|Ideas, thoughts, and resources from the permanently curious.|
How to compress a lot of text into a small space. (5/3/05)
At times a concern for wasting paper has motivated me to look for methods of fitting a lot of text onto a single sheet of paper. In grade school a friend and I used to annoy teachers by handing in homework assignments hand written with very tiny letters, so when word processors with a visual layout preview came along I lept at the opportunity to improve my abilities.
For our purposes today, and in celebration of Einstein's "Year of Wonders", I'll direct readers to Project Gutenberg's copy of Mr. Albert Einstein's "Relativity: The Special and General Theory". The Word form has images in it which would add another layer of complexity so I'm going to work off of the text version, opened in Word. In it's present form it is 111 pages long. In the examples below I've selected a specific section of the document which will remain consistent throughout the examples to allow the reader to focus on the task at hand. Here is the plan of attack:
1. Remove line width settings
Before we can do anything special we're got to prep the text because it has been formated for a smaller line width. Microsoft Word has a good search and replace ability so I'm going to use that. We want to preserve the section headings while eliminating the "enters" at the end of each line. Turn on the "Show/Hide special charcters" mode.
Ignoring the text we can see that the section headings will have two paragraph makers right next to each other; the one at the end of the heading and the one at the end of the blank space below them. The paragraph markers at the end of each regular sentence can go. Doing this requires a bit of a trick, in that the simple find and replace technology in Word can't handle something so complicated. Instead we'll replace the two paragraph markers with a special character unique in the document by having it search for two paragraph markers and replacing them with a ~ (a tilde).
Now lets get rid of those pesky single paragraph markers and put a space in their place:
and have a look at the mess we've made...
Finally, replace the tildes (~) with a single paragraph marker, rather than two, to get the section headings back:
and then hide the special characters to see how we've done.
2. Change the font
Notice the document size actually goes up, to 75 pages. Now is the tricky part. You've got to reduce the lettering as small as you possibly can read. By default Word will only let you choose an 8 pt font. That is okay, type in a number and hit enter. I know I can read a font size of 2 but I'll choose 3 so I don't get a headache while reading.
Document size is actually 6 pages now, and with a good printer you will be able to read the text. For fun this is the 3pt text at 500% magnification:
I've been including the ruler at the top of these images for this reason alone. Notice the line "THE PRINCIPLE OF RELATIVITY" took up 2.25 inches when we started. It now takes up about .75.
All of that white space is wasting space. First, go into File/Page Setup, and set the margins as low as possible. This will take some trial and error on your part. By experimenting I know I can get away with .3 inches all over. Now we're down to 5 pages.
4. Final Look
5. Further things to try
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