Besides Firefox, my most valued piece of software at work is Microsoft Word 2007. While I still hear of naysayers who haven’t embraced the ribbon (it’s been 4 years people…), I think Office 2007 nailed the interface and functionality of a heavy-duty word processor.
Heavy-duty is the key word here. If you just need to type a quick note, or want to avoid distractions while writing your novel, MS Word may not be for you. But for complex, business-class documents, Word offers features the power user cannot live without.
Sadly, I’ve discovered many Word users access about 2% of the program, and miss out on some killer functionality. It’s time to optimize your efforts by learning a few quick Word features that will save you hours of time down the road.
I’ve put together four tips to help get you on your way:
Word styles allow you to separate text formatting from content, similar to the way CSS separates the style from the content of HTML.
Say you’re writing a report with 10 sections and each section begins with a title. You decide to bold these titles by highlighting the text, then selecting the Bold button. You do this ten times, once for each title. Later, you decide your titles should be bold and underlined. Now you must manually highlight each of the 10 titles, and apply the underline formatting.
With styles, you can apply this underline to every title at once. Styles are the best way to quickly and easily apply a set of formatting choices consistently throughout your document. Instead of giving text a specific format (Word calls this direct formatting), you give text a style, then separately define the format of that style.
Instead of making the titles of your sections bold, just assign them all the style “Heading 2″. To do this, just highlight the title and then click Heading 2 in the gallery of styles. Then, you can modify that style at any time by right-clicking on it, and choosing “Modify…”.
Now you can adjust the font, size, color, and more. Click the Format option on the bottom left to see even more options. When you click OK, the new formatting is applied to any text you tagged with that style.
Using Styles is absolutely essential if you want your formatting to look consistent in a large document.
The other day I was working on a large document that was all one column. Except that Page 7 needed to have two columns, and Page 8 switched back to one column.
This can turn into a major mess if you don’t use sections. By default, Word documents are all one section unless you add a section break. A section break creates the beginning of a new section, and allows you to change the format or layout for individual sections.
This can be useful for making a portion of your document contain unique formatting for things like: margins, page borders, headers, footers, columns, page numbering, and footnotes.
To insert a section break, click where you want to make a formatting change. Then on the Page Layout tab, in the Page Setup group, click Breaks. In the Section Breaks group, click a section break type. Now, you will have the option to apply certain formatting to that section only.
Keeping paragraphs together
Imagine you add an image to your Word document, then add a title underneath the image. If things line up poorly, your image and image title could be separated by a page break — with the image on page 1 and the title on page 2.
This is messy, unpredictable and easy to fix.
Just highlight the image and title. On the Page Layout tab, click the Paragraph Dialog Box Launcher (the arrow in the bottom right corner of the Paragraph group), and then click the Line and Page Breaks tab. Select the “Keep lines together” check box.
Done! Now those two items will stay together no matter what.
High-quality PDF images
If you’ve ever saved your Word document as a PDF file (Save As…PDF or XPS), you know that images tend to come out blurry and pixelated. This can be a deal-breaker when you’re trying to create a professional-looking document.
There’s a simple method I’ve found to solve this problem:
- Only import images to Word in TIF format
- Use an image resolution of 300-400 dpi
Most people use JPG, PNG, or GIF images, and these simply don’t turn out well. Have a friend who understands digital images help you save your images as TIF files using a print-quality resolution.
I hope these tips help shape you into a cunning, efficient Word 2007 master.