Microsoft Word 2010: 7 Tips Everyone Should Know

microsoft word tipsWhether you’re a college student writing a paper, an office professional preparing form letters or a home user making party invitations, Microsoft Word has a number of tools designed to make your job easier. Word is user-friendly, so you don’t need to be an expert to get the most out of it. Learning these practical tips will help anyone produce high-quality documents more efficiently.


Before you even begin creating a document, try starting with one of Microsoft’s templates for Word. Examples of professional templates available for download from include form letters, resumes, invitations and calendars. To browse templates, click the “File” menu in Word and select “New.” Select a category you would like to browse or type what you are looking for into the search field. Once you find a template, download and open it. Then enter your original text and customize the document as desired.


Microsoft Word has default settings for formatting options like fonts and paragraph spacing. They are designed to help you automatically make a professional-looking document. However, they may be annoying if you don’t like them and don’t know how to change them. If you dislike the settings, make adjustments on Word’s “Home” tab in the “Font” and “Paragraph” groups. To see what the different buttons do, roll your cursor over them before clicking them. The buttons with downward-facing arrows have drop-down options. One tool you may find particularly useful is the “Line and Paragraph Spacing” button. By default, Word inserts a space after every paragraph you write. To disable this setting, click this button and select “Remove Space After Paragraph.”

Word also automatically changes your work’s formatting as you type with a tool called “AutoFormat.” Whenever AutoFormat engages, you have the option to undo it. Roll your cursor over the text that was changed until a lightning bolt appears. Then click the arrow and choose from the available options. You can undo the most recent formatting change or turn off the AutoFormat option that caused it. Another way to adjust AutoFormat settings is through the “File” menu. Click “File” and find “Options.” Then select the “Proofing” tab and click “AutoCorrect Options.”

Section Headings

At the top of Word documents on the “Home” tab you’ll notice a set of font “Styles” in a wide box. These styles are automatic heading options that you can use to set apart different sections in your document. “Normal” displays the font style for the main text of your document, while “Heading 1,” “Heading 2,” “Title” and “Subtitle” are formatting options for section titles and headings. Using these helps you quickly and consistently format long documents. When you’re creating a heading, simply click on the heading format you want. If you want more options, scroll down the “Styles” box or choose a different set of options from the “Change Styles” button.

Using the automatic section headings can also help you create a table of contents. Click on the “References” tab, find “Table of Contents” and select the style you like. Word will create a table that automatically displays your section headings and page numbers. If you press the “CTRL” key and click one of the sections on the table of contents, Word will automatically move you to that section in the document.

Headers and Footers

The spaces above and below the body of your text on each page are useful for listing things like page numbers, dates and other general publication information. Double-click on the header or footer to pull up a new tab with options. Choose a formatting style you like and then enter your original text. Note that this text will appear the same way on every page of the document.

If you would like to insert footnotes in the footers of your document, click the area of your text where you want to insert a subscript notation and then select the “References” tab. Click “Insert Footnote.” Word will automatically make a number notation in the body of your text and direct you to the bottom of your page where you can list the footnote.

Editing Your Work

You’ll never produce a poorly written document if you fully utilize Word’s editing tools. The program automatically changes obvious typos and underlines other misspelled words in red. It also underlines grammatical problems in green. Whenever Word underlines your text, right-click on it to view an explanation of the error. Then choose to fix it or ignore it. Whether the problem merits a change depends on your writing style and the purpose of the document. If desired, you can adjust what grammatical problems Word highlights. From the “File” menu, select “Options” and “Proofing.” Then select which problems you would like Word to highlight and which ones you would like it to ignore.

The “Review” tab also has a variety of editing tools including a translator and a thesaurus. If you are submitting your work to a human editor, he or she can utilize the “Comments” and “Track Changes” features. Comments are helpful for providing written feedback outside of the body of the document. Tracking changes enables you to see what edits have been made and then keep or ignore them.

Mail Merge

If you have Microsoft Outlook or Excel, Mail Merge is a way to utilize contact information stored in those programs so you can create mass mailings in Word. For example, using an Excel spreadsheet with names and addresses, you could create a mass mailing in Word personally addressed to each recipient. You could also email a message designed in Word to selected contacts in Outlook.

To use this powerful feature, design a Word document intended for multiple recipients. Leave spaces for personalized information like names and addresses. Click the “Mailings” tab followed by “Start Mail Merge.” Then select “Step By Step Mail Merge Wizard.” The program will walk you the rest of the way through the process. All you need is well-organized lists of data that will easily merge.

Finishing Touches

Once you’ve put together the bulk of your content on your document, adding some finishing touches can help it shine. Click the “Insert” tab to see a number of finishing options including customizable cover pages, automatically updated dates, signatures, images and charts. If you insert an image within the body of your text, be sure adjust the “Position” and “Wrap Text” options on the “Format” tab so that it appears the way you want it to. Double-click on the image if you don’t see these formatting options. For other finishing touches related to the entire layout of the document, browse the “Page Layout” tab. Here you can adjust layout options like margin sizes, columns and color themes.

It’s What You Make of It

Microsoft Word 2010 can help you create almost any kind of document. But it will only do as much as you are willing to learn. For many people, taking the time to learn and master some of these tips and tricks is well worth the effort.

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