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Using the Report Writer

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This section of the manual explains how to use various commands to make your reports more legible and attractive.


Basic Text Editing


Navigating the report

You may already be familiar with functions of the standard cursor keys for finding your way around reports, particularly if they extend over more than a single screen. These commands are similar to those used by many word processors, particularly Microsoft Word.

Highlighting text

Wherever in the Reports window you happen to be working is where the focus is. Selecting an item means to highlight it to let you know it has been selected.

Insert and overtype modes

Just as in other word processors, whether you insert text or overwrite existing text depends on whether you are in Insert or Overtype mode, as displayed on the Status bar at the bottom of Report Writer main window.

Replacing text

When you need to replace text, simply highlight the part to be replaced, then immediately type the replacement text without needing to press Delete.

Deleting text

Press the Delete key to delete a selected block of text, or use the Delete or Backspace keys to delete one character at a time.

Undo and Redo

Pressing Ctrl+Z immediately you change your mind or realize you made an error will undo most report edits including formatting changes, so should always be tried before other methods. Press Ctrl+Y to redo the changes.  The Report Writer remembers all your edits from the moment you selected the current node (enabling you to press Ctrl+Z successively to backtrack through your edits), but forgets them all as soon as you close the report.


Copying and Moving Text


Having selected (highlighted) the block of text, you have the choice of using the keyboard or mouse to accomplish these aims.

Drag-and-Drop Using the Mouse

Dragging the selected text block and dropping it at its new location is a quick and easy way to move text from one location to another within the same report. You can also use this to break up an report into smaller chunks by dragging and dropping each section where you wish it to be located. You can also copy text from documents in compatible applications such as Microsoft Word to the currently open report.


Cut/Copy/Paste using the keyboard

Having highlighted the block, press Ctrl+X to cut it or Ctrl+C to copy it, then Ctrl+V to paste it within the same or a different report, all using the Windows Clipboard. The target may be in the same report file, another report file that you open, or an open document in a compatible application such as a word processor. Although dragging and dropping is very easy to do, this method offers several advantages:


Using the keyboard to select text may feel more precise. Once text is copied to the Windows Clipboard  itcan be pasted into multiple locations, whereas the entire drag-and-drop must be repeated each time.


Formatting Text


Although you can use the same font face, size and color throughout the report, text is much more attractive when headings are more prominent, subparagraphs are indented, etc.


Plain Text and Rich Text

You can add text colors, font faces, sizes and styles such as boldface, and the report is regarded as being in Rich Text Format (RTF).  RTF reports can be converted to plain text easily, if desired:


Examples :


This paragraph uses Plain Text alone. All text is the same font face, style, size and color. Boldfacing, italics, underlining, etc. are not used; changing from lower case to UPPER CASE is the only way to make text more prominent.


This paragraph uses Rich Text, which allows many more formatting attributes such as color to be incorporated. Adding color and images automatically changes the format from plain text to rich text, since both hide extra codes in the report (which the user cannot view).


Report Writer regards its reports as being in rich text format, but you can mix these within a file. Who would want to use plain text when rich text has so much more to offer? Here are two good reasons:


Plain text reports make the ezChartWriter database much smaller, since there are no hidden formatting characters. This can make quite a difference when you have thousands of reports. You are not faced with the extra chore of reformatting to match the format of the rest of the report text if you copy and paste in plain text.


Note also that plain text reports cannot contain images, underlined hyperlinks, tables, boldfaced or other types of formatting. Converting a rich text report to plain text removes images and table cell borders but leaves the text itself.


Basic formatting commands

Let's concentrate now on rich text. You will find the most frequently used commands (bold, italic, underline, case conversion, font face/size/color/highlight color, etc.) displayed along the Report formatting toolbar. Let your mouse cursor hover over each toolbutton in turn to display a tooltip (text popup message) informing you of its function and keyboard shortcut, if there is one. Try them out.


Aligning and Indenting Text


Report Writer offers several methods for indenting and aligning text. Toolbuttons for many of them are on the Paragraph toolbar.


Alignment and justification

Click the Left, Right, Justify or Center toolbuttons (or press their corresponding shortcut keys) for text aligned with the left or right margins, both margins or center of the report.

Tab key and Auto Indent

Press the Tab key one or more times to indent the text an appropriate distance from the left margin. This is best used for short single lines, since tabbing and auto-indenting only affect the first line of a paragraph.

Bulleted and numbered paragraphs

Text which is bulleted and numbered is automatically indented. Round bullet symbols, numbers and letters are available. Toolbuttons for this are on the Paragraph toolbar.

Enclosing text in table cells

Just as in HTML pages, you can compartmentalize text in individual cells of tables for greater control when combining text and images. These advanced methods are discussed in Tables.



Inserting Items into Your Text


The Insert menu

Frequently-reused text (also known as "boilerplate" text) can be copied to the Windows Clipboard (see Copying and moving text), then pasted in where needed.



To insert a table where required, click Main menu / Table / Insert command. See the Tables section.