Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Non-breaking Spaces in Word/OpenOffice Writer

I use LaTeX primarily for all of my printed document preparation, but I have to teach people how to write in Word/OpenOffice Writer, and so it still is interesting to me to find out how to do new things.

I've wondered how to make non-breaking spaces (NBSP) in Word for a long time, but I didn't force myself to actually look it up until recently. Evidently, if you type
in Word, you generate a NBSP. This same combination works in OpenOffice Writer, but I think only Control+Space is needed.

A non-breaking space tells the Word Processor to never break lines at that spot. That is, a non-breaking space can never end or begin an automatically wrapped line. You should use NBSP's to prevent
  • periods at the end of lines that do not terminate sentences
  • numbers or bullet-like symbols at the beginning of lines that do not initiate list items
For example,
  • Replace "Mr. Jones" with "Mr.(NBSP)Jones"
  • Replace "Figure 2" with "Figure(NBSP)2"
  • Replace "Table 3.1" with "Table(NBSP)3.1"
  • Replace "Equation (5)" with "Equation(NBSP)(5)"
  • Replace "over there – in the hallway" with "over there(NBSP)– in the hallway"
That's how the big publishers do it. However, you never notice it because it's so subtle; when it's done right, you won't notice it at all.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bookmarklets for OSU Library proxy

FYI, as of an e-mail sent to me on the morning of January 27, the OSU library system is happy with these bookmarklets and may plan to offer their own version of them in the near future. Thanks, again, for your support.
This message goes out to OSU faculty, staff, and students. Doesn't it make you mad when you're off campus and you want to read a paper and the research database that holds the paper doesn't let you view it because you're not a subscriber? I hate that.

Luckily, the OSU library system provides an "off-campus sign in" that can be used to make your off-campus connection look like an on-campus one so research databases will grant you OSU caliber access. Unfortunately, sometimes it's hard to figure out how to get from the off-campus sign-in to the paper you want. So I've come up with a shortcut, and I implemented it two ways.

Drag either one of the two following bookmarklets to your "bookmarks toolbar" (that strip of bookmarks that rides just below the "location bar" in your browser).
When you're on a page you'd like special access to (e.g., the official site of an academic paper of interest to you), click on the bookmarklet and you'll be transported to that site via OSU's "off-campus sign in." You may have to use your OSU username and password to login the first time you click on the bookmarklet, but after that you should be granted OSU-level access quickly.

(feel free to rename those bookmarklets as you wish; the name "OSU LOCSI" isn't important to their function)

I hope that helps.