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5 Time-Saving Tips in Microsoft Word

Whether you have used Microsoft Word for years, have just switched from WordPerfect or are new to word processing, try these easy steps to save time and simplify your work in Word:

Turn off Personalized Menus and Toolbars

Although it is a default, Personalized Menus and Toolbars is a terrible "feature" which limits your initial view to select toolbar buttons and menu commands. Do you only have one row of toolbars at the top of the screen? When you click on a menu, does it expand only after a few seconds? If so, you will save yourself a lot of frustration by turning off this personalized display:

1. Choose Tools > Customize, and click on the Options tab.

2. For the section, Personalized Menus and Toolbars, check/select the options "Show Formatting and Standard toolbars on two rows" and "Always show full menus." Note: in Microsoft Word 2000, you will need to UNcheck each of these options (the descriptions are a bit different too).

3. Pick Close to see a full display of your main toolbars and your menus.

Stop Automatic Text Changes

Does it seem like Word randomly changes the capitalization or spelling of text in a document? AutoCorrect is to blame. As the name indicates, AutoCorrect automatically corrects the spelling of common misspelled words but also makes other changes including capitalizing the first letter in a sentence, table cell, or line of text. To review your choices, pick Tools > AutoCorrect Options, choose the AutoCorrect tab and uncheck any option that gets in the way of typing your text.

Stop Automatic Numbered Lists (and More)

Have you ever tried to create your own numbered list or outline and watched the numbering or formatting change once you press [Enter] for the next line? This is a huge annoyance for anyone that wants to build their own custom layout for an outline rather than working with the choices in Word. Do you type your e-mail address or website into a document and then watch as it suddenly changes to blue underlined text (a hyperlink)? Do you ever enter fractions or quotes that automatically re-format? You are a victim of AutoFormat As You Type. To customize Word so that it works for you and not against you:

1. Choose Tools > AutoCorrect Options

2. Select the AutoFormat As You Type tab. I recommend that you uncheck all of the options in the last 2 sections including Automatic numbered lists. Turn off choices in the 1st section as desired.

3. Pick OK to finish.

Each of the formatting options that you turn off can still be added when you want them. For instance, automatic numbered lists can be created via a toolbar button or under the Format menu.

Modifying Your Default Font

Are you frequently changing the font in your documents? Take a few minutes to change the default font used for new documents:

1. Create a new, blank document.

2. Choose Format > Font. Change the font from the standard Times New Roman 12 point to the style and size you want such as Arial 12 point.

3. Next, don't pick OK which only changes the current document. Instead, choose Default.

4. You will see a prompt asking if you want to change the default font. This change will modify the normal template also known as the normal.dot file which stores many of the Microsoft Word settings. Select Yes to confirm the changes.

Customizing Page Layout and Margins

Ever since the days of Word 1.0, the default margins for a document have been 1" for the top and bottom and 1.25" for the left and right margins even though most people prefer 1" margins for each side. It's also easy to change the settings for margins regardless of what you like to work with:

1. Continue with a new, blank document.

2. File > Page Setup, and pick the Margins tab.

3. Change the margins to 1" all around or your most frequently used choices.

4. Make other changes in these dialog tabs. For instance, you might want to set a custom footer or make changes to the Paper source.

5. To set your custom defaults for all new, blank documents, pick the Default button.

6. As before, you will be prompted to confirm the change to the normal template. Choose Yes to continue.

Once your preferences are in place, you won't have to repeat these steps but you do have the flexibility to customize individual documents.

© 2004 by Dawn Bjork Buzbee

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro? and a certified Microsoft Office Expert and Microsoft Office Specialist Master Instructor. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software and technology through her work as a speaker, trainer, and consultant. Visit http://www.SoftwarePro.com for great Microsoft Office software tips and tricks or to contact Dawn.

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