Ah, Microsoft Office (no, not that one). It’s easy to get nostalgic for the days of yore, when the computer lab would be equipped with Microsoft Word ‘95 and Kid Pix, but it’s the 21st century, the era of lifehacking. So, bolster your arsenal of tips n’ tricks and maximize your typing productivity with these helpful hints for Microsoft Word!
You can turn off Spell Check.
Spellcheck might have good intentions, but the red squiggly lines under every proper noun can get distracting. So, if you want to be dangerous, turn off spellcheck by going to the toolbar, clicking [Word > Preferences > Spelling and Grammar], and unchecking the “check spelling as you type” box. Just make sure to double-check before you submit anything!
You can check your document’s stats.
If you want to check if you’ve hit the word count (or depress yourself by seeing how long you’ve spent on your essay), go to the top toolbar and hit [File > Properties > Statistics] to bask in the cool glow of information.
You can quickly create a bulleted list.
It’s simple: Type an asterisk (*) and press space.
You can track the changes you’ve made to a document.
If you want to keep tabs on the revisions made to your document, go to [Tools > Track Changes]. From here, you can select [Highlight changes] so Word will highlight every change you make.
You can compare (and contrast) two documents.
On the flipside, you can go to [Tools > Track Changes] and select [Compare documents] to analyse the differences between two documents. This is really useful if you’re trying to figure out whether coolessay.doc or coolessay1.doc is the final draft.
You can swap one word out for another.
Suppose you decide that you want to change a character’s name in a story you’re writing, but you don’t feel like painstakingly changing the whole thing. In that case, just go to [Edit > Find] to open up the “find and replace” toolbar.
You can quickly access the thesaurus.
Use the keyboard shortcut [Fn + Shift + F7].
You should save your document.
Friendly reminder more than a hack: Make sure to save your documents whenever you can. Power outages tend to happen at inconvenient times.
You can simplify poorly formatted text.
If you feel the need to copy text from a source that made poor formatting decisions (e.g. neon green fonts), highlighting the text and using the shortcut [Ctrl + Space] will simplify it to good ol’ 12-pt. Times New Roman. Just make sure to cite your sources!
You can shift around the document.
If you’re working on some massive 20-page paper and you’re getting tired of scrolling around, the shortcut [Shift + F5] will let you shift between the most active parts of your document.
You can select cool little boxes of text.
If you want to highlight a group of words in the middle of a paragraph, hold down the Alt key while highlighting.
Well, I hope some of these tricks prove useful! Here’s a parting thought: If Word just seems like too much trouble, Google Docs and Open Office have got your back. After all, it sure seems like cloud computing is the future! But no matter what word processor you use, take a moment to make sure you’re using it effectively. Also, never use Curlz MT. That’s about the worst font I can think of.