There are some things you probably didn’t know about Microsoft Word

November 27, 2018 |

greater than 12 minutes

Your experience with Word is probably centered around you firing up the program and typing something into it. Microsoft Word is a lot more than a platform for basic inputting of text, though.

Are there any secret features in Microsoft Office?

We know of numerous hidden features, shortcuts, functionalities or tweaks that will undoubtedly go a long way in making you more productive than ever.

In this guide, we will explore the best of the lot.  We are hardly going to show you how to unlock secret features in Microsoft Word since they have always been there waiting for you.  However, after you discover them and master their ways, you will know when to use or apply them. Here we go.

  1. Learn how to hide the ribbon on Microsoft Word; Avoid distractions.

If there is one thing most writers seem to agree on, it is that distraction is unhelpful. It is not hard to see why. Unfortunately, the ribbon on Microsoft Word disturbs the peace writers would rather keep.

If you want to use Word without the program displaying the visual clutter or distracting items on the Ribbon, you can use a shortcut to hide it. The combination of the CTRL and the F1 keys will do the trick. Your system is supposed to toggle the Ribbon from your view once you execute this operation.

If you prefer to go some steps further to tweak the display setup of the ribbon instead, you must go through the instructions below:

  • Click on the Ribbon display option. A short list of options should pop up.
  • Select the Auto-hide ribbon.

If you are running a relatively recent version of Microsoft Word (Word 2013, Word 2016, and later editions), you might be interested in a using a more specialized feature (Distraction-free reading). To be fair, this functionality made its entry long ago (with the release of Microsoft Word 2010), but it did not gain much traction then.

The Read Mode is another functionality that might come in handy in scenarios where you need to be focused on your job as much as possible. Although it was originally conceived for use on touch-enabled tables, the feature works neatly on regular laptops and Windows devices in general.

You can access the Read Mode by using the following combination of buttons: ALT, W, F keys. Press (and hold) the first two keys, then give the third key a tap. We know of other means by which you can activate the Read Mode (in case the shortcut method fails you).

  • Here is one of them: Click on View (an option usually on the Ribbon menu). Click on Read Mode.
  • Here is another: Check the Status bar. You should see the Read Mode button on the right. Click on it.

Now, once the Read Mode is up, you can double-tap with your finger to zoom in and make things appear big. This way, graphic items like tables, graphs, sheets, and images fill your screen’s display.

  1. How to use Word to organize things:

If you often work on long documents, then you would know that the creation of outlines for the main ideas and prepared drafts help greatly with productivity. The Outline view can let you take things several levels up in terms of speed.

With Outline View, you can fine-tune the organization of complex documents or complicated tasks because you get to reorder text blocks and nine levels of heading. The functionality can summon a special toolbar that is equipped with controls for promoting or demoting the highlighted text or part of the document.

All you have to do is master the controls required to hide or display the highlighted text. Go through the instructions below:

  • First, we have to show you how to access the Outline View: Click on View (one of the options present on the ribbon). Click on Views.

Now, we will move to basic operations that involve the Outline View:

  • The ability to travel to a specific point in a long document should be handy. You can do this by activating the Outline View, then jumping to the specific heading level.
  • Drafting capabilities are also very welcome. Here, you have to prepare and work with the main sections on Outline View and continue by switching to the other layouts (where you get to write the body).
  • If the need to reorganize a report ever arises, you can use this trick to move huge blocks of text. You must begin by dragging and dropping a heading to transfer the heading involved, the sub-levels under it, and its body text all at once. If you carry out the first step correctly, you can use the upward and downwards arrows to continue your work.
  • A quick way to format headings is now available. All you have to do is use Headlines 1, 2 and 3. You do not even have to change the size or use uppercase to get things done.
  1. How to use Microsoft Word during brainstorming sessions:

There are times when you just want to put down ideas or information. In those moments, you would prefer not having to deal with a position cursor and the typical positional limitations. Well, the Click and Type feature has your back. With this functionality active on Word, you can double-click anywhere and start typing.

Interestingly, this particular functionality made its debut in Microsoft Word 2002, but it is not as popular as it should be. Perhaps, things can change (starting with your usage of the feature). One important thing you have to note is that the feature works only in the Print Layout and Web Layout view. This restriction is far from a deal breaker, though.

You can take advantage of the Click and Type feature in other ways that have nothing to do with you clicking somewhere and typing. For example, you could insert images and graphics at your desired locations conveniently.

  1. Quick conversion of tables to graphs:

Graphic images are generally more pleasing to the eyes than figures or information in a table. Charts, for example, are visually better than their tabloids equivalents. Now, we are glad to tell you that some features allow for the quick conversion of tabular information into a chart.

We advise you to use the proposed method in scenarios where you are dealing with limited tabular information. After all, using Excel would be considered overkill in such cases, and the needed chart can be created faster.

First, you must select or highlight the table, then continue with the instructions below:

  • Click on the Insert tab (one of the items on the ribbon on the Microsoft program window).
  • Click on the Object tool (one of the items on the Text menu) and continue by opening the Object dialog box to see the available options.
  • Windows will display some Object Types, and from the list, you must select Microsoft Graph Chart. Click on the OK button to proceed.

Microsoft Word will now move to display the tabular data you selected earlier as a nice graph. You are also free to format your chart the same way you are allowed to do to any other element in your document.

  1. Use the clipboard more effectively:

You might be disappointed to know that the Windows clipboard is pretty limited (in case you do not know already). The built-in Word clipboard can hold up to 24 items at once for a start. Imagine what you can do with this significant increase in the holding capacity of the clipboard.

You can copy (or cut) and paste multiple elements (texts, images, and so on) anywhere within your document or even move them as you like without much complications. Check out the instructions below:

  • Click on the Home tab (though you may not have to since this tab is usually the default location on the typical Microsoft Word program window).
  • Click on the small drop-down arrow (the object close to the clipboard to bring up a panel on the left). Now, Windows should display or list the items on your clipboard.

You can also access this enhanced clipboard on Word through a simple shortcut. In fact, this method might be more appealing to writers who, after all, are used to performing numerous tasks with their fingers alone. You have to press the CTRL and letter C key twice to see the clipboard panel. You have to activate this shortcut through the clipboard pane first, though.

  1. Translate texts quickly in Word:

If you work with multiple languages, then you might consider the tip here quite intuitive. Microsoft has equipped its Office apps with Microsoft Translator, and this tool does well to handle all translations.

If your PC is running Word 2013 or 2016, you can access the Translate feature from the Review tab. Meanwhile, the program is supposed to display the Research tab on the right. There, you get to choose from any of the languages available.

This way, you can translate a single word or an entire sentence in no time without you having to leave the Microsoft Word environment. You can also translate the whole document if need be and even display it in your web browser.

  1. Learn to inspect your document:

We want to assume you often share your documents or upload them to public places where people get to see them. In that case, you might want to check your text for any personal information or identification data you prefer to keep private. Document Inspector is an incredibly useful tool in this regards.

The tool in view forms part of the central console in Microsoft Word, which is capable of going through documents or texts to detect and erase personal information and similar forms of data.

Even if you somehow manage to create a document in which nothing about your personal details appears, there is still some information attached to the generated file that could be used to identify you. Document Inspector takes care of such details too anyway.

We recommend you use the tool after you are done typing (just before you move on to share the document). Follow these instructions to access Document Inspector:

  • Click on File. Word will display some options from which you must select Info. Now, click on Prepare for sharing.
  • Click on the Check for issues object, then continue by selecting Inspect Document. The checkboxes displayed must be ticked to allow the tool to inspect hidden content.

Word will initialize the tool to check your document. After the operation is complete, you will see an exclamation mark on any category containing sensitive data.

  • To get rid of the sensitive information detected by the Document Inspector tool, you have to click on the Remove all button beside the corresponding category. Perform this operation on all the categories whose data you want to delete.

After Word finishes removing the unwanted data, the program will finalize the document, and you are now good to share it.

  1. Take advantage of the Hidden text feature:

Unsurprisingly, the capabilities of the Hidden text feature are things users can hardly stumble on—they are truly hidden. Hidden text is one useful attribute that can be applied to texts or words in a wide variety of scenarios. To be fair, its uses are quite extensive given any specific event where it could be employed.

Using Hidden text feature, for example, you can create a simple quiz for readers to try by hiding the answers from them. You could manipulate the layout for a specific printing task (or temporarily alter the printing layout setup) by including some hidden text.

Other applications of Hidden text include the ability to print two versions of a specific document. Here, you get to hide some portions or texts in one version of the document involved. Without the Hidden text feature making things easy, you might have to create two copies of the same document or even delete some parts of it.

Follow these instructions to use Hidden text feature:

  • First, you have to select or highlight the text you want to hide (or the hidden text if you have already worked on it). Now, continue by clicking on Home, then selecting Font Dialog box
  • Click on Font. Now, you must tick the checkbox for Hidden text (or deselect it if necessary).

If you want Word to print the Hidden text, you must go through the steps below:

  • Click on File, then click on Options. Select Display from the list that comes up. There, you must tick the checkbox for Hidden text and do the same thing to the checkbox for Print Hidden text.
  • Click on the OK button.
  1. How to quickly select text in Microsoft Word:

There are shortcuts or tricks you can use to highlight a word or select an entire paragraph quickly. Double-click on a word to highlight it. To select a paragraph, you have to triple-click on anywhere within the sentence or paragraph.

You can also highlight a specific sentence by pressing (and holding) the CTRL button, then clicking on any word or area within the sentence.

Furthermore, you can highlight specific parts or areas within a sentence or paragraph. First, you have to press (and hold down) the ALT key, then drag the cursor (through your mouse) to select any rectangular area. This way, you can highlight texts or passages with fewer restrictions to your movement, and this means you can apply formatting to the selected area.

  1. How to navigate or move around faster:

Assuming, you are working on a considerably lengthy document, a way of moving around quickly should do you some good. You can use the combination of the Shift and F5 key to cycle through the spots you edited recently (or to which you are likely to return).

Similarly, when you launch a specific file through Microsoft Word to view the document inside, you can take advantage of the same Shift and F5 shortcut to get to the location where you were working the last time the documented got closed.

  1. How to change the sentence case quickly:

Sometimes, you accidentally leave the CAPS LOCK key on while typing and you are left with the result of your work being displayed on the screen. Perhaps, you merely want to alter the case of a specific sentence you already typed.

In any case, all you have to do is select or highlight the sentence involved, then use the combination of the Shift and F3 key to alter the case of the text in view. The described shortcut toggles or alternates between the following options: UPPERCASE, lowercase, and camel case.

  1. How to convert to plain text quickly:

A reasonable number of users often copy snippets from web pages to immediately use them in Word, and we believe they are most likely not pleased to see all the formatting and styles being retained. To this end, it is imperative that you, like them, learn how to remove the styling from any block of text copied into Word.

All you have to do is select or highlight the block of text (from which you intend to eliminate the styling and other details carried over from the web), then use the combination of the CTRL and Space Bar buttons. If you do this correctly, Word will immediately move to transform the rich text into plain text.

  1. How to insert Unicode characters:

If you know the Unicode for a specific character you want to type, you can add it your document quickly through a shortcut. First, you have to type the code, then use the combination of the Alt and letter X key.

Word will move to replace the inputted code with the character you want.

  1. How to create filler text quickly:

There are times when you need to use some paragraphs or sentences as examples of something. In the given scenarios, you do not care about what the texts contain or what the sentences involved are describing.

Word is equipped with a Latin text generator you can take advantage of to insert filler text anywhere, whenever you need it. All you have to do is type the following code and hit the Enter button on your keyboard to run it: =rand(p,l)

Replace P with the number of the dummy paragraphs you want and L with the number of lines. For example, the code =rand(5,6) can be used to create to generate 5 dummy paragraphs with 6 lines each.

=lorem(p,l) is another code you can employ in more or less the same way to get the job done. If you prefer to fill your document with pseudo-latin texts instead of typical English sentences, you should find this alternative interesting.

  1. How to repeat your last action:

We want to believe the vast majority of writers are familiar with the combination of the CTRL and letter Z keys commonly used to undo the most recent action executed on the Microsoft Word program. We wish we could say the same thing for the combination of buttons users can employ to redo or repeat whatever they just did.

Press (and hold down) the CTRL button, then tap the letter Y key. Surely, by now, you have picked up a thing or two.


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