Tips: Making Microsoft Word Behave

Ah, Microsoft Word. It seems so easy...until its not.

Microsoft Word is one of the most-used tools in most offices, and yet there are so many features that go unused. Here are the ones that people ask me "how did you do that?" most often.


The information provided here is based on the 2010 version of Word. If you have a different version, most of the functionality is probably the same, but it will be hidden away in a different menu/shortcut/etc. If that's the case, your best bet is probably to go through this post looking for the information that you need, then hit the web to find out where it's hidden in your version. Remember Google (or Bing, or whatever) is your friend! 

Tip #1: Copying Visio into Word 

You spend hours, even days, working on those Visio documents, but then the boss wants them added to the main document. Now what? First, relax. Then:

  1. Make sure you don't have anything selected on the page you want to copy (yes, really), then press Ctrl-c or select the Copy option in Visio.  
  2. Next, go to the document and press Ctrl-v or select the Paste option in Word. This will give you the Visio image including the background. 

Tip #2: Generate a Table of Contents

To create a Table of Contents: 

  1. Click on the page where you want to insert the Table of Contents.  
  2. Go to the Reference tab. 
  3. Click the Table of Contents option. 
  4. Select the layout/formatting option you like. 

The Table of Contents will be automatically created with words contained in Headings 1 through 3. 

Note: The  TOC  is  generated  from  the text  you formatted  with  Heading  styles  used throughout the document. If you don't use those headings, the Table of Contents will not populate. 

Tip #3: Update the Table of Contents

OK, great, so now you have your Table of Contents! But what do you do when you change the document and need to update that TOC? (When we talk about updating the table of contents, what we mean is refreshing it to reflect the most-current heading text and page numbers. )

  1. DO NOT edit the TOC directly by typing in the changes. Instead...
  2. Place cursor into the Table of Contents (the section will probably turn a shade of grey). 
  3. Press F9 or select the Update Table of Contents option that displays at the top. 
  4. Select Update Entire Table to make sure you get all the latest changes. 

Tip #4: Using Section Breaks to Change Page Orientation

You can insert a section break to switch from portrait to landscape (or reverse) layout: 

  1. Go to the Page Layout tab. 
  2. In the Page Setup section, select Breaks.
  3. Select Section Break, then page orientation  

Note: This  applies  the new page  orientation  to  all pages going forward unless another break exists/is added. 

Tip #5: Hide Track Changes in Word

Sure, tracking changes is a huge help when you are working on a document with other people. But when you are ready to finish up and submit the document, how do you get rid of all the change tracking? Turns out, it's easy-peasy... 

  1. Go to the Review tab. 
  2. Look for Track Changes. 
  3. Immediately to the right is a drop-list. Select the Final option. 

Tip #6: Clear All Formatting to the Rescue!

Sooner or later you're going to find yourself with a Word document that has so many problems that parts, or all, of it becomes unstable. Don't despair - you may not have to retype the whole thing!

It happens to everyone who uses Word on a regular basis—sometimes you screw up the formatting to a point where you just want to start over. There is a button on the Home tab of the Ribbon that many people don't realize is there. It is the Clear All Formatting button and it can be a real time saver.

  1. Highlight the text you want to clear, even the whole document.
  2. Then look at the "Ribbon*," go to the Home tab, and look for and click on the Clear All Formatting button (it looks like the letter A with an eraser over top of it). Click/tap it.

All manual formatting will be removed and the text will revert to the underlying style. Then you can start over.

Tip #7: Insert Unicode Characters

If you know the Unicode code of a character, you can add it to your document by typing the code followed by Alt+x. For instance, the code for Indian Rupee symbol is 20B9 – type 20B9, press Alt+x and the code will be replaced by the actual Rupee symbol.

Need to find the Unicode code for a character? Go check out

Note: What is Unicode? Unicode provides a unique number for every character, which ensures that the characters are presented consistently in all languages around the world. To learn more, visit:

What else can we help you with? Let us know!



* A.K.A. the bar across the top with all the options.