Sign Template

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Obviously, signs in Minecraft are very limited, having only four lines, with 15 characters each. But there are times when you want to spell out some longer instructions over a row or columns of signs. Unfortunately, if it is anything longer than two signs, it can quickly become a nightmare to manage. A single typo may require you to redo all signs that follow, or your word choices are just not fitting right.

I've run into this repeatedly while designing lessons plans for Veterancraft University classes. In the spirit of "laziness being the father of invention" I came up with a Microsoft Word template that let's one write out that long paragraph and easily split it into chunks. Since MediaWiki frowns upon uploading Word documents, I've outlined the necessary steps to recreate this template.

Template Design

Note: The directions given here are for MS Word Professional 2003. Later versions will still have all the option settings described herein, but they may be organized under different menus. Check the MS Word Help menu for information on how to setup a particular format.

  1. Create a blank document.
  2. Go to File->Page Setup... and set the margins as follows:
    1. Top/Bottom: 1"
    2. Left/Right 1.25"
  3. Go to Format->Columns... and enter the following settings:
    1. Number of Columns: 3
    2. Col #1 Width: 1.6"
    3. Col #1 Spacing: 0.6"
    4. The remaining two column settings should automatically be set to those of Col #1. Click OK.
  4. Go to Tools->Languages->Hyphenation...
    1. Enable Automatically hypenate document
    2. Hyphenate words in CAPS
    3. Hyphenation zone: 0.1"
    4. Limit consecutive hyphens to: No limit
    5. Click OK
  5. Lastly, select Format->Styles and Formatting... to bring up the Styles and Formatting panel.
    1. Modify the Normal style to use Courier New, 12pt.
    2. Note: You can also just create a new style rather than setting the default style of the document.

That's all that needs to be done. While hyphenation is seen rarely these days, it helps cram as much information as possible in a limited space. If you don't have the Courier New font, you can do this with any monospaced font. You may need to experiment with different font sizes and column widths to get 15 characters per line.

Using the Template

Now that you have a sign template, you can merrily type in all that you want to say while at the same time letting Word's spelling and grammar checking do its work. Best yet, the Thesaurus is wonderful for finding smaller words with the same meaning.

When first starting off, simply write what you want to say as if you were writing a normal document. Don't fuss about splitting it up into signs. In other words, concentrate on the content and not the presentation. Once you have written what you want to say, it is very simple to split things up into "sign chunks." Count every four lines and insert two carriage returns. The second return is there to provide a visual separation. Delete any spaces at the start of the new sign line and repeat the process until you have a series of 4-line chunks. Now it is just a matter of firing up Minecraft, gathering a couple stacks of wood, and cranking out each sign.

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