10 Unknown & Under-Utilized Features of Microsoft Word

Long before computers gave up productivity in exchange for social networking, media streaming, gaming and many other unproductive practices, they have been utilized for usefulness, designed as a machine made to simplify tasks and produce beautiful output.

Microsoft Word is still an absolutely essential program that needs to be installed on every computer, even though its usage has lessened through the years. In fact, I noticed that I use a basic text editor like Notepad more frequently. Furthermore, there are also several free alternatives available, like OpenOffice, LibreOffice and Google Doc’s. And yet, in spite of all of these, I still prefer Word because there are still a lot of features not found in other word processors, enabling me create professionally crafted documents with absolute ease. There simply aren’t any substitutes. However, many users don’t seem to be aware of these features, so I decided to list down some of the easy ones.

  1. Publish a blog post.

    If you’re a heavy blogger, it is recommended for you to use a blogging client to write posts, rather than using the built-in web editor from your user dashboard. Starting with Word 2007, you can now publish posts directly to your blog. Using a blogging program has several advantages because it is WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get, meaning your blog post appear on your blog the way you see it onscreen), it takes advantages of built-in features of the program such as hotkeys, automatically upload local media files directly to your server and lets you save a local draft for offline editing.

    Before you can use Word to make blog posts, you need to register you blog first. You can set it up by going to File > New > Blog Post. Word will prompt you to register your blog.

    reg

    Just follow the wizard. If you’re having difficulties, you can check out this blog post for the step-by-step process. Once set up, you can just click [Publish] to insert your article into your blog.

  2. Create a PDF file.

    While Word’s DOC file format is considered to be the most popular for documents, some wouldn’t still consider reading a Word document. This is where the PDF will come in handy. For instance, if you’re submitting your resume online, it is recommended that you submit it in PDF format, rather than DOC. After all, some documents are only meant to be read, rather than being edited, as is the case with magazines, books and probably other documents.

    You can save your work as PDF natively in Word 2010. For the 2007 version, you need to install Service Pack 2, or if 300MB is too heavy of a download for you, there’s also a smaller installer you can download to have this feature. Unfortunately, this feature is not available for Word 2003 and below.

    Also, while this feature allows you to create a PDF, it doesn’t let you edit PDF files. It’s pointless anyway. PDF’s are meant to be closed (or read-only), and besides, if you need get something out of a PDF, you can always use copy/paste and just dump the contents into a blank document.

  3. Insert equations.

    While studying Math 101 in college and working in the computer lab, I discovered several test papers written in Word on one of the computers. The questions didn’t interest me at all (I have long passed these subjects), instead it made me wonder how all those equations got inserted into the document. Turns out this feature has always been a part of Office since 2000, and was only exposed in v.2007. This feature allows you to insert complex mathematical expressions like equations, fractions, matrices, formulas and other forms.

    eq

    While you’re at it, you can also download and install Chemistry Add-in for Word to insert Chemistry objects into your document.

  4. Create flowcharts and diagrams.

    Flowcharts and diagrams, not to be confused with graphs, shows the relationships between various components in a system. Word 2003 only has 6 diagrams, such as the organizational chart, cycle charts and Venn diagrams:

    diag

    This feature evolved into SmartArt in 2007, and allows you to create more complex structures. Make diagrams from the [Insert] ribbon.

  5. AutoCorrect

    With this feature, when you type a specific phrase or word, Word might automatically fix it for you. This typically applies to commonly misspelled words, for instance: recieve, teh, accomodate, becuase and plenty more. It automatically capitalize a single i and the start of a sentence. It also lets you insert special characters just by typing, for instance a long dash for two hyphens, © for (c), ™ for ™, and even a smiley for a colon and close parenthesis. It fixes quotation marks, fractions to characters (like ½ for 1/2), ordinals (2nd for 2nd), and even apply formatting (typing *The Count of Monte Cristo* will change automatically to The Count of Monte Cristo, and _Alice in Wonderland_ to Alice in Wonderland). What’s great about this feature is that it also lets you define your own custom correction. For instance, I defined w/ as with, b/c as because, b/w as between, thru for through, (PH) as Philippines and >> as » . To do this, go to File > Options > Proofing, then click the [AutoCorrect Options…] button. On the blank prompts, enter the info then click the [Add] button.

    auto

    You can also apply this to special characters. Go to Insert > Symbol > More Symbols…. Select the symbol then click the [AutoCorrect…] button.

  6. Templates.

    Sometimes, for certain types of documents such as resumes and brochures, you actually spend more time designing the layout and design of the document than typing the actual content of the document. Or maybe every time you start a new document, you actually spend a few minutes setting up you favorite font, font size, margin, text alignment and paper size (and usually remove the annoying space below the line). Instead of doing this, you can just use Word’s built-in templates (both offline and from Office.com) and you just have to fill out the missing information and forget the layout.

    template

    And it wasn’t just about page design. Whenever you create a blank document, you actually start with the default template called Normal template. You can actually edit this so that you start off with your favorite settings every time you make a new document. You can even edit it so that your company letterhead appears automatically.

  7. Insert text boxes.

    A text box is basically blocks of text enclosed in a rectangle. But in Word, it actually applies to all shapes. Just insert an AutoShape, right-click it then click [Add Text…]

    textbox

  8. Use a thesaurus.

    Running out of words? While you may be clever enough to avoid repetitive phrasing, there are still some instance when you still need synonyms (and also antonyms, which you might need if you need the opposite of the word). Getting a synonym or antonym is as simple as a right-click, and if you’re connected online, you can also retrieve words thru several online services without the need of opening up a browser.

    thesaurus

  9. Format Painter.

    For some reason, they didn’t put too much emphasis on this feature even though it was actually very useful. It actually makes formatting text easier. Just click (or double-click this icon to apply it to multiple sections), notice the change in the mouse icon, select the formatting and then just click away at the areas where you need to apply the formatting.

    painter

  10. Mail Merge.

    I discovered this feature a few years ago while making a certificate for a seminar. The idea behind this feature is that, you are basically creating the same document to many users, and the content is the same, except maybe for small sections in the document (for example, you have a letter and each one differs because of the “Dear Mr. Jack Carlyle” or “Dear Ms. Elaine Thompson” lines). The hard way to make these documents is to write the letter and copy/paste the content, then edit the changing parts. It’s not even practical to create a template out of it, as it will result in plenty of files, one for each of the recipients.

    With Mail Merge, you still have to create the document, but for the changeable parts, you just have to insert a custom field then place it in the document. Then fill up a database with the values that needs to be changed in the document. It’s not really as hard as it sounds, and you can also use a wizard to guide you with this process.

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3 comments on “10 Unknown & Under-Utilized Features of Microsoft Word

  1. Pingback: [Video]: Using a Blog Client | HardWi®ed: [Refresh]

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