According to Microsoft’s most recent estimates, more than 1.2 billion people worldwide use Microsoft Word. This word processing gold standard serves as a common denominator in 140 countries and 107 languages, numbers unmatched by just about any other piece of software.
Even though so many people use Microsoft Word, not everyone knows how to maximize the capabilities of the program. Word is packed with a multitude of features that can help make the creation of documents, reports, and text files easier. And when your day-to-day work becomes easier, you become more productive and more efficient—which should be the ultimate goal of any computer application.
Below are 10 of our favorite shortcuts, tips, tricks, and timesavers to supercharge your use of Microsoft Word. Try a few out today and let us know what works for you. (Most of these suggestions work with all versions of Word, but some are exclusive to newer versions like Word 2013, 2016, or 2016 for Mac.)
This is an easy one you may not know about: instead of slowly pecking at the keyboard to delete text, or holding down Backspace to eliminate words or entire sentences, press Ctrl + Backspace with the cursor placed after a word you want to erase a word at a time, making a tedious task much easier.
Ask anyone who knows these shortcuts—Ctrl + C to copy, Ctrl + V to paste, and Ctrl + X to cut—and they will testify to their critical timesaving nature. Master these three basic commands first and you’ll find yourself zooming through document creation at surprising speeds.
Some people like to work in a Word window zoomed in to 150%, while others like to eliminate the need to scroll left and right or up and down by zooming 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.
Anytime you highlight a word or phrase and right-click it, you’ll see “Smart Lookup,” which serves as a quick shortcut to browse the web—without slowing down to open a separate browser window. From word definitions to news scans, this powerful tool can transform a simple question into a wealth of knowledge.
Most newer versions of Word include a handy “Tell me what you want to do” field at the top of the toolbar. Insert a word or phrase pertaining to any instruction and the program can quickly identify the command you’re looking for.
Trying to turn a document from an external source into something that works for you? Strange formatting can slow you down, so instead of trying to fix one thing at a time, press Ctrl + Space or click the Clear All Formatting button (in newer versions, an eraser on an A on the Home tab) to remove formatting from highlighted text and start fresh with your own style.
Rather than employing the tedious drag and highlight method, you can use your mouse to select chunks of copy: double-click over a word to highlight it or triple-click to highlight an entire sentence or section.
Similar to the copy/paste/cut commands, learning the keyboard shortcut for adding web links to a document—Ctrl + K—will save lots of time and quickly become one of the sharpest tools in your kit.
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. 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.
BONUS TIP: 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.
No matter what your level of proficiency with Microsoft Word, we could all use a boost to make our use of the program more productive and efficient. Curious about how the Office productivity suite can have an impact on your day-to-day operations? Wondering whether it’s time to upgrade your version of Word? Want to tell us about other tips and tricks that have impacted your use of the program? Contact CMIT Solutions today.