word for archs

#190 How Apple Killed Word

Well, maybe not “killed”, but, certainly gave us another option.

When I was in graduate school I switched over to the Apple suite of office software completely. I did it so all of my devices would sync properly. It seemed archaic that I couldn’t work on a document on my computer, pack that away, and work on the same document on my phone on the bus ride to campus. Also, the iPad was coming out in a few months and I wanted complete syncing ability.

I know you can now do that with Windows and the paid service called Office 365 that gives you all of your documents in the cloud similar to Google Docs. Which reminds me, I know Google Docs exists too.

So, before I receive any comments on this blog, or, since no one actually comments here even when I ask for information, comments on LinkedIn or Facebook, let me just say that this post is mostly for Apple enthusiasts. If you aren’t into Apple products and are offended by the mere mention of anything other than Linux or Google Docs then click away now! Here is something that should make you happy. Just kidding.

For the three of you that are left, let me tell you what Apple did.



I’ve been using Apple’s word processing software, Pages, for several years now. I love how easy it is to layout a document and how fluid things move when you drag them around. After years of having Word be glitchy and slow it was great moving to Pages.

The only problem with Pages is that everyone else uses Word. So, if you want to transmit documents back and forth between platforms you might run into some problems. Most things do transfer well, however. It’s just that some of the more complicated formatting can get messed up.

Pages in the Cloud

Well, now Pages is in the cloud. Anyone with a free iCloud account (if you have an iTunes account you have iCloud) can now create, share, and modify iWork documents including Pages, Numbers (spreadsheet), and Keynote (presentations). You can even drag Word documents onto the screen and it will convert and open them. If you need to export as a Word document it will do that too.

I like having Pages in the cloud because all of my documents are written in Pages. If I’m working at home and need to stop I can save what I’m working on and it will be available for me anywhere in the world as long as I have a computer and an internet connection.

Template Chooser


There are some limitations to using Pages. First, Pages doesn’t do mail merge. It’s the only reason I still use Word for some things. Also, the cloud and iOS versions of the iWork apps have limited functionality when compared to their desktop counterparts. That is to be expected, though. I do know that they have the similar capabilities when compared to Google Docs, although I don’t have enough experience to speak intelligently about that.


Aside from the previously mentioned benefits of speed and agility, there are other reasons to use Pages and the other iWork programs. First, if you’re familiar with Apple then you know that all of their apps are polished and have a great look and feel. I don’t know how to say it better other than they just work and they feel right. I’m always frustrated by Word, and Windows in general. It always seems clunky and unfinished.

Now, instead of converting your good looking document into a Word document just so someone can look at it and comment, you can send them the Pages file and they can open it in their browser. No more conversion.

Well, that’s it for this Apple commercial. If you made it this far then I congratulate you. Please, tell me what you think in the comments. Do you use Pages? Are you a Windows user but use Pages on your iPhone or iPad? Let me know.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!


#175 Word For Archaeologists Pt. 3.2: Fun with Tabs

Part one of this short series on the use of tabs in Microsoft Word dealt with a few common issues. Those include setting up tabs, types of tabs, and some cool little things you can do right in the ruler. Here are some more advanced techniques you can use with tabs. Please comment and enjoy.

Tab Leaders 

Tab leader types.

Tab leader types.

Ever wonder how people get those dots in their table of contents? You know the ones I mean. The series of “periods” that run from the chapter title to the page number. Those are called tab leaders and can be used any time you have a tab in the document.

Tab leaders don’t care what type of tab you use. The symbol you choose will flow left from the tab between your text at the tab and the text at the beginning of the line. To choose a tab leader either double click in the ruler bar on a tab or click on “tabs” in the Format menu. 

In the Tab dialogue box you’ll see a wealth of information. At the top you can change the default position of tabs. It’s usually set at 0.5 inches. That means when you hit the tab key, with no tabs set in the ruler bar, your curser will move 0.5 inches. Next you’ll see a list of the tabs you have in your ruler bar and the position on the ruler that they are set at. Notice that there is a box where you can enter a number. If you know where you want all your tabs and would like to do it manually, or you would like to adjust existing tab positions, you can do that here. Just enter a number and click “set”. The tab will appear in the list.

Tab Menu dialogue box

Tab Menu dialogue box

Now you can click on one of those numbers and change the attributes of the tab. Notice that you can change they tab type by clicking one of the radio buttons next to left, center, right, etc. Here, is where you set the tab leader. On my version of word there are four options: none, dots, dashes, and a solid line. Most people like the dots, although, the solid line is clean and classy. You should always try to stay classy. Anyway…

Finally, you can clear all the tabs in the document by clicking on “clear all”. Keep in mind that this will move text around in your document if you’ve used the tab key. Only use “clear all” if you know what you’re doing. You can always press CNTL-Z if you really mess things up.

Paragraph and line indents

These aren’t really tabs but they function the same way. The margins of your writing area are determined by the triangles on the left and right side of the ruler. There is only one triangle on the right side and moving it will change the length of your paragraphs. The left side is more complicated and is composed of three parts: an inverted triangle, a regular triangle, and a small rectangle.

The bottom rectangle’s only function is to move both triangles at the same time. This is for indenting lines and paragraphs. All lines in the selected area will be moved. Keep in mind I said “selected area”. Tabs and the ends of the ruler can be different for every single paragraph you have in your document. When you press the enter key the settings for the previous paragraph are copied to the next one. To change the entire document press CNTL-A and highlight everything. Only do this if you want to change EVERYTHING.

The top triangle is the first line indent. Every need to indent the first line of a paragraph? Ever need to outdent (pretty sure that’s a word) the first line? This is where you do it. Just drag the top triangle only in either direction and that is where the first line will start.

Indented text using just the triangles on the ruler bar.

Indented text using just the triangles on the ruler bar.

The bottom triangle is the hanging indent. The rest of the lines in a paragraph (after the first line) will be positioned according to the bottom triangle. Thankfully, once you have your top and bottom triangles set you can move the whole lot by dragging the rectangular box. That will come in handy later.

Moving Ordered and Numbered Lists

An ordered list is one with bullets (dots, squares, whatever) and a number list uses, uh, numbers (OK, letters, roman numerals, and whatever else you want too). Instead of fiddling with the ruler bar to indent or outdent a list item, just use the tab key. Pressing the tab key will move the list item forward one tab space. That distance is determined by the tab distance you have set in the tab menu. Pressing SHIFT-TAB will move the item backwards. If you’re using a numbered list the name of the list item will also change (a. to i. to 1. etc.).


Click here for the first part of the tab series. In this post we learned how to manually set tabs and tab leaders, how to change the indentation on paragraphs, including first line indents, and how to move ordered and numbered lists quickly and easily.

If I made any mistakes, left something out, or you’d like me to cover something else in a future post be sure to let me know in the comments. You can also let me know by using the contact form in the sidebar.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field!

#171 Word for Archaeologists Pt. 3.1: Tabs

This post is part three in a series of posts dedicated to making the lives of archaeologists sentenced to a career using Microsoft Word just a little bit easier. Part 1 is here and covers Track Changes. Part 2 covers Styles and can be found here. You can find information on a variety of topics by going to the blog’s website and typing something into the search field on the right side of the page. Let me know, in the comments below, if there is something you would like me to research and blog about, whether it is archaeology related or MS Word related, and I’ll do my best to get it out there. Tabs are so fascinating that I had to break this up into two posts. This is the first one.

#142 MS Word for Archaeologists Part 1: Track Changes

Just about every archaeologist needs to know how to use Microsoft Word. Unfortunately, no one is teaching us how to use it. I’ve seen way too many people fumble through trying to use this program and just end up wasting time. Now, I’m not going to get into a discussion of whether you should even use MS Word, as opposed to some other word processing program. For example, I use Apple’s Pages whenever I can. The fact is, most companies use MS Word. They may not be using the most current version of Word, but, they are using it.