In a short document, you can quickly review content above or below your current position with little effort. A quick Page Up or Page Down followed by pressing Shift+F5 to return to where you were gets the job done. In a longer document, this is much harder, especially if you want to review one area while editing another—that requires a lot of scrolling back and forth. In this article, I’ll show you how to use Word’s Split feature, which allows you to view and edit the same document in two different windows.
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I’m using Microsoft 365 on a Windows 10 64-bit system, but you can use an earlier version. I recommend that you hold off on upgrading to Windows 11 until all the kinks are worked out. For your convenience, you can download the demonstration .docx and .doc files. However, the demonstration document is comprised of text rendered by Word’s RAND() function, which you can easily create yourself.
How to split a Word document
Let’s suppose you’re working in a lengthy document, and you want to move a sentence from one area of the document to another—and those spots are dozens of pages apart. You could do a lot of scrolling back and forth, or you could split the document as follows:
- Click Word’s View tab.
- In the Window group, click Split.
That’s it! As you can see in Figure A, Word displays two sets of the same document.
In addition, the Split option now displays Remove Split; it’s a toggle option. Use one pane to work in and the second pane to move around in. For example, in the lower pane, press Page Down once (pretend that you press it several times though to get the full effect). Copy the following sentence “Video provides a powerful way to help you prove your point.” Now, click inside the upper pane and paste it—it doesn’t really matter where—as shown in Figure B.
See how easy that was?
The split bar, identified in Figure A, let’s you increase the size of one window while decreasing the size of the other. This is convenient when you need to review a little more text in one view than the other. To quickly remove the split bar, double-click it. Doing so returns the screen to one Word window. This is one of the few actions you can’t undo by pressing Ctrl + Z. You can also click Remove Split in the Window group or drag the split line off screen to remove it. Now that you know the basics, let’s look at a few advanced behaviors.
How to use Split’s advanced behaviors in Word
Splitting a Word document might be all you ever need to do, but the feature supports a few more advanced features. Whether you ever need them will depend on how you use Word. Now, let’s look at the advanced behaviors.
You can use different views in the panes. Figure C shows the same Word document in Web Layout in the top pane. Display the Navigation pane for even more help.
As you can see in Figure D, I added a dummy heading and styled it using Heading 2, as well as changing the top pane’s view to Outline.
The navigation pane displays hyperlinks to the headers. You can use the Navigation pane to move around in either pane, which is helpful when you need to move several pages. However, you can’t use these links to move from one pane to another.
Along the same lines, you can also work with two different zoom settings. In addition, you can display multiple pages in one pane and a single pane in another.
Changes made in one pane are made in the other—remember, you’re working with two views of the same Word file. However, Word won’t save the split setup, so the next time you open the document, you’ll have to resplit it.
So far, we’ve worked with a horizontal split. You might be wondering if you can work with a vertical split in a Word document.
How to split a Word document vertically
Word doesn’t offer a vertical split option, which is unfortunate. However, you can simulate one by using Word’s New Window option in the Window group. To do so, you’ll open two instances of the same document as follows:
- Open the document as you normally would.
- Click the View tab and click New Window in the Window group. Doing so will display the same document in two instances of Word. If you hover over the Word icon in the task bar, you will see two files. This is different from the split view because now you’re working in two different files. But the consequences are about the same.
- Go back to the View menu and click the Side by Side option shown in Figure E. When prompted, select the instances you want to view side by side and click OK.
The Side to Side option reduces the size of the pages, but slides pages over, similar to a book. This is helpful when you want to compare document features from one page to the next. A figure isn’t helpful in this case, so I encourage you to try it for yourself. It’s pretty cool.
Right now, movement in one Word window is matched in the other because they are syncing. To turn this off, click Synchronous Scrolling in the Window group and you can move about in both windows without moving the other.
Word’s Split feature is helpful in many situations, so give it a try. The next time you find yourself moving around a lot and sighing because you’re frustrated, remember Word’s Split feature.