Five Ways to ...

Make Microsoft Word more efficient

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Most people use Word for typing all their letters and reports. You may have learned to use it at school, or from a formal one-day training course. Perhaps you just picked it up as you went along.

However you first started using it, you may not be getting the most out of it now. Unless you're an expert and keep up with all the latest changes, your skills will have become a bit rusty and you may have forgotten some of the short cuts.

Here are five things that could speed up your typing and make it more efficient.

1Correct Spelling Mistakes. The AutoCorrect function will correct your typing as you write. It has the most common spelling mistakes already included, but you can also add your own.

  • Select Tools from the toolbar at the top and then AutoCorrect Options. This will open up a dialogue box.
  • In the Replace box, type the spelling mistake you make regularly.
  • In the With box, type the correct spelling
  • Click Add
  • Select OK

Now, every time you make that mistake, Word will automatically correct it for you.

2Change the Printer. You may not always want to send your documents to the same printer or print tray, especially if there are multiple ones in your office. For example, you might have headed paper in one tray and plain paper in another.

  • Select File from the toolbar at the top and then Print. This will open up a dialogue box with a section called Printer and a drop-down arrow to the right.
  • Click on the arrow to display a list of printers your PC can print to.
  • Click on the one you want.
  • Click OK and when you next select Print it will print to that specified printer.

If you want to select a specific tray in the printer then follow the steps above but don't click OK, select Properties instead. This will give you another dialogue box, the contents of which will depend on the printer attached to your PC. There will either be an option at the bottom called Paper tray or it will be available via one of the tabs at the top. Select the tray you want and when you click OK you will be taken to the previous dialogue box where you should select OK again so that it prints to your selected tray.

Saving the document will also save the print settings, so remember to check the settings next time you print to make sure your document goes to the right place.

3Use Autotexts. If you use certain words, phrases or passages of text frequently you can set up an Autotext to save you typing it every time.

Word already has a selection of pre-set Autotexts available;

  • Select Insert
  • Highlight Autotext and another dropdown box will appear with a list of categories.
  • If the Autotext you want is in one of these categories then simply highlight it and the entry will be automatically inserted into your document where the cursor is.

You may want to create your own autotexts at some point, particularly if you have lots of similar content in documents. Simply highlight the text you want to make an Autotext and then;

  • Select Insert
  • Highlight Autotext
  • Select New
  • Give the Autotext an entry in the box now displayed to you and select OK.

This new entry will now be presented to you in two ways;

Firstly, a prompt will appear any time you type the first four letters of the text, asking if you want to select it as an Autotext or to carry on typing. Secondly, follow the steps above for inserting an Autotext and highlight the category of Normal. All entries will be displayed here.

One point to note; Autotext applies only to the individual PC rather than to the network, so everyone that wants to use them will have to set them up separately. You may also want to produce a separate document which lists all your Autotexts and their names so you can look them up whenever you want to know which to select.

4Find a Better Word. If you're struggling to find the right word to express what you want, try the built-in thesaurus.

  • Highlight the word you want to investigate.
  • Select Tools and then Research.
  • This will open up a large box, probably on the right hand side of your screen.
  • At the top of the box there will be another box marked Search for. In this box you should see the word you've highlighted.
  • Click the green arrow box beside the word.
  • You will now be presented with all the dictionary definitions of that word plus, if you scroll down, alternative words.

If you see a word which is close to what you want but not quite there, click it and the display will change to show the dictionary and thesaurus for that new word. Keep clicking and searching until you're happy with what you've found and then you can close the box using the x at the top right hand corner of the research box.

5Highlight a Large Section of Text. Word has an irritating habit of highlighting text too quickly when you scroll down. This is great if you have pages and pages to get through, but irritating if you only want to highlight a few paragraphs.

  • Move the cursor to the left of the first line of text you want to highlight until it provides an arrow pointing upwards and to the right.
  • Then, click the left mouse button to highlight the first line of the block of text you want to select.
  • Now, holding the left mouse button down, click on the down arrow on your computer keyboard. New lines of text will be highlighted each time you click.
  • When you have finished, release the left mouse button and only the parts you want will be highlighted.

If you want to highlight the whole document, hold down the Ctrl key and click the left mouse button. Go to the end of the document by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing End at the same time. Similarly, you can go to the start of the document by holding down the Ctrl key and pressing Home.