This is a post primarily aimed at journalists, students and writers who often have to write articles, blogs, thesis, dissertation, review articles, etc. about opposing or competing views. It could be an article comparing two products, or discussing two political rivals or even a review of current affairs with contrasting views.
When you write such an article, you have to balance it by ensuring that one party / view does not get more coverage than the other. I am sure all experienced writers have their own way of getting this done.
This article discusses a simple but ingenious technique using Word Styles which can help you.
Word is based upon styles. We use styles like Normal, Heading 1, 2, 3 regularly. But it is also possible to create our own styles. Word keeps a count of how many times a particular style is being used.
Right click on a style to see how many instances are applied in the current document.
Using this simple facility, we will create an easy way to write balanced articles.
Create two styles
Here I am assuming that we are writing about some disputed issue. And you have to cover arguments FOR as well as AGAINST the issue.
Therefore, we will create two special styles and use them to identify the for and against documents.
If you have more variations, you can use the same method and create more styles.
Create a new style “FOR”
Home tab – Styles area – open the dropdown (actually called gallery).
Choose Create a New style
A complex looking window (it is called a dialog) appears. Don’t worry. We will do only a few changes here.
- Change the name of the style to FOR
- Choose a different color. In this case I am choosing green color.
- Open the Format dropdown and assign a Shortcut Key
In this case I am using Alt Z as the key. You can use any other key combination which is convenient and does not clash with other useful shortcuts.
- That’s it. Now the new style will appear in the Style Gallery area.
Create another style “Against”
Follow the same steps are before. Choose a different color. I have chosen orange color. Specify a different Shortcut key. I recommend Alt X because this is also easy to use this combination.
Mark sentences as For or Against
Select a sentence and mark it as For or Against by using the shortcut keys. Selecting the sentence is important. Otherwise the style will be applied to the entire paragraph.
Typically, the same paragraph may have opposing statements.
How to select a sentence quickly
Press Ctrl key and the click anywhere in the sentence. Hope you knew that. A very useful shortcut available since ancient times.
See the balance visually
Neutral sentences will be black. “For” sentences will be green and “Against” sentences will be orange. A quick glance will give you a rough idea about how the distribution is.
Get precise count
But we can get a more precise idea by right clicking on the For and Against styles in the ribbon. Each will show the count of used instances. These should roughly match to indicate a balanced article.
This method is not fail proof. For example, if you applied the FOR style to a paragraph containing 4 sentences, the count will increase only by one.
But it is a nice and easy way to check balance.
How to finalize the document
Once you have refined the article to your satisfaction, there is no need to keep these styles. So you can easily get rid of them using this method.
Click in any area where FOR style is applied.
Open Home tab – Selection drop down – Select text with similar formatting
All the instances where FOR styles is applied are now selected instantly. Just apply normal style there.
Repeat the process for AGAINST style. And now you have a clean and balanced document.
Try this and let me know your feedback.