If you’ve typed a letter, resume, essay, or research paper in the past twenty years, you’ve probably come across Microsoft Word. Love it or loathe it, being aware of some lesser-known features of Microsoft Word is bound to make your work much easier.
1. Write anywhere on the page.
Maybe you are writing a poem and you want to control the placement of your words, or maybe you just need to type three inches down and four inches across. Not everyone knows that you can type anywhere on the page if you choose the insertion point by double-clicking! Use this with caution, because to make the magic happen, Word is actually inserting tabs and spaces behind the scenes.
You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that double-clicking at the top or bottom of the page is a quick way to start a running header or footer that shows on every page.
2. Highlight fast.
Highlight an entire sentence with a CTRL+CLICK.
Highlight an entire paragraph with a TRIPLE CLICK.
Highlight a block with an ALT+CLICK and DRAG (OPTION+CLICK and DRAG on a Mac).
Simple efficiency tricks like these can really add up to a lot of saved time when you are writing and editing long papers. Although we have not figured out a truly productive use for the highlighting a rectangular block of text, we have high hopes that it will bring someone joy to create a chartreuse block of text in the middle of a page.
3. Type math and equations.
It’s not only calculus professors who sometimes need to type out advanced equations and formulas. Word offers a nice equation builder to keep your derivatives and matrices looking professional. The fractions tool is THE best way to type less popular fractions that auto-correct doesn’t catch.
4. Reveal hidden characters and formatting.
When you toggle paragraph marks and other hidden formatting symbols, you can start to really fine-tune your work.Here’s a run-down of some common formatting symbols:
The dots between words indicate a SPACE.
Straight arrows that point to the right indicate a TAB.
The paragraph symbol indicates a paragraph break (which is made when you press ENTER or RETURN).
The bent arrow at the end of a line indicates a LINE BREAK (which is made when you press SHIFT+ENTER or SHIFT-RETURN).
5. Select text by font, color, size, etc.
If you have had a change of heart about formatting something like a section heading but you would like to avoid the tedium of hunting down every instance and making your changes, you can have Word search your document and select everything with that style so you can change it all at once. Highlight one example, then go to the Home tab and click the small arrow next to Select. Choose “Select Text with Similar Formatting.” Now, make your style changes.
6. Control your document’s structure.
Knowing how to insert a blank page, create headers and footers, or set up distinct sections is particularly useful when creating complex documents like formal research papers, business plans, or manuscripts. Setting up sections is the trick to creating chapters with unique headings across the top.
7. Split the window in two.
Splitting the window allows you to work on two different parts of a document without needing to scroll up and down through the entire thing. This is a life-saver if you are writing a paper and referring to an outline or a list of references.
8. Remove potentially sensitive information.
Journalists, executives, human resources managers, social service workers, and many others have risked leaking private information by leaving metadata intact. Prepare your documents for sharing by using Word’s Document Inspector.
9. Crop a picture to a shape.
Your illustrations and pictures do not have to be constrained to rectangles. You can crop pictures to any one of Microsoft Word’s auto-shapes, including ovals, stars, hearts, arrows, and thought bubbles.
9¾. Save as PDF.
PDFs are really versatile files when it comes to sharing. Nearly every computer can open PDFs and most online job applications accept PDFs as uploads.
Saving a PDF locks your text and styles in place, like taking a snapshot of your work, so you can rest assured that the recipient sees your paper or resume as you intended. Be sure to save a .doc version of your file too, just in case you want to make changes letter.
This is life-changingly useful.