Allan Bach


Hellertown, PA


Tips to increase your proficiency in Microsoft Word

Reveal Formatting Pane

Did you ever wonder what font, paragraph and line spacing, and other formats are being used in your document? Instead of selecting some text and trying to figure this out by looking at groups in the ribbon, try viewing the Reveal Formatting Pane. This handy tool will show you - at a glance - everything you need to now about a particular part of your document.

To turn on the Reveal Formatting Pane, press SHIFT-F1. You'll see the pane at the right edge of your screen. Now, if you need to make changes to the Font, Paragraph, or Section, you can click a blue link and instantly go to the modify area.


Normal.dotm Template File

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If the normal.dotm file in Word is the cause of problems, rename or delete it. When Word is restarted, normal.dotm will be recreated. However, the normal.dotm does save personal preferences such as Custom Styles, Margins, and a few other objects. Deleting the normal.dotm will result in these settings being lost. No problem for most Word users, as they can reset their margins - the most frequently changed setting.

It is  recommended to change the View setting of Folders to show Hidden Files and Folders, but this can show folders and files that, if changed or deleted, could cause your PC to not work properly.

So, a better way to find the normal.dotm in Windows is to press the Windows Key, R and type the following:


%userprofile%\application data\microsoft\templates


This will open the folder that contains the normal.dotm file for the currently logged in user. This prevents the accidental deletion of another user's normal.dotm. Just remember: When Word is restarted, a new normal.dotm is created, but not saved until you make a change (e.g. set margins) or exit Word. You can also hold the SHIFT key while you save the document to force the normal.dotm to save. One other type of file that can be safely deleted is any file that begins with a tilde (~), as it is a temporary file that was leftover from a previous instance of Word. These can cause problems when trying to open a file with the same name (Less the tilde).


Inserting Sample Text

There are times when you want to fill in sample text to practice tasks in Word. Microsoft Word has the rand() function to accomplish this.

In Word, type =rand() and press Enter. Word 2007-2016 will insert three paragraphs about some new Word features. If you need more paragraphs, insert a number in the parentheses. For example, =rand(33) will insert 33 paragraphs. If you need more than three sentences per paragraph, just use two entries in the parentheses, separated by a comma. For example, if you type =rand(4, 15) you'll get fifteen sentences in each of four paragraphs.

If you'd like pseudo-Latin to appear, type Lorem() instead of rand().

Note: You must have the Autocorrect "Replace text as you type" for this to work. In Word 2007 - Office button, (Word 2010-2016, File button) Word Options button, Proofing, Autocorrect Options button, place a check in "Replace text as you type."


Trouble Starting Word

If you are not able to start Word, it may be caused by more than a problem normal.dotm file. Try using the /a switch by holding the CTRL key while starting Word. (startup switches are used to start programs in different ways. Search online help for "startup switches office programs" for more info) Word will start without any add-ins global templates, or the normal template. If Word starts, you can be certain there is a problem template or add-in. To find files that start with Word, exit Word, click Start, and then type (or copy and paste):


%userprofile%\application data\microsoft\addins


Click OK to discover any items loading as an add-in. Next...

Press the  Windows Key, R  and type (or copy and paste) the following:


%userprofile%\application data\microsoft\Word\Startup


Press the Enter key to discover any templates that are loading.

You may have to rename the files you discover, then restart Word. If Word starts, you can repeat the process, correcting the renamed files to their original name, one at a time, until the problem re-occurs. This will pinpoint the problem file.


Selecting Text

To select a word, double click anywhere on the word. To select a sentence, hold the CTRL key and click anywhere on the sentence. To select a paragraph, triple-click anywhere on the paragraph. To select the entire document, press CTRL-A on the keyboard.


Quickly Undo Automation

The first word of a sentence is always capitalized. If you do not want this to happen, click File, Options, Proofing. Select the AutoCorrect button and de-select the check mark in "Capitalize first word of sentences." Click OK, and then click OK again. You can also undo the first word capitalization by pressing the CRTL-Z (undo) keys. You have to do this immediately after pressing the spacebar when you are finished typing the word.


Auto Numbered or Bulleted Lists

Word may try to automate the numbering or bulleting of a list in your document. To stop this permanently, choose File, Options, Proofing.  Choose the Autocorrect button, and then choose the "AutoFormat As You Type" tab. De-select the check mark in the option for Automatic Bulleted or Automatic Numbered Lists. Click OK, and then click OK to close the Word Options dialog box. Auto numbered or auto bulleted lists can also be undone by pressing the CTRL-Z keys or by just pressing the Backspace or Enter key.


Showing Text Boundaries

You may want to see the boundaries of your document, but Word only shows the margins in the ruler.

Try this:

Word 2007- Office Button, Options, Advanced

2010/2016 - File, Options, Advanced.

 Scroll down to "Show document content" and select "Show text boundaries". You will now see where your margins are in your document.


Insert a Drop Cap

A Drop Cap is the first letter of a paragraph that is formatted to be approximately three lines high. Many poems and books use this feature on the first page of a chapter. To insert a Drop Cap, place your insertion point anywhere in a paragraph and choose Insert Tab, Text Group, Drop Cap and click the Dropped icon. Click OK and you will have a nicely formatted Drop Cap. Note: Don't overuse this feature.


Set Tabs Easily

Setting tabs is considered by some to be a most difficult task. However, it can be very simple. In order to insert a Tab, type your list, inserting only one tab between items, and then select the text you want to affect with the tab. Go to your ruler and click where you want the tab placed. that easy. To modify your tabs, always select the text where the tabs occur, then double-right-click a tab mark. This brings you to the Tabs dialog box where you can modify, add, or delete any tab marks. In addition, to find the exact measurement of an existing tab, hold down your ALT key while clicking the tab mark in the ruler. You will see the exact setting appear in the ruler bar. (If you don't see the ruler, choose View, Show, and place a check in Ruler)


Go to any place in your document

Many people know about the F5 function key. It opens the GoTo dialog box, allowing you to go to a page, bookmark, section, etc. You can also accomplish this by double clicking on the status bar. Look in the lower left-hand corner and double click where you see the Page, Sec information. Note: This is also a quick way to get to the Find and Find and Replace tasks. If you want to return to the last place you were in a previously saved Word 2013-2016 document, you'll see the link to return where you left off.


Create a Quick Work Menu (Word 2003)

Many times you have some documents that you want to keep handy for opening. Try this:

Right-Click any button bar and choose Customize. Click the Command tab, and then select Built In Menus from Categories. Scroll down and find Work under Commands. Left click Work, keep the left mouse button held down, and drag the selection to an existing toolbar. Release the mouse button and click the Close button in the Customize dialog box. To add a document to the Work button, click the Work button and select Add to Work Menu. Your document will be available at any time just by clicking the Work button and selecting your document from the list. (Don't delete the document or you will not be able to open it). To remove an item from the Work button, press CRTL-ALT-minus sign (not on the number pad). Your cursor will look like a minus sign. Click the Work button and select the document you want to delete from the menu.


Applying Formats Easily

If you use the Format Painter, you already know how it helps you to apply formatting to parts of your document. However, if you follow the rule of type first, format last, you should also try the F4 function key. Try this: Format a word with 18 point bold text. Select another word in your document and press the F4 function key. You will see it repeat the last operation you carried out.


Remove Those Annoying End of Line Paragraph Marks

When copying an email message (or any text that has paragraph returns at the end of each line), you can remove the paragraph marks at the end of each line by doing the following:

Select the entire email message (CTRL-A), then copy the selection (CTRL-C)

Open a blank document in Word.

Paste the copied email message (CTRL-V)

Select the entire document (CTRL-A)

Press CTRL-ALT-K. This will AutoFormat the document, removing the end of line paragraph marks.

To go one step further:

With the document still selected, press CTRL-SHIFT-N, and you will have a normal style, no formatted document, minus the end of line paragraph marks.


Allan Bach, Consultant - Hellertown, PA - 610-248-0237 -