Use Word 2010's Navigation Pane to quickly reorganize documents

Use Word 2010's new Navigation Pane to quickly move sections in a document; it's much quicker and easier than trying to select and move all that content manually.

If you make use of Word's styles, you can quickly reorganize your document, using Word 2010's new Navigation Pane. (This pane replaces the Document Map.) To launch this pane, click the View tab and then check Navigation Pane in the Show group. The following figure shows a one-page document's organization, thanks to the use of the built-in heading styles. (An empty pane means you haven't applied the built-in heading styles to the document.)

You can discern quite a bit from the pane. First, the document's focus is an editorial discussion (Heading 2). Second, the sections convey the main topics of discussion: concerns, structure, and voice (Heading 3). Finally, the discussion in the last section has a subsection about writing skills (Heading 5).

Here are a few things you can do or discern in the Navigation Pane:

  1. Click the small triangle to the left of the tabs to collapse and expand a level.
  2. The highlighted tab indicates where the cursor is.
  3. Move to any level by clicking that level's tab; Word will move the insertion point to the beginning of that heading.
  4. Enter a search term and Word will highlight each occurrence in the document and highlight the appropriate tabs, accordingly. With a quick glance, you can discern all the headings that contain the search term.
  5. Right-click a tab to get more options via a context menu; these options are self-explanatory.
  6. Click the thumbnail tab to view the document's pages as thumbnails. This is a quick way to get a visual overview of the document. When searching, this view displays only the pages that contain the search phrase.

For me, this feature's most useful capability is its drag-and-drop functionality. You can drag and drop a tab in the Navigation pane to reorganize content in the document. Simply drag the heading to the appropriate spot - a section's subheadings remain with the tab. This method is much easier than selecting and then dragging the actual content around the document window, especially when there are several paragraphs flowing through several subsections. (If you want to copy, instead of move, the content, hold down the [Ctrl] key while you drag the tab. In the case of this document, I can quickly drag the Serious concerns section to the end of the document with a simple click and drag.

How do you use 2010's new Navigation Pane?


Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

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