31+ Quick Tips in Microsoft Word To Save YOU Time
Microsoft Word is truly an amazing tool, and with a huge handful of features – it is arguably the most efficient word processing software on the market. But do we really know everything that it has to offer?
The office software has had consistent development, and since Word 1.0 – 1983 – all the way to Word 2016, it has evolved into a revolutionary software suite for businesses and individuals. It’s now packed full and equipped with predefined shortcuts, built-in templates, customisation tools and so much more, which most of us never actually find.
So I’ve composed a simplistic cheat sheet of over 31 different tips, tricks and hidden features that will save YOU time in Microsoft Word.
Please Note: The tips and tricks listed below have all been tested and demonstrated in Microsoft Word 2016. The majority of these methods are also supported in earlier versions, but some may not.
1 – Quick Headers & Footers
Rather than making that long journey to the ‘Insert‘ tab – you can simply double click at the top of the page. This will allow you to enter a title in the header section of the page. Once you’ve finished, simply double click anywhere outside of the header area and you’re done. You can use this same method to add footers.
2 – Generate Placeholder Text
Commonly used by web and graphic designers, Microsoft Word has an implemented feature which allows you to add ‘dummy’ text to your documents. Many designers use this text to showcase their designs, as it can be extremely useful when you want to test formatting or demonstrate a layout filled with content.
To generate some placeholder text in Word, simply type =lorem(4,3) and press enter.
3 – Generate Random Text
Similar to above, another method of generating random text is by typing =rand(7,6) – generating a bunch of random content. Again, this is great for showcasing designs, testing the formatting of a page etc.
4 – Quickly Select Sentences
As you have probably figured out – double clicking a word highlights it, and if you triple-click a word – it will highlight the entire paragraph. Another useful trick lets you select sentences by simply holding the CTRL key and selecting a word.
5 – Quickly Select Chunks of Text
When selecting text, you are fixed to selecting words and sentences. To highlight text with much more flexibility, hold the ALT key.
6 – Use a Thesaurus in Word
To open the thesaurus in Microsoft Word, simply highlight a word and click Review > Thesaurus. Alternatively, you can right-click the word and go to Synonyms > Thesaurus.
7 – Create Horizontal Lines
By typing three hyphens (–) and pressing enter, a horizontal line will be generated. This is very effective for organising content within your documents.
8 – The Document Is Your Canvas – Type ANYWHERE
An extremely simple trick. Double click anywhere on the page in a Word document, and you’ll able to type directly from that point, rather than at the start of the page margin.
9 – Save Word Documents as .PDF Format
Saving your Word documents as different formats couldn’t be simpler. To do so, follow the steps below.
1. Select ‘File‘, ‘Save As…‘ and then ‘Browse‘
2. Towards the bottom of the browsing dialogue, select the ‘Save as Type:‘ dropdown list and find ‘PDF‘.
3. Name the file anything you like, and select ‘Save‘. This will then convert the Word document into a PDF file.
There’s many more different formats you can use, including .HTML (Web Page), .RTF (Rich Text Document), OpenDocument etc.
10 – Type The Degrees, Copyright & Trademark Symbols
To quickly enter the degrees symbol (°) – follow these simple steps.
- Press and hold the ‘CTRL‘ and ‘Shift‘ keys.
- Press the ‘@‘ key.
- Release the ‘CTRL‘ and ‘Shift‘ keys.
- Press the space bar.
To quickly enter the copyright symbol (©) – follow these simple steps.
- Open brackets, type ‘C‘ and close brackets.
- Press enter.
To quickly enter the trademark symbol (™) – follow these simple steps.
- Similar to the copyright method, open brackets and type ‘TM‘ and close brackets.
- Press enter.
11 – Create Tables More Efficiently
To add a table in a much more time-efficient way, type the plus symbol (+) followed by the tab key. Continue this process to determine the amount of cells you want, then press enter. If you then want to create more rows, keep pressing the ‘Tab‘ key.
12 – Change The Default Font
By default, Microsoft Word uses ‘Times New Roman‘ as the default font. But if you’re like me and like to use other fonts most of the time, then use this method to change the default font.
- Select the small arrow in the bottom-right corner of the Font Settings group.
- Change the font formatting to your preference, and then select ‘Set As Default‘.
- Finally, you’ll need to choose whether to keep the settings for the current document only, or save the settings for future documents.
13 – Track Your Recent Revisions
If you hit the ‘Shift‘ and ‘F5‘ key on your keyboard, you will be directed to your most recent revisions, allowing you to view the changes you have made.
14 – Remove Formatting
To quickly remove all formatting of some text, simply highlight the formatted text, hold ‘CTRL‘ and press the Space Bar. You can also click the ‘Clear All Formatting‘ button that’s integrated to the ribbon. This will reset it to the default formatting.
15 – Change Capitalisation With Ease
If you want to quickly change some text into UPPER CASE, lower case or Sentence case – you can use the capitalisation button that’s integrated to the ribbon. Simply highlight some text, click the button and select one of the options.
16 – Use Condensed Spacing To Tidy Up Headers
If you use long headers in your documents, condensed spacing is a great way to narrow the spacing down and can neatly contract the words on one line. To apply condensed spacing, simply highlight the header, right click and select ‘Font…‘
Next, head to the ‘Advanced‘ tab and change ‘Spacing‘ to ‘Condensed‘. You can then scale the compression, but you can always leave it as default. Simply click the OK button and your text spacing will be condensed.
17 – Password Protect Your Documents
If you want to protect your document from unauthorised access, setting a strong and secure password is a good idea. In order to set a password and further ensure the security of your content, follow the simple steps below.
- Go to File > Protect Your Document > Encrypt With Password.
- Enter a secure password.
- You then have the choice to save these preferences for future documents or only for the current document.
18 – Toggle The Ribbon Menu
To swiftly toggle the ribbon menu while using Microsoft Word – hold the ‘CTRL‘ key and press ‘F1‘. Alternatively, you can double-click any of the tabs found in the menu above the ribbon (Home, Insert, Design etc.)
19 – Rapid Alignment
To rapidly align some text to the left, right and centre of the page, simply highlight the text, hold the ‘CTRL‘ key and press ‘L‘ for left alignment, ‘R‘ for right alignment or ‘E‘ for central alignment.
20 – Create a Hanging Indent
A hanging indent, also known as a hanging paragraph, refers to the typographical term and is where all of the lines in a paragraph are indented except for the first. To apply this format, simply highlight a paragraph (or just click the first word of the sentence) hold the ‘CTRL‘ key and press ‘T‘ – formatting the paragraph.
21 – Single Spacing & Double Spacing Shortcuts
To apply double spacing to a paragraph – simply highlight the text, hold the ‘CTRL‘ key and press ‘2‘. To apply or revert back to single spacing, use the same method as before but press ‘1‘.
22 – The ‘Hidden’ Clipboard Panel
Many people who use Microsoft Word frequently still aren’t aware of this feature, but it’s actually extremely effective. To display the Clipboard Panel, simply click the bottom right arrow icon that’s integrated to the Clipboard section of the Ribbon. This will open a panel on the left of the screen and it contains everything that has been recently copied to the clipboard.
By using this feature, you’re able to copy and paste multiple items quickly and a lot more efficiently, as opposed to copying and pasting one item at a time.
23 – Quickly Add Screenshots
Similar to the clipboard panel, there’s also a Screenshot option that allows users to directly import images and screenshots of any window that is currently open. For example – if you’re viewing another document and quickly want to insert it into a Word document, you can use this feature to add the screenshot without having to copy it to the clipboard.
To use this feature, simply go to Insert > Screenshot and select the window you’d like to screenshot. The image will then be inserted into the document.
24 – Automatic Hyphenation
If you’re looking to reduce white space throughout a Word document, adding automatic hyphenation might be a good idea. By activating hyphenation, it means that the odd word or two will be presented over two lines, thus a hyphen will be inserted for indication. See below for an example.
To activate Automatic Hyphenation, simply go to Page Layout > Hyphenation > Automatic. You’ll then notice that the layout of your document may have slightly changed, and hyphens will have been added.
25 – Create Custom Watermarks
Watermarks can be extremely useful for indicating what type of document you are writing at a quick glance. Whether you’re sending a draft copy to your boss or a confidential piece to a work colleague – adding a watermark couldn’t be easier.
To get started, go to the Design tab and select Watermark. From here, you can select a preset watermark, which includes ‘Confidential‘, ‘Do Not Copy‘, ‘Draft‘ etc. You can also create your own custom watermark by selecting ‘Custom Watermark…‘ at the bottom of the menu. You can then change the text, font, alignment and other formatting options to suit your needs.
26 – Page Colours
Sometimes it’s nice to add a splash of colour to our documents and brighten them up a little. One way to do this is by adjusting the background colour of a page, and although it’s not recommended for formal and professional documents – it may be effective for other purposes.
To add a page colour, simply go to the ‘Design’ tab and click ‘Page Colour’. This will display the colour dialogue, so simply select a colour and it will be applied to every page.
27 – SmartArt
The ‘SmartArt’ feature is a great way to implement clean, professional and infographic elements to your Word documents. Whether you want to display a list, a hierarchy diagram or a gallery of pictures – SmartArt has plenty of different designs and layouts to choose from.
To access the SmartArt library, go to Insert > SmartArt and choose which graphic you’d like to implement. You can then customise the SmartArt to suit your needs.
28 – Remove The Default Start Screen
If you want to display a blank page when starting Microsoft Word instead of the default start screen, simply go to File > Options and then untick ‘Show the start screen when this application starts.‘
29 – Improve Readability
If you navigate to ‘View‘ > ‘Read Mode‘ – Word will ensure that it’s easier to browse and read documents, thus improving the readability for users. This is extremely useful for documents with small fonts and excessive formatting.
30 – Quickly Define Words
If you’re signed in to a Microsoft account that’s connected to Microsoft Word – you can right-click any word and select ‘Define‘ – which will efficiently display the definition (using the implemented dictionary) in a panel displayed on the left of the page.
31 – Customise The Ribbon
The integrated Ribbon in Microsoft Word is already equipped with a handful of features – but if you want to add even more features, or customise the layout of the ribbon, then follow these simple steps.
- Go to File > Options.
- Select ‘Customise Ribbon‘ on the left side of the Options dialogue.
This will allow you to activate the ‘Developer’ tab, add new functions and tabs, customise keyboard shortcuts etc.
I hope you’ve learned something new while reading these handy tips and tricks! If you have more to add to the list, please leave a comment below! 🙂