Even as a Web copywriter, 90% of the writing I do begins in Microsoft Word—Why? With Word, I have access to a wide range of features and tools that make it easier to draft, edit and organize content. And it’s not just the obvious tools like Spell Check and Word Count that are beneficial: in fact, Word offers a slew of reasons to choose it for your word processing needs.
Here are a few of my favorite Microsoft Word tools that can make a writer’s life so much easier!
- Customized Default Font. If you’re like me, you gravitate towards certain fonts when you’re writing—maybe the font your website already appears in, maybe a font that adds serifs to pull the eye across the page. For months I manually changed the document font each time I began a project, but now I don’t have to. Through MS Word’s default font feature, I programmed my favorite font, size and color to be the standard option.
HOW: Click “font” on the top menu bar and adjust the settings to your preference, and then click the “default” button to set it as the standard and clikc “OK.”
- Split View. Ever get tired of scrolling back and forth between sections in your writing that are related or in some way reference one another? With Word’s split bar, you can view two parts of a complex document at one time, making it easy to copy and edit what you need.
HOW: Rest the mouse’s arrow pointer on the split bar at the top vertical scroll bar until it turns into the “split bar” icon and drag it to the position you want. When you want to return to a single window, double-click the split bar.
- Selective Word Count. When you need to have a certain number of words or characters in a section of your writing—say, the header or a certain paragraph—selective word count gives you the ability to count them.
HOW: Highlight the content you want to count, click “tools” on the top menu bar and select “word count.”
- Readability Evaluation. Word’s grammar tool gives you a way to measure the readability level of your writing, using two of the world’s most common metrics. It shows you how many passive sentences there are, what grade level the writing is at and, essentially, how easy or difficult your writing would be to understand.
HOW: Click “tools” on the top menu bar and select “spelling and grammar” tab. If readability stats do not immediately display, click “options” and check the box that says to show readability stats.
- Instant Auto Correct. The beauty of Auto Correct is that it can be customized—designed to automatically and instantly pick up words you frequently get stuck on or trip over, and to change them to what you like.
HOW: Click “tools” on the top menu bar and click “auto correct.” Check the boxes you wish to utilize and add your commonly misspelled words to the “replace” section, with the words to replace them with in the “with” section.
- Track Changes. Track Changes is one of Word’s most helpful tools for writers, allowing you to pass your work around to editors, colleagues or collaborators and have them share their responses.
HOW: From “tools” on the top menu bar, select “track changes” and click “highlight changes.”
- Protect Track Changes Feature. The only problem with Track Changes is that others can disable the tool, whether on purpose or accidentally, leaving you with a document filled with changes hard to pinpoint. Thankfully, there’s a way to protect it.
HOW: After enabling Track Changes, select “protect document” from the “tools” menu bar and click for “tracked changes.” If desired, add a password in the corresponding opening, and hit “OK.”
- Find and Replace. I sporadically used Word’s “find and replace” tool for quite a while before I thought to use it in ways like this: searching “ly” to see how often I use adverbs; spotting repetition of terms like “just,” “going” and “got”; removing words I tend to use too often.
HOW: Select “edit” on the top menu bar and click “Find…” Simply type in the terms you want to find, and you can manually remove, edit and tweak them as needed.
YOUR TURN: What other tools do you find helpful in Microsoft Word, if you use it? If you use a different processor, why? What are your thoughts?
(Image Credit: © JackF #24185098, Fotolia.)