Hey, everybody! Microsoft Word has been my favorite word processor since version 5 in the early 1990s. I can’t even count the number of pages I have created using it.
These productivity habits have helped me to become a better user of Microsoft Word. While I used Word 2013 for my examples, you can use any version of Word, such as Word 2003 or later, to implement any of these tips.
Let’s get started!
Show all Formatting Characters
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Transcender started trainingI worked for Transcender over a number years, writing their IT certification practice exams. Transcender was where I learned the importance of revealing all formatting characters (non-printing).
It took some getting used too, I can assure you. My eyes were initially cross when I saw all the extra “stuff” in my Word documents. Over time, I learned to be grateful for the ability of seeing at a glance whether I had used a soft line break or a paragraph break. Or if I added a space between two words.
Click File > Options in Word 2013 and navigate to the Display tab. Select Show all formatting marks in the Always show these formatting markings on the screen area section. Figure 1 shows the “before” and “after” treatment.
Figure 1: It is very helpful to show non-printing characters when editing.
Get rid of all the “Auto Bling”
Word automatically formats your document as you type, which is a great feature. Word can convert two dashes into one em dash by simply typing them.
My content is published in print and online. Different publishers use different tools to create an author’s manuscript. Word adds unnecessary clutter to my documents, which is something I don’t want to have to deal with.
When I install Word, the first thing I do is open the Word Options dialog. Navigate to the Proofing tab and click AutoCorrect Options. Then, I turn off everything. Really. I’ll show you the interface in Figure 2.
Figure 2: In Microsoft Word, you can control AutoCorrect.
You have 100 percent control of your copy by disabling AutoCorrect. This brings you additional responsibility. This means that you will need to be mindful of every symbol and character you write in your manuscript.
Take a look at the document to see where you left off
To resume work in a new document, I used the keyboard combination SHIFT+F5 before Word 2013. This keyboard shortcut will return your cursor to where you last edited the document when it was opened.
This keyboard shortcut works with all versions of Word. Word 2013 however, offers this functionality without user intervention. Figure 3 shows this behavior in action.
Figure 3: Word 2013 allows you to easily resume your work.
Quickly Change Case
Sometimes, especially when I work quickly, I forget to format section headings correctly. To get the correct title case, you don’t have to manually edit each word. Instead, use the keyboard shortcut SHIFT+F3. This key combination toggles the case for all selected words between three states.
Lowercase
Uppercase
Title case

Make use of the Quick Access Toolbar
The Fluent user interface (the Ribbon) is here to stay, whether you love it or not. Although I am neutral about ribbon navigation I love the Quick Access toolbar.
The Quick Access toolbar provides instant access to your favorite commands. These commands remain visible regardless of which ribbon tabs you are using.
As shown in Figure 4, you can customize the Quick Access Toolbar by opening its dropdown menu and selecting More Commands.
Figure 4: Add your most used commands to the Quick Launch toolbar.
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