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Word Is Wiser Than You Think: 5 Tips You’ll Use

Habits are hard to break. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Pick your cliché. Once we learn how to do something in a computer application, we tend to keep doing it the same way – even if there’s a better, faster way.

Such is the case with word processing. Microsoft Word is such a massive productivity solution that probably no one except its developers knows how to use every feature. We learn what we must in order to create documents and – maybe – consult the help files if we have to color outside the lines.

Developing new habits in Word can help you save time, of course. Occasionally, knowing the right steps to take can save the reconstruction of an entire section of a document. So try out these tips.

Create blocks of boilerplate text to enter frequently-used phrases. You know what they are. Those combinations of words that you get tired of typing all of the time. Word’s AutoCorrectfeature can automate this. Select the phrase – or more – in your document. Press Alt and T, then let those keys up. Press A. Your text will appear in about the middle of the small window that opens. Enter a short abbreviation under Replace: and click OK. When you want to insert the text in a document, type the abbreviation and then the spacebar or a punctuation key.

Choose a short abbreviation for your repetitive phrase, and Word will replace it with your original words.

Accelerate selection of large blocks of text. This works even if you have to select across pages. Click once in front of the first letter of the first word. Then go down to the end of the section and — without first clicking at the end of the final word – press the Shift key and then click.

Bring new content into a document – but not its source formatting. Copy-and-paste is probably one of Word’s 10 best tools. But what happens when you want to copy something from a web page or another document that has different formatting? You can run it through Notepad, but that’s an extra step. There are two better options. Either select the pasted-in text and click Ctrl and Space to remove formatting, or right-click where you want the new text to appear and select Merge Formatting from the Paste Options menu.

Use Styles. They’re there for a good reason: to standardize your documents’ formatting. Just right-click on the Style name and then click Modify. (Microsoft PowerPoint understands Styles. So when you open a Word document in it, your slide contents will be automatically formatted.)

Use Styles to format documents in a consistent fashion.

Use the Undo button. Another one of Word’s top 10 tools. When you’ve made a mistake – oh, say, accidentally deleted a whole section of text that wasn’t backed up – simply click on the curvy arrow pointing to the left in the upper left corner. You can do this multiple times.

We all use such a small percentage of Word’s features. So take on a few more.

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