Microsoft Word is a staple for many organisations across Australia. The productivity app has gone through many changes since its initial release to become more robust and user-friendly. Yet despite this, there are still many features and tricks that everyday users don’t know. If you want to be more efficient, the following Microsoft Word tips will add hours to your day.

Know your shortcuts

Most people are aware of basic shortcuts like copy (Ctrl+C), paste (Ctrl+V), and undo (Ctrl+Z), but there are even more time-saving combinations. Check out the complete list of keystrokes here. By no means should you expect to learn every shortcut. The key is to remember a few for common scenarios, such as:

  • Ctrl+S – quick saves documents
  • Ctrl+A – selects everything
  • Ctrl+X – cuts what you’ve selected 
  • Ctrl+B – sets highlighted text in boldface
  • Alt+C – inserts a comment
  • *+Spacebar – initiates a bulleted list

Copy and paste multiple text items 

‘Spike’ is a nifty yet overlooked function in Microsoft Word. It lets you collect up to 24 blocks of text from nonadjacent locations in a document and paste them all to a new location or file. To use spike, highlight the words and phrases you want to copy, and press Ctrl+F3. Repeat this process until you have all the pieces of text you need, and then press Ctrl+Shift+F3 to paste them into another document. 

This function is ideal if you want to make a quick list. Instead of copying and pasting items into a bulleted list one at a time, you just copy everything once with spike. 

They’ll even come out in the order you copied them, which saves quite a bit of time.

Keep documents consistent

Another copy-and-paste trick you may not know about involves replicating formatting. First, highlight any piece of text and hit Ctrl+Shift+C to copy its formatting. Then, press Ctrl+Shift+V to apply the formatting to another chunk of text. This copies over any type of text formatting such as text alignment, size, bold and italics, colours, and more. In other words, you never have to waste time meticulously editing the look of your documents.

Make edits en masse

If you’ve misused terms and phrases in a lengthy document, there’s no need to manually correct every mistake. All you have to do is open the Advanced find option on the Home tab, click on Replace, and enter the word or phrase you want to swap. From there, you can replace all instances of the original content or review changes one by one to ensure consistency.  

Proofread documents with Editor

Checking your work for clunky sentences and grammatical errors can be tedious, but Word’s built-in proofreader fixes that. Editor uses machine learning and natural language processing technology to detect spelling, grammar, and stylistic issues. To educate users, it even offers guidance on clarity and brevity while explaining why it gave certain suggestions.

To access the feature, go to the Review tab and select Check Document. The Editor pane will then appear showing a summary of errors that you can address on the spot.

Create and utilise templates

If you always start every document from scratch, using Microsoft Word templates saves you a lot of time. From newsletters to flyers, Word is chock-full of professional-looking templates to eliminate your formatting issues. Go to File > New to load a template. You can also visit Microsoft’s website to choose from a wider selection of templates.  

If none have caught your eye, however, you can always design your own. Once you’ve formatted your document, click Save as and select Word template under the Save as type option.

Take advantage of Smart Lookup 

Instead of firing up a separate window to search for something, Smart Lookup acts as a digital research assistant. To launch it, right-click on a term or phrase and select Smart Lookup from the menu. A sidebar should then appear displaying definitions, Wikipedia entries, and Bing results related to your query. Those who need to crank out a business report, blog post, or research paper will likely benefit the most from this feature.

Use ‘Tell me you want to do’ 

Microsoft Word has dozens of commands hidden behind maze-like menus, which can confuse even tech-savvy users. The ‘Tell me what you want to do’ search function at the top of the toolbar makes things easier for you. Simply type the action you’d like to perform and Word will find the relevant functions. For example, typing ‘add page numbers’ will provide you options related to header/footer design, formatting, and page margins. You can even gain quick access to your coworker’s contact information and OneDrive files using the search function.

Personalise your ribbon    

Word’s default ribbon toolbar isn’t fixed in place. You can arrange menus however you like, create custom tabs, and add or hide commands. Just go to File > Options > Customise ribbon and select the commands you want to bring to the fore. Our recommendation: create a tab with your most frequently used commands to dramatically improve workflow.

Though these tricks will give you a serious productivity-boost, they merely scratch the surface of what you can do with the software. New time-saving features are constantly being released, which is why it’s important to have the latest version of Microsoft Word. Contact Empower IT today to get the most recent version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite and master Word. 

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