Using Microsoft Word ™

No matter how annoying MS Word can be at times, it has so many useful features for writers that for me  it is essential for my work. I’ve been using it since 1990 and have made it my job to learn most of the labor-saving features it provides.

Tips for Setting up your Word™ desktop

The top row of icons is the  Quick Access Toolbar which you can populate with the commands you use most frequently. It already has a few preset commands to which you can add. See diagram below.

To add more functions, simply click on the little ‘open’ pointer at the end of the bar and open Customize Quick Access Toolbar. Select More Commands and a window will open listing all the commands available. Highlight the ones you want and click add and OK. If you don’t find the command you want, there’s a drop-down list at the top of More Commands from which you can choose All. This will show you hundreds of selections.

Left word desktop

The ones I find useful for authoring are: Create Document (blank page icon) Open File (file folder icon), Outline View (One of the blank circles), Spelling & Grammar (ABC icon), and Quick Print (magnifying glass over page) which gives you a print preview, Sort Alphabetically (AZ down arrow) As I often do desktop publishing with Word, I also use Insert Picture (monitor over page icon). With these commands, you can save many keystrokes and do what you want to do without having to search for a command.


This is a very useful tool, especially for someone like me who can barely type and constantly transposes characters—I absolutely cannot type slef, oops, I mean self. In older versions of Word, this tool is available from the spelling checker on the desktop, but with Office 365 (2014), Microsoft, in its infinite wisdom, has decided we don’t need it any more, along with a few other useful tools. When you repeatedly make the same error with a word, it’s a good idea to have it in Autocorrect (the other empty circle icon) so that it corrects itself smoothly as you type without interrupting the flow of your writing.

This is how you use AutoCorrect to add words to the list:

  • Highlight the incorrect spelling
  • Click on the AutoCorrect icon
  • You will see your incorrectly spelled word in the ‘Replace’ box on the left. Just type the correct spelling in the right hand box.
  • Click on Add and OK.

Caution When using AutoCorrect, make sure the misspelling is not another word that is also in the dictionary. For example, if you write sue instead of use, you would end up changing sue to use every time you wrote it, even if you really meant to write sue.

Right-word desktop

Another use for AutoCorrect is with accents. I often use accented names in my books so I do this trick: Type the name, Jose for example, highlight it and click on the AutoCorrect icon so that it comes up as a misspelling, and then type the correct spelling, José, in the correct box. Now, every time you type Jose, the accent will be added automatically.  (If you don’t have an international keyboard, the acute é accent is made by holding down the Alt key and typing 0233. )

Using Outline View

To open Outline View click on the Find icon (magnifying glass) on the right side of the toolbar.  Check the left side of the first diagram and you will see a new Navigation sidebar. Click on Headings to reveal your document outline. Note: You can only use this feature if you have a style sheet with formatting for headings. I mostly use two, one for paragraphs and one for subs. This is one of the most useful tools in the program for me, and you can still do searches without losing the outline.

This post is based on my own practice and experimentation. Microsoft might have different solutions for the same features in its user manuals.

This is one of my speculative novels. It’s about the significant
drop in female births that occurs in the mid 21st century.

Where have all the young girls gone? by [Wootton, Vicki]

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