25 Useful Microsoft Word Tips to Make You a Power User

Microsoft Word is the most popular Word processor tool out there.

Over the years, it has evolved into a complex tool that is super easy to start with and can get a lot of difficult things done in a few seconds.

If you have to use Word in your work, knowing some simple tips can really increase your workplace productivity.

In this article, I aim to give you a collection of useful MS Word tips that will help you create that weekly report faster, or write that book quicker, or review that research report in a more efficient way.

Workplace Productivity- 25 Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks

Here are the 25 Microsoft Word tips and tricks that are covered in this article (to jump to a specific tip, click in the list below).

Expand / Collapse Headers to Quickly Scan the Word Document

Microsoft Word allows you to quickly collapse the headers so you can scan the document easily or jump to the next section.

To do this, hover the mouse on the header, and you will see a blue triangle at the left of the header.

Collapse Headers in Microsoft Word 2016

When you click on this triangle, it will collapse all the text (including the sub-headers) within that header.

This can be helpful when you're working on a long document, and you only want to focus on specific sections. In this case, you can collapse all the headers, except the one that you need.

If you have a lot of headers, you don't need to go and click on the triangle for each header.

Here are the steps to expand/collapse all headers at once:

  1. Right-click on any of the headers.
  2. Place your cursor over the Expand/Collapse option.
  3. Click on Collapse All Headings.

Collapse All Headers in Microsoft Word 2016

Quickly Jump to a Specific Page

If you're working on a long document and you need to go to a specific page, don't bother scrolling your way.

Instead, use the Go To dialog box to do this.

Here are the steps to jump to a specific page:

  1. Use the keyboard shortcut – Control + G (hold the control key and then press G). This will open the Find and Replace dialog box, with the Go To tab selected.
  2. In the Go to What pane, make sure Page is selected.Go To dialog box Microsoft Word 2016
  3. Enter the page number in the field.Go To dialog box - Enter Page Number Microsoft Word Tips 2016
  4. Hit the ‘Go To' button.Go To button in MS Word 2016

This will instantly take you to the specified page in the Word document.

Collect and Paste using Clipboard

Copy-paste is a common task that you'll often find yourself doing in Word.

Here is a cool technique that can help you be more efficient when copy-pasting in Word – using the Collect and Paste feature in Clipboard.

Collect and Paste allows you to first collect all the chunks of text that you want to copy, and then paste it one by one (in any order).

A great use case of this is when you're going through a document and you want to copy and collate all the important points in one place. Instead of doing it multiple times, just keep on copying and collecting these as you go through the document, and then paste these once you're done reading the document.

Here are the steps on how ‘Collect and Paste' works in Word:

  1. Go to the Home tab.
  2. In the Clipboard group, click on the dialog box launcher (which is a tilted arrow at the bottom-right of the group). This will open the Clipboard pane on the left of the Word document.Clipboard Dialog box launcher in Microsoft Word
  3. Copy the text that you want to collect. As you copy a chunk of text, it gets collected in the Clipboard pane.Clipboard in Microsoft Word Tips 2016
  4. To paste the copied text, place the cursor where you want to paste and click the text in the Clipboard pane.

You can also paste all the collected text at once using the ‘Paste All' button at the top of the Clipboard pane.

The copied text is available to you in any new document that you open. All you have to do is open the Clipboard Pane, and all the copied text would be there.

You can also hold the control key and make multiple selections and then copy it as one single set of copied text.

Note: You can collect a maximum of 24 text chunks in Clipboard. When you go over this limit, it automatically erases the last one and keeps the latest one. Also, you need to close the Clipboard to stop it from collecting anything you copy.

Quickly Delete Words/Sentences/Paragraphs at Once

When you use the backspace of the delete key in Word, it deletes one character at a time.

You can be more efficient if you know how to delete an entire word, sentence, or even paragraph quickly.

Here is how to do this.

Delete a Word in MS Word

To delete a word, place the cursor at the end of the word that you want to delete, hold the Control key, and then press backspace.

This will delete the entire word.

You can also use this same technique with the Delete key as well. The only difference would be that you need to have your insertion point (cursor) at the beginning of the word that you want to delete.

Delete a Sentence  in MS Word

To delete an entire sentence, hold the control key and then click anywhere in the sentence that you want to delete. It will instantly select the entire sentence at one go.

Once selected, leave the control key and hit the delete key.

Delete a Paragraph  in MS Word

The fastest way to select an entire paragraph is to click the left mouse key three times (in quick succession).

This will select the entire paragraph and you can hit the delete key to delete the entire paragraph.

Delete a Blank Page

Deleting a blank page in Word can be a bit tricky.

That's because there are different ways you can end up with a blank page in your Word document.

  • It could be due to pressing the Enter key a lot of times that pushes the text further in the document and leaves a blank page.
  • It could be due to a page break.

Here is the way to deal with it:

  • Click on the Home tab.
  • In the ‘Paragraph' group, click on ¶. This will display all the paragraph and other non-printing characters.Show hide Paragraph in MS Word
  • In the blank page, delete all these characters. If these are paragraph characters only, you can simply hit the backspace key to delete this. In case it's a page break, you need to place your cursor at the end of the page break and hit the backspace key. Below is an example of how the page break looks (when Show/Hide ¶ is enabled).

Page Break in MS Word

Type Faster Using Acronyms

Microsoft Word has a feature where it identifies common mistakes people make and try and correct these instantly.

For example, type ‘somthing' and Word with automatically correct it to ‘something'.

This is because of a wonderful feature all Autocorrect.

Autocorrect has a pre-fed list of mistakes that people usually make and the correct versions of it.

Now here is how you can use to your advantage.

Let's say you are typing a research report where you need to refer to a company ABC Pvt. Ltd. multiple times. Instead of typing it again and again, you can create an acronym for it (such as ‘abc'), which is automatically converted into the full name by MS Word.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Click on File tab.
  2. Go to Options.
  3. In the Word Options dialog box, click on Proofing the left pane.Proofing Option in Microsoft Word 2016
  4. Click on ‘AutoCorrect Options' button.Microsoft Word 2016 - Autocorrect Options Button
  5. In the Autocorrect dialog box, type ‘abc' in the replace field.
  6. Type  ABC Pvt. Ltd. in the ‘With' field.
  7. Click on the Add button.Microsoft Word 2016 - Replace and With text
  8. Click OK.

Now whenever you type ‘abc' in Word, it will automatically be corrected to ABC Pvt. Ltd.

Warning: Make sure you don't use an acronym which you're also likely to use as a part of your normal text, as this will change all instances of the acronym. Also, this change is applied to all the office applications (such as Excel or PowerPoint).

Disable Showing Start Screen in MS Word

When you open Word 2016, you see a start screen that shows you the recently opened files on the left and some useful Word templates.

While this is useful, it adds an extra step in your process of opening a blank Word Document.

You can disable showing this start screen so that when you open Microsoft Word, it opens a blank document directly.

Here are the steps to disable showing the starts screen:

  1. Click on the File tab.
  2. Click on Options.
  3. In the Word Options dialog box that appears, select General category.
  4. In the Startup options, uncheck the option – ‘Show the start screen when this application starts'.Microsoft Word 2016 - Uncheck Show Start Screen Option
  5. Click OK.

Now when you open Microsoft Word the next time, it will not show you the start screen.

In case you want it to show up again, simply go back and check the same option.

Insert the Content from a Document to the Current Document

If your work includes going through multiple Word documents and collates the data into one, you may find this technique very useful.

For example, if you get 10 different documents from 10 different people and you want to quickly combine the content of all these, you can use this technique.

Another use-case for this can be when you have the Terms and Conditions in a separate document, and you want to quickly add it to the new proposal you are sending out. Instead of opening the ToC document, copying it, coming back to the proposal document and pasting it, you can simply use this technique to get all the content of the ToC document into the proposal in one shot.

Here are the steps to open and insert content from a document into your current document:

  1. Place the cursor (insertion point) where you want the content to be added to the current document.
  2. Go to the Insert tab.
  3. In the Text group, click on the Object drop-down arrow (the small downward pointing arrow).
  4. Click on Text from File.Microsoft Word 2016 - Text from file
  5. In the Insert File dialog box, locate the File and click on Insert (or double-click on the file).

This would instantly insert all the content of the selected document into the current document.

Print a Block of Selected Text

If you only want to print a selected block of text from the entire document, you can do that using the following steps:

  1. Selected the block of text you want to print. This need to be contiguous.
  2. Go to the File tab.
  3. Click on the Print.
  4. In the Print preview screen, click on the drop-down below Settings and select Print Selection.Microsoft Word 2016 - Print Selection
  5. Click on Print.

While this may still show the full text in the preview, it will print only the selected text.

Print Selection option is only available when you have a block of text selected. Else, it's greyed out.

Convert Word Document into PDF

There are two ways you can convert a Microsoft Word document into a PDF.

Using the Save As Method:

If you want to convert the entire Word document into a PDF, you can use this method.

  1. Click on the File tab.
  2. Click on Save As.
  3. Select the location where you want to save the file. You can use the browse option to locate a folder or use the other available options (such as one drive or SharePoint).
  4. In the Save As dialog box, click on the Save as type drop down.
  5. Select PDF(*.pdf).Microsoft Word 2016 - Save as PDF document
  6. Name the file and Click on Save.

This will save your word document as a PDF file.

Using Print to PDF Method

While the above method would convert the entire document into a PDF document, if you want only some pages or a specific text to be printed, you can use the Print to PDF method.

Here are the steps:

  1. Go to the File tab.
  2. Click on the Print option.
  3. In the Print preview screen, click on the Printer drop down.
  4. Select ‘Microsoft Print to PDF'.Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks 2016 - Print to PDF
  5. Specify print settings – here you can specify which pages you want to print, what size and orientation you want, etc.
  6. Click on Print.
  7. In the ‘Save Print Output As' dialog box, specify the location where you want to save the PDF.

Format Text as Subscripts or Superscripts

When working with Microsoft Word, you may sometimes need to use Subscripts or Superscripts. These are often used while writing research reports.

Here is how you can use the keyboard to quickly convert text into subscript or superscript format.

  • To convert text into the subscript format, select the text, hold the Control key and press the + plus.
  • To convert text into the superscript format, select the text, hold the Control and the Shift keys and press the + plus.

These work as toggle shortcuts. So if you use these again, it will convert the subscript/superscript format back into the normal format.

Indenting First Line of All Paragraphs

Hanging indent is when you indent the first line of a paragraph. A lot of people use this as it helps in identifying the start of a new paragraph.

Now you can indent the first line of a paragraph by using the tab key. But if you have a lot of paragraphs, then using the tab key can be tedious (and inefficient).

Instead, you can create hanging indents for all paragraphs by using the steps below:

  1. Click on the Home Tab.
  2. In the Paragraph group, click on the dialog box launcher. This will open the Paragraph dialog box.Microsoft Word Tips 2016 - dialog launcher in paragraph group
  3. In the Paragraph dialog box, click on the ‘Special' drop-down.
  4. Select Hanging.Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks 2016 - Special hanging indent option
  5. Specify the value in the By field. Note that the value is in centimeters and a normal tab key creates an indent of 0.5.
  6. Click OK.

The above steps would create an indent in the first line of every paragraph in your document.

Insert Page Numbers in a Word Document

There is no good reason to manually insert page numbers in a Word document when the same can easily be done using the features in Word.

Follow the below steps to number pages in your Word document:

  1. Click the Insert Tab
  2. In the Header and Footer group, click the Page Number option. This will display a set of options on where you want to insert the page numbers.Microsoft Word 2016 - Insert Page Number at the bottom of the page
  3. To select where you want the page numbers to appear in your Word document, place your cursor on that option. You will see a sub-menu of options appear.
  4. Select the option/format you like.

The above steps would automatically insert a page number on every page of your document at the specified location.

The benefit of using this over manually inserting page numbers (apart from the time saved) is that Word would automatically re-numbers your pages in case you decide to insert or delete a page in the document.

Insert Line, Double Line, or Underline with this Keyboard trick

There are useful keyboard shortcuts that can help you insert lines in Word.

For example, if you want to insert a line or a double line (possibly to separate two parts of a page), then you can use these shortcuts.

  • To insert a single line, just type — and press Enter (i.e., three hyphens followed by the Enter key).
  • To insert a double line, just type === and press Enter (i.e., three equal to signs followed by the Enter key).
  • To insert a bold line, just type ___ and press Enter (i.e., three underscores followed by the Enter key).

Bonus: To insert an arrow, Enter ==> and press the Enter key (i.e., two equal to signs followed by the ‘greater than' sign.

Apply a Border to Pages

A simple act of adding a border to your pages can make it look professional and neat (especially in resumes and cover letters).

Here are the steps to insert a border to a page in Microsoft Word:

  1. Place the cursor in the page in which you want the border.
  2. Click the Home tab.
  3. In the Paragraph group, click on the Borders drop-down icon (this is a small triangle right next to the Borders icon).
  4. Select the Borders and Shading option.Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks 2016 - Insert a Page Border
  5. In the Borders and Shading dialog box, click the Page Border tab.Microsoft Word 2016 - Page Border tab selected
  6. Select the Border Setting, Style, Color, Width.
  7. In the Apply to drop-down, select the Whole Document to get the page borders on all pages or select  ‘This section – First page only' to get it for the first page.

Note that a Section in MS Word is something that allows you to break your Word document into different parts so that you can apply different formatting to each section and treat these differently. If you haven't inserted any section breaks, the ‘This section – First page only' will simply refer to the first page of your Word document.

Convert Tab Separated Data into an Excel table

If you've been using tabs to create a table-like format in your Word document, here is the good news for you.

You can easily convert tab formatted data into a Table.

For example, here is a sample data of a tab formatted data that we can convert to a table.

Tab Separated Table in Microsoft Word 2016

Here are the steps to convert this tab formatted data into a table:

  1. Select the tab formatted data that you want to convert to a table.
  2. Click the Insert tab.
  3. Click on the Tables icon.
  4. Click on the Convert Text to Table icon.Microsoft Word 2016 - convert table to text
  5. Word opens the Convert Text to Table dialog box where you can check the number of columns and specify the delimiter. In this case, the delimiter is a tab.
  6. Click Ok.

This will instantly convert your separated data into a proper table.

Mouse Trick to Select Entire Column in Excel table

When working with Tables in Microsoft Word, you may find the need to select the entire column (or row). This could be to format the entire column by making it bold or giving it a color.

While you can use the mouse and drag through all the cells in the column, there is a better way to do it.

  1. Bring your cursor at the top of the column that you want to select. You will notice that your cursor changes to a downward pointing arrow when it's close to the top border of the column.Microsoft Word 2013 - Select an entire column using mouse
  2. While the cursor is shown as the downward pointing arrow, click the left mouse button.

This will select the entire column at once.

The same way, you can also select the entire row. To do this, bring your cursor to the left of the row that you want to select. This will change the cursor to a tilted arrow. Click the left mouse button and it will select the entire row.

Microsoft Word 2013 - Select an entire row using mouse

Insert Table of Content in Word

I absolutely love this feature.

It's so easy to quickly create and update the table of contents in Microsoft Word.

Now the first step to create a table of contents in Word is go through all the headers/subheaders and make sure these are formatted properly. For example, main headers are H1 and first level subheaders are H2 and so on.

Once you have got the headers right, creating a table of content is child's play.

Here are steps to insert a table of contents in MS Word:

  1. Go to the top of the page where you want to insert the table of contents.
  2. Click the Insert tab.
  3. In the Pages group, click on Page Break. This will insert a blank page in your document where you can insert the table of contents.Microsoft Word 2016 - Inserting page break in a document
  4. Bring your cursor to the page where you want to insert the table of contents.
  5. Now click the Reference tab.
  6. Click on Table of Contents. It will show you set of formats to choose from.Microsoft Word 2013 - table of contents in the reference tab
  7. Choose the format you want.

That's it!

The table of contents would be inserted into your word document.

Note: The reason we insert a page break is to make sure that the Table of Contents always remain as a separate part and doesn't impact the remaining document. Once we have the page break, no matter how big or small your table of contents is, the next part of the document would always start from the new page (since we inserted the page break to push it to the new page).

Updating the Table of Contents in Word

Updating the Table of Contents is as easy as clicking a button (literally).

When you edit your headers or insert new ones, follow the below steps to update your table of contents.

  1. Click anywhere within the table of contents. You will see a border appear around it.
  2. Click on the Update Table option at the top of the table.Microsoft Word 2013 - Update Table

The table of contents would automagically update.

Rearrange bullets using this Nifty Keyboard Shortcut

If you create bullet points list or a numbered list in Word, you can use this amazing keyboard shortcut to quickly rearrange these lists (and yes, it doesn't involve any copy-pasting).

Here is how to do it:

  1. Select the list item that you want to move (up or down the list).
  2. To move it up the list, use the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + Up arrow key (hold the ALT and SHIFT key and press Up arrow key once to shift it one place above the list). Similarly, to move it down the list, use the keyboard shortcut Alt + Shift + Down arrow key.

Enter Line Numbers in Word

In some cases, you may need to have line numbers in your documents.

This is needed when creating legal documents or research articles. This is also helpful when you're reviewing articles over phone, as you can ask the person to refer to a specific line number.

Here is how to insert line numbers in Microsoft Word:

  1. Click the Layout tab.
  2. In the Page Setup group, click on the Line Numbers option.
  3. From the drop-down, select ‘Continuous'.Microsoft Word 2016 - Insert Line Numbers in the document

This will insert line numbers for all the lines in the document.

If you want the line numbers to restart for each page, choose the ‘Restart Each Page' option in step 3.

Hold the Shift Key to Resize Image Proportionally

When working with images in Word, you may sometimes feel the need to resize these images.

But if you change these images by dragging the outline vertically or horizontally, it can get out of proportion.

To resize while keeping the proportions same, hold the shift key. When you resize while holding the Shift key, it will ensure that the proportions remain the same.

Insert Date and Time that Automatically Updates

You can insert Date and Time in Word which can be static (that doesn't update), or it can be dynamic (that updates when you open or print the document).

Here are the steps to insert the Date and Time in Word:

  1. Place the cursor where you want the date and time to be inserted.
  2. In the Text group, click on the Date & Time option.Microsoft Word 2016 - Inserting Date and Time in the document
  3. In the Date and Time dialog box, select the format of the date that you want to insert (this includes dates as well as Date + Time).
  4. If you want the date/time to update automatically, check the ‘Update Automatically' option.Microsoft Word 2013 - Update Automatically the Date and Time
  5. Click OK.

Note that when you insert date and time using the steps above, it inserts these as fields. So when you click on it, you will see the Update option at the top of it.

  • The keyboard shortcut to insert a date is ALT + SHIFT + D
  • The keyboard shortcut to insert a date is ALT + SHIFT + T

Prevent Comments from Printing

If you have a Word document full of comments and you want to print it, you will notice that the comments get printed along with the document.

While it may be desired in some cases, but not needed in others.

Here are the steps to prevent the comments from getting printed when you print a document.

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click on Print.
  3. In the Print preview, click on the Print All Pages drop down (which is right below the Settings text).
  4. If the Print Markup option is checked, uncheck it.Microsoft Word 2013 - Remove Uncheck print markup
  5. Print the document.

This is not a permanent setting and you will have to do this whenever you want to print a document without comments.

Compare Two Versions of a Document

While Word does allow collaboration and simultaneous editing of a document, it hasn't really taken off (not as much as that of Google Docs or Google Sheets).

This may mean that you might get a document from your colleague or your boss who have made some changes in the document and sent you back.

But what if – in the meantime – you also made some changes in your version of the document.

Now you're left with two copies with a different set of changes, and the task to combine these and make one single document.

Now, Word can't help in combining these documents. However, it can help you compare these two documents and quickly identify the changes.

Here are the steps to compare two documents in MS Word:

  1. Click the Review tab.
  2. In the Compare group, click on Compare (which is the only option in this group).
  3. Click on Compare in the drop down.Microsoft Word 2016 - Compare two documents
  4. In the Compare Documents dialog box, select the Original document (select from the list of recent documents or use the Browse option) and the Revised Document.Microsoft Word 2016 - Compare two documents select documents
  5. Click OK.

Word opens four windows when doing the comparison.

  • The leftmost window is the Revisions pane that shows you all the changes.
  • The middle document is where you can see the changes (similar to how track changes look).
  • The original document is at the top-right part of the screen.
  • The revised document is at the bottom -right part of the screen.

Note: For this tutorial, I created two versions – Original and Revised. Yours can have any name.

Lock Your Word Document

When you've finalized a document and you don't anyone messing with it, you can lock it.

Now there are a couple of ways to lock a document. One way is to mark it as final. This disables the editing, but this setting can easily be overridden.

Here are the steps to mark a document as final:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click on the Info option.
  3. Click the Protect Document button.
  4. Select ‘Mark as Final'. You will see a prompt that says ‘This document will be marked as final and then saved'.Microsoft Word 2016 - Mark as Final
  5. Click OK.

Now when anyone opens that document, it will show a yellow bar at the top saying that the document has been marked as final. However, if anyone wants to make a change, they can click in the ‘Edit Anyway' button.

While this approach is fine, it doesn't stop anyone from editing the document.

So the second way to do this is by locking this document.

Here are the steps to lock a document:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Click on the Info option.
  3. Click the Protect Document button.
  4. Select ‘Encrypt with password'.Microsoft Word 2016 - Encrypt with Password
  5. Enter and Reenter the password.

The above steps would lock your document which can only be accessed when you have the password.

Note that once the password is applied, you can not remove this. Also, there is no way to recover the password, so make sure you don't lose the password.

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