Tips and Tricks for Using Microsoft Word for Windows


Microsoft Word is a word processing application that provides an extensive suite of features for creating, editing, and formatting documents. It is one of the most highly-regarded and utilized word processing applications available, with millions of users worldwide. Yet, many users are unaware of some of Word's most useful features. The list of tips and tricks below provides solutions to common document creation and formatting challenges that Word users may encounter.

• Set Page Margins, Page Orientation, and Paper Size
• Cover Pages and Blank Pages
• Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers
• Use Page Breaks and Section Breaks
• Insert Shapes, Pictures, Charts, and Symbols
• Edit pictures and charts
• Create bulleted, numbered/lettered, and multilevel lists
• Create Tables
• Build a Bibliography and including Citations
• Table of Contents
• Track changes when editing
• Create and edit templates

Set Page Margins, Page Orientation, and Paper Size

Determining a page layout is the first step to take in order to create an attractive and easy to navigate document. Page Layout refers to the appearance of a document. A layout is established by setting parameters for Page Margins, Page Orientation and Paper Size, at a minimum. Page layout parameters are set in the Page Layout tab.

Page Margins

Page margins are the areas between the edges of a page and the content on a page. To set Page Margins, click the Page Layout tab. Click the Margins icon. Select margins for the top, bottom, left, and right sides of a page or pages from six commonly used margin sets or create a custom margin by clicking Custom Margins… .

Page Margins

Page Orientation

The directional layout of a page is known as Page Orientation. Orientation may be vertical, Portrait, or horizontal, Landscape.

To set the Orientation for a page or pages, click the Page Layout tab. Click Portrait for a vertical orientation. Click Landscape for a horizontal orientation.

Page Orientation

Paper Size

Paper size refers to the size of physical paper a document will be printed on. Word offers a range of paper sizes to choose from, including the commonly used US Letter (8 ½ x 11) and US Legal (8 ½ x 14).

To set the paper size for a document, click the Page Layout tab. Click Size. Select a paper size from the list of options. If a desired option is not displayed, click More Paper Sizes… to view additional paper size options.

Paper Size

To learn more, view the Set Page Margins article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Cover Pages and Blank Pages

Some documents require additional pages, such as cover pages, before, during, and after their creation. Word makes it easy to add a cover page or blank page without disrupting the structure or formatting of a new or existing document. Cover pages and blank pages can be added to a document through the Insert tab. There, you can choose to insert a cover page or blank page into a new or existing document.

Cover and Blank Pages

To learn more, view the Add a Cover Page article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Headers, Footers, and Page Numbers

The top and bottom margins of pages within a Word document may be edited to include Header and Footer text. Text in headers and footers may include page numbers, running heads, copyright information, and much more. Word allows users to add and customize text in these areas by double-clicking the header or footer or selecting the Header or Footer options in the Insert tab. Once the Header/Footer area is activated the main content are of the document page will be inaccessible until the Header/Footer is deactivated.

Header and Footer

Additionally, you can select additional design options from the Header/Footer Tools Design tab, which becomes available when the Header or Footer is activated.

NOTE: The Header/Footer Tools Design tab is only accessible once the header or footer of a document page has been activated.

Header and Footer Design Tab

To learn more, view the Edit a Header or Footer article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Using Page Breaks and Section Breaks

Word automatically creates breaks between pages, called Page Breaks, within a document to indicate the end of one page and the beginning of another. However, you may wish to manually add a break between pages or a section break between segments of text within a document. Manual page breaks allow you to control where a new page begins and may be useful when creating pages with distinct focuses. Page breaks can be created manually by selecting the Page Break option from the Insert tab.

Page Break

Section breaks enable you to create divisions between text within a document, allowing for segments of text within a page or on multiple pages to be governed by unique formatting that may differ from surrounding sections. Section Breaks can be created manually by selecting the Breaks option from the Page Layout tab.

Section Breaks

To learn more, view the Add a Page Break article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Insert Shapes, Pictures, Charts, and Symbols

Some documents created in Word may require the inclusion of visual elements such as pictures, charts, symbols, etc. These elements can be included easily with the Insert tab. Word allows you insert a wide range of visual elements into a document, including clip art, pictures, charts, symbols, and shapes.  Many of these elements can be retrieved from an extensive library of options available in Word's offline and online modes, but you can also import visual elements, like photos or charts, from a hard drive or external storage device. Visual elements can be inserted into a document through the Insert tab.

Insert Pictures

To learn more, view the Add Shapes article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Edit pictures and charts

Word not only allows you to include visual elements in a document, it enables you to edit the size, shape, and position of visual elements within a document. Visual elements like pictures and charts can be repositioned, resized, cropped and wrapped around text through the Picture Tools format tab. The Picture Tools format tab becomes available when a picture or chart has been selected after being inserted into a document.

Picture Tools

To learn more, view the Insert a picture article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Create bulleted, numbered/lettered, and multilevel lists

A list is a simple tool for organizing information according to hierarchy or chronology. Word allows you to create bulleted, numbered, lettered, and multilevel lists as a way to organize information in a clean, efficient format. Lists can be created by selecting the Bullets, Numbering, or Multilevel list options available in the Paragraph section of the Home tab.

Lists Button

To create a bulleted list, click the Bullets icon from the Paragraph section of the Home tab and then select the desired Bullet style from the List Library.

Bullet Library

To create a numbered or lettered list, click the Numbering icon from the Paragraph section of the Home tab and then select the desired Number or Letter style from the List Library.

Numbering Library

To create a multilevel list, click the Multilevel List icon from the Paragraph section of the Home tab and then select the desired Multilevel List style from the List Library.

Multilevel Lists

To learn more, view the Add Bullets or Numbers to a List article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Create Tables

Tables can be a valuable visual tool for organizing, categorizing, and comparing information. Word makes it easy for you to create tables with the Table option available in the Insert tab. To quickly create a table, place your cursor at the location in the document where you wish to insert a table. Then, click the Table icon in the Insert tab and drag the cursor across the displayed grid to select the number of rows and columns for a new table.

Insert Table

To create a customized table, click the Table icon and then select Draw table. Selecting this option will allow you to design the layout of a table from scratch.

Draw Table

To learn more, view the Insert a Table article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Build a Bibliography and including Citations

Research-based documents created in Word will undoubtedly require a bibliography and in-text citations. Word allows to you create a bibliography as well as in-text citations associated with any entry in the bibliography by selecting the Bibliography option from the Citations & Bibliography section of the References tab. Word will insert a page break and open a new blank page in the document that has been formatted according to the selected bibliography style. Sources can be added to this bibliography with the Source Manager, which can be accessed by clicking the Manage Sources icon.

Bibliography

Before creating a bibliography, select the appropriate formatting style from the Style drop down menu, which contains formatting for the most current editions of style guides from the American Psychological Association, the Modern Language Association, and more.

 Citation Styles

In-Text Citations

In-text citations can also be added to documents by placing the cursor at the intended location of the citation and then clicking the Insert Citation icon in the References tab. After clicking the Insert Citation icon, select Add New Source. This will open a Create Source form, where you can enter authorial and publication information about a source. The new source will be added as an in-text citation at the cursor location, and it will be included in any existing Bibliography pages in the document.

In-text Citations

To learn more, view the Create a Bibliography article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Table of Contents

Documents of an extended length may require the inclusion of a Table of Contents to help potential readers navigate. Word makes it easy for you to include a Table of Contents in a document through the Table of Contents creation tool that is available in the References tab. To insert a table of contents, click the Table of Contents icon in the References tab and select a table of contents style from the list of Built-In tables of contents, or create your own custom table of contents by selecting Custom Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

To learn more, view the Create a Table of Contents article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Track changes when editing

Documents that are intended for publishing or sharing with an audience will likely require editing before distribution. Word makes it easy for writers and collaborators to keep track of any edits or feedback supplied to a document through the Track Changes feature. You can activate Track Changes before an editing session by clicking the Track Changes button in the Tracking section of the Review tab.

By activating Track Changes, any changes made to the document will be noted in the right margin of the document. Comments can also be added by highlighting a section of text and then clicking the New Comment button in the Comments section of the Review tab, which will create an editable note in the document's right margin. Comments and notes in the margins can be hidden, minimized, displayed in full, or reverted to the original unmarked text by selecting a markup level from the Markup drop-down menu in the Review tab.

Track Changes

To learn more, view the Track Changes article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.

Create and edit templates

Templates are pre-formatted documents that can be reused after their initial creation. Templates are useful for creating forms and other types of documents that may need constant revision of content but minimal revision in formatting. Word allows you to select from an extensive list of online templates for a variety of document types, but it also allows you to create and edit your own templates. You can create a template by saving a completed document as a Word template during a save operation. This template will then be added to the list of available templates for you to choose from, in addition to Microsoft's pre-loaded and online templates. The template can also be edited after its initial creation and saved with the revisions in place.

Template Save

To learn more, view the Create a Template article from the Microsoft Office Support Center.