How to Master Microsoft Word in 10 Easy Steps

Since its debut 36 years ago, Microsoft Word has remained at the top of the word processing world. With well north of a billion users typing in more than 100 different languages, Microsoft Word’s market share is higher than just about any other piece of software. 

But that doesn’t mean the word processing program is always easy to use. Word comes with hundreds (if not thousands) of special features that can empower you to create everything from editable documents to special reports to basic text files. Knowing how to utilize those features can make a huge difference, too, marking the boundary between Word proficiency and Word excellence.

CMIT Solutions has collected 10 of our favorite tips, tricks, timesavers, and keyboard shortcuts to improve your use of Microsoft Word, no matter what kind of hardware you use or operating system you prefer. Most of these suggestions work with all versions of Word, but some are exclusive to newer versions like Word 2013, 2016, or the newly released 2019 edition. Work a few of these into your everyday flow and let us know things go.

Consider these the holy trinity of Microsoft Word hints: press Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste, and Ctrl + X to cut to make editing a breeze. These crucial time-saving keystrokes can help you fly through document creation and make you feel comfortable enough to tackle more complex tips and tricks.

Instead of slowly pecking at the keyboard to select text or clicking and dragging with your mouse, you can press Ctrl (in Windows) or Command (on a Mac) and click on any word to select a whole sentence. Alternatively, try double-clicking on a word with your mouse to select it for easy editing; triple-clicking will select a whole paragraph.

Want to focus on specific words and sentences? Zoom in on your Word window to 150%. Want to see the entirety of a document at a quick glance? Zoom out to 75% to see a document in its entirety. Either way, use the Window > Zoom button to choose the setting that works best for you — or look for the “100%” tab with a slider at the bottom right of the document to easily zoom in or out.

In addition to grammar and spelling tools, Microsoft Word comes with the baked-in ability to quantify a document’s reading level using the Flesch Reading Ease Test and Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level Test. These measure the length of your sentences and paragraphs, the difficulty of your words, and the overall ease with which readers can digest your text. This is particularly important in this SEO-driven day and age when search engine algorithms rank web content by its complexity. To test your text, click on Options > Proofing and make sure the “Show Readability Statistics” box is checked. (On a Mac, navigate to Preferences > Spelling and Grammar.)

Microsoft Word makes it easy to toggle between different document formats. When you Save a new file or click Save As, you’ll see a drop-down menu that offers the ability to save under a multitude of file formats. Whether it’s a PDF file that locks down editing abilities or an HTML doc created specifically for the web, Microsoft Word has you covered.

If you need to turn a document from an external source into something that works better for you, try pressing Ctrl + Space or click the Clear All Formatting button to alter an entire document instead of fixing one attribute at a time. That way you can start fresh with a document styled the way you want it.

Need to include links to web sources or other Internet references in your document? Simply highlight the words you want to serve as the blue, underlined text, then press Ctrl + K to add your web link. This is another important part of today’s SEO strategy and an easy way to turn your text into a living, breathing document.

Don’t like Calibri or Cambria? Prefer Arial to Times New Roman, or like the modern nature of Verdana? The best part about Microsoft Word is you can choose the default font—this command differs by version, but the most reliable way is to click Format > Font, select the attributes you want, and then click Default.

If you like your numerals to display a certain way—say “2nd” or “1/4”—click the drop-down menu that automatically appears when you type such strings of characters, then select the AutoFormat as You Type box. Alternatively, you can click File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect options menu and change the way certain characters show up.

Instead of using your mouse to navigate to the Find command, click Ctrl + F to either open the window in older versions of Word, or move the cursor automatically to the Search in Document menu that always appears in the toolbar in newer versions. If you need to replace certain words or characters, click the drop-down arrow on the Find menu’s magnifying glass and click Replace to automatically replace a certain word or phrase with a different word or phrase you specify.

Whatever your level of proficiency with Microsoft Word, a little extra knowledge can transform the way we use the word processing program. If you’re looking for extra productivity and efficiency boosters, or you’d like to learn more about how the Microsoft Office suite can impact your day-to-day work, contact CMIT Solutions today. We’re here to help you IT work for you, not against you.

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