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Some Help with Microsoft Word

& Other Word Processing Programs

Lynn Harper wrote to ask if it's OK to delete the numerous files she has with cryptic names such as ~WRL2355.tmp.

The answer is yes — but what are these files?

Well, those beginning with a tilde (~) and ending with .tmp are temporary files created in the back-ground when composing a document in Microsoft Word.

These emergency backup files are part of MSWord's Save choices, which are found under Tools>Options>Save>Save Options. Save AutoRecover Info Every 20 Minutes means that a periodic backup of your document is made whether you remember to manually save it or not.

These temp files are normally stored in My Documents, (or Documents)and can be opened with a double-click. However, if you have the Always Create Backup Copy option checked it's unlikely you will ever need an AutoRecover file.

Speaking of saving your MSWord work, Always Create Backup Copy means every time you do File>Save (after having named the document) your previous Save will be set aside as a temporary backup of whatever was created up to that point. Thus, in the event of an accidental file deletion, only what was written since the previous Save would be lost — not the whole document.

Incremental File Name Changes - Important Document Saving Insurance

If you are working on a lengthy document, even better loss-protection can be achieved with incremental file name changes. When saving a document named MyBook1, for instance, change subsequent Saves to MyBook2, MyBook3, etc. When you get to, say, MyBook10 you will have nine partially-completed documents in addition to your finished file. This means if you want to restore a paragraph you deleted in the MyBook7 version, it will be available for copying and pasting, rather than having to be retyped.

All the above refers to copies made on the same computer, which if lost, stolen, or destroyed in a fire could leave you with no backups at all. This is why important documents should also be saved to other media. For years the humble "floppy disk" was the medium of choice. Eventually, burning a CD meant you could put more data on a cheaper disc.

Now one can easily backup data to DVDs, external hard drives, or flash memory sticks. The cheapest backup, however, is email. Google allows 2.8 gigabytes of free storage per Gmail address (I have four) and recently doubled its file-transfer limit from 10 to 20 megabytes. This also means your copies are available anywhere you find an Internet connection — no need to carry backup discs when traveling.

Other Microsoft Word Options

If you would like to change MSWord's default font, Times New Roman, to something else (I like Verdana's legibility) go to Format>Font, make your choice, and then click Default in the lower left corner of the window.

Changing MSWord's paragraph indents can be done under Format>Paragraph. Or you can experiment with adjusting the three Tab markers on the horizontal ruler, which can be displayed by clicking View>Ruler. However, these markers only affect whichever paragraph your cursor is in. Do Edit>Select All to change settings throughout the document.

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