Most users pick up efficiency tips, such as using styles, keyboard shortcuts, and Format Painter, as beginners. What you'll find, though, is that even experts sometimes do things the hard way. In this article, I'll share 10 tips for working faster in Word. They're not new by any means, but a few of them might be new to you.
Note: This article is also available in the free PDF 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office.
1: Reduce keystrokes with AutoText
AutoText entries eliminate the need to manually enter frequently used text and graphics. You reduce your keystrokes and the potential for typos, and you can share these entries with others in your organization. Simply type the text (or insert the graphic) and then format it, if required. Then, select the content and press Alt+F3. Enter a meaningful but short name, as shown in Figure A. By default Word stores the entry in your Normal template.
Name the AutoText entry.
To use the AutoText entry, type the entry's name—ssh—and press F3. Word will replace ssh with the formatted text or graphic—Susan Sales Harkins. To learn more about this time-saving feature, read Seven tips to tap into Word's AutoText power.
SEE: Microsoft Office 365: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
2: Prevent mistakes with AutoCorrect
AutoText is great for frequently used and reusable content, but it won't make you a better typist. We all have words we misspell, and sometimes our fingers just work faster than our brains. AutoCorrect automatically corrects several universally misspelled words, such as switching the for teh. Word fixes it for you as you type, and you don't have to do a thing.
Even better, you can add custom AutoCorrect entries. Click the File tab and choose Options in the left pane. Then, select Proofing in the left pane. In the AutoCorrect Options section, click AutoCorrect Options. Enter the content you want replaced in the Replace control and the replacement content in the With control. Figure B shows an entry that replaces maintnance with maintenance. The next time you type maintnance, AutoCorrect will correct the misspelling automatically.
Let AutoCorrect fix your typos automatically.
3: Change your Paste default
Nothing annoys me more than pasting content from another source and then having to reformat it because the content doesn't match my document's formatting. You've probably run into it too. If you remember to use the Keep Text Only option from the Paste dropdown, you can avoid the extra reformatting step—if you remember. If this occurs often enough, you need to take control of the situation and change Word's default settings by clicking the File tab, choosing Options, and then choosing Advanced in the left pane. In the Cut, Copy, And Paste section, choose Keep Text Only from the Pasting From Other Programs dropdown, as shown in Figure C.
Change Word's paste default.
After setting this option, Word will match your source document's formatting when pasting content from another source, including the web. This is an application-level setting so it will affect all documents, not just the current one.
SEE: Microsoft Office Certification Training Bundle (TechRepublic Academy)
4: Undo styles
If you can't change your paste default, there are other ways to remove source formatting when pasting content when you forgot to use Keep Text Only from the Paste dropdown. With the pasted content selected, you can do either of the following to remove its styles, leaving plain text:
- Press Ctrl+Spacebar
- Click Normal in the Styles gallery
5: Take advantage of real-time collaboration
Office 365 (2013) started the real-time journey with Office Online. Office 365 (2016) takes it up a notch by offering more flexibility. Now the feature offers instant interaction within Word.
Simply save a Word 2016 document to OneDrive, OneDrive for Business, or SharePoint Online. Click Share (upper-right corner) and enter or choose individuals you want to collaborate with, as shown in Figure D. Click Share when you're ready to send an invitation email with a link to the document. With that link, invitees can open the shared document and make immediate changes. When you open the shared document, Word will tell you who else is currently working in the document. Invitees will see others as well.
Send email links to share documents.
Using real-time collaboration, you save time spent waiting on email exchanges—you can all work online at the same time. The whole process from beginning to end is efficient and easy to implement.
If you'd like step-by-step instructions for collaborating in Word 2016, read Word real-time co-authoring—a closer look.
6: Get info with Tell Me
This new tool lets you ask a question in plain language and returns its best-guess responses about appropriate tools and features. Sometimes the response is textual information, sometimes it's a link to a feature. It's easy, but more important, it's quick.
SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)
7: Gain consistency and design help with templates
There are tons of free templates available by download. If you can't find what you need, you can tweak something that's close, which is quicker than starting from scratch. Every time you start a new project, take a minute to review templates at Office templates & themes.
8: Use the Word mobile app
With some Office 365 business subscriptions, you get mobile apps. Using Word mobile app, you can view, edit, and create documents on the go using your phone or tablet. With quick access to files in the cloud, you can share via email or link. Better still, your finished documents offer consistency, whether you're using Word desktop, the browser version, or your phone or tablet. You get consistent results using familiar tools.
To get started, use your mobile app's browser to sign in to your Microsoft.com account. Once you're in, choose the app and start working. Word mobile has limitations; in this context, efficiency is the freedom to access and manipulate documents wherever you are instead of waiting until you can get to the office. If your organization is supporting devices, you might need help from your administrator because they can control which devices to support.
9: Make a custom table format your default
If you frequently apply a custom table format, you're working harder than necessary. You can make your custom table format Word's default table format. If the custom table style already exists, right-click it in the Table Styles gallery on the contextual Design tab and choose Set As Default, as shown in Figure E. If the style doesn't exist, create it first, then make it the default.
Make a Table style the default.
10: Write anywhere
One of my favorite tips is writing anywhere on the page with a simple double-click. Most users don't realize how easy it is to get to access a document's white space. Try it: Open a blank document and double-click anywhere—anywhere at all. Start typing.
Send me your question about Office
I answer readers' questions when I can, but there's no guarantee. Don't send files unless requested; initial requests for help that arrive with attached files will be deleted unread. You can send screenshots of your data to help clarify your question. When contacting me, be as specific as possible. For example, "Please troubleshoot my workbook and fix what's wrong" probably won't get a response, but "Can you tell me why this formula isn't returning the expected results?" might. Please mention the app and version that you're using. I'm not reimbursed by TechRepublic for my time or expertise when helping readers, nor do I ask for a fee from readers I help. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- How to use Word's StyleRef field to customize a header (TechRepublic)
- Microsoft's Dictate add-in brings speech-to-text support to Office apps (ZDNet)
- 10 time-saving tips to speed your work in Excel (TechRepublic)
- How to create Outlook appointments from Excel data (TechRepublic)
- Two ways to generate a list of tables in a Word document (TechRepublic)
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.