I’ve been known to have the ability to work really quickly when it comes to creating or formatting a document in Word. I don’t have any secrets. Or, maybe I do!
Here’s a list of the five “secrets” (or tips) that I find are most helpful in making me work more efficiently in Microsoft Word.
1. Customize your Toolbar
Upon opening Microsoft Word, the biggest change in more recent versions is the horizontal strip of tools that appears at the top called the Ribbon. I don’t know about you but I hated it when I first saw it. On smaller monitors, it takes up too much space. On larger monitors, it’s just too much. I like my Word to be clean, but the Ribbon is like “BAM! In your face.” Plus, I don’t even use half the tools that appear on the Ribbon by default! So here’s what you can do:
Above the Ribbon is the Toolbar.
You remember the Toolbar, right? It’s what used to appear at the top of Microsoft Word below the Command bar (File, Home, Insert, etc.) before the implementation of the Ribbon. The problem is that most people don’t realize the Toolbar is there because the Ribbon is so overpowering.
To the right of the Toolbar is a tiny down arrow. Click on the down arrow and select “Show Below the Ribbon.” Wahla! The Toolbar is where it used to be.
Now, clicking on that same tiny down arrow click “More Commands.” Here you can start to customize the Toolbar to include the tools you use most often. I will admit this does take time, but it’s well worth it. It also helps if you know the name of the specific tool you want to add. For example, the tool that allows you to mark out a word by adding a horizontal line through it is called a “strikethrough” (not “delete” or “horizontal line through a word”). Again, it will take time, especially trying to figure out a tool’s name, but be patient. Once the toolbar is set how you want it, you will be able to work much more efficiently!
Don’t worry if you can’t figure out what tools to add at first as you can add them over time, but once your toolbar is how you like it (or even before), you can minimize the Ribbon by clicking on the tiny up arrow that appears on the far right bottom of the Ribbon.
2. Turn on Your Invisibles (Paragraph Marks)
I know a lot of people who don’t like paragraph marks. They think they clutter up their document too much. Some are afraid that the marks will appear when they print the actual document. Well, they don’t, hence the term “invisibles.” Think of the paragraph mark as the sentence’s “format bucket”. All formatting for that particular sentence – indent, bold, italics, tabs – sits in the bucket. This leads me to my next tip . . .
3. Adjust the Default Spacing
Another default that the Microsoft gods added in later versions of Word is default paragraph spacing. In the words of Garfield the cat, “Arghhh!”
When using the default spacing, what should print as one piece of paper turns into multiple pages. So much for saving the trees, huh? By default, the spacing includes 8 points after a paragraph and a Line Spacing of Multiple/1.08. Here’s what you can do. Change the 8 to 0 and the Line Spacing to Single. Then click “Set As Default.” By setting as default, any time you open a new Word document your new paragraph formatting will be set. If you need more spaces between paragraphs just hit the Enter key a few times. Now you are back to saving trees!
Oh, to get to the paragraph setting window, click the tiny arrow that appears below Paragraph section in the Ribbon OR add the Paragraph Settings tool to your Toolbar. Another tip, when working with paragraph spacing, it helps to have your invisibles (#2) showing.
4. Page Break
In mentioning paragraph spacing, did you know you can create a new page by just clicking the CTRL key and ENTER at the same time? Try it! Amazing isn’t it? That’s called a hard page break. The next time you want your content to appear on a new page, instead of hitting the ENTER key multiple times, just click CTRL/ENTER and you are good to go!
5. Format Painter
One of my favorite tools is the Format Painter. In the more recent versions of Word, the Format Painter has become more prominent, but it’s been around for a while. So what does it do? It collects the formatting in the paragraph “format bucket” and attributes it to another paragraph. For example, let’s say you have a sentence that has a specific font and font size and you have another sentence that needs to look the same. Highlight the sentence by triple clicking, making sure you have the paragraph “format bucket” selected (more recent versions of Word allows you to just place the cursor in the sentence you want to copy, but I prefer to select the entire sentence). With the sentence highlighted, click on the Format Painter icon in the Ribbon. The cursor will become a paintbrush. Now find the sentence to which you want to change the formatting. Click on it – you may have to triple click. If you did it correctly, that sentence should now look like the first sentence.
So there you have it! Five “secrets” that I use to be more efficient in Word. I haven’t even gotten to the shortcut keys that I use, and I’m not talking about CTRL/B for bold and CTRL/I for italics. You’ll have to stay tuned for those!
In the meantime, what are your favorite Word “secrets”? Or, is there something you would like to know how to do in Word that you can’t figure out? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll get back to you.