You need more time to commission or write the next ELT blockbuster. Or just to share pictures of your lunch on Facebook. But where to carve out time from a hectic day?

Microsoft Word.

Documents start off in Word for most writers, editors and, sometimes, tech-forward start up founders. Here are some efficiency tips even we  didn’t know before researching this post.**

1. Word knows more words than you do

If you need an alternative to a word,  SHIFT + F7 activates a thesaurus for you.

2. When highlighting is too much effort

Triple click inside a paragraph to highlight the whole paragraph instead of having to select it.

3. … and so is opening new docs

CTRL + N starts a new document in one move.

4. … and so is getting to a new place to start typing

Double click anywhere on a page to start typing with no need to position your cursor by tabbing across or hitting return endless times.

5. … and you’ve had enough of Cut and Paste to move text (even with the shortcuts)

Highlight the text, press F2 and then press return wherever on the page you want the text to appear. Do after #4 for extra nanoseconds of your life back.

6. Make copying your homework from Google easier

That pesky formatting that gives you away can be removed in a couple of steps. Select what you’ve cut and pasted from the web,  press CTRL+ SPACEBAR and – Poof!  –  all the formatting has vanished.

7. No need to swear if you’ve hit CAPS LOCK without noticing…

Just highlight the infuriating text and press SHIFT + F3. It will change it to first letter capitals only, to lowercase and back to uppercase as many times as you like.

8. … or if you’ve put in a @%&!?! line by accident that you can’t ?@$%*! delete

scrn
Getting rid of lines/borders in Word

You’ve typed a row of  * or – and hit enter and Word has created a solid line across the page that nothing will get rid of. Even cutting and pasting the text above and below it into a fresh doc carries the line with it.

That’s because it’s not a line, it’s a border.

The Paragraph section in the Home tab has a little box, like in Excel, for putting borders around text. Click above the line you want to remove, choose the No Border option and the ~$&*?!£@ line disappears.

9. Revolutionise writing multiple choice exercises.

You’ve written a multiple choice question, or matching exercise, with five possible answers. Now you need to randomise the options and your life slows down to dial-up internet speed as you tediously Cut and Paste them around.

Or not.

Instead, move text up or down, by selecting it, pressing ALT+SHIFT and the UP or DOWN arrow key and it’ll dart around to wherever you want it to go.

10. Generate random text as a placeholder

Known as Lorem Ipsum, fake Latin dummy text is used by designers and publishers to fill space on a page.  One option is to Cut and Paste some from Google, but a quicker way makes you feel like a programmer.

Start a new paragraph and type =lorem() and Word will insert this much dummy text:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.

Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.

Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Proin pharetra nonummy pede. Mauris et orci.

The default is three paragraphs, containing three sentences each (sentence length varies). If you want to specify the amount of text it generates, type the number of paragraphs and sentences you need. For example, =lorem(2,4) will give you two paragraphs, each with four sentences of text.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna. Nunc viverra imperdiet enim.

Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Proin pharetra nonummy pede.

 

Compiling this list was like finding out our laptops are alive and can communicate with us. If only we’d known their language earlier.

Can you add any tips, hacks or tips for Word?

 

**Disclaimer. These all work on a PC with an up-to-date version of Word. We can’t vouch for Macs or older versions of Word. But let us know if any need modifying.

 
Featured Photo Credit: FutUndBeidl via Compfight cc. Text added by ELTjam.

12 Comments

  1. @Jessie: If you or anyone else knows a way to access the readability stats in Word without having to spellcheck the whole document first, I’d love to know it. (Otherwise, I’ll keep using external websites to get my stats…)

  2. Just tried to do #9 to move a multiple choice item but remembered the shortcut wrong. Turns out CTRL + ALT + ARROW turns your screen upside down. Why would anyone ever need to do that?! A heartstopping moment as the screen goes completely black before it reverses.

    1. There was a setting in Windows XP that undid that function. I can’t find it easily in Windows 7. But somewhere you should be able to uncheck a box. BTW Ctrl Alt side arrow should rotate your screen 90 degrees, too. I’ve always assumed graphic artists or designers use it, but it makes a great prank for the computer-unsavvy.

  3. So, are they ‘hacks’? Or is Word actually supposed to do all this?

    One more:

    To make a bulleted list, type asterisk then space bar and just keep typing.

    1. Lyn, these are usually called ‘shortcuts’. In this context, they might more ‘old-fashionedly’ have been called ‘hints’ or ‘tips’. There are loads of them listed as ‘shortcuts’ here by Microsoft: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/290938

      I think ‘hack’ is the new sexed-up version of hint/tip. No hacking involved. I can’t find this use of ‘hack’ in any dictionaries yet, but I’m sure we’ll see it soon!

      My favourite keyboard shortcut (not a Word ‘hack’) is using the space bar to scroll down. Magic 🙂

  4. Some nice tips here, especially No. 6. Was always having to right-click and paste to remove the formatting.

    For No. 7, removing *that* line, you can also do it with the undo function immediately after you’ve made it. If you type —, and then it turns into a line, just click undo or Ctrl+Z and it will revert to the dashes as you originally typed them. Very useful when you just want to keep the dashes or stars.

  5. #7 is my favourite. Now I don’t need to swear ever again! Thanks, Nicola 🙂
    PS To remove formatting I use Notepad – copy and paste into there, then copy and paste out again. But I may give your suggestion #6 a try too. Thanks for a very useful post!

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