10 Advanced Microsoft Word Features That’ll Make Your Life Easier
Everyone knows Clippy. But are you friends with Pilcrow? If you are, then you know more about Microsoft Word than most people do. Do you know about widow lines? The extended clipboard?
There are plenty of lesser-known Microsoft Word features that you should know about if you want to be truly proficient with the software. Here are some advanced Microsoft Word features that can make your work and life easier.
1. Be Distraction Free: Hide the Ribbon and Go Full Screen
Writers want peace. Since MS Word is packed full of features, it can feel a bit cluttered when you just want a distraction-free view of the text.
You can use a quick shortcut to hide the Ribbon. Press Ctrl + F1 to toggle the Ribbon from view.
You can also change the behavior of the Ribbon to hide automatically when you don’t need it. To do this, click the Ribbon Display Options icon (next to the minimize icon) and select Auto-hide Ribbon.
Distraction-free reading is a more specialized feature available in Word 2010 onwards. Though primarily designed for touch-enabled tablets, the Read Mode works well on an everyday laptop as well. To access it quickly, press Alt, followed by W + F simultaneously.
Optionally, use the buttons:
- View > Read Mode (on the Ribbon menu).
- The Read Mode button on the right (on the Status Bar).
You can double-tap with your finger or double-click with your mouse to zoom in and make graphics like tables, charts and images fill the screen.
2. Reorganize With the Outline View
Outlining your main ideas and completing that first draft quickly is the surefire tip for writing productivity. If used well, the Outline View can increase your productivity with large documents by 50%.
On the Ribbon, go to the View tab and click Outline.
Outline View helps you fine-tune the organization of complex documents by reordering text blocks and nine levels of headings. Outline View brings up a special toolbar called Outlining, with controls for promoting or demoting selected text. Use the controls to hide or display selected text.
- Want to get to a specific point in a long document? Switch to Outline View and jump to a specific heading level.
- Want to draft quickly? Plan out the main sections on Outline View and then switch to the other layouts to write the body.
- Want to reorganize a report by moving huge blocks of text? Drag and drop a heading to move not only that heading, but all the sublevels under it and the body text. Use the upward-downward arrows to work them.
- Want to quickly format headings? Use Headlines 1, 2, and 3 instead of changing the size and using uppercase.
Double-click anywhere and begin typing. You don’t need to bother with positioning a cursor if you don’t want to. This is the closest MS Word comes to freestyle writing. Click and Type has existed since Word 2002. The feature works only in the Print Layout view or in Web Layout view.
Though this is very useful for inserting text and graphics, you can also use it for impromptu brainstorming as a free-form mindmapping tool.
4. Convert Tables to Graphs in 3-Steps
Take your pick: a neatly formatted table with lots of data or a nicely designed chart visualizing that data for you?
Being visual creatures, it is often a no-brainer to opt for the latter. Word makes it easy to convert tabular information into a chart. When you don’t have too much of tabular data, create a chart in Word instead of over-killing with Excel. Select the table with the data and follow three steps:
- Click on the Insert tab on the Ribbon.
- Click the Object tool within the Text group and open the Object dialog box.
- From the list of Object Types, choose Microsoft Graph Chart. Click OK.
Word displays the tabular data as a neat column chart. Modify the data sheet that appears.
You can also format this graph with a different chart type. To do this:
- Double-click your chart.
- Right-click in the white space that’s within the bounding box of the graphic.
- Select Chart Type.
You can also use Microsoft Word to create stunning flowcharts with the shapes feature.
5. Write Equations in Word
It’s not only Excel formulas that are amazing. The Equation Editor has always been an important feature of MS Word. In the latest versions of Word, it is simply known as Equation. To use it, choose Insert > Equation > Insert New Equation.
Use the Equation Toolbar to design your own advanced equations for mathematics, physics, or chemistry. Word gives you many well-known equations to insert with just a click.
6. Hold 24 Items in the Clipboard
The Office clipboard can hold 24 items and its interoperable between all Office files. In the Home tab, click the little drop-down arrow next to Clipboard to reveal the panel on the left. For the shortcut, press Ctrl + C twice to open the Clipboard Panel.
This holding capacity enables you to cut and copy multiple elements and move them anywhere within the document or between open Office programs.
Use the clipboard’s Options to control its functions. For instance, you can disable the Show Status Near Taskbar When Copying that displays the number of items you’ve copied in the bottom-right corner of the Word window. It’s enabled by default.
7. Translate Languages on the Go
Microsoft Office uses Microsoft Translator to handle all translations. Use the Translate feature from the Review tab. Translate a word or a sentence. Or, translate the entire document and display it in a separate Word document.
The Translator tab appears on the right and you can choose and change languages. Use this sidebar to highlight each word and explore their meaning in full.
8. Beautify Fonts with Kerning
Kerning adjusts the space between two individual letters for a better visual look. When designing a document, each typeface requires its own specific kerning. Kerning becomes important when you are designing with large fonts on Word, like on an ebook cover.
Word has kerning switched off by default, and normally you don’t need to bother with it. But let’s say you need to submit a five-page homework. Save effort by increasing the width between the letters instead of writing fluff!
Click the little pop-out arrow on Font (on the Home tab). Alternatively, press Ctrl + D. Go to the Advanced tab. Select the checkbox for Kerning for fonts. Experiment by entering a small point size in the box. Remember, some typefaces and font sizes don’t look good with kerning.
9. Inspect Your Document
Today, an important MS Word feature is collaboration, but you have to pay attention to security too. The Document Inspector in Word helps you check your document for any information you want to keep private.
Whenever you create or even edit a document, some user information gets added to the file automatically. The Document Inspector helps you erase this kind of information before sharing a document.
To access the Document Inspector, go to File > Info > Inspect Document > Check for Issues > Inspect Document.
You can inspect hidden content by selecting the checkboxes. After the inspection, any categories with sensitive data gets an exclamation mark. The Remove All button for each category removes the data and finalizes the document.
10. Take the Benefits of Hidden Text
Hidden Text is a non-printing character attribute that has its usefulness. Hiding text can be useful in many situations:
- Create a simple quiz by hiding the answers.
- Control the layout for some specific printing job by inserting hidden text.
- Print two versions of a document. In one, hide portions of text. You don’t need to create two copies or delete any part of the document.
- Temporarily hide confidential information that you don’t want others to see.
On the flip side, we’ve shown how to add a watermark in Word for text that people can’t remove.
To hide or unhide text:
- Select the text you want to hide or the hidden text.
- Click Home > Font Dialog box > Font.
- Select or clear the Hidden checkbox.
To print hidden text:
- Go to the File tab > Options > Display.
- Select the Hidden text check box.
- Select the Print hidden text check box.
- Click Ok.
Non-printing characters are formatting marks, which enables you to troubleshoot and fine-tune the layout of a document. For instance, if words need to be single-spaced; your paragraphs have to be spaced with correct line breaks; all tabs should be lined up; table cells have to be formatted neatly, and so on.
Pilcrows, tab-markers, spaces, line breaks, page breaks, object anchors, and hidden text are just some of the non-printing elements that are handy for controlling the layout of a Word document. You can remove page breaks when needed, or display the non-printing characters by clicking the Pilcrow button on the Home tab. Alternatively, press Ctrl + *.
Use These Productivity Secrets in Word
Use these advanced Microsoft Word tips and you’ll speed up your workflow in no time. Whether you’re trying to get through a school essay, work project, or something personal, these tips will help you master Word.
There’s plenty more you can do with Word beyond these tips. For example, did you know you can create a fancy-looking cover page?
Learn how to make your own cover pages in Microsoft Word and create eye-catching documents.
About The Author
(1527 Articles Published)
Saikat Basu is the Deputy Editor for Internet, Windows, and Productivity. After removing the grime of an MBA and a ten year long marketing career, he is now passionate about helping others improve their storytelling skills. He looks out for the missing Oxford comma and hates bad screenshots. But Photography, Photoshop, and Productivity ideas soothe his soul.
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November 1, 2021 at 09:22AM