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Back to Basics: Microsoft Word

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Posted in: Microsoft or Windows, Mobile, Tech Tips, Working Remotely

Microsoft Word is that old, trusted friend we have all had to rely on at one time or another. It is suited to a wide variety of tasks and document types and is often included as a mainstay of the Microsoft Office Suite that many businesses rely on.

Odds are that you are one of the millions of people who rely on Microsoft Word, but are you taking full advantage of all its features?

Here are some of the most helpful and underused features Microsoft Word has to offer:

Headings

If you’ve ever had to write, edit, or read through a long contract or other legal documents, you understand how difficult it can be to navigate back and forth between information that is separated by many pages, sections, or paragraphs.

One way to break up long blocks of text is to use titles, subtitles, and text variations to make it easier to find important information on the page.

The simplest and most effective way to vary your text style is to use Headings. An added benefit of this feature is that it allows you to change text style with a single click. You can use the default headings or create your own.

Bonus tips and benefits:

  • When you hover over a heading in your document, you’ll notice a small triangle appears to the left of the text (see image). This allows you to collapse or expand the entire section. You can collapse a whole chapter, section, or subsection.
  • When you update a heading to match your selection, it doesn’t just save information like the font and size, but it saves your paragraph settings and style selections (bold, italics, etc.) as well.
  • Headings offer a quick way to customize the default text for each document. This is useful if you find that Word keeps changing the font back to Calibri, size 11—the factory default for most editions of Word. Simply choose the font and size you want to use for most of your document. Start typing. Select some or all of this text, and right click the Normal option in the Heading bar. Now, you can change back blocks of text that were reformatted by Microsoft Word or quickly format text that you’ve copy/pasted from a different document/webpage.

Navigation Pane

Documents that use headings are already easier to navigate, but the Navigation Pane makes this process easier—no scrolling required. Under the View tab, make sure the Navigation Pane option is selected, and an interactive outline of your document will be available on the left of the screen. When you select a heading title in the Navigation Page, Word moves you straight to the section you selected. No more scrolling through pages of text to find the beginning of a section, the Navigation Pane makes this a breeze!

Find/Replace

Do you have a bad habit of accidentally mistyping “Statute” as “statue”? Most of us have at least one mistake that we replicate over and over in our documents. You could read through the entire document and correct every instance, but with so many other things to look out for, these mistakes might go unnoticed.

Ctrl + F allows you to quickly find every instance of typed characters and quickly review them or change all instances as a group—just make sure to double check that you don’t accidentally change statue to Statute when you really do mean statue!

**Bonus: Did you know most style guides now recommend only using one space after a period not two? If you’re still in the habit of hitting spacebar twice at the end of a sentence, Ctrl + F can help here too. Just enter two spaces into the search bar and one into the “replace all” field, and voila.

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