Monday, 24 May 2021

Using bullet points in Excel

I have briefly inherited an on-campus course from another staff member, stepping into the breach during Covid-19 to each this course online. I don't want to change anything too much, as this paper will revert to the original staff member next year, when we are - hopefully - Covid-free.

One thing that continues to amaze me in tertiary education is how many staff still use MS Word table as a marking tool. And no, they don't use formulas to add marks; they manually add, and usually have both the total of marks AND the marks awarded in the same cell, so it cannot be added anyway. 

When calculating marks, Word is not an effective or consistent tool. Just missing a cell's total on the list means that the total will probably be incorrect... and that can be hard to spot. As a result, I try to use Excel, because at least that is made for adding up things.

However, Excel is not made for formatting things. In this case, as a temporary measure for this one run-through, I decided to simply pull the rubric into an Excel spreadsheet. Most of the set up went pretty well, but I soon realised I had a problem with clearly showing each rubric element within each grade category.

For two reasons, I chose not to have elements in separate cells. These are: so that I can more easily change the font colour to highlight the standard which a student has achieved; and for alignment of the overall page, to keep it relatively consistent with the original. And the key aim was to keep the look the same.

Excel does not play nicely when it comes to line spacing, bullets, or hanging indents. in the end I had to give up on line spacing, and hanging indents, but I did manage to find out how to do bullets... after a fashion.

This is clunky, but works:

  • Enter the cell where we want a bullet
  • Copy the text we need from the Word document into Notepad to check that there are hard returns between each line 
  • Then copy the text from Notepad into the Excel cell, pasting all lines after the first bullet
  • Move the cursor to the beginning of the first line in the cell
  • Key Alt & 7. This will give us a plain black bullet ("•")
  • Key the space bar to get a space
  • Then copy both characters ("• "), and paste in the front of each line of text in the cell
  • Rinse, repeat

The result is:

• A high level of understanding and insight of the client work presented, the issue(s) that arise and the theory supporting that work 
• Sound critical analysis is evident resulting in clear and well-reasoned findings 
• There is evidence of wider reading having been synthesised with course material

Blast that non-hanging indent!!

I do wish I could organise line spacing, and hanging indents. But having had a good look, these do not yet appear to be something that can be solved.

Ah, well. Small wins.



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