Microsoft Word offers a plethora of features, some of which are obvious and others not so much. In this article we’ll share some quick tips to help make editing of existing content easier in MS Word.
Increase visibility in tracked changes: often times when correcting spelling you only change a single character in a word. However it can be easy for others to miss single-letter modifications when viewing tracked changes. To help increase visibility of the modification, it’s better to have the whole word changed rather than just a single character and Word can do this automatically without requiring you to manually delete the word and retype it. So, instead of deleting a character and replacing a character from the word, highlight the incorrect character and then change that character. Word will then replace the entire word for you which when tracked will show a cross out of the original word and the new replacement word beside it.
Note however, that when adding a new character to a word (i.e. when you’re not replacing a character), you will still need to manually delete the whole word. While a bit more work, it definitely makes it easier for other editors to see your change.
Keep concatenated words on one line: concatenated words (i.e. two or more words joined using the “-“ character) read best when they don’t span lines. So instead of just entering the “-“ character, use ctrl + shift + “-“ instead to ensure that the dash character(s) and the words remain on the same line.
Keep TOC changes untracked: when updating your table of contents, turn off change tracking temporarily before performing the update and then turn it back on again afterwards. Since most authors don’t care about updates to the TOC once the structure has been set, eliminating changes to the TOC is one less thing for them to sort through.
Always know your style: Word’s “Styles” group has never worked as it should. Most notably it should always highlight the style currently in use and should show every available style. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. However all is not lost. Click on the “Show Styles Window” button which is the tiny button on the bottom right hand corner of the Styles group. Not only does this dialog work as you would expect, but you can also filter and reorder the styles to your liking.
Auto remove formatting when pasting: formal Word documents generally use their own styles. However pasting text from other rich-text editors can bring undesired formatting along with the content which in turn can cause a number of problems and bugs, especially if change tracking is enabled. The preference then is to always paste as text from other programs as raw text, but this usually requires you to click “Paste Special” and then select “Unformatted Text”. While a few instances are managable, doing so hundreds of times a day can become tedious. To resolve this you can configure Word to automatically paste text from other programs as raw text. Simply goto the Word button then select Word Options->Advanced->Cut, copy, and Paste. Then for the “Pasting from other programs” option select “Keep text only”.
Use the ‘redo’ last action shortcut to save time: at some point Microsoft modified ctrl+y to not just redo something that you just “undid” with the undo command, but to allow you to redo the last action as many times as you like. This is useful for example if you need to change the style of some text over and over again. For example, if you need to set a whole bunch of things to the “Strong” style, it can be tedious to select that style over and over again. Instead you can do this one and then just select the piece of text to format and hit ctrl+y instead. You can then quickly repeat this action with ctrl+y as many times as you like. Note that the downside to this feature is that you can accidently go too far with this if you’re not careful.
Jump between table cells with the keyboard: if you’ve ever tried to jump between table cells with the tab key, you probably noticed that the desired result doesn’t happen. To get around this, hit ctrl + tab and the cursor will go where you expect.