Line number your writing
Microsoft Word lets you number each line of your story. Why do this? It is a great help when you send material to others for comment or when you comment on others’ work.
In my writing group, we email our work to each other and print out our own copy of what is sent. The problem is that everyone’s printer prints differently. Having line numbered material lets us easily zero in on a point in the text during our discussion. No more time-wasting locational talk, e.g., ‘I want to talk about the scene at the bottom of page 2,’ and ‘It’s at the top of page 3 on my printout,’ and ‘I’m confused, where are we talking about?’
(Yes, I know everyone could send PDF files but people tend to keep to what they’re comfortable with.)
Line numbers also make it easier when you provide written comments on someone’s work.
Instead of clumsy locational markers: When Alice goes into the coffee shop after the fight, does she….
Use line numbers: Lines 28-32: does Alice….
How to number your lines
- In the toolbar above your Word document, pull down the FILE menu and select PAGE SETUP.
- From Page Setup select the LAYOUT tab.
- When the Layout screen is open, go to the bottom and click on the LINE NUMBERS button.
- When it opens, tick (check) two choices:
ADD LINE NUMBERING
When you look at your document in Print Layout mode, each line is numbered. Don’t know how to get to Print Layout mode? Go to the toolbar above your document, pull down the VIEW menu, and select PRINT LAYOUT.
Keep draft sent to readers
After you send a draft off for comment, keep a copy of this sent draft, which has the same line numbering your readers will follow when commenting. When you change your text, the line numbers automatically change as well. If you revise the copy you sent to readers (and have no backup), you won’t be able to find the places in your text that they are referring to.
Partial line numbering
If you don’t want your title or other prefacing information to be part of your numbering?
Insert a section break and then position your cursor beyond the break. Follow the same instructions for line numbering except that when you get to the LAYOUT screen, go to the APPLY TO box and select THIS POINT FORWARD. Then select ADD LINE NUMBERING.
How do you make a section break? Go to the toolbar above the Word screen, pull down the INSERT menu, select BREAK. Under Section Break Types select CONTINUOUS.
Remove line numbers
To remove line numbers, Go to FILE, then PAGE SETUP, then LAYOUT, then LINE NUMBERS. Deselect ADD LINE NUMBERING.