Microsoft Word Tips: Make it Work For You

September 28th, 2012


What's more frustrating than knowing the computer app you're working in is capable of doing what you need it to do, but not knowing how to get there...?!  Well, okay, in the grand scheme of things, much more can make you want to pound your head against your desk.  But here's a few neat tips to help you make the most of using Word in the meantime...

1. Get comfortable with the Track Changes feature

Tools > Track Changes

I love this feature and throughout our company, we use this often!  Lawyers, publishers, and other word-processing pros use Track Changes. That’s because there’s no better way to edit or proofread a document for a co-worker or client. With Track Changes enabled, all of your edits are clearly marked for the original author to review and accept or reject. You may also add margin comments to recommend tweaks, ask questions, or offer words of support.

WARNING: Make sure to accept all changes and save your document before presenting it to a client or prospect—you don’t want them to see all of the edits that were made to the document. (They don’t need to know how the sausage is made…)

2. Use Find and Replace for efficient editing and formatting

Edit > Find > Advanced Find and Replace

How many times has a document come across your desk whose author used your when he or she actually meant you’re...?  This is easily and quickly fixable using the find and replace function. Here's another excellent use for find and replace:  If your company has a specific font for all documents, you can find all instances of Times New Roman font and replace with the font your business uses for its branding.

3. Customize your toolbars to suit your daily needs and routines

View > Toolbars > Customize Toolbars and Menus

If you spend any significant amount of time in Microsoft Word, you ought to create a workspace that echos the nature of your work. That could mean removing needless toolbar clutter. It could also mean adding or repositioning certain buttons and functions that you use routinely.

4. Eliminate formatting frustration: Add the “Show all nonprinting characters” button to your toolbar

Have you ever been working on a document and Microsoft Word just keeps doing something strange?  This scenario might just take the aggravation cake, but if you simply click the “Show/Hide all nonprinting characters” button (or the  ¶ symbol on the standard toolbar) you’ll be able to see what elements are playing into your document and easily fix what is happening.  Remember to take a closer look at behind-the-scenes formatting the next time your document is refusing to do what you need it to do!