Saturday, October 18 2008

Japanese text formatting in Mac Word

I’m once again transcribing written pieces for use in my reading class, and I keep coming across little nuggets of information that I thought I’d gather in one place.

  1. Mac Word has two completely separate editing modes, English and Japanese. You can use either language in both modes, but some behaviors differ, and documents originally created in Japanese mode will show their heritage on other, non-Japanese-enabled computers.
  2. Switching between them not only requires restarting Word, but locating the “Microsoft Language Register” application inside the Office folder. In Office 2004, you drag the Word icon onto the Register; in 2008, you run it like any other app.
  3. In Office 2004, it will always switch you into Kotoeri input mode when you launch Word. Also, installing updates will revert you to English mode.
  4. In both, it will change your default settings, including margins, preferred units, and paper size (A4). Once you override these, it doesn’t screw them up again.
  5. The two most obviously important features you get out of Japanese mode are vertical text (in the Format/Document and Format/Text Direction menus) and furigana (in the Format/Phonetic Guide menu).
  6. Do not attempt to type or edit in vertical-text mode; it’s like watching paint dry. You can switch back and forth with the convenient Change Text Direction button on the toolbar, or switch to Draft view to edit.
  7. Furigana isn’t on the standard toolbar. You can open the Extended Formatting toolbar, or bind a key to the FormatPhoneticGuide command (I use Control-Option-P).
  8. Don’t add furigana until you think you’re done with all other editing. The font and size of the furigana are set when they’re created (font used for base word, half its size), and words that have been glossed can’t be searched for. They’re now equations, you see.
  9. When you add furigana, Word often supplies the correct kana. If it doesn’t know the word, or can’t guess the correct reading when you’re glossing only the kanji, it will usually default to the first on-reading for each character, but will sometimes just give up. Keep an online dictionary handy, and cut-and-paste between the two windows.
  10. Particularly for vertical text, line and page breaks can be very tricky to control. There are two places to tinker: in the Format/Documents menu on the Document Grid panel, and in the Format/Paragraph menu on the “Indents and Spacing” and “Japanese Typography” panels (including the Options window). My usual settings:
    • On: No grid
    • Indentation, Special=First line,14pt (for normal paragraph indents)
    • Spacing, Before=0, After=0, Line spacing=At least,24pt
    • On: Don’t add space between paragraphs of the same style
    • Off: Snap to grid when document grid is defined.
    • On: Allow hanging punctuation
    • Off: Allow punctuation at the start of the line to compress (I wish this also suppressed compression of kana at the start of the line…)
    • On: Compress punctuation and Japanese kana (that is, use proportional spacing)
  11. For stories, I set the top and bottom margins to 0.75in, and the left and right to 0.5in. That leaves room for headers and footers, which are always printed horizontally.
  12. Word’s default Japanese font is MS Mincho, which is actually quite nice, but I prefer Apple’s Hiragino Mincho at 14pt. I think it’s a bit easier for students to make out all of the strokes, and using 14pt sets the default furigana size to 7pt, which is also easier to read.
  13. Don’t manually select a heavier weight of a kanji font to get bold text; it might work, it might not, and it might appear to work until you print. Just hit the bold button.
  14. Always print to PDF, and always check the results out in Preview before really printing. Take particular note of things like vanishing bold text, unexpected compression of character spacing, and punctuation characters that didn’t rotate correctly for vertical layout.
  15. Specifically: “ ” … : ⁉ ‼ ⁈ ⁇ (and maybe a few others I haven’t found yet). For most of these, Word has simply used the Latin font, and you can just force it to use the kanji font. For the quotes, you need to switch from the usual Western style (“”) to the fullwidth straight style with the close at the bottom (〝〟). For the ques-bang combos, though, you can either give up, or insert a very small inline horizontal text box into the column that contains the correct character. Be sure to drag that text box off to your scrapbook for later reuse.
  16. Also, Word regularly hoses page numbering when printing; this seems to be tied to the “quick preview” in the print dialog, so wait for it to finish.

More as I’m reminded of them…