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20 useful tips to get more out of Microsoft Word

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Microsoft word application |
© Dimarik16 | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Introduction

Microsoft Office is one of the most popular office suites on the market. It is used by businesses both large and small, and there are versions for college students and for home use. It is available for both PC and Mac, and there are rumours that it will eventually be made available for Linux as well.

However, despite its almost universal use, most people do not use it to its full potential.

Here are 20 useful tips to enable you to get more out of Microsoft Word.

1. Add text to the spike

The spike is a temporary holding place for text cut from the document. Use Ctrl+F3 to add text to the spike, or Ctrl+Shift+F3 to paste it. On the Insert tab, open the Quick Parts menu (above the Text heading), then pick AutoText to view the spike’s current contents.

2. Auto-Update the date and time

Sometimes you have a document that you use again and again, but just update a few key details. If this happens to be a document like a letter that includes the date and/or time, one useful trick is to allow Word to update the date automatically.

Under the Insert tab, click the Date & Time button and a pop-up window will appear. Click the date format you want and then be sure to click the “update automatically” box in the bottom right corner. Now the date will automatically be updated every time you open (or print) the document.

3. Change the default font

You can change the font Word uses for new documents from the Font dialogue  box. Click the click the pop-out arrow in the lower left of the Font pane on the ribbon toolbar, set your values accordingly, then click Set As Default.

4. Configure paste options

You can control how Microsoft Office deals with pasting words. This can be attained by clicking on the Office button (the logo at the top left), navigating to Word Options, and then to Advanced. From there you should be able to see a Cut, Copy, and Paste option that will let you configure your options. This can allow you to do things like disable hyperlinking when pasting, and other formatting options to make life easier.

5. Convert to Plain Text

When you copy a snippet from a web page into Word, all the styles and formatting are retained. There is, however, an easy way to remove the styling from any block of text in Word. Just select the block and press Ctrl+Space Bar and the rich text will be transformed into plain text.

6. Delete entire words at a time

To delete text, there is no need to keep pecking away at the keyboard. Hold down Ctrl while pressing Backspace and you can erase entire words at a time, making it much easier to clear out any unwanted text.

7. Double Click to hide white space

If you are viewing a document in the print layout (as if it’s actually on a page), then you can quickly hide the superfluous white space by hovering the mouse cursor over the gap between the page and toolbar, then double-clicking. Double-click again to bring it back.

8. Easily Convert to a PDF and HTML document

Word makes it easy to convert your document to a PDF or HTML file. When you “save as” a file, you will see a “Save as type” pull-down menu, which will provide a host of options including PDF and Web Page.

PDF download vector icon.

9. Find your previous location

For particularly long documents, it is often handy to be able to jump back to the cursor’s previous position, particularly after closing and reopening something. To switch to where the cursor was the last time you saved a document, use the Shift+F5 shortcut.

10. Generate filler text automatically

If you need to generate lorem ipsum (or filler) text, Word can do this automatically for you. Type =lorem (p,l)  straight into your document. Replace “p” and “l” with the number of paragraphs and lines you need to generate.  Place the cursor to the end of the equation and hit Enter.

11. Get rid of unwanted formatting

The wrong formatting can really mess up a document, whether you have edited it yourself or pasted it in from somewhere else. Use Ctrl+Space or click the Clear All Formatting button (an eraser on an A on the Home tab) to remove formatting from highlighted text.

12. Hide the ribbon interface

The ribbon interface is the toolbar that runs along the top of Microsoft Word. Some people enjoy it whilst others find it distracting and too busy. If you are one of the latter, there is an easy way to get rid of it.

With Word open, click Ctrl+F1. The ribbon will disappear. Repeat the process to make it reappear.

13. Highlight an entire sentence

You can highlight an entire sentence, just by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on any word.

14. Quickly insert hyperlinks

There is a very quick way to insert hyperlinks into a text. Highlight the text you want to build a link on, hit Ctrl+K, and then paste your URL into the address section (the same trick also works in Google Docs).

Link sign icon. Hyperlink symbol.

15. Select Text Quickly

You can triple-click anywhere within a paragraph to select an entire paragraph in Word. Or press the Ctrl key and click anywhere within the sentence to select the entire sentence.

You can also select rectangular blocks of text in a Word document, and apply formatting to the selected area. Hold down the ALT key and drag your mouse to select any rectangular area.

16. Show hidden characters

If you are working on a complex document with different styles, columns, and formats, you might find that something is not right, such as an extra space between paragraphs or excess spaces in the middle of sentences. The best way to see what is going on is to make all the invisible marks (hard returns, soft returns, tabs, spaces) visible. To turn this function on and off press Ctrl-Shift-8.

17. Switch to Read Mode

Reading through a long document can be tedious, but you can save some of the strain on your eyes by switching to Read Mode (from the icon on the View ribbon) and then selecting View then Page Colour and Sepia from the list.

18. Tell Word what you want to do

Recent versions of Word have a very helpful “Tell me what you want to do” field above the ribbon toolbar . Type a few words related to any command to quickly navigate through Word’s numerous menus,.

19. Use Styles

Styles are very powerful.  If you create a style template, you can use it over and over again for any document. If you write a lot of memos, you can create a memo style. You can repeat the process for virtually any document type. To see existing styles, go to the Home tab in Word. You can click on the down arrow to create your own.

If you write a lot in a similar style, it is definitely worth turning it into a style so you do not have to format so much and save yourself some time.

20. Use the calculator

There is a hidden calculator. Just Go to File -> Options -> Quick access toolbar.

Choose Commands not in the ribbon option from the dropdown (Choose commands from).

Select calculator and click on add and finally click on OK.

Now, write any maths equation in Word and click on the calculator icon on the top toolbar. You can see the result instantly on the bottom.