10 Most Useful Microsoft Word Tips & Tricks

Try to guess, what is the world’s most popular text editor today? Microsoft Word, of course. It has a wide array of functions that may seem complicated. However, in addition to “visible” features, it has hidden options and shortcuts that can make your editing easier. In this article, we are going to cover top 10 tips & tricks for Microsoft Word that you probably didn’t know.

1. Select text vertically

Usually, we use only horizontal selection to select sentences, paragraphs, or words. Sometimes we need a vertical selection as well. Let’s say, there is a column with numbers at the beginning of your text, and you need to select those numbers to be able to delete them at once.

In this case, you can use a vertical selection. Simply hold the ALT key, then click and drag your mouse to complete the selection. Don’t forget to release ALT before finishing your selection – otherwise, the Research dialog won’t appear. You can experiment with vertical selections and find many applications for it.

2. Default line spacing

If you are using Microsoft Word 2010, the default line spacing is 1.15, while in Microsoft Word 2003 this parameter is set to 1. Microsoft decided that this change would improve the text readability. Some users don’t agree with this decision, though. If you are one of them, you can change the default line spacing back to 1:

  1. Go to the Home tab, find a button with the Normal style.
  2. Right-click the button and click Modify.
  3. A new window with Format options will appear – select Paragraph in the left bottom corner.
  4. Find the Spacing section and set the line spacing parameter to 1.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Find the “New documents based on this template” box and check it.
  7. Click OK.

3. Change the default location for saving documents

Microsoft Word uses the combination Ctrl+S to save your files. But when you activate this combination for the first time, the program will open the Documents folder by default. It can be irritating for some users, so here is the method to change the default file directory and select the one you would like to use instead:  

  1. Click on File.
  2. Select Options.
  3. On the left sidebar of the window to appear, click Advanced.
  4. In the right section, scroll down until you see the “File Locations” button.
  5. Click on Documents and select Modify.
  6. The Save File dialog window will appear. You need to type or select the path you want to use and click OK to close the dialog box.
  7. Press OK again to close the window.

4. Change the font used by default

Microsoft Word 2010 uses Calibri as the default font for new documents. It good for reading online but when it comes to printing, the situation is not so bright. You may want to switch to other classic fonts such as Arial or Times New Roman for printing tasks. Of course, you can switch fonts by selecting everything you wrote in your document and click on another font in the Home tab. However, your formatting might get messed up in the process. Alternatively, you can select another default font.

  1. While in the Home tab, right-click Normal style.
  2. Select Modify.
  3. Click on Format in the window to appear. In the next drop-down menu click on Font.
  4. Now just select the font you would like to use by default in every document.
  5. Here you can also alter other font settings such size, etc.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Check the box near “New documents based on this template.”
  8. Close the Modify menu by clicking OK.

5. Move text rows in tables

Many users often work with tables in MS Word, and the ability to move rows within the table (up/down) without breaking the table formatting is crucial. Copy-paste would be an easy solution but not very reliable as it may change formatting.

Alternatively, you can use the combination of keys – ALT+SHIFT+UP (arrow) – to move a row up. The combination of ALT+SHIFT+DOWN (arrow) will move a row down. Before using these combinations, you need to select the row you want to move. The formatting will remain the same as before.  

6. Change line spacing on the run

Imagine, you need to change the standard line spacing between paragraphs. MS Word has the shortcut pattern for this task:

  • Press CTRL+1 to make line spacing equal to 1.
  • Press CTRL+2 to make line spacing equal to 2.
  • Press CTRL+5 to make line spacing equal to 1.5.

Note: remember to keep your cursor on the paragraph you want to edit. There is no need to select the paragraph. 

7. Add borders to paragraphs

You can easily add borders to the paragraphs in your text using the Borders and Shading menu. But if you want to add just a bottom border, it is even easier – type three special characters and press Enter:

  1. Press “–“ thrice and hit Enter. It will be transformed into an underline border (3\4 points).
  2. Press “_” thrice and hit Enter. It will be transformed into an underline border (1.5 points).
  3. Press “~” thrice and hit Enter. It will be transformed into a zigzag underline border.
  4. Press “*” thrice and hit Enter. It will be transformed into a dotted underline border.
  5. Press “=” thrice and hit Enter. It will be transformed into a double underline border.

8. Find Special Formatting

If you have a specially formatted text in your document, you can easily find it. For instance, find all paragraphs with highlighted words or sentences in any specific font. The same way you can search for bold/italic text as well. The Find feature has much more options than you have thought.

  1. Press CTRL+F. If you are using MS Word 2010, the Find pan will be on the left.
  2. Look for the down-facing arrow in the search bar near to the magnifying glass icon. Click it and select Advanced Find.
  3. In the next menu to appear, click More.
  4. You will see an additional section with multiple search options and the Find section with two buttons – Format and Special.
  5. Should you select anything, and it will appear in the “Find what” search box. For example, you can click Format>Font>Arial – and this fond will be added to the “Find what” section above. You can select additional properties in the same way.

9. Merge text formatting from different documents

We often copy text from one document to another. Usually, different documents have different fonts. So, it would be nice if the copied text has the same font as you are currently using. Sure, you can manually format that text, but it will be much easier to use the default paste. With it, the text you copy from other sources will be automatically transformed to match formatting in your main document. 

  1. Go to the Home tab and click the small arrow below Paste (top left corner).
  2. Select Set Default Paste.
  3. A new window will appear. Scroll down to the “Cut, copy and paste” section.
  4. You will need to select Merge Destinations option from the drop-down menu for the two following settings: “When Pasting in the same Document” and “When Pasting between Documents.”
  5. Click OK.

10. Copy only formatting

What to do when you need to apply formatting from one segment of the document to another part? You can use the Format Painter for that, for example. But it is not a good solution for long documents. Here is an alternative way.

Press the combination of CTRL+SHIFT+C keys (rather than standard CTRL+C). This way you will copy the formatting alone, not the text.

Then switch to the segment you need this formatting to be applied. Select the text for transformation and press the CTRL+SHIFT+V combination to apply the formatting.