10 time-saving tips to speed your work in Word

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Even seasoned Word experts can become more efficient by learning an unfamiliar trick or two. See if these features and shortcuts shave a bit of time off your daily tasks.

Most users pick up efficiency tips, such as using styles, keyboard shortcuts, and Format Painter, as beginners. What you’ll find, though, is that even experts sometimes do things the hard way. In this article, I’ll share 10 tips for working faster in Word. They’re not new by any means, but a few of them might be new to you.

1: Reduce keystrokes with AutoText

AutoText entries eliminate the need to manually enter frequently used text and graphics. You reduce your keystrokes and the potential for typos, and you can share these entries with others in your organization. Simply type the text (or insert the graphic) and then format it, if required. Then, select the content and press Alt+F3. Enter a meaningful but short name, as shown in Figure A. By default Word stores the entry in your Normal template.

Figure A

Name the AutoText entry.

To use the AutoText entry, type the entry’s name—ssh—and press F3. Word will replace ssh with the formatted text or graphic—Susan Sales Harkins. To learn more about this time-saving feature, read Seven tips to tap into Word’s AutoText power.

2: Prevent mistakes with AutoCorrect

AutoText is great for frequently used and reusable content, but it won’t make you a better typist. We all have words we misspell, and sometimes our fingers just work faster than our brains. AutoCorrect automatically corrects several universally misspelled words, such as switching the for teh. Word fixes it for you as you type, and you don’t have to do a thing.

Even better, you can add custom AutoCorrect entries. Click the File tab and choose Options in the left pane. Then, select Proofing in the left pane. In the AutoCorrect Options section, click AutoCorrect Options. Enter the content you want replaced in the Replace control and the replacement content in the With control. Figure B shows an entry that replaces maintnance with maintenance. The next time you type maintnance, AutoCorrect will correct the misspelling automatically.

Figure B

Let AutoCorrect fix your typos automatically.

3: Change your Paste default

Nothing annoys me more than pasting content from another source and then having to reformat it because the content doesn’t match my document’s formatting. You’ve probably run into it too. If you remember to use the Keep Text Only option from the Paste dropdown, you can avoid the extra reformatting step—if you remember. If this occurs often enough, you need to take control of the situation and change Word’s default settings by clicking the File tab, choosing Options, and then choosing Advanced in the left pane. In the Cut, Copy, And Paste section, choose Keep Text Only from the Pasting From Other Programs dropdown, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

Change Word’s paste default.

After setting this option, Word will match your source document’s formatting when pasting content from another source, including the web. This is an application-level setting so it will affect all documents, not just the current one.

4: Undo styles

If you can’t change your paste default, there are other ways to remove source formatting when pasting content when you forgot to use Keep Text Only from the Paste dropdown. With the pasted content selected, you can do either of the following to remove its styles, leaving plain text:

  • Press Ctrl+Spacebar
  • Click Normal in the Styles gallery

5: Take advantage of real-time collaboration

Figure D

Send email links to share documents.

Using real-time collaboration, you save time spent waiting on email exchanges—you can all work online at the same time. The whole process from beginning to end is efficient and easy to implement.

If you’d like step-by-step instructions for collaborating in Word 2016, read Word real-time co-authoring—a closer look.

6: Get info with Tell Me

This new tool lets you ask a question in plain language and returns its best-guess responses about appropriate tools and features. Sometimes the response is textual information, sometimes it’s a link to a feature. It’s easy, but more important, it’s quick.

7: Gain consistency and design help with templates

There are tons of free templates available by download. If you can’t find what you need, you can tweak something that’s close, which is quicker than starting from scratch. Every time you start a new project, take a minute to review templates at Office templates & themes.

8: Use the Word mobile app

With some Office 365 business subscriptions, you get mobile apps. Using Word mobile app, you can view, edit, and create documents on the go using your phone or tablet. With quick access to files in the cloud, you can share via email or link. Better still, your finished documents offer consistency, whether you’re using Word desktop, the browser version, or your phone or tablet. You get consistent results using familiar tools.

To get started, use your mobile app’s browser to sign in to your Microsoft.com account. Once you’re in, choose the app and start working. Word mobile has limitations; in this context, efficiency is the freedom to access and manipulate documents wherever you are instead of waiting until you can get to the office. If your organization is supporting devices, you might need help from your administrator because they can control which devices to support.

9: Make a custom table format your default

If you frequently apply a custom table format, you’re working harder than necessary. You can make your custom table format Word’s default table format. If the custom table style already exists, right-click it in the Table Styles gallery on the contextual Design tab and choose Set As Default, as shown in Figure E. If the style doesn’t exist, create it first, then make it the default.

Figure E

Make a Table style the default.

10: Write anywhere

One of my favorite tips is writing anywhere on the page with a simple double-click. Most users don’t realize how easy it is to get to access a document’s white space. Try it: Open a blank document and double-click anywhere—anywhere at all. Start typing.


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