Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks


Power Tips, Tricks and Downloads for Microsoft Word. Tech Writing Tutorials and free Templates

Help! I need to go back to the way it was

You can tell Word to undo a mistake you’ve made and to change it back to what you wrote a few minutes ago.

If you’ve made a mistake when writing, for example deleted a few paragraphs by accident, the first reaction may be to panic. How do I get it back? Do I have to write it all again?

One way to do this is to use the Undo feature in Word. This lets you go back in time, step by step, until you find the first version of the text you wrote.

Here’s how it works:

1. In the Word document, press Ctrl and Z. This performs one Undo. It undoes the last edit you made to the document.

2. Press Ctrl and Z. This performs another Undo. It undoes the second last edit you made.

Continue to press Ctrl and Z to undo as many edits as you want. 

When you’ve found the text that you were after, save the document, preferably with some naming convention that makes sense to you, for example, June Report Draft 2.

Rather than keeping one version of a document, especially one you’ll re-write many times, save it with a different version number as you work on it. This avoids losing all your work if the document crashes, which can happen if you repeatedly format a document and make changes to its layout.

At the end of the project, delete the initial drafts, then create a Gold Copy of the final draft and save it in the Archives.

Filed under: Cool Tricks

Sparklines – Word-sized Graphs

SparkMaker lets you visualize numerical data in dashboards and spreadsheets, reports and presentations. Sparklines compress large amounts of data into intense, word-sized diagrams (e.g. miniaturized bar or line graphs). They are created within a single spreadsheet cell or even directly inside a text paragraph.

The new Bissantz SparkMaker 3.0 empowers Microsoft® Office users to create their sparklines automatically and to present condensed graphical information which is traditionally lost among multiple report pages or slides.

The sparkline concept has been invented by Edward Tufte, the renowned expert for innovative information design. He states that at the heart of the concept are “intense, simple, word-sized graphics”:

A sparkline depicts data in miniaturized graphs, such as bars, lines, whiskers and pie charts.

A typical application is to depict the history of a value by means of a sparkline which is placed right in front of the current value within a report (e.g. the last months or years of product sales). Readers then have context information (e.g. about a trend or cyclical ups-and-downs in sales) to interpret the current data.

Probably the most remarkable innovation are functions for Excel that generate cell-adherent sparklines automatically and update them dynamically. In Excel XP and 2003 functions like “=Sparkline(cellrange)” generate a sparkline directly in a cell of a worksheet. The word-sized graphs automatically update whenever the underlying data has changed.

Bissantz SparkMaker 3.0 is free with unlimited functionality for private and academic users while all other users may test it during a 30-day trial period before a valid license has to be obtained. For more details and a downloadable version of SparkMaker 3.0 please visit:

Filed under: Cool Tricks

Viva FormsAssistant! – Create & Fill in Business Forms Automatically

FormsAssistant is an excellent Microsoft Word add-in for those involved in creating and filling in business forms.

Working from within the Microsoft Word interface, FormsAssistant lets you create new forms, modify existing ones, and fill forms with the appropriate information. By standardizing and automating your business’ forms processing, productivity increases, printing expenses decrease, and errors become less and less frequent.

FormsAssistant saves time by allowing secretaries and data entry people to use form templates for employment applications, surveys, medical insurance paperwork, contracts, form letters, and all types of documents where much of the wording is boilerplate.

To fill in a form, simply click the FormsAssistant icon on the Word toolbar. The program keeps all previously entered values, so you can select and reuse them with a single click. When you have entered all of the data, the form can be saved, printed, and treated like any other standard Word document.

FormsAssistant costs $29.95 (USD) for a single-user license. The program comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. Purchase FormsAssistant at, or download a free, fully functional 45-day trial version.

Filed under: Cool Tricks

Change line spacing between sentences to improve readability

One of the quickest ways to improve the layout of your documents is to use line spacing.

We’ve all seen documents where the material was so densely written that you could hardly read the words? Just a huge block of words.

To improve how your text looks, you can increase the line spacing between the sentences. This breathes some life into your page by giving it extra space.

1. Select the text that you want to change:

2. On the Formatting toolbar, click Line Spacing.

3. Click the arrow next to Line Spacing, and then the size you want, for example, 2.0.

This makes your text much easier to read and encourages the reader to approach your material.

Filed under: Cool Tricks

How to Quickly Reduce Microsoft Word File Size – Secret #1

Ever had your Microsoft Word file explode from 1 to 10MB in just a few minutes?

In the technical writing world, Microsoft Word tends to get a bad rap. One of the arguments put against Word is that its fairly unstable and prone to creating ‘horrors’, such as bloating in size until your (Microsoft!) operating system grinds to a halt.

Compared with Adobe FrameMaker, this is true. FrameMaker is very stable, but can be awkward to use. Steeeeep learning curve.

I’ll admit it! I prefer Microsoft Word any day.

Bloated file sizes are a real problem. No-one will deny this. But, in the course of creating some long documents in MS Word, I’ve learned a few small secrets.

And these small secrets are guaranteed to save you ALOT of time.

The first offender is Bullet Lists. If there is one thing that’s guaranteed to destroy Word, its bullet lists.

Here’s what tends to happen.

When you click Bullet List from the Word toolbar, Word ‘points’ this Bullet List to the file.

In other words, it uses the default settings in and applies these. Fine. No problem!

But, if you then cut and paste a Bulleted List from another document into your working file, it gets very confused.

What file do I now link to?

AND, if you then use a special bullet style, it has a nervous breakdown…

What happens? Suddenly, your machine starts to grind while Word struggles to resolve this issue. And as it can’t, it crashes!

Here’s what to do instead

  1. In Word, create separate styles for each different bullet lists that you need, for example Bullet Regular, Bullet Indent, Bullet Square and so on.

  2. When you need to use a bullet list, select the correct style from the drop-down menu.

  3. If you want to import a bullet list from another document, first select the Clear Formatting option from the drop down menu (this removes all formatting) and then cut it into the working document. Then apply the correct style.

Follow these three steps and you’ll keep your Word docs happy and healthy.

In the next article, we’ll look at another way to reduce large word files.

This is our first ‘insider secret’ on taming Microsoft Word. What’s been your experience? 

Want to learn more?


Filed under: Cool Tricks, how do i ?

Using Filtered HTML

Purists may not approve of the quality of its code, but Microsoft Word lets you save your documents into HTML and, for the most part, the end result is fine. If you want to convert your document into HTML you can choose from three different options, each of which has its own advantages.

To get started, from the File menu, click Save As and then select the file type you want to use:

  • Single file web page – one large web page with the images embedded into the page.

  • Web Page – like above except the images are held in a separate folder.

  • Web Page, Filtered – web page which has removed the Word-specific features.

  • The third option—Web Page, Filtered—allows you to significantly reduce the size of web pages created in Microsoft Word.

Filed under: Cool Tricks, design, formatting, how do i ?, Trouble Shooting


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