Software

The first nine things I do to default settings in Word 2013

Some of the default settings in Word 2013 just don't work for him, so before he does anything else Mark Kaelin changes them.

Microsoft Word has been the primary tool of my trade for many years now (at one time it was WordPerfect) and for the most part I am happy with the application - well, at the very least, I am comfortable with it. However, every new version of Word requires some tweaking to make it work the way I want it to work and Word 2013 is no exception.

Now, the changes I make may not make sense for you and I am not suggesting that everyone do exactly what I do, but I am suggesting that you take a few minutes to adjust the default settings in Word 2013 to make it work the way you want it to work - at least as best you can. And, I mean before you starting using it, not after. A few minutes now can save you some frustration later.

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Change the Normal Template

This suggestion is probably the most obvious and the most often overlooked. I don't like the default font and spacing in Word - I haven't liked it since 2007. Personally I like the Arial font and I like my paragraphs spaced evenly, so I change the default Normal Template (Figure A) right away.

Figure A

The default Normal Template
Right-click the Normal Style in the Ribbon to get to the Modify Style options screen shown in Figure B. I change the font to Arial 10.

Figure B

Change the font
I then click the Format button to access the Paragraph options screen (Figure C). I change the line spacing to Single and the before and after spacing to six points each. This purely a personal preference - your choices are likely to vary, but I like the clean, some might say boring, look of the text.

Figure C

Change the spacing

Click OK a few times to put the modifications into action. Remember to click the New documents based on this template radio button to make this your permanent Normal Template.

Word Options

This next set of modifications is very subjective - I make them because it makes my life as an editor easier. Reviewing the options may give you some ideas that will increase your productivity.

Formatting marks

As an editor, I need to see every character on the page, even if the character is a blank space, so I always turn on all formatting marks. Click File in the menu bar and navigate down to the Options link to reach the Word Options configuration screen (Figure D). Click on the Display tab to reach the formatting marks settings. Click the Show all formatting marks check box.

Figure D

Formatting marks

Turn off Smart Quotes

Smart Quotes look great when you are in Word, but they don't play well with WordPress and the other tools I have to use to publish content on TechRepublic, so I always turn them off. This is a two-step process, which makes it slightly tricky.

Under the Proofing tab you will see a button with the label: AutoCorrect Options. When you click that button you are taken to the AutoCorrect configuration screen. Click the AutoFormat tab (Figure E) and deselect the Replace Straight quotes with smart quotes check box. For good measure, I also uncheck the boxes for Ordinals, Fractions, and Hyphens.

Figure E

No Smart Quotes for me
Here is the slightly tricky part, you also have to look under the AutoFormat As You Type tab and uncheck the appropriate check boxes under the Replace as you type category (Figure F). Click OK to apply the changes.

Figure F

Also under Replace as you type

Advanced changes

One of the features Word employs to purportedly make our lives easier is called "smart" selecting. I hate it. I much prefer to select what I want to select without Word presuming I want a whole word or sentence or paragraph. Perhaps you like this feature, but it is not for me.

Under the Advanced tab of Word Options (Figure G), you will see several check boxes regarding selecting. I turn off selecting the entire word, and smart paragraph selection. I also typically click the check box that turns on Use Normal style for bulleted or numbered lists.

Figure G

I prefer manual selection
This next change is really just for editing purposes, so it may not apply to you, but it is still good to know where the feature is located in case you ever need it. Further down the page under the Advanced tab there is an item that says: Style area pane width in Draft and Outline views (Figure H). I change that from zero to one inch. That change will reveal the style name used for each section of your document. Click OK to apply all of your changes.

Figure H

Reveal your style

Quick Access Toolbar

As part of the ribbon interface, in the upper left corner, Word has a feature called the Quick Access Toolbar. However, the default configuration for that feature is, to put it politely, sparse: Save, Undo, and Redo.

While there are many tools and features to choose from when adding to the Quick Access Toolbar (Figure I), I start with four obvious ones. No doubt, I will add more, as I am sure you will too.
  • Quick print
  • Print Preview
  • Spelling and Grammar
  • Draft mode

Figure I

Expand selections on the Quick Access Toolbar

Adding Quick Print, Print Preview and Spelling and Grammar is very simple: click the down arrow on the Quick Access Toolbar to reveal a list of potential tools and click the appropriate entries on the list.

Adding Draft mode is a little more complicated. There are several ways to accomplish the task, but the easiest way is to click the View tab (Figure J) and then right-click the Draft icon and select the Add to Quick Access Toolbar item.

Figure J

Add Draft mode

Set Zoom

The last thing I do depends on the display screen I am working on at the time. For large monitors, I change the Zoom factor to a higher percentage. The Zoom slider is located in the bottom right corner of you Word window. The default is 100%, but for 24 inch screens I typically bump this percentage to 180%. Click the 100% in that bottom right corner to get the Zoom configuration screen (Figure K) and change the percentage to 180. Or if you are good with the slider you can simply move it to your desired percentage.

Figure K

Zoom to 180%

Bottom line

None of the changes I have outlined are absolutely necessary, but for me, making these adjustments saves time, frustration, and headaches. The changes you make may not be the same as mine, but I am willing to bet, whatever changes to defaults you do make, are also made with the desire to save you time, frustration, and headaches.

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

37 comments
true_hb
true_hb

If you go into the 'Design' tab you can change all the font and paragraphing for all future documents by choosing you preferences and then selecting the 'set default' button, regardless of templates used. however, following above method you have to do this for each and every style on each and every template.  Your document was good to point me in that direction, however did cost me time in doing so.  Thank you!!

lucia1990
lucia1990

Does anyone know why the text font size seems smaller than with the older versions? I'm writing and article and i respect the required parameters, times new roman 12, and it is mentioned that par page it should be between 28 and 30 lines. Using Word 2013, i get 33-34 lines. Why is this and how can i change this problem. Also when i print it doesnt always look on paper like the original size in the document. It always seems smaller and the problem is not in the printer. Recently started to use a new one and i still have the same problem.

revclaus
revclaus

I've had Word 2013 for a year and have changed some things, but find your suggestions really helpful. Thanks!

dhlkc2010
dhlkc2010

I am having an impossible time getting Word 2013 to save my changes to the default settings.  I have changed fonts and spacings numerous times, saved them using the "new documents based on this template" toggle button, but without fail, the next document I open has reverted to the detested font, extra space between paragraphs, and 1.08 spacing.  Any ideas on what I might be missing?

nuwan-d2d92
nuwan-d2d92

Hi, Do you know what the keyboard shortcut is for zooming in and out in Office 2013? Like on websites you can use CTRL+ or CTRL- and I think this also used to work in the previous version of Office.

Thack
Thack

swteach says we should no longer have to use two spaces after a period. I strongly prefer a larger space between sentences than between words. However, I can't find any way of achieving that in Word, short of using two spaces after the period. What I'd really like is some way of controlling the inter-sentence spacing specifically, rather than relying on using multiple space characters. Note: in the grammar checker you can set it to raise an error flag if your sentences *don't* have the number of spaces you prefer (either one or two), but this isn't what I'm talking about. I'd like to type a period and a space, but have the resultant gap a bit larger than a normal space character. Does swteach - or anyone else - know how to control the spacing between sentences? (Note: this post is typed with two spaces after each sentence. I honestly believe it makes it easier to read than single-spaced sentences like those in swteach's post.)

swteach
swteach

I have to disagree with the notion that straight quotation marks are better than the curly or "smart" quotes. Furthermore, I am disheartened to see that this page uses the straight marks. The fact is that, strictly speaking, in correct usage, there is no such thing as a straight quotation mark. That double-tick symbol exists solely as an abbreviation, shorthand to represent inches or seconds. As a quotation mark, it came into use as a compromise, at best. Typewriters, machines of efficiency, allowed for only one key, one character to represent both the opening and the closing quotation marks. On the same token, there was no zero key, nor one for the number '1' on a typewriter. Today, we would never use an upper-case 'O' nor a lower-case 'l' to represent those characters. Neither should we stick to severely outmoded and entirely unnecessary replacements. We can't even use the excuse that the typesetter was lazy. In the day of electronic typesetting and proportional fonts, those dinosaurs are truly obsolete, as arecarbon paper and two spaces after a period. We are not using Royal or Smith-Corona dactylographs, and you don't have to press hard to make three copies!

mtgchic
mtgchic

Does anyone know if the lasso function and/or regrouping in Word is back in 2013? It went away in 2010. I think Microsoft hates geometry teachers trying to make and move diagrams.

Ajax4Hire
Ajax4Hire

Now if only I could change the default settings in Outlook. The "Normal.DOT" file for Outlook2010 is un-reachable. This means you must live with some of the Microsoft selected defaults, like Tab Stops at 0.5inches (or 12.7mm). Microsoft admits there is no way to change it to your requirement. It is the Apple attitude of "My way is best and you are going to use it my way or no way at all" that is infecting Microsoft. Be Different; Without change, There can be no progress.

Thack
Thack

If you have any styles with "Space before" greater than 0pt, they look wrong when they are the first item on a page, as the "Space before" setting pushes them downwards and you get a strange-looking gap above them. This is especially noticeable if you use a hard page break in order to move the next Heading 1 to the top of the next page. I go into Advanced settings, and under Layout options check "Supress extra line spacing at top of page" and "Suppress Space Before after a hard page or column break".

j.vanalsenoy
j.vanalsenoy

Hi - this is a more general 'options' question: I like to use outline mode to take & organise notes, and I also have a habit to paste (screenprint) images in some docs. Unfortunately, the .docx format with the default Word options does not display the images - when you 'downsave' to 2003 format the images do display. I remember having been able to set some option which made image viewing in 2007 possible in outline view, but 'lost' the information with system changes & upgrades. Would anyone know what option would do the trick? Thank you for any help!!

jonc2011
jonc2011

If you're currently using Word 2010 or other versions, export all customizations - right click on the ribbon, Customize the quick access toolbar, Import/Export, Export. After installing 2013, import all customizations. Then your current ribbon/QAT settings should be automatically installed. You should also be able to replace 2013's Normal.dot with your Normal template from 2003/7/10 and it will bring all your macros across (at least it worked between 3 and 10! [Unfortunately I don't yet have 2013 so Mark please advise if these are off the "mark".] Also worthwhile are changing file locations so that templates are backed up automatically, and document location is in the data partition.

Ron_007
Ron_007

As well I like to add the "Style" command to the QAT so I can always see the style applied to the current paragraph. It is helpfull when the style area is not visible. I also add the "Open Recent File ..." command. In the General option, I change the "Office Theme" away from White! In the Save option I like to change the "Autorecover File Location" to "My Documents" folder. That way I can see when they start to pile up and can delete them. I also change the "Default local File Location" because I've redirected all of my data files to a separate data partition. I also like to reduce the "Save AutoRecover information" if I haven't added a separate tool to do automatic times "Save As's" In the Language Option I like to confirm which languages have been installed. When you select some locations during install they automatically add support for more than one language. I don't use the other langauges, so I like to remove them to prevent accidentally changing the language used in the document. (Same for windows, it is really freaky when you accidentally switch the keyboard to another language and don't know how or why, or even WHAT has happened!) In the Advanced Option in the Save Section, I turn on the "always prompt before saving Normal Template" to keep track of changes being made. If I don't remember making a change that needed saving I say no. Advanced option, Show Document Content section I like to turn on "Field Shading: Always". Advanced option, Display section: I tweak the "Show this number of Recent Documents" to at the very least use all of the available screen space. If I have any commonly used files I may also turn on "Quickly access this number of recent documents" to show at least a few of the most recently used files directly in the file menu. I turn on the "Show Horizontal Scroll Bar" Advanced Option, General Section I like to turn on "Provide Feedback with sound". I know, it is a very personal choice

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

I basically agree with all of your choices. I too hate "smart" selection with a vengeance. :( What is the benefit of Draft mode?

dogknees
dogknees

... is that "default" is not the same as recommended. This is the first thing everyone should do with any new software. The market is so broad these days, that to expect MS or any vendor to deliver their applications configured to suit you is quite ridiculous. The other point is that "we", power users for want of a better term, have different preferences to the vast majority of users and can't reasonably expect vendors to configure things the way we might want them.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What default Word settings do you find yourself making whenever you come across a freshly installed version or installation?

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1. It's no longer the standard due to better fonts etc now. Was once required due to type fonts being much the same for lower and upper case characters, and then just hung on for ages - social inertia. 2. Web based systems dump the extra space so you waste the time. 3. In a printed book that's properly justified it look extremely stupid and wasteful of space and paper as it often means extra lines and pages in the book. I spend most of my day either writing stories or editing stories of other people, and I find it damned easy to read single space documents UNLESS the person has used some idiotic font that's NOT suited for easing reading. Sadly, most people use fonts not suited to easy reading unless pushed up into overlarge font sizes. When you get a chance, compare how ten point Times New Roman looks compared to ten point Palatino Linotype. The Palatino was designed for easy print reading while TNR isn't unless you bump up the size too much.

gechurch
gechurch

You'll get typographers upset if you keep that talk up! Part of the HTML (web programming language) specification is to remove all multiple spaces, so unfortunately the time taken to double-space your post was wasted. Does it make you wonder if double-spacing really is easier to read? Because, unless you've never read back comments you've made on the web, you've never actually noticed that your double-spaces were removed. All professional publications use single-spacing too. Do you also find newspapers, magazines and books difficult to read?

mole246
mole246

@swteach Very good point. Those of us who used typewriters in the beginning of our careers sometimes find it odd and somehow sacrilegious not to have two spaces after a period.  My students, however, use one space and I have become accustomed to it.  I also like the idea of less pages to grade, lol.   

Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

Why would you call using two spaces after a period -- I assume you mean only a period ending a sentence -- a dinosaur? Proportional font or no, I find that using them still makes for more easily readable copy, especially when in many fonts periods themselves are so small as to be barely detectable.

gechurch
gechurch

You are certainly correct that "smart" quotes are the correct symbols. Unfortunately to solve this problem is a lot harder than beating up a typesetter for his laziness. It would require coming up with a standard way of encoding the opening and closing quote symbols. Now convince all keyboard makers that they need to add these two new symbols to their keyboards somewhere. Next, contact the creators of the tens of thousands of fonts that exist and have them add the two new symbols to their font and distribute the update version to everyone that uses said font. Now have everyone that's ever developed a computer program or web site re-code their program/site to be aware of your new symbols and handle them correctly. Anyone that's ever written a keyboard filter driver will have some work to do too. Some of these you can't do retrospectively. To do it properly you'll first need to invent a time machine and travel back and change history so that your new symbols are defined before computers come into use.

Ron_007
Ron_007

"Lasso" isn't gone in 2010, it's just been "improved" to a new location. By default in 2010, the "Drawing Canvas" is no longer used with shapes. When you want to insert shapes that will be grouped, first insert a "Drawing Canvas". Now you can "lasso" many objects and group them together ... Using a Drawing Canvas http://wordribbon.tips.net/T006077_Using_a_Drawing_Canvas.html

david.hanshumaker
david.hanshumaker

I don't know about the lasso function - never used it, but group, ungroup, and regroup are present in 2010. However, ungroup and regroup do strange things to the objects which I haven't figured out how to fix. I just close without saving and re-open the doc.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Draft mode is a personal preference. I find the print layout mode helpful for seeing how the document will look if printed, but I think it is distracting when editing. When editing I just want to see the words. When I first started using word processors, what we call draft mode was the only mode - I think it is just what I am comfortable with.

dlovep
dlovep

That was what suppose the different VERSIONS (Home, Pro) are used for, but MS poorly or barely wants to look into it except for pricing. Now the MSO become something right in the middle, nothing like Home too far from Pro, so whether we should upgrade or just stay with what we got, at least we still have a Pro versions that looks like Pro.

Thack
Thack

I had to laugh when I read your reply, that my carefully crafted post had been single-spaced for me! Beautifully ironic. :-) To answer your question: I write quite a lot of technical material, and all I can say for sure is that I find the two-spaces sentence easier to read. Especially so when proof-reading. Of course, I can also read one-space sentences quite happily because - as you say - most published work uses that format. In my case it has nothing to do with a hangover from typewriters and mono-spaced fonts. Simply a personal preference carefully arrived at after comparing a lot of one-space and two-space text. There is one (rather contrived) example where the commonly accepted one-space sentence causes chaos - it's where periods are legitimately followed by a single period in the text (specifically for initials, and such like).

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

much better to have it in the print layout mode as I have the layout all set to be like that of the book it will end up in, thus the print layout lets me know about stretched or compressed lines plus widows and orphans as I go - thus they can be immediately corrected. This is very good in both the original story writing and in th edit as it means that I can adjust the edit if need be to suit.

gechurch
gechurch

That would be a support nightmare if different versions of Office had different default settings.

dogknees
dogknees

There are a lot more than 2 or 3 different usage patterns and styles. Within the group "IT Professionals" there's a huge range of preferences, just read what's posted on this site. The point is that everybody should set things up to suit their needs and not expect someone else to make their decisions/choices for them.

LairBob
LairBob

@ThackI think I can offer a likely guess -- it's because all those other measurements are stored as separate, individual parameters. The spacing between sentences is driven by the width of an em-space, as it's defined for that specific font face and size. Making space characters wider if and only if they appear at the end of a sentence is much more complex.

In some ways, it's _almost_ like a ligature, which Word can obviously handle. If you make the actual width user-definable, though, then it's still even more complicated than a ligature. If you kept it limited to just swapping in a double-width version of a space, though, it would be similar, at least. God only knows Word is already crammed full of little settings like that.

Thack
Thack

Thank you for going to all that trouble, gechurch. What I don't understand is why word processors and DTP programs don't have a reasonably fine-grained user-settable sentence spacing. After all, you can set paragraph spacing to whatever you like (in 1/72 inch jumps), ditto line spacing, and even character spacing (in 0.1pt steps). All of these are "legitimate" adjustments in the publishing world. So why not sentence spacing? It makes no sense to me.

gechurch
gechurch

My question was a genuine one, but re-reading my comment it sounds very antagonistic. Sorry about that... and nicely responded. I did actually try to answer your question. I don't know of any way to automatic auto-space in Word but I had the thought that there may exist a font with a space-width amount of whitespace included in the period character. If such a font existed every time you hit period you'd visually get a space, then when you hit the spacebar it would look like a double-space. I searched for but did not find such a font. It's not surprising really, because of the initials reason you mention. I also had the thought that AutoComplete in Word could be the answer. Set up a new entry to auto-replace a single space with two of them as you type. You've probably tried that already I'm guessing. I gave it a go and Word won't let you do that for spaces, at least in Word 2010. Looks like you'll have to stick to tapping spacebar twice. You've probably got lots of muscle-memory that makes you do that anyway.

gechurch
gechurch

I've had more than my fair share of support calls where remote access wasn't available and the end user was a numpty. At my old company we used to give an insane amount of phone assistance for issues, and usually for people with limited IT experience... quite a few times I would spend more than an hour on the phone to get something very basic done. I agree it's not easy, which is why having different defaults in the same programs depending on how much you paid is a bad idea. With consistent defaults you can respond "honestly... that menu item really is on the screen in front of you. It's the third item down in the menu" instead of saying "oh, it's not there? Perhaps you are running the Student version of Office. Let's check. Open the Start Menu, click All Programs, go to Microsoft Office and check if Access is there. If it is not then you're right, that item may not be there. It's actually hidden away because Microsoft didn't think you would need that. To get it back let's right-click the toolbar, choose Customize, now go to the second tab..." If you have a numpty end-user you've just added 15 minutes to your support call. And chances are that it really was there in front of them (something like 2% of people ever change default settings, and the ones that do aren't likely to be the ones calling tech support), but because of the different defaults you had to waste that time checking instead of telling them to look harder.

dogknees
dogknees

Defaults are just that, defaults. You change them to suit your self. Just like settings in any app or OS. Just means you have to be good to do support well. It's not an entry level position, it's a skill that takes years to develop and perfect. We've got it easy these days with remote control software, Try helping someone that has never even touched a mouse when you can't see what they are seeing.

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