Want to work smarter and faster in Microsoft Word? Word is a powerful tool with tons of features, but it also has tricks and shortcuts that will help you be more efficient with the tasks you do every day. Here are nine easy-to-use, time-saving Microsoft Word hacks that you can start using right away!
Word Hack #1 – Start Typing Anywhere
When you’re staring at a blank Word document, you often start typing at the top. But if it’s a cover page, you may want to start further down the page. Rather than pressing Enter a bunch of times, just double-click on the line where you want to start. Word will automatically add in the extra spaces.
Word Hack #2 – Quickly Bold, Italicize and Underline
Among the most frequently used formatting tools in Word are bold, italic, and underline. While Word makes these buttons easy to find on your Home tab, you’ll still save an enormous amount of time by learning the keyboard shortcuts. Press the shortcut keys once to turn on the effect, and a second time to go back to normal text.
Bold: Ctrl + B
Italics: Ctrl + I
Underline: Ctrl + U
Word Hack #3 – Change Paragraph Alignment and Spacing
Along the same lines, you can use the buttons in your ribbon to change paragraph alignment and spacing, but if you know the shortcuts, you won’t have to interrupt your typing.
Paragraph Alignment Shortcuts
Left align: Ctrl + L
Center: Ctrl + E
Right align: Ctrl + R
Paragraph Spacing Shortcuts
Single Space: Ctrl + 1
Double Space: Ctrl + 2
1.5x Spacing: Ctrl + 5
You can also add a line break (rather than a full paragraph break) by pressing Shift + Enter.
Word Hack #4 – Remove Extra Spaces and Paragraphs
Back when “word processing” meant typewriters, people often put two spaces after periods and two returns after every paragraph to improve readability. While modern computers and word processors have made this practice obsolete, the old habit hasn’t died yet.
If you want to remove those pesky extra spaces, bring up the Find/Replace tool by pressing Ctrl + H. In the Find box, type a period (.) followed by two spaces, and next to Replace, type a period (.) followed by one space. Then click Replace All.
To eliminate double paragraphs, use the Find/Replace tool to find ^p^p (these are the symbols for a paragraph break), and replace it with ^p.
Word Hack #5 – Quickly Create a Bulleted List
Need a quick bulleted list, but don’t want to interrupt your train of thought? Save time and hassle by using a simple keyboard shortcut instead of the button in the ribbon.
Just type an asterisk (*) and then the space bar. Your first bullet will automatically appear so you can begin your list. You can continue adding bullets by pressing Enter. When you want to stop your list, just press the Enter key twice to return to standard formatting. If you prefer dashes as bullets, the same trick works with the dash (-) button.
Alternatively, you can press Ctrl + Shift + L, which will also start a bulleted list.
Word Hack #6 – Change Case Instantly
Have you ever seen a document in ALL CAPS that felt like it was shouting at you the whole time? Rather than retyping everything, just highlight the text you want to change and press Shift + F3. Each time you press Shift + F3, your text will toggle through UPPERCASE, lowercase and Title Case options.
Word Hack #7 – Clear Formatting
Controlling formatting when you copy and paste text from a website or other document can be one of the most frustrating tasks in Word.
When you paste, a handy Paste Options button will appear that will allow you to keep the formatting of the text that you’re copying, merge it with the destination document, or discard all formatting and just keep the text.
But what if you’ve already copied multiple things into your document, and you forgot to change the formatting? Simply highlight the text you want to change and press CTRL + Space bar. This restores the default font and style settings for that section to match the rest of your document.
Word Hack #8 – Modify Styles in Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word’s built-in styles make it easy to format your document with a single click. But did you know that you can make changes to the built-in styles or even create your own?
Change Built-In Styles
Select the style you want to change and then right-click on the style to get the context menu. Choose Modify from the menu.
You’ll get a screen like the one below where you can change just about any aspect of the style including the font, color, spacing, number formatting, and more. If you want your changes to carry over across documents, select radio button to apply to New documents based on this template.
Alternatively, if you have text in your document that already looks just the way you want it, you can update your styles to match. Just highlight the text, right-click on the style you want to modify and click Update <Style> to Match Selection.
Create Your Own Styles
If you’re constantly changing Word’s default styles, consider creating your own custom style.
To do this, simply select the text from which you’d like to base the new style, right-click the selected text and choose Styles –> Create a Style from the formatting menu. Give your new style a name and click OK. The new style will appear in the list of other quick styles in your Home tab.
Word Hack #9 – Expand Your Cut & Paste Options with the Spike
Everyone knows that the cut and paste feature is useful for moving text from one place to another. But one of Word’s lesser known functions is the Spike – a storage place for multiple text snippets that can be pasted just once or multiple times throughout your document. This is useful for moving separate blocks of text in rapid succession.
Here’s how it works. Instead of cutting and pasting the text you want to move, highlight the text and press Ctrl + F3. This cuts the selected text and saves it in the Spike. You can repeat this action multiple times until you have captured all the text you want to move. Each time you press Ctrl + F3, a new entry will be added to the Spike.
Now it’s time to ’empty’ the Spike onto the page. To do that, move your cursor where you want the saved text to appear. Then press Ctrl + Shift + F3. All of the individual text snippets you just saved will be pasted into the document. This method only works once.
If you want to use the contents of the Spike multiple times, instead of pressing Ctrl + Shift + F3 to paste, type the word spike and then press F3. The contents of the Spike will appear, and you can do this as many times as you want throughout the document. Newer versions of Word will even detect when you write the word spike and automatically insert your copied text if you press Enter.
If you’d like to see the contents of the Spike, go to the Insert tab and click the Quick Parts button. Then choose Building Blocks Organizer. Finally choose the Spike from the left side to display its contents on the right. You can also click the Insert button to insert the contents of the Spike into your document right from this screen.
So there you have it! Hopefully these useful tips will help you work more efficiently in Microsoft Word.
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