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Top Tips for Microsoft Word

Formatting paragraphs, capital letters, plus a pile of shortcuts

Change your capitalisation on the fly

Have you ever typed a piece of text and then wanted to change its case?

Select the text

Go to the Format menu and select Change Case

Select your preferred option and click OK

This is great if you’ve been typing with Caps Lock on.

Undo and redo changes to your text and graphics

In Word you can undo errors and redo changes in one of three ways:

The keyboard shortcut to undo an error is Control Z. Redo is Control Y

You can undo and redo in the Edit menu

There are Undo and Redo buttons in the standard Word toolbar

Capture your paragraph formatting

Have you ever had the perfect paragraph in a document – spot on line spacing, bullet format, indentation - and wished that you could apply the same formatting to your other paragraphs? It’s easy. The formatting is stored in a backwards P (a Pilcrow) at the end of each paragraph.

Show the pilcrows, Press Control, Shift and 8

Choose pilcrow you want to copy, right click and select Copy

Select the pilcrow you want to replace, right click and select Paste.

Type Control Shift 8 to hide the pilcrows when you’re done

Use curly quotation marks

Do you want to use book like quotation marks? Here’s how:

Go to the Tools menu and click AutoCorrect

In AutoFormat Change 'Straight Quotes' to 'Smart Quotes'

Click OK

Use the hidden Work menu to navigate through your files

If you want quick access to your regularly used files include the Work menu on your menu bar. This let’s you get to your work quickly:

Go to the Tools menu and choose Customise

Click the Commands tab

Choose the Built-in Menus category

Drag the Work menu up to your menu bar

Click Close

Now when you're working on a file you regularly use click on your new Work menu and choose Add to Work Menu.

Change your default character formatting

Do you prefer a different font to the default style you start out with when you open a new document? Here’s how to change it:

Go to the Format menu and choose Font

Select your preferred font and size

When you're done click the Default button

Click Yes you’d like to change the default font for the current template

Now when you're working on a file you regularly use click on your new Work menu and choose Add to Work Menu.

Replace the Print button

Some users can be frustrated by the Print button that appears on the standard toolbar as this doesn't bring up the same dialogue as File | Print. Instead it prints entire document.

If this bugs you, it makes sense to replace the print-now command with one that does bring up the Print dialogue. Right-click the toolbar, select Customize (at the foot of the drop-down list), and drag the existing Print icon off the toolbar. Now click the Commands tab, select File, find the icon for Print followed by three dots (the Print icon without the dots is the one you've just removed), and drag that on to the toolbar.

Increase your line spacing when you use automatic numbering

Automatic Numbering is useful but if you want a blank line in between your numbered points Word won't let you press Enter twice without removing the numbering.

If you want a blank line between your numbers on a list, press Control 0 instead. This will be remembered for the rest of your list too.

How to Find and Replace special characters and annotations

Find and Replace is a handy tool, but have you ever tried to copy a special character into the Find field? Here's how to make it work:

Go to the Edit menu and select Replace

Position your cursor within the Find what box and click the Special button

Select the symbol you want to find

Now position the cursor in the Replace with box and choose the special button

Select the symbol or character you want to replace with

Select any additional search option you want to apply

Click Find Next

You can choose to Replace a single instance, Replace All instances, or Find Next to skip through the document to the next instance.

Use shortcut keys to apply formatting

Knowing the shortcut keys for common Word tasks can save you a lot of time. Here are the most common:

For this format

Type this character


Control B


Control I


Control U

Double underline

Control Shift D

Change case of letters

Shift F3

All capitals

Control Shift A

Small Capitals

Control Shift K


Control =


Control Shift =

Remove formats

Control Spacebar

Next larger size

Control >

Next smaller size

Control <

Up one point

Control ]

Down one point

Control [

Shortcut keys that apply a format can also remove that format.

Start your page numbers on the second page

When you have a document that has a title page, it can be a pain if the page that you consider to be first is numbered 2. Here's how to get around it:

Go to the Insert menu and select Page Numbers

Select where you want the numbers to be positioned

Click OK

Go to File menu and select Page Setup

Click on the Layout tab and tick Different First Page

Now you need to tell Word that you want your page numbering to start at 0

What next?

We've produced a number of printed How to... guides, showing you how to do new things with Microsoft software. You can download or order them free of charge from our download centre.

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