Last Updated on May 28, 2019
Many people use Microsoft Word every day for their job or personal tasks, but few take advantage of its depth of features. If you use Word all the time, it pays to know the most useful tricks to get more out of it.
Below are some tips to help make Word more efficient, powerful, and reliable.
1. Work Without Distractions
Word offers a ton of formatting tools to help you get your document looking just right. But when you’re focusing on writing, you probably don’t want all that clutter distracting you. It’s best to focus on getting your thoughts on the page and worry about editing later.
An easy way to reduce distractions in Word is to auto-hide the Ribbon at the top of the screen. To do this, click the icon at the top-right of the screen next to your name (it looks like an arrow pointing to the top of a box). Select Auto-hide Ribbon and you’ll have a simple blank sheet to work with. When you need to open the Ribbon, just click the bar at the top of your screen.
Modern versions of Word include a handy shortcut for a distraction-free viewing. You can access it by going to the View tab on the Ribbon and selecting Read Mode. This lets you look over a document without the distractions of formatting and editing.
2. Insert Equations and Symbols
You probably think of equations as something for Microsoft Excel. However, when preparing mathematical, scientific, or similar documents, you may need to insert complex formulas or equations with proper formatting. Word supports doing so.
Head to Insert > Equation on the Ribbon and you’ll find some common equations like the area of a circle and the quadratic formula. Below these, you can add other options from Office.com, as well as enter your own equations. Choosing Insert New Equation gives you an editor to add all kinds of symbols with proper formatting.
Additionally, next to the Equation option, you’ll find Symbol. This lets you insert symbols you won’t find on the keyboard but are still used sometimes, such as the copyright symbol and currencies from other countries.
3. Embed Fonts for Sharing
When you type a document in Word, you can use any fonts installed on your computer. But if you send the file to someone else and they don’t have those fonts, they won’t display properly and the document thus won’t look the same.
You can combat this by embedding the fonts you used to create a document into the file. To do so, head to File > Options. Switch to the Save tab on the left side. At the bottom, you’ll see a section called Preserve fidelity when sharing this document.
If you check the Embed fonts in the file box, the document will save all fonts you used so anyone who opens it will see it as you intended. Because this can significantly increase the file size, you’ll see two additional options below to help keep it down.
Embed only the characters used in the document will skip any characters you didn’t use. If you only have one word in a non-standard font, it makes sense to check this as there’s no need to embed the entire alphabet and other characters in the file.
It’s fine to keep Do not embed common system fonts checked. This keeps Word from embedding common fonts like Arial, which all computers should have installed anyway.
By default, this option will apply only to the current document. To set it as the default for all files in the future, change the drop-down box with the document name to All New Documents.
4. Inspect Documents for Issues
Word documents can contain a lot of information about the creator that you might not want to share. Before publishing a Word document to the public, you can use a built-in feature of the software to check for any hidden information and remove it.
You’ll find this on the File menu under Info. Next to Inspect Document, click the Check for Issues button. This gives you three useful options:
- Inspect Document: Checks for hidden elements that you might have mistakenly left in the document, included data that could reveal info about you. This includes document properties, hidden text, and macros.
- Check Accessibility: Runs a check to see if your document has any content that people might find hard to read. This includes issues like confusing font colors.
- Check Compatibility: If you plan to share your document with people using Word 2010 or earlier, certain features might not work in those older versions. For example, the equations we discussed above would show as images in Word 2003 and earlier.
Also on this page, you’ll see the Protect Document menu. This lets you make changes to restrict what people can do with the file. For instance, you can make the document read-only by default to prevent people from making accidental changes.
5. Find and Replace
Find and replace is one of the biggest time-savers around, but some people might not be aware of it.
Let’s say you’ve typed up an entire document and realized that you didn’t capitalize a company name properly. Or maybe you’re used to using double spaces after a period, but your company prefers to use a single space. Going through your document and making the same changes dozens of times will take forever, which is where find and replace comes in.
Simply press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace menu. In the Find what box, enter what you want to replace. Then put the text you want to replace it with in the other box. Something like double-spaces is simple, but you might need to click More for more complex changes.
Here you can use tools like Match case to fix capitalization issues. You can also use the boxes at the bottom to change the formatting of the replacement text.
Getting More Use From Word
This is just a sampling of the handy tools available in Microsoft Word. It takes some digging to find some of them, but once you add them to your toolkit you won’t want to go back.
Working more efficiently in software you use all the time is always a worthwhile goal, and we hope these tips help you on your way.