We’ve all used Microsoft Word, whether for writing papers in school, drafting up memos at work or creating fliers speckled with Word Art.
If your list of necessary text editor features consists of fiddling with fonts, adjusting margins and changing your justification, you have no idea what you’re missing.
Microsoft Word comes packed with all sorts of awesome features that allow you to take your doc game to the next level, as long as you know how to take advantage of them.
The following is just a smattering of all the Word features you didn’t know you needed:
- Changing selection preferences
Right off the bat, before you even start writing, ask yourself if you want Word to automatically select entire words when you make click-and-drag selections. Word has this feature turned on as a default when you start up, which can prove to be a bit annoying when you want to select and change a portion of a word instead of the whole thing.
To change this option, under the Preferences menu, go to the Edit section and uncheck the box next to “Select entire word when selecting text.”
- Turn off or customize AutoCorrect
The next thing you should do is decide whether you want AutoCorrect on. If you’re writing about a topic with some unique words, AutoCorrect can be a pain in the ass, and sometimes you won’t even notice the corrections happening as you type. By default, Word has AutoCorrect turned on. To change this, under the Preferences menu, select AutoCorrect to see and adjust the settings for everything Word AutoCorrects.
Some features are helpful, like automatically formatting fractions, turning text into hyperlinks, or capitalizing days or the first words of sentences. You can also add in your own AutoCorrect macros, which is especially helpful if you are repeatedly typing words with special characters or long phrases. For example, if you don’t want to have to correctly type Pokémon over and over again with the accented “e,” you can set a macro in AutoCorrect so Word replaces Pokemon with Pokémon as you type.
- Find out how well you write (technically)
Most people already know about the spelling and grammar checks in Word, but the program can also score you on the complexity of your writing. Before you perform a spelling and grammar check, make sure you have the boxes checked for “Check Grammar with Spelling” and “Show Readability Statistics” in your Preferences.
When you perform a spelling and grammar check on your document or on a selection of text, either correct or don’t correct any possible errors and then hit “ok” on the dialogue box to bring up your readability statistics.
This window gives you a breakdown of your word count, words per sentence and your readability scores. The first number, which will be between zero to 100, is based on the Flesch Reading Ease test, zero being the most difficult to read and 100 being the easiest. Word suggests hitting between 60 and 70. The second number, between zero and 10, is based on the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level, which is designed to give you an idea of how your writing stacks up against U.S. school grade reading levels. Word suggests aiming for between seven and eight.
- Seeing changes and edits
Microsoft Word allows you to easily give electronic feedback, allowing you to take a digital red pen to any document. By turning on Track Changes under the Review tab, you can view exactly what changes were made to the document at what time and who made them.
- Leaving comments and suggestions
If instead of making changes you want to make suggestions, you can highlight a part of the text and go to Insert and select Comment. This will place a comment over that area of text, and you can write anything you want in there. You can also comment on comments, allowing you to write more or respond to someone else’s comment.
- Write wherever you want without text boxes
If you’re into odd formatting, whether working on the structure of your free form poetry or just want to mix things up a bit, Word allows you to easily write wherever you want on a document without needing to create a text box. Just double-click on any blank part of your document and Word will start a line and place your cursor there.
- Change capitalization
When you’re blazing through a paper before deadline with your eyes on your keyboard, you might not notice that you’ve accidentally hit Caps Lock and just wrote 15 screaming lines of capitalized text. Instead of deleting everything, you can highlight the text and go to the Home tab and feather down the “A a” button and select which capitalization option you want.
- Easily create citations
For all the students and researchers out there, creating a bibliography is the last thing you want to do when you finish your paper. For your works cited page, Word has a solution for you. Under the Document Elements tab, click the Manage button in the References section, then select the second button in that menu to see your citations. To add a citation, click the plus button.
For the 2016 Office Suite version of Word, go the the References tab and click Insert Citation and plug in the data for your source and Word will automatically put it all together in APA format.
With all these helpful tools at your disposal, you’ll be Wording like a pro in no time. Just don’t forget to save every once in a while.