Microsoft Word was first developed in 1983. For many of us, we have been using Word for quite a while now.
That means we are set in our ways and have a system of how we operate inside a Word document. However, these Microsoft Word tips and tricks may be just what you need to up your document game!
Microsoft Word Tips
Here’s our list of the best tips for using MS Word faster and smarter.
1. Use Word’s Suggested Features
Microsoft Word’s help feature is now actually pretty amazing. You can tell Word exactly what you want to do, and it’ll help you do it.
When you click help, there will be a search bar. Just type in what you want to do. It’s like magic.
2. Select Text Like a Pro
Left click your mouse once to select a character.
Click twice to select an entire word.
Click three times to select all the text in an entire paragraph.
Press Ctrl + A on a PC or Cmd + A on a Mac to select all the text in the entire document.
3. Go to Previous Cursor Location
Press Shift + F5 to select the previous location where your cursor was. This is especially helpful if you’ve been scrolling around a Microsoft Word document and want to go back to where you were last typing.
4. Insert Hyperlinks
To add a hyperlink in Microsoft Word, click Insert > Hyperlink in the menu, or just click Ctrl + K or Cmd + K to insert a hyperlink into your selected text.
5. Remove Formatting
Click the Eraser symbol or press CTRL + Space Bar to remove all formatting from selected text.
This is especially helpful if you’ve been copying / pasting text from websites or documents that have different formatting.
6. Select Styles
Always set the style for your document in Microsoft Word. I recommend using the Simple style set, or a basic style set, to make your document look clean and easy to read.
7. Microsoft Word Tips – Headings
Learn how to use headings with these Microsoft Word tricks secrets to make your documents or manuscript look great.
Normal headings should be used for all the main text in your book or document.
Headings 1 or 2 should be used for all your main headlines or headings.
If you need extra subheadings, you can use Heading 3 and 4.
You can customize headings by right-clicking the heading style and clicking “Modify” to customize the font sizes, line spacing, paragraph spacing, and other options for each type of heading.
8. Customize Paragraph Styles
Select any text, right-click it, and select Paragraph to edit paragraph settings. You can change the line spacing, indentation, spacing before and after paragraphs, and other paragraph settings here.
Note: You should never hit enter twice to create an extra space after each paragraph. Instead, edit the paragraph spacing options, right-click the “Normal” heading style, and then click “Update to match selection” to make your new paragraph settings apply to your entire document.
You never need to hit the space bar twice after a sentence. Professional writers only hit the space bar once after each sentence to create the perfect spacing between sentences.
10. Find and Replace
You can use Word’s amazing advanced find and replace feature to make hundreds or even thousands of edits at once, saving you an enormous amount of time.
You can also use these special characters to find and replace common mistakes or characters:
^p will find pilcrows for you (the character created every time you hit enter). If you’ve got the bad habit of hitting enter too many times to create extra line spaces, then you can replace ^p^p with ^p to remove all those extra unnecessary line spaces.
^l will find manual line breaks
^t will find tab characters (when you hit the tab key)
^a will find comments
^? will find any and every character in your document
^# will find any digit
^$ will find any
^+ will find any em dash —
^= will find any en dash –
^f will find any footnote
^w will find any whitespace
11. Search for Edited Words
Press Shift + F5 to search through any recently edited words in a Microsoft Word document.
If you just opened a document that you had saved before, Shift + F5 will take you to the section you were working on when you last saved the document.
Start writing wherever you want. May it be left, centered or right aligned by simply double clicking on the area you want your text to go. Justifying your text (the fourth option on Word) distributes the words in a line evenly between the margins.
13. Using Thesaurus
If you are looking for synonyms and/or antonyms, highlight the word and press Shift + F7 (Windows). For Macs, right-click or Control + click a word you want to replace. From the drop-down menu, choose Synonyms and pick a suggested word there or select Thesaurus.
14. Reveal Formatting
If you are looking to see all formatting in your document you can click on the Reveal Formatting button to see formatting markers for all page breaks, spaces, line breaks, manual line breaks, etc. This can be very helpful if you are trying to figure out why your text skips to the next page or next line, or where your document has extra spacing.
15. Copy the Formatting with Format Painter
If you are looking to duplicate just the formatting of a portion of your text to another location, you can use the format paintbrush. “Paint” the new text with your old formatting by highlighting a portion of text in the styles, colors, size, font type, etc. that you would like to duplicate. Click the Format Painter button, then highlight the new text where you want to apply the formatting to.
16. Track Changes
If you are looking to track all edits to a Word Document file (this is mandatory for every stage during TCK’s editing process), go to the review tab and click the Track Changes button. Any changes you make will be highlighted and visible for you or others to review.
EDITOR’S NOTE: You can show or hide Tracked Changes by left-clicking the horizontal line beside your Tracked edits, or by clicking Show Markup in the Review menu on Word and selecting what you want to display or hide in the document.
17. Reveal Changes to Document Versions With Compare Documents
To figure out everything that has changed to a document since an earlier version, use the Compare Documents options. This is especially helpful to find edits that have been made to different saved versions of the same file, edits that have not been tracked with track changes, or you can see if someone else has made changes to your document since you last saved a version of your file.
Either go to Tools, Track Changes, then Compare Documents, or on the Review tab, click directly on the Compare Documents Button.
Select your original and the changed version of your document, and label all changes with a reviewer tag to label all the differences in your changed document with that tag.
18. Show Styles Guide
If you want to see what styles are currently applied to your document, you can turn on the visual style guide with these Microsoft Word tricks and shortcuts. This can be very helpful to reveal why your paragraphs look different from one another, or if your headings are all formatted the same.
On the home tab, click the Styles Pane button.
At the bottom of the Styles Pane, check the checkbox next to Show Styles guides.
Along the left-hand side of your document, each different style will be color-coded for easy identification of each style in your document.
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Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.