition, a copy of the ruler that was previously in effect will be automatically inserted before the next paragraph. This copy is known as a protective ruler—it protects all future paragraphs from being affected by the changes you make to your current paragraph. If you do not want a protective ruler to be inserted (i.e., you want the changes you make to your current paragraph to apply to all subsequent paragraphs governed by the same ruler), select the ruler icon before making any changes. If you have a selection that spans several paragraphs with different rulers, the first paragraph’s settings will be shown on the text bar, and any changes you make will be applied to all of the selected paragraphs. However, when adjusting indents, you can move the indents of all selected paragraphs relative to the current one by holding the Shift key while dragging the indent.

If you hold the Command key while changing the formatting of a paragraph, the changes will be applied to all paragraphs with rulers identical to the current one.

Copying and Deleting Rulers

Rulers can be cut, copied, pasted, and deleted, just like text. Click a ruler icon once to select it, then choose the command you want to perform. For example, to copy all of the paragraph formatting from one paragraph to another, just copy the ruler from one paragraph, place your insertion point before the other paragraph (selecting the ruler icon that is already there, if there is one), and paste. If you delete a ruler icon, then the paragraph that follows it will take on the formatting of the previous paragraph. You cannot delete the very first ruler in your document.

Moving Paragraphs and Their Rulers

When you move a paragraph from one part of your document to another, you generally want to preserve its formatting. Because of the way Nisus Writer stores formatting in rulers, there are some things you should watch out for. If 104 you want to move a paragraph with its formatting intact, you should select not only the paragraph but the ruler icon that precedes it. However, the ruler is not copied (or moved using drag and drop) if it is the first thing in your selection. So you must select the preceding return character as well (see Figure 4.31)—making the ruler the second character in your selection. Likewise, avoid selecting the return character after the paragraph you’re moving, so that you don’t inadvertently move an extra ruler with your text.

Figure 4.31. When you copy or move a paragraph, select the range shown to include the current ruler (but not the following ruler). Before pasting, position the insertion point at the end of the line preceding the location where you want the paragraph to appear.

If a given paragraph is governed by a ruler that appears several paragraphs above it, there’s no way to copy that ruler along with the paragraph. (Even if you noncontiguously select the ruler icon, it won’t be copied to the Clipboard.) First, copy the ruler icon from its original location and paste it in front of the paragraph you want to move. Then make a selection that includes the newly pasted ruler as above.

Headers and Footers

A header is a special text area that displays across the top of each page; a footer displays across the bottom of the page. 105 Headers and footers are typically used to hold information like page number, document name, and the date. Headers and footers are created in essentially the same way. Choose Header or Footer from the Insert menu, and the Headers & Footers window (Figure 4.32) will appear. Type your header or footer here (using the same formatting controls you use in your document window), and close the window. The header or footer you just created will appear on every page of your document from that point on.

Figure 4.32. The Headers & Footers window, showing the Header/Footer menu.

To edit a header or footer, you can either double-click it in your document or click the Display Headers/Footers button on your Horizontal Button Bar to open the Headers & Footers window. While the Headers & Footers window is open, the Header/Footer menu (see Figure 4.32) will appear on your menu bar. To make the header or footer appear only on the odd or even pages of your document, choose Odd Pages or Even Pages from this menu. If you choose All Pages, it will appear on both even and odd pages. To delete the header or footer, choose Delete Header or Delete Footer from the menu. Choosing Go to Reference takes you back to the point in your document where the header or footer was inserted.

Your document can have multiple headers and footers—a different one on each page, if you like. After inserting your first header or footer, place your insertion point on the page on which you want the new one to begin, and again choose Header or Footer from the Insert menu. The new header or footer will appear on all subsequent pages of your document (unless superseded by a new one). Each page can display only one header and one footer. If you insert multiple headers or footers on a page, only the first header, or the last footer, will be used.

106 To see where in your document headers and footers have been inserted, click the Display Header/Footer Icons button () on your Horizontal Button Bar. Header and footer icons will appear in the margin to the left of your text. These icons indicate whether the header or footer will appear on all pages ( or ), even pages ( or ), or odd pages ( or ). Headers and footers are actually attached to the return character of the preceding paragraph. This means that if you delete that return character, the header or footer will also be deleted. It also means that if that return character moves to another page, your header or footer will move with it. If you want to move a header or footer manually from one page to another, follow these steps:

  1. Select any return character in your document that does not have an attached header or footer, and choose Copy from the Edit menu.
  2. Select the return character to which the header or footer is attached.
  3. Hold down the Shift key and choose Swap Paste from the Edit menu.
  4. Position your insertion point at the new location for the header or footer, and choose Paste from the Edit menu.

Footnotes and Endnotes

You can insert footnotes or endnotes at any point in your document. They are automatically numbered and can be edited, moved, or deleted at any time. To insert a footnote or endnote at your insertion point, choose Footnote/Endnote from the Insert menu. A reference number will appear in your text, and the Notes for… window will open (Figure 4.33). Type your note here, and when you’re finished, close the window or click the Edit Document button on the Horizontal Button Bar. To edit notes you’ve already entered, double-click the footnote (or its reference number) in your document window, or click the Display Footnotes/Endnotes button on the Horizontal Button Bar. When the Notes for… window is open, a Notes menu (Figure 4.33) appears on your menu bar, giving you 107 access to note placement and formatting controls. Choose Go to Reference from this menu to go back to the point in your document where the current footnote was inserted.

Figure 4.33. The Notes for… window, showing the Notes menu.

Placement Options

Nisus Writer places notes at the bottom of each page by default (footnotes), but you can opt to have them placed at the end of your document instead (endnotes). You can’t have both footnotes and endnotes in the same document. To change the placement of your notes, choose Note Placement from the Notes menu (or double-click a footnote separator line in your document) to display the dialog box shown in Figure 4.34. Choose either Endnotes or Footnotes. With Footnotes selected, the following Footnotes options are available:

Figure 4.34. The Note Placement dialog box.

The Document - Footnotes: box allows you to enter the vertical distance from the bottom of your text to the top of your first footnote. Your separator line will be centered vertically in this space. Next to Separator Line - Margin enter the horizontal distance from the margin to the separator line. Below that, the Separator Line options let you choose the length of the separator line in points (enter 0 if you don’t want a line) and whether it is left- or right-justified.

Symbol Options

Choose Note Symbols… from the Notes menu to display the dialog box shown in Figure 4.35. This allows you to set numbering and reference options. Choose This Note Only to change the options for just the note the insertion point is in, or click All New Notes to make the settings you choose here the new default. Automatic numbering causes each footnote to be con-109secutively numbered (and the numbers update automatically when footnotes are moved, added, or deleted). When Manual is checked, whatever number you enter in the Start at: box will be the number for your current footnote, but all footnotes that appear after it will be consecutively numbered from that point (unless they, too, have been overridden with a manual number). The bottom two boxes specify how reference symbols will appear both In the Document and In the Notes. The Superscript checkbox at the bottom applies the Superscript style to whatever symbol you choose. Click one of the first three options for plain numbers or numbers in brackets or parentheses. Choose * to use an asterisk as a reference symbol—note that this is a superscripted asterisk, so you’ll want to uncheck Superscript if you use this option. None will give you a footnote with no reference symbol; to use another character of your own choice, enter it in the Other: box.

Figure 4.35. The Note Symbols dialog box.

Working with Footnotes

When you insert a footnote, the font size of the note is automatically reduced to 5/6 of the size used in your document. So if the body of your document is in a 12-point font, your footnotes will be 10 points. You can change the size manually, but you will have to do so for each new footnote indi-110vidually. Regardless of what size your text is, though, the return character that appears automatically at the end of every note is 12 points in size. When the Line Height Method is set to Auto, each line will stretch to fit the tallest character. So if your footnote text is 10 points (or smaller), guess what? Your last line will be too tall! Worse yet, there’s no way to select that return character individually to give it a new size. There are two solutions to this problem. One is to set the Line Height Method to Fixed; this will make all lines equal in height. However, if you do need Auto spacing, there’s still a solution. With your Notes for… window visible, choose Select All from the Edit menu, and then choose 10 from the Size menu to change the size of everything in your footnotes—including the return characters—to 10 points. (If you want to affect the return character without changing the rest of your note, you can use PowerFind (Chapter 11) to replace all return characters in the Notes for… window with a smaller size.)

There are a few other things to keep in mind when working with footnotes and endnotes. First, each new footnote has a tab character inserted before the reference number. You can delete this tab manually if you want to (or write a macro to do it for you), but there’s no way to keep it from appearing in the first place. Second, while all your standard editing tools (spelling checker, thesaurus, Find/Replace, etc.) are available while editing footnotes, they will not be able to “see into” your footnotes when used from your document window. And finally, when you have Endnotes selected, they will always be placed at the very end of your document. For a solution that will let you put something (say, a bibliography) after your endnotes, see Chapter 15.

Spell Checking

To check the spelling in your document, choose Check Spelling… from the Tools menu. The spelling checker will immediately begin checking your document, and the 111 spelling checker window (Figure 4.36) will appear. When it comes to a word it doesn’t recognize, it will display that word in the top box labeled Misspelled Word. In the Suggestions box will be a list of any words in the dictionary that are spelled similarly to the unrecognized word. (If you don’t want to have suggestions listed, uncheck the box.) The word at the top of the list—the one the spelling checker thinks is most likely what you meant to use—will be shown in the Replace With: box. To replace the word in your document with the suggested word, click Replace. If you want to use one of the other suggested words, just double-click it (or click once to select it and then click Replace). If none of the suggested words is the one you want, you can type your own word in the Replace With: box and then click Replace. To replace every instance of the misspelled word in your document with the word in the Replace With: box, click Replace All. After you replace a word, the spelling checker automatically looks for the next misspelled word.

Figure 4.36. The spelling checker window.

If the spelling checker has found a word that is almost spelled correctly but doesn’t produce the correct alternative, click the word in the Misspelled Word box and it will be copied to the Replace With: box where you can edit it.

Skip and Ignore

If the spelling checker stops on a word but you don’t want to replace it, click Skip. The spelling checker will overlook it and continue on to the next misspelled word. However, the next time you run the spelling checker, it will stop at that word again. If you click Skip All, then any occurrence of the word in any document will be skipped. Nisus Writer remem-112bers which words have been skipped until you quit (or load a different dictionary). The next time you launch the program, the word will once again be caught by the spelling checker. If you’d like to mark the word so that the spelling checker never again stops on it again (even if you quit Nisus Writer), click Ignore to apply the Ignore Spelling style to the word. Words marked with Ignore Spelling are never flagged by the spelling checker. To apply the Ignore Spelling style to every instance of the selected word in your document, press the Option key and Ignore becomes Ignore All.

In addition to looking for spelling errors, the spelling checker looks for lowercase letters following a period (which it takes to be words beginning a sentence that should be capitalized) and repeated words. The spelling checker also stops on words followed or separated by an ellipsis (this…that), which is almost universally annoying!

The User Dictionary

If the “misspelled” word is really spelled correctly, but just is not in the built-in dictionary, you can add it to your User Dictionary, which is used in combination with the Spelling Dictionary to check your document. To add the selected word to the User Dictionary, click Add. You can edit your User Dictionary in one of two ways. When you click Edit User Dictionary, the contents of the user dictionary are displayed in your spelling checker window (Figure 4.37); you can select a term and click Remove to delete it or type in a new term and click Add to add it. If you click Edit in Window, your user dictionary will be opened for editing in an ordinary text window. You do not have to enter words in alphabetical order; the spelling checker will sort them automatically when the window is closed. You are free to create as many user dictionaries as you like, though only one can be loaded at a time. To create a new user dictionary, click New.

Figure 4.37. The spelling checker window with Edit User Dictionary checked.

113 If you have a list of words that you’d like to add to your User Dictionary en masse, simply select the list, copy it, and paste it into the User Dictionary text window.

While you can use the spelling checker within header/footer and footnote windows, it does not check these areas when run from your main document window.

Spelling Checker Options

The upper-right corner of the spelling checker window lists the language used for spell checking and the current Spelling Dictionary and User Dictionary. If you’ve purchased an extra dictionary for another language or for legal, medical, or technical terms, you can open it using the Open… command or the Catalog, and its name will be displayed here. To change which dictionaries are loaded by default, choose Dictionaries… from the Preferences submenu of the File menu. You can have only one Main Dictionary and one User Dictionary loaded at a time.

If you check your spelling and then leave the spelling checker window open while editing your document, the Start button will be enabled, allowing you to perform another spelling check. If you have a range of text selected when you choose Check Spelling… (or click Start), the spelling checker will only check words in that selection. You must click to deselect any text before checking any other part of your document. To check the spelling of a single word manually, type it into the Replace With: box and click the 4 button.

You can actually check your spelling without displaying the spelling checker window! If you press the Shift key while clicking on the Tools menu, Check Spelling… becomes Find Next Error. Choose this command and Nisus Writer will jump to the next unrecognized word.


To look up a word in Nisus Writer’s thesaurus, select the word and choose Thesaurus… from the Tools menu. The thesaurus widow (Figure 4.38) will open. It gives a brief definition of the word (multiple definitions are divided by part of speech) along with synonyms, related words (“rel”), antonyms (“ant”), contrasting words (“con”), and words to compare with the original (“cmp”). Synonyms are shown with the same capitalization and tense as the original word.

Figure 4.38. The thesaurus window.

To replace your original word with one of the thesaurus entries, double-click the word you want in the thesaurus (or click once to select it and then click Replace). Clicking a word once copies it to the box labeled Next, meaning the next word that will be looked up. To look up a word that you have copied or typed into that box, click Lookup. The Current pop-up menu lists the last ten words that were looked up, so you can return to an earlier entry quickly.

114 As with the spelling checker, the current language and thesaurus name are indicated in the top right corner of the window. You can obtain additional thesauri and open them just like any other document, or choose a different default thesaurus using the Dictionaries… command on the Preferences submenu of the File menu. Only one thesaurus file can be open at a time.


Nisus Writer can automatically hyphenate any or all of the text in your document. The Hyphenate command on the Tools menu can be thought of as a style—any text with the Hyphenate style applied will be hyphenated if necessary, and if you choose Hyphenate with no text selected, hyphenation will apply to whatever text is typed at the insertion point. A check mark next to the Hyphenate command tells you that hyphenation is active for the selected text. A word in the Hyphenate style will only be hyphenated if it falls at the end of a line and if wrapping it to the following line would produce a large gap. To turn off hyphenation, select the range of text you don’t want to be hyphenated, and choose Hyphenate again to remove the style.

As with the spelling checker and thesaurus, hyphenation depends on a language-specific hyphenation file. Unlike the spelling checker and thesaurus, this file consists of a set of rules for hyphenating rather than a dictionary. You can override 115 these rules if you want hyphenation to take place at a particular point in your word. To do this, insert a soft hyphen at the point you’d like the word to break by pressing Command-hyphen. A soft hyphen is invisible, but it tells Nisus Writer that this is a suitable breaking point if the word falls at the end of a line.

Word Count

Choosing Word Count from the Tools menu will display the number of words in your document and many other statistics (Figure 4.39). You’ll get a tally of characters, words, sentences, and so on not only for the document you’re working on but for all open documents as well. If you have WorldScript installed, the Word Count dialog box will give you additional information about non-Roman characters used in your document (see Chapter 13 for details).

Figure 4.39. The Word Count dialog box.

In addition to the other statistics, Word Count indicates the Flesch Reading Ease score for your document and its Reading Grade Level. These scores are designed to give you an indication of how easy your document is to read. The Flesch Reading Ease score is a number from 0 to 100, with 100 being 116 easiest to read and 0 being hardest. It is computed using a standardized algorithm that takes into account the average sentence length and average number of syllables per word. The Reading Grade Level tells you what level of education is needed to read the text in your document. The range is 1 (first grade; easiest) to 19 (third year graduate school; hardest).

To get a feel for just what these scores mean and how reliable they are, I performed a Word Count on several short texts. The results are shown in Table 4.1. Because the texts were so short, this may not be a reliable indication of how accurate the tests are, but it will help you to see how some of the rules work (and have a bit of fun, too). And in case you were wondering, this book has a Flesch Reading Ease of 54 and a Reading Grade Level of 12.

Sample Text

Flesch Reading Ease
Range is 0 (hardest) to
100 (easiest)

Reading Grade Level
Range is 1 (first grade) to
19 (graduate school)

See Spot run.



See Dick and Jane run.



See Alexander and Penelope run.



See to it that Alexander and
Penelope run.



Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.



Propel, propel, propel your craft,
Gently down liquid solution.
Ecstatically, ecstatically,
    ecstatically, ecstatically,
Existence is but an illusion.
    (apologies to Mr. Rogers)



Table 4.1. Flesch Reading Ease and Reading Grade Level scores for sample texts.

While the Word Count command is fast and gives plenty of information, it doesn’t do something that a lot of people need—count the words in a given selection. The Count Words in Selection macro on the enclosed CD-ROM adds this feature to Nisus Writer.

After many years of customer requests, the Word Count feature will now give you statistics for the current selection, in addition to statistics for the entire document.

117 Summary

If you made it through this entire chapter alive, congratulations! You are now a Word Processor. You know how to get around in Nisus Writer’s document window, and you’ve learned the basics of entering, editing, and formatting text. Words, however, are only part of your Nisus Writer document. Graphics (including tables and equations), movies, and sounds are an integral part of the program and can add a great deal of richness and appeal to your documents. In Chapter 5, we explore the graphical elements you can include in your document, and in Chapter 6 we’ll cover Nisus Writer’s unique sound features.

Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1999 by Joe Kissell

< Section II | Next Chapter >