Editing Tips from Australian eBook Publisher

For Microsoft Word

By Sharnai James-McGovern
Note: This editor used Microsoft Word for Mac 2011.

Language settings

Make sure when you write you choose a language and stick with it. For example, when writing in English, be aware that there are US, UK and AU options. Each region has different rules that apply to spelling and grammar. When writing for Australian audiences, using AU or UK is acceptable; however, US is not.

The default language on Microsoft Word is US English. This means it will pick up spelling "errors" that are really correct for AU or UK English.

To change the language of your text, select your whole document (Command+A) then head to "Tools" in the top toolbar. Scroll down and select "Language".

Once you've hit "Language" a menu will pop up. Scroll down the options and select your chosen language. To make sure the spellcheck picks up on errors in this language be sure to make sure that the checkbox is unticked.

Simply say "OK" and you're good to go.

Grammar settings

It's well known that a spelling and grammar checker will miss many different errors and misunderstand others. This is why hiring a professional editor is always preferable when working with an important or large document.

However, if you don't have the option of going to an editor, the best thing you can do is to adjust your grammar and spell checker settings. Make sure you still read through the suggested corrections carefully, as there are some words that Word doesn’t know exist, or believes should be punctuated differently.

An example of this is the word 'internet'. Most spell-checkers will tell you the "I" ought to be capitalised as was the way up until fairly recently. Because this word is used so often in our daily vocabularies, the 'I' no longer needs to be capitalised.

To get to Microsoft Word’s grammar and spell-checker settings, open up “Tools” in your toolbar, then select “Spelling and Grammar”. This will open up the spell-checker window.

From this window click "Options".

From this new menu you have a number of options to choose from. To check what grammar rules are being adhered to, select, in the Grammar section, "Settings".

From here you can scroll through and choose what rules you are using. I like to make sure that my "Punctuation required within quotes" is always set to "inside", and that there is only one space allowed after a full stop.


Within Microsoft Word there are a number of shortcuts that will help improve and speed up your writing and editing process.

Mac Shortcut

PC Shortcut


Command + A

Control + A

select all

Command + B

Control + B

make selection bold

Command + I

Control + I

make selection italics

Command + P

Control + P


Command + K

Control + K

insert hyperlink

Command + Shift + Enter

Control + Shift + Enter

Column break (new page)

Shift + tab

Shift + tab

reduce tab in list form (like a bullet level)

Command + Option + - (minus on the numpad)

Control + Alt + -(minus on the numpad)

—(em dash)

Command + -(minus on the numpad)

Control + -(minus on the numpad)

– (en dash)

Non Printing Characters (Otherwise known as "Invisibles")
Look for a button that looks like a backwards “P” in your toolbar. By selecting this button you will make visible “non printing characters” These are the characters that symbolizes spaces, paragraphs, tabs, and breaks. Turning these on can help you keep your writing consistent.

Applying Styles
Applying styles to your writing will dramatically increase how quickly you can format your text

The styles menu in Word looks like this:

This is the really simple view. For your normal body copy you should select “normal”. If you have any headings or subheadings, you should select the appropriate heading level;ie. Heading 1, Heading 2 etc.

If you have special fonts, sizing or indenting on your text, you can carry this over to your style by highlighting your chosen text, then right-clicking on your chosen style.

Choose the option “Update to Match Selection". From then on, all the text with that style applied will adhere to that formatting. As you can imagine that's a much easier way of adjusting multiple kinds of formatting very quickly. If you change your mind later it's easy to make a ‘global change' by updating a style.

Having styles applied also means you can insert an automatic table of contents.

Table of Contents
If you have accurately applied styles to your document, you will be able to insert a table of contents.

From the "Insert" menu, select "Index and Tables"

Head to the "Table of Contents" tab in the menu that appears and choose your desired style.

When you press "OK", the table of contents will appear in your document

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