Since I’m an editor, Microsoft Office Word is the workhorse on my computer. And the feedback we’ve gotten shows I’m not alone. So any Word feature that can save us time and make us look good will make a big difference in our day. I’ve used a lot of features and tools in Word—and I’m not fond of all of them—but here are my 3 favorites. They’ve saved me time, improved how my documents look, or helped me work with others. Check these out, and if you’ve got your own favorites please consider sharing them with other readers. Just click on the “Post a Comment link” at the bottom of this article. Also, if you like these tips, check out 12 tips for creating better documents. Author Stephanie Krieger gives some more ideas for making your Word documents shine.

Now, back to my 3 favorite Word tips.

  1. Paste Special: I copy and paste a lot of content from different sources—other Word documents or Outlook e-mail messages. Just using Paste (on the Edit menu, click Paste) works fine, but it carries the formatting of the original document and can make a mess of my document. Instead, try using Paste Special and paste the text as unformatted text. You won’t spend time reformatting the text, and I’ll bet it will save you time.

    To use Paste Special:

    1. On the Edit menu, click Paste Special.
    2. In the Paste Special dialog box, select the Paste radio button, and in the As: section, choose Unformatted Text.
    3. Click OK.

  2. Create better tables with the Tables and Borders toolbar and Table Properties: Tables are a great way to present information in an organized manner, but they can be a beast to format. There is a big difference between a poorly formatted and organized table, and making a table look good can make a huge difference to your reader. I use two tools to improve how my tables look.

    First, I use the Tables and Borders toolbar to more quickly and easily format my tables. On the View menu, point to Toolbars, and click Tables and Borders. I use the toolbar for everything from creating tables to shading cells to distributing rows evenly.

    Once I have the table created, I use the Table Properties dialog box to fine tune its appearance. To open up the dialog box, put your cursor in the table and on the Table menu click Table Properties. Now you can choose how to align the table in your document, how text should be aligned in the cells, and many other formatting refinements. Play around with it when you’re working on your next table to see how it helps you. For more information about how to use table properties, check out the pure and simple logic of creating extraordinary tables.

  3. Use reviewing marks and comments for editing documents:  I send documents back and forth between people, and being able to quickly view proposed changes and comments is crucial. It’s especially useful when more than one person is reviewing the document. When you’re tracking changes in Word with reviewing marks and comments, Word shows the markup in the text of the document and balloons that appear in the margin. Comments also appear in the margin. This feature isn’t new, but I’ve been surprised by how many people don’t use these features and how helpful they can be.

    To get started, open up the Reviewing toolbar. On the View menu, point to Toolbars and click Reviewing. Once you get started, here are some links to help you master reviewing marks.

    1. About tracked changes and comments
    2. Track changes while you edit
    3. Audio course: Revise documents with Track Changes

Those are my three favorite features. Why not share yours? Just click on “Post a Comment”. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Jason Kozleski