Blog Post

6 Productivity Tips for MS Word

Among web workers and at large, Microsoft Word remains by far the most widely used word processor, and an application that many of us live in much of the day. In fact, there are countless people who are forced by IT departments and other mandates to use it. If you spend significant time in Word each day, here are six ways to start becoming more productive in it.

Doing Table Calculations Directly in Word. I’m always surprised by how most Word users go out to a spreadsheet such as Excel every time they want to create a table and embed it in a Word document. You can calculate directly within Word tables. In Word 2007, you just click Formula on the Table Tools Layout ribbon. In Word 2003, use the Table menu to make your table, and then select Formula from the Table menu to create formulas that work just as they do in Excel, such as =SUM(LEFT).

Compare Two Documents. Are you not sure whether a version of a document you’re looking at has changed? If so, open the old version of the document, and choose Compare and Merge Documents from the Tools menu, then choose the new document.

Deja Vu. If you need to leave a document but want to have your cursor sitting right where you left it in the middle of an editing session when you return, you don’t have to leave your document open. Go ahead and close it. When you reopen it to resume editing, hit Shift+F5 to take your cursor back to precisely where you were.

Save Multiple Documents Simultaneously. Do you have multiple Word documents open and need to take a break? To rapidly save all open documents, hold down the Shift key and go to Word’s File menu. The usual Save menu choice will show up as Save All.

Paste Your Formats. If you want to apply your formatting and styles for a given paragraph or document to a new paragraph or document, hit Ctrl+Shift+C to copy, select the text you want to apply the formatting to, then hit Ctrl+Shift+V. Colors, fonts, styles and all other formatting will be applied.

Building Your Styles Skills. Styles are really the key to becoming a Word power user (you’re already using styles, even if you don’t know that you are). I recommend spending some time with the links found here, and here.

13 Responses to “6 Productivity Tips for MS Word”

  1. Deja Vu is a great tip. I’ve never heard of it, and consider myself a Word power user.

    I do take issue with your suggestion to use table calculations. For me it’s just nonintuitive. I’d much rather embed an Excel table and have the added flexibility.

  2. Gerrit Duits

    I wouldn’t trust the Save All-function. I spend alot of time edditing documents I opened from Gmail or another internet site. Those Worddocs end up in the windows temp folder. When saved, they are still there and can be deleted when I close Word, the Browser and logoff the computer.

    So allways check where the file is, before saving it.

  3. Nice list, especially regarding styles. Direct formatting (not using styles) makes a mess of most documents. Nothing like having to go back through a 100-page document to change all the headings to “Bold Black 14 pt.” instead of “Bold Blue 12 pt” because your boss hates blue. Only to have HER boss change it back when you finish.

    Some more nice insider Word tips here: