MicrosoftWord's Top 10 Hacks

MicrosoftWord's Top 10 Hacks ...

Microsoft Word is the de facto standard in word processing. It's simple on the surface, yet powerful and feature-rich when you look around. It's one of those few productivity tools that nearly all of us have encountered in our school and workplace for preparing assignments, essays, business reports, research projects, resumes, and other tasks.

Word can also be useful for basic graphic design. You may create cover pages, business cards, brochures, and even full-on magazines and e-books for digital publishing, but its wide range of capabilities make it equally attractive for casual users.

Learning Word's ins-and-outs can be rewarding, making you more productive, and your coworkers will also appreciate it.

We've collected a few essential tips and tricks that will make novice and advanced Word users more effective and efficient at documentation. For this feature, we're using Microsoft Word 2021 on a Windows 10 PC. However, don't worry, most of the suggestions will work if you have a Windows or Mac PC running MS Office/Word 2013 or later...

The Office Clipboard allows for the collection of up to 24 documents (text and images) at the same time. Word supports drag and drop as well as Ctrl+X / Ctrl+V shortcuts.

Although we've previously discussed how useful clipboard history can be, you can always rely on Microsoft Office's. This feature will save you from having to restart several programs at the same time. Also, being an 'Office' clipboard allows you to easily move and manage items between other MS Office applications, like Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook.

The Office Clipboard will not display files copied from the File Explorer, though you may still paste them into your document.

By clicking the small arrow next to the Clipboard label under the Home Tab, you may access the Office Clipboard Pane. It's much faster to do it by pressing Ctrl+C twice. To enable this shortcut, click on the Options button on the lower left of the Clipboard pane and select the appropriate setting.

The Clipboard pane lists down the last 24 words/images you've copied from another program, such as a browser link, an email text, data from a worksheet, or an image from a presentation.

Double-clicking a single item can be done, or you can insert all of them into your document at the same time by clicking on "Paste All." A blank clipboard is helpful for privacy purposes, and it gives you a fresh start for your next assignment.

One of MS Word's most useful features is its ability to export and import PDF files. There are some limitations when it comes to converting/jumping between.pdf and.docx formats, but you can still extract or edit text quite easily, even if it's part of a PDF file.

By exporting your Word file as a PDF, you can minimize the risk of modifications to your document or protect it with a password.

If you go the "Save As" route, go to File > Export and select the "Create PDF/XPS" button. A similar dialog box will open if you go the "Save As" option.

To change your mind about a few important things, click the Options button. On Word for Mac, this may not be visible, but it's still worth reading on to discover what you're missing.

Ticking the PDF/A compliant check box embeds all your information in the PDF to ensure that it opens reliably on any device/display, and is useful if your document is intended to be archived and reproduced in the long run.

It disables JavaScript to halt cross-contamination, prohibits the use of embedded video/audio, and does not support password encryption, ensuring that the file's contents are always available.

  • Optimize for Image quality

This option is fairly straightforward. A PDF will preserve image quality at the expense of file size, making it unsuitable for sharing online or as an email attachment. When your document and its high-resolution images go to the printers, click this option.

For big-scale digital printing, you may prefer to use dedicated software such as MS Publisher, Affinity Publisher, or Adobe InDesign.

  • Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded

It's possible that a font you like does not appear in the PDF you've exported. This is because the font's license limitations prevent it from being included in PDFs, or the device that is viewing the document does not have the required font installed.

To avoid the restriction, tick this option, and MS Word will attempt to convert your text into the bitmap image format so that your document appears in the same font as it was intended.

  • Encrypt the document with a password

MS Word may also save and encrypt PDFs with a password, as well as password protection for Word files. Tick this option, thereby preventing PDF/A compliance, and assign a password between 6-32 characters.

Once exported as a PDF, your document will be locked upon opening and will require a password for unlocking/decryption.

Word is capable of doing a fair amount of PDF text editing. The application warns you of any limitations that may apply to your document before it begins the conversion.

If your file isn't listed in the directory, click on File > Open, then press Browse to navigate to your document. Choose PDF in document types if your file isn't there.

You may also begin the conversion and editing process by simply right-clicking on your PDF document and setting it to open with MS Word. As long as your imported document isn't overly complex in terms of formatting and graphics, you may modify all of its contents within Word and export it back as a PDF.

When you're working with large documents, Outline View can help you get a bulleted list of contents that will help you with your restructuring quickly.

The Outline View skips all images in the document and allows you to see different heading levels and subtexts to better understand the document's hierarchy.

Outline View is a great way to reorganize your Word documents in a matter of seconds. Simply click on the View tab in Word's ribbon/toolbar and select Outline.

It's always a good idea to invest some time improving your document's readability. You may use Word's built-in proofing capabilities to get a readability rating and make adjustments to the text for improvement.

Go to File > Options, and select Proofing.

To enable this feature, tick the last two options in sequence under "When correcting spelling and grammar in Word." The shortcut key (F7) for spell check can now be used to check for readability in your document.

When you activate this feature, Word's spelling and grammar check takes your document through, and then assigns it a reading level according to the Flesch Reading Ease test and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level test. The basic idea is that they take into account the average sentence length and the number of syllables per word.

Microsoft advises a score between 60 and 70 (Flesch Reading Ease test) and 7.0 to 8.0 for the Grade Level test. Your aim should be to improve and simplify your document.

Word has AutoSave and a document recovery feature that allows you to keep a copy of recent unsaved documents in case of a sudden computer crash, power outage, or a misclick.

Go to File > Info and choose Manage Document. Click on "Recover Unsaved Documents" and select from the listed files in the dialog box.

If Word considers a file to be damaged or corrupt, it may not always be possible to obtain the restored version. However, even a partially recovered document is preferable to starting with a blank slate.

You may also modify Word's auto recovery settings to increase the frequency at which the program autosaves, as well as alter the temporary location of unsaved files. To do this, click on File > Options and select Save from the pop-up menu. Here, among other options, you may specify the number of minutes after which Word autosaves, and choose another location for storing auto recovery files.

A Word document that consists of a few pages of text will be harmless. However, file sizes may grow as images and other customizations start piling up. Consequently, your document may become difficult to share and open online, or too large to be sent as an email attachment.

First, save a Word document in the more powerful.docx format; you can also reduce images and choose a resolution that best suits your use case, avoid including fonts, and disable tracking when collaboration is no longer required.

Compress Images

Select an image in your document and click on the Picture Format tab (ribbon menu). Click on Compress Pictures and specify a lower resolution for the selected image or all images in your document.

Avoid including fonts in your content.

MS Word can include TrueType and OpenType fonts so that they may be seen as intended on other computers, even if they don't have those fonts installed.

While embedding fonts is beneficial for consistency, they can also increase the size of a document. Although the option is enabled by default, you can check to make sure that Word does not include a font. Select the Save button.

To avoid embedding altogether, disable "Embed fonts in the file" under fidelity settings. Despite this, you may still get a reduction in document size while preserving quality by checking the first sub-option. This allows you to keep any special characters or styling that you've previously used, but also places some editing limitations for other users.

Tracking is disabled/stopped.

The ability to track changes is a valuable feature, since it allows others to edit a document, make suggestions, and then return it to the original author.

Over time, however, this information may grow the document's weight, and it may be unnecessary to keep this information until the final revision of a document.

Once you've completed your collaboration with your colleagues, you may disable/stop tracking changes. Go to the Review tab, and select Track Changes to turn it off. Alternately use the Ctrl+Shift+E shortcut to enable/disable this setting.

When it comes to sensitive or personal documents, it's important to take security measures. MS Word makes it quite simple to encrypt your file with a password as well as assigning editing and access limitations. You can also set a document as read-only to prevent any further changes.

To set a password, go to File > Info and select "Protect with Password" from the pop-up menu, then follow the instructions shown. Word will encrypt the file and prompt you for it when opening the document in the future.

Another approach to safeguarding your document is to have editing restrictions in place. For instance, you may limit formatting to a few different styles (tabs, headings, etc.) and specify if you want other users to be able to track changes, fill out forms, or just set the document as read-only.

If you do require a colleague to make changes to a section of a document or want to allow select users to make changes, you can select the required section of text and add their name under exceptions. Select the "Yes, Start Enforcing Protection" button.

The Inspect Document feature in MS Word can also be used to check or delete document metadata such as author name, subject, title, macros, and other personally identifiable information such as email headers, routing slips (document circulation) and hidden text.

Before you distribute the document to others, you may wish to use it to erase collaboration history with coworkers (comments, track changes, revisions).

The Inspect Document feature can be enabled by going to File > Info and clicking Check for Issues. From the pop-up menu, select the first option, which will open a new window listing all the items that Word can check for you. Review and remove information as required by pressing Remove All next to an item category and Close the inspection process.

Another method of protecting your document is by using watermarks, but this time you want to assert ownership of the information, articulate its purpose to readers by using terms like Draft and Urgent, or warn them about its secrecy by having Confidential or Top Secret appear behind the main text throughout the document.

You may also use an image similar to your company's logo as a watermark.

To do this, click on the Design tab and select Watermark. Choose from one of the many samples available or add your own text/image-based watermark by clicking on Custom Watermark.

In order to keep the main content visible and easy to read, it is recommended that you use a washout effect with a picture watermark, and semi-transparency for text. Choose the Remove Watermark option in the Watermark sub-menu.

Word has a slew of features that are working actively in the background and tools that are working in the background to assist you stay productive. We'll focus on the Quick Access Toolbar located at the title bar, the ribbon that sits beneath it, and the status bar located at the bottom of the Word window.

The floppy save icon lives in the Quick Access Toolbar, alongside the Undo and Redo buttons. Newer Word versions include the option to keep your work in the cloud (OneDrive, SharePoint).

This toolbar can be customized by clicking the small arrow or right-clicking an existing item. You may also wish to customize this toolbar by displaying it below the ribbon.

The Ribbon is a series of tabs, each labelled to indicate the wide range of options available for editing and formatting a document. You may modify the ribbon by right-clicking on a tab or by going to File > Options and selecting Customize Ribbon.

As shown in the Quick Access Toolbar, the ribbon layout you see and can add is similar to that of MS Word's default ribbon layout. However, you may personalize the experience further by creating a new tab and populating it with a set of commands that suit your workflow.

Do you find the ribbon too crowded? Simply delete the tabs you don't use from the Customize Ribbon menu, or collapse it so you can only see the tab names by tapping the up arrow on the right side (Shortcut: Ctrl+F1) for a distraction-free typing experience.

The Status Bar (at the bottom) is where Word displays and dynamically updates relevant attributes of your document, as well as the various reading modes (Focus, Read, Print, and Web layouts), and the zoom slider.

You can change the appearance of the piece by right-clicking on it anywhere and selecting/deleting items from the sub-menu. A few helpful items to have here are the page number and word count if you're aiming for the essay word limit.

Any spelling or grammatical mistakes will be highlighted in the proofing status indicator, which you may click for more information. Moreover, Word's track changes feature may be located here for quick access, instead of having to navigate to it via the Review tab.

There isn't much popular app or service these days that doesn't include a dark mode. Although Word is a bit late to this party, users may now switch the program's retina burning white canvas to a dark grey color for comfortable working late into the night.

To enable Word's dark mode, first need to set the Office Theme to Black.

All areas of MS Word, including the canvas, will be dark, with text color and other colorful elements in the app adjusting accordingly.

By clicking on the View tab in the ribbon and selecting Switch Modes, you may still toggle between a white and dark canvas. Note that the latter option only appears when the Office Theme is set to Black.

Word can also be used to convey information in other interesting ways, such as by creating mind maps or flowcharts to understand the interaction between elements in a process.

You may begin a mind map or flowchart by incorporating basic shapes and lines, or tap into Word's collection of SmartArt graphics. These may be accessed by clicking the Insert ribbon.

The SmartArt dialogue box lists a number of diagram categories, each with their own visual styles based on workflow requirements. You may, for example, use the Horizontal Bullet List under Lists to explain briefly the difference between tiers/packages of a service (Basic, Premium, Pro, etc.) or use a Radial Cluster to begin off with a central idea as done in a mind map and expand it to include all relevant elements.

If you're unsure where to begin, select any diagram in the SmartArt dialogue box and go through the description to see if that figure is a better fit for your use case.

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