As one of the most widely used programs to compose documents for personal, professional, and academic reasons, Microsoft Word offers users many useful tools. While some tools are more obvious than others, Word also provides several tricks, tips, and shortcuts to make writing your next document much easier. Check out these ten Microsoft Word tricks that everyone should know and discover how they can improve your daily use of the app.
While the PDF (portable document format) certainly has its uses in digital communications, the lack of ability to easily edit PDFs without purchasing the professional version of Adobe Acrobat can easily lead to frustration. If you need to be able to edit a PDF document but are unwilling to spend hundreds of dollars for an application you may never need again, Microsoft Word has a simple and easy way to get around this problem. All you need to do is open Microsoft Word, then open the PDF and wait for it to be converted to a Word document, which may take some time, depending on the original file's size. You should know that the PDF's formatting may not translate perfectly to the newly saved Word document.
Rather than risk developing or worsening repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, consider using the included Dictation feature in the Voice tab to reduce effort. This feature can also help save time if your typical typing speed is not very fast or you have issues with manual dexterity. Other useful Dictation features include filtering sensitive phrases, switching on auto-punctuation, and even changing the spoken language.
Even if it has never happened to you personally, the prospect of accidentally deleting most or all of your writing before saving can be incredibly nerve-wracking. If you tried to bold a sentence but accidentally deleted the entire paragraph, do not panic. The Word shortcuts CTRL + Z for Undo and CTRL + Y for repeat will instantly undo and redo as desired until your document returns to an acceptable state.
For anyone using Microsoft Word to compose an academic assignment that requires citation of scholarly sources, there is an easy way to kill two birds with one stone. Selecting the References ribbon and using the Researcher function will allow you to search for references directly from the Word document itself and review any existing citations you have created. This function supports citations for both the APA (American Psychological Association) and MLA (Modern Language Association) academic writing styles.
Although you might be more familiar with the Review ribbon for MS Word tricks to help improve grammatical and stylistic errors, it also has a valuable tool for anyone searching the job market, namely the Resume Assistant. After opening the Review ribbon, simply select "Resume Assistant" and follow the on-screen prompts to start making your resume. By entering the kind of role and industry you are interested in applying for and selecting "See Examples," you will be able to review appropriate content for developing your resume.
While you could certainly open the Review ribbon and select the Word Count button to get detailed information about the content of a document, sometimes all you need is how many words there currently are. So rather than going through the process described above, just look at the bottom left corner of your open Word document to get an instant reading of how many words it contains.
Microsoft Word offers users a variety of different options for deleting or otherwise removing content from a document, including the Delete key, the Backspace button, selecting sentences or paragraphs with Shift + Arrow keys, and highlighting text using your mouse or touchpad. Instead of using these methods to erase content painstakingly, why not use the CTRL + Backspace shortcut, which can instantly delete entire words? With sufficient time and practice to avoid accidentally going overboard with deletions, this keyboard shortcut can save you a great deal of time and effort.
If you happen to compose many similarly formatted documents, it can be a real pain to go back through and manually adjust the finer details for each one. Rather than going back through a Word document and replacing each instance of a given word or phrase, the Find and Replace feature is a real time saver. Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + H to instantly open the Find and Replace window, allowing you to make necessary changes to the entire document quickly.
If you struggle to find an appropriate synonym or antonym for a given word, you could go through the trouble of Googling it, but there is a much more obvious solution. By using the Shift + F7 keyboard shortcut, you can access Word's built-in thesaurus, view examples of related words, and insert them into your document.
If you need to capitalize large text sections without doing it yourself, the Shift + F3 keyboard shortcut is your friend. Simply highlight the text you want to be uppercase or lowercase and toggle capitalization on and off.
While there are dozens of ways to use Microsoft Word more efficiently, these ten examples are some of the most important to be aware of. Those interested in learning more tips and tricks should check out Microsoft's website for further information.
*The opinions reflected in this article are the sole opinions of the author and do not reflect any official positions or claims by Acer Inc.
About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.