Digital literacies Skills Team TechItUpTuesday

Making the most out of Microsoft Word


Microsoft Word - Wikipedia

As a student, you have probably used Word to write a document maybe an essay or analysis/review. Additionally, Word is also a program you are often likely to use in your working life and so it is an important part of your digital skills. Even though so many people use Microsoft Word, not everyone knows how to maximize the capabilities of the program. Word is packed with features that can help make the creation of documents, reports, and text files easier. When your work becomes easier, you become more productive and more efficient.

Save your favorite formatting

Every time you start writing a new document you probably find yourself resetting the same formatting for your text. Here’s the good news: There’s no need to do that if you use Microsoft Word’s Quick Styles, you can save all of those formatting preferences so that the next time you need to create a document you’re ready to go.

For example, using the heading of an assignment or report. Each week you re-format that title so that it’s bold, centered, and size 18 font.

The better way to do this is after you have it formatted, highlight that text and then visit the Styles Pane menu in the Home ribbon. Click the button for a New Style, name it what you want maybe something like “Report title font”.

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Tracked Changes and Comments

This is a very useful aspect of Word it allows you to make amendments to a document. If you want to keep track of your own revisions or add comments to your work, you can follow the steps in this video.

When receiving edits from your tutor or perhaps an editor in your future career with tracked changes, you can approve or reject each inserted, moved, or deleted piece of text in the document by clicking the Review tab.

Use the Navigation Pane to Navigate and Move Text Around

The Navigation Pane can be used to navigate efficiently around a document which is particularly useful when working in a large document that contains a number of headings.

• Click the View tab
• Check the Navigation Pane box


You can navigate by Headings or Pages by clicking on the relevant link to jump to that part of the document. You can also use the Search field to search for specific text. The Navigation Pane can also be used to reposition paragraphs of text. Simply drag and drop the heading to move it. The associated paragraph text will also move along with the heading.

Comparing and Combining Documents

This may not be as much of a problem for any small essays or projects you do as a student. However, when it gets to the stage of writing your dissertation and larger assignments or when you’re moving into the working world this will become important. A common problem you will likely have is “Which version of my document am I looking at?” The problem is probably similar file names, back-and-forth emails, and misplaced files and folders can be confusing. At times you will need a way to find out which document is the most up-to-date. For example, let’s imagine you or your tutor has done a full revision of an essay draft only to realize that the changes weren’t tracked.

When either of these situations arises, Word has a Compare Documents feature that can easily save the day. To compare two documents, simply click the Compare dropdown in the Review tab and select two documents. If you forgot to track changes, a new document will appear with all the edits as tracked changes.

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Collaborate on OneDrive

If you are working on a group project you can edit the same Word document simultaneously (works for all applications in the Office suite). Just save the document to your Microsoft OneDrive account, click Share, and send the link to the file to the rest of your group. People with the link can access and edit the document using the Word desktop app or Word Online.

Convert a document in Microsoft Word to PDF

It’s worth noting that you can convert any Microsoft Office document to PDF format. This includes an Excel worksheet, PowerPoint presentation, Publisher document, and a Visio drawing. Here is how to do it:

  1. Open a Word document which you wish to convert to PDF format
  2. All you need to do now is perform the Save As function
  3. Click the File tab and select Save As OR press F12 on the keyboard
  4. Enter a new File name if needed and select a location to save the PDF file to
  5. Now click the Save as type drop-down menu and choose PDF (*.pdf) from the list and click Save
  6. Open File Explorer (Windows + E) and navigate to the location you saved the PDF file

Shortcuts in Microsoft Word

Here are some useful keyboard shortcuts that will help make some processes faster and more efficient. If you want a full list of all the shortcuts, they are available on the Microsoft website.

  • Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste, and Ctrl + X to cut. Master these three basic commands and you’ll find yourself zooming through documents at surprising speeds.
  • Instead of slowly pressing or holding down backspace on the keyboard to delete text to eliminate words or entire sentences, press Ctrl+Backspace with the cursor placed after a word you want to erase a word at a time, making the task much easier.
  • The keyboard shortcut for adding web links to a document is Ctrl + K which will save lots of time and quickly become one of your favourite tools.
  • Instead of using the mouse to navigate to the Find command (used to locate words, pages and headings in your document), click Ctrl + F to either open the window

Customising Microsoft Office 365

The Microsoft Word App

If you get Microsoft Word for your PC or Mac, you also have access to the Microsoft Word app in Google Play or Apple’s App Store. This app works for tablets and all other mobile devices and is perfect if you are traveling, or if you just prefer to write on a phone or tablet.

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