Pages is Apple's word processing and page layout app, part of the iWork productivity suite for the Mac.

It's extremely easy to use but is also very powerful - here's our list of useful tips and tricks to help you get more from Pages.

1. Tables of Contents (TOCs)

Tables of Contents are useful for longer documents, and so easy to do.

First, make sure you use defined paragraph styles for your headings. Now place the insertion point where you want it to be added, then use the Insert > Table of Contents command. This displays the TOC tab in the Document Inspector, and you check the box next to each heading style you want the TOC to include.

tip 1

If you check the 'Make page numbers links' box below, you can click on a page number in the TOC to go straight to that heading. This works both in Page and exported PDF version files.

2. Alignment guides and preferences

tip 2

The automatic Alignment Guides are really useful for lining up any objects you add to your documents and 'snapping' them into position. However, they can sometimes be distracting and get in the way, especially when you're trying to position an object very precisely.

But they are easy to get rid of, all you have to do is hold down Command as you drag them and this will temporarily disable them, leaving you to get on with your work.

3. Paste while preserving formatting

step 3

Sometimes you'll want to paste in text or numbers from a web page, an email or another document, but the original text formatting (font, size, colour and so on) will be used, which means you may then have to re-style the text.

The solution is not to use the usual Command+V 'Paste' shortcut, but use Shift+Option+Command+V instead. This matches the new text to the existing style at the insertion point.

4. Option-click tab to bring up multiple inspectors

tip 4

While the Pages Inspector doesn't actually take up that much space on your screen, it does a huge amount of work, and so it can get really tiresome having to continually swap from one tab to another.

But if you Option-click on a tab icon instead, you'll see that it opens up a brand new Inspector window. You'll soon find that having a couple of your most-used Inspectors open at the same time will save a lot of clicking.

5. Outline mode

tip 5

Outlines are really useful for planning and organising documents, and here's not one but three outlining mini-tips.

First, you can save a lot of manual formatting by choosing a suitable Outline Template. Second, there's a button on the toolbar for reducing images to unobtrusive thumbnails. Third, there's another button that curtails long paragraphs into a single line.

6. Password protection

tip 6

There are lots of reasons why you might want to password-protect your documents, such as you are using a shared computer or you are working with sensitive information.

If you take a look at the bottom of the Document Inspector you'll see a 'Require password to open' checkbox. You can choose your own password, or let Pages suggest one for you – and you can type in a hint in case you forget your own password. Duh!

7. Word counts

tip 7

If you're asked to write an essay, a report or a magazine article, you're probably going to be given a word count. So how do you know how many you've written?

Take a look at the bottom of the window – the status bar shows you how many words there are in the document and, if you select some text, how many there are in the selection too.

8. Sections and Word Processing

tip 8

Sections are a great way to split up and logically organise long Word Processing documents and make them manageable.

Each section can be moved around in the document by dragging its page thumbnail (outlined in yellow in the page thumbnail panel here). You can use different page numbering, headers and footers and column layouts for each section.

9. Tables can be spreadsheets

tip 9

The tables you add needn't just be boxes with words in. They can be used as mini-spreadsheets too, thanks to the functions in the Table Inspector. Format cells to contain dates or currency values, for example, and add a footer row to total up a column of figures.

10. Two Up page display

tip 10

When you're working on Page Layout documents, it can be useful to view facing pages side by side. But don't use the Two Up option on the pop-up page view menu at the bottom left of the screen.

This is the wrong way to go about it because it will put the first (front) page of the document on the left and the first inside page on the right, and all the pages will be out of sync.

Instead, click the 'Facing Pages' box in the Document Inspector. This will put the first page on the right and will display page thumbnails as 'spreads'.

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First published in MacFormat Issue 235

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