Formatting Documents

Important Differences Between Print and Braille Documents

DBT Documents

Each time you translate a document, you are creating a new document. This is very important to remember: do not translate from print, to braille, to print again, etc., because you will then have multiple print and braille documents. This can be very confusing! If you find that you want to make changes to a braille document, it is best if you first close the braille document, make changes to the print document, and then translate back to braille. You should only ever have one or two documents open: one Braille and one print. Check the "View" menu for extra open documents.

DBT Styles

DBT is designed so that, when you use styles, both the print and the braille will be formatted appropriately. If you use styles properly, you will find that your braille is formatted correctly.

The best illustration of this is to take a look at the braille version of the letter to mother we just wrote. Open the braille document and look at how it is formatted: there is a skipped line between paragraphs, and the paragraphs are not indented. This is the correct formatting for most print documents. However, this is not the correct format for braille documents.

1. Close the braille document and be sure that "letter.dxp" is open.

2. Open the "view" menu, and if the "Codes" option is not checked, select it. Typing Alt + F3 allows you to toggle between coded and formatted view.


At the end of each paragraph, there is a less-than sign in red, surrounded by brackets. This symbol means "hard return." It tells DBT to create a new line. This is the symbol that is entered when you type the return key. It does not create a new paragraph, but a hard return.

A style is a collection of codes. The "Hard Return" is an example of a code. There are codes which say "Skip a Line," "Center the Text," "Translate in Computer Braille Code," etc. Styles make it easier to format your text because instead of entering each of these commands by hand at the beginning and the end of the text, the style groups the commands and enters them for you.

There are two types of styles: Character Styles and Paragraph Styles (also called nestable and linear styles). Paragraph styles are applied to a whole paragraph - indentation, skipping a line before the paragraph, etc. Character styles are applied only to the characters you select. An example outside of DBT would be the italic, bold, and underline character styles which are available in MS Word and WordPerfect. In DBT, character styles are used mostly to modify how the print is translated, not always how it looks in print. The following are some common styles, and how they are intended to be used. They are not the only styles, but they are the most commonly used.

· "compinline"

Use this character style to translate E-mail and Web addresses correctly.

· "h1."

Use this style for major headings, such as chapter titles. "h1." corresponds with the "Heading 1" style in MS Word. It centers the line.

· "h2."

Use this style for minor headings, such as chapter subtitles. "h2." corresponds with the "Heading 2" style in MS Word. It places the line at cell 5, with overflow lines at cell 5.

· "list."

Use this style for single-level lists.

· "note."

This paragraph style is used for transcriber's notes. It indents the paragraph to the seventh cell, with overflow lines at cell In order to add the transcriber's note symbol, select "Layout: Character Codes: Termination Sign" from the menu.

· "outline."

Use this style for multi-level lists (outlines), such as tables of contents with subheadings. In order to move in or out a level, use the Alt key with left and right arrows.

· "para."

Use this style for normal paragraphs.

· ""

This character style allows you to define a number as the "reference document page number." This is useful when creating a braille textbook which will be used in conjunction with the print version of the textbook. After applying the style, type the print page number and move outside the style by using the right arrow key.

· "spanish"

This character style is one among many language styles which will switch the translation appropriately for another language. This style does not translate English into Spanish, but allows a person who knows American braille to translate Spanish print words into braille appropriately according to BANA (braille Authority of North America) rules. Use the Comprehensive List of Characters (accessible through the "Help" menu) or the Codes List (accessible by pressing the F5 key) to enter special characters, such as é

Exercise: Typing a Document With Proper Paragraph Formatting

Even when creating a simple document, such as a letter, it is important to use styles, because even if the text looks right, the braille might not be formatted appropriately.

The following is a sample document: the first few lines of the Gettysburg address. This time, use the following suggestions in order to create your letter:

1. Close "letter.dxp"

2. Create a new document.

3. Be sure you are in formatted view (as opposed to coded view). You can verify this by selecting the "View" menu. If "Codes" is checked, you are in coded view. If "Codes" is not checked, you are in formatted view. In order to switch back and forth, type Alt + F3.

4. Apply the "para." style to your document: type f8 or select "Apply Style" from the "Layout" menu; select "para." and click "OK" or type the enter key.

5. Type Ctrl + m in order to create new paragraphs rather than using the enter key to create a hard return.

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

The above document is formatted in print the same way our original letter was, with the print flush left, and a line skipped between paragraphs. At the end of each paragraph, the CTRL-M shortcut key was used instead of typing the enter key. Use the Alt + F3 command to view the paragraph codes. "es~para." means "Start paragraph style" and "ee~para." means "End paragraph style"

6. Translate the document. Observe that the format is also correct for the braille document. You may also wish to use Alt + F3 to toggle coded view on and off to see how it is the presence of styles that allows the format to be correct in both the print and the braille document.