Jun 3

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for close on 20 years and still technical things crop up either I didn’t know about, or haven’t had to know about. I recently received a Word document to work on in which a significant number of words at the end of lines were hyphenated. Nothing strange about that, except that, when the cursor was advanced over the hyphenated word, it completely jumped over the hyphen to the next character as if the hyphen wasn’t actually present in the document.

I did a bit of searching and discovered that automatic hyphenation had been turned on in that document. In Word 2007 and later, you can check the status of hyphenation in your current document and turn off automatic hyphenation by going to Page Layout, clicking Hyphenation and selecting None.

Word hyphenation

In Word versions earlier than 2007 go to Tools, Language, Hyphenation and uncheck Automatically hyphenate document.

So you’ve never noticed automatic hyphenation? Well, that may be because it’s turned off in all your documents. So this doesn’t apply to me? It might. if someone sends you a document in which automatic hyphenation has been used, it will be turned on for that document in your system, i.e. the hyphenation setting travels with the document. So a hyphenated document will open on your system. But it’s easily turned off as I’ve described.


May 8

Your collaborating or editing a Word document and you come across missing spaces with everything crammed together. No spaces after commas, no space after colons, no spaces inserted on either side of parentheses or brackets. Well, there’s a quick way to go through your document quickly inserting the missing spaces.

Let’s have a look at inserting spaces after commas where these are missing. The others follow a similar pattern. Open your document and fire up Search and Replace in Word (Ctrl-H), turn on Wildcards, and in the search box type (,)([! ])

Insert spaces in Word

Notice there’s a space after the exclamation mark. Briefly you are telling Word to search for a comma followed by anything EXCEPT a space (represented by the exclamation mark followed by a space in brackets). In the replace box, type \1 \2 (with a space between the \1 and \2).  This is instructing Word to take the first set of search parameters between the first parentheses in the search box (now represented by \1), then insert a space, then follow that by what is in the second set of search data between the second set of parentheses (now represented by \2). This will now insert spaces after the comma where there wasn’t one.

You can take this further with the following in the search box:

(:)([! ]) search for a colon without a space after it

([)])([! ]) search for a closing parenthesis without a space after it

([! ])([(]) search for an opening parenthesis without a space before it

The replace box remains the same.

One other thing. Turn off tracked changes if they are turned on before you try this. It doesn’t work with tracked changes on.

I hope that helps you to quickly add spaces where they are needed in your Word documents. Interested in taking this further? Here’s a useful webpage I found with tips on Find and Replace using Wildcards.


Dec 19

Word icons

I came across this problem when opening a Word file recently. Someone had sent me a Word document to edit so as usual I moved it to a folder on my PC and double-clicked to open it in Word 2010. The file opened okay but I noticed that, strangely, the file was called Document1 at the top of the ribbon – not the name of the file I had received. Okay, so I decided to save the file with a different name. I clicked Save As but Word offered to save it in Libraries>Documents, not where I had originally opened the file.

So I knew there was a problem, probably with the file name. I use xplorer2 as my file manager and when I looked at the file extension, it was in fact .dot not .doc or .docx. So this was a Word Template file. Sure enough, when you look at the file icon closely as shown above, there is a slight difference between dot and doc icons.

So if you are having a problem with a Word document opening as Document1, it’s probably a Word Template file so just save it as a doc or docx file in your work directory.


Dec 13

Working more productively means you can finish work faster get on to something else or have some leisure time. I’ve collected 10 Word tips and tricks I’ve found really useful to help you save time. You’ll probably know some of these but hopefully there are one or two you don’t. I’ve written about some before so for those I’ll give a brief explanation and then link to the original post.

Quickly changing the case of a word, phrase or sentence

If you didn’t know about the Shift-F3 combination in Word, memorise it now – it’ll save you a lot of time in the future. With your cursor on a word, hold the Shift key, then press F3 repeatedly to cycle through all caps, initial capital and all lower case. Or highlight a phrase, sentence or paragraph then use this key combination to quickly change the case.

Return to where you left off yesterday

When you reopen a Word document, for example, the next day, Word remembers where you left off in the document, assuming you didn’t return to the beginning before closing. Pressing Shift-F5 will magically return you to where you were working.

Quickly navigate round your document using the Browse Object button

Look towards the bottom right corner of the document window. Have you used these browsing buttons? With these, you can browse up and down through your document by comment, section, heading level, graphic or table. A great timesaver.

Word Tips1

Access frequently used commands from the Quick Access bar

This is another great time saver. Think of the commands you use all the time and add them to the Quick Access bar. On mine, I have Undo, Redo, Advanced Find, Borders and Shading (tables), Select Row (tables), Delete Row (tables), Insert symbol, Insert comment, Show All Comments, Track Changes, and Apply Styles. Here’s my earlier post about using the Quick Access bar. I’ve also recently learned you can right click many commands on the ribbon and add them to the Quick Access bar.

Word Quick Access Toolbar1
Read the rest of this entry »


Jun 14

If you’ve used MS Word, you’ll be familiar with search for/find words and phrases. To bring up a search dialogue box in older Word versions (pre 2007), press Ctrl-F. In newer versions of Word, Ctrl-F will work but the Advanced Find box is harder to get at. It can be accessed by clicking the down arrow at the right end of the search box. I’ve written a post about Advanced Find in new versions of Word here.

That’s fine but what about finding duplicate paragraphs in your document? This could occur when there are a number of collaborators on a document and they independently paste in repeat paragraphs of the same text. Well I’ve discovered that there’s a way to find repeat paragraphs. I had to edit another author’s document last week. After getting most of the way through it, a paragraph sounded very familiar. I checked back though the document and sure enough, he had used the exact same paragraph earlier – they had probably both been pasted into the document on different occasions. I then found further obvious repeated paragraphs, and then it occurred to me, what if I’ve missed less obvious duplicate paragraphs? Can Word find these repeat paragraphs for me automatically?

I searched around on Google and found one answer that seems to work and I’m indebted to Klaus Linke who commented on the Wordbanter forum. Go to the top of your document and open the Advanced Find box as outlined at the start of this post. Paste the following into the Find what box: (^13[!^13]@^13)*\1 (I’ve no idea what it means!) and make sure Use wildcards is checked

Find repeat paragraphs

When you click Find Next, the first repeated paragraph it finds will be the paragraphs at the beginning and end of the selection. Delete the last selected paragraph, then return to the top of the document and repeat the procedure until all the duplicate paragraphs have been removed. Remember that this only works if the paragraphs are exactly the same (same capitalization, same word spacing, etc). And there must always be one paragraph (or at least a double carriage return) between the repeated paragraphs.

I admit, it’s not the most elegant of solutions but it works for me. I’m running Word 2010 but the routine should also work in older versions or Word. Have you found a better solution to find repeated paragraphs? Drop a comment below.


Jan 27

I thought I knew Word… or at least everything I needed to know. But still little surprises come along and you just wonder how you’ve missed them in the past.

I wrote a post about the new search in Word 2010 and Karen left a comment on that post offering this awesome tip. If you’ve used Word you’ll know that one annoyance of search in earlier versions of Word was the way the search box would jump around all over the document when you clicked the Find Next button often obscuring the document and the search results. That’s been improved in Word 2010 as I mentioned in the earlier post, but Karen pointed out that once you hit Ctrl-F and enter your search term in the navigation panel if you then close the dialog box in the left margin and then hit Ctrl-PgDn, it repeats the search without calling the dialog box! Awesome. You can search down through all the occurrences of your search phrase just by using this keyboard combination and without the annoyance of the search box obscuring your document and results. And, wait for it, Ctrl-PgUp runs back up through the search occurrences. And this tip also works in the so-called Advanced Find in Word 2010 – that’s the old style search pre-Word 2010. I mentioned how to access that in the earlier post. In addition, you can even resume the search after doing some typing by just pressing Ctrl-PgDn or Ctrl-PgUp again. I’ve found that this tip also works in Word 2007 and Word 2002 and probably other versions too.

No doubt if I’d taken the time to carefully read through one of the Word cheat sheets I’ve downloaded in the past I would have known this tip already. So I’ll just past it on here in the hope that someone else out there will benefit from it.

Got any good Word tips? Drop a comment below.


Aug 17

paper spike

I’ve been using MS Word for about 10 years and thought I knew most of its important features, but I didn’t know about the Spike!  I found out about this great feature recently in a blog post on Help Desk Geek. It allows you to quickly rearrange non-contiguous blocks of text or other items in your Word document. Basically, instead of using the simple cut and paste (Ctrl X, Ctrl-V) which I’m sure you’re all familiar with, you can use Word’s in-built Spike feature to ‘multiple cut’ items and then paste them all in order in a single operation.

Let me explain. The Spike allows you to add multiple selections (by cutting, not copying) to Word’s clipboard in the order you want, then to paste them all at once. So for example if you have an unordered list of say references which you want in alphabetical order, you just cut each selection in turn in the order you want using Ctrl-F3. They are added in that order to the Spike. No need to paste items individually, just keep adding your selections to the Spike. When you’ve finished cutting the items, you paste them all at once at your insertion point using Ctrl-Shift-F3.  Everything is pasted in one operation with all the selections in the order in which they were cut.

Try it out and see what you think. Definitely a time saver if you find yourself frequently rearranging selections in Word. And this feature works in all versions of Word from 97 to 2010. These are the main features of Spike but for a full how-to on using it, head over to the Help Desk Geek post. And let us know how you use the Spike in the comments.

Image credit: quinn.anya


Mar 25

If you spend a lot of time in Word like I do then quick access to commands is important. You can waste a lot of time moving around the ribbon. If you want to speed things up, rather than going through the ribbon to access commands which usually requires at least two clicks to get to your destination, you should look closely at the Quick Access Toolbar usually positioned at the top left of the screen next to the Office button. You can customise this toolbar and add all your frequently used commands. Using the drop-down bar at the end of the Quick Access Toolbar, navigate to More Commands. In the top drop-down box there you’ll probably see Popular Commands by default, but don’t be fooled here. You can change this to show All Commands and pick the ones you find most useful. Then click Add in the centre and they will be added to your customised bar layout on the right. You can rearrange them there using the arrows on the right.

Word Quick Access Toolbar

Another tip is to use separators if you find the buttons on the final bar are too closely spaced. You’ll find Separators at the top of the menu of commands. You can also move the final toolbar above or below the ribbon again using the drop-down menu at the end of the toolbar.

Finally you can get quick keyboard access to this toolbar using the key combinations Alt-1, Alt-2, etc. for items from left to right on the toolbar.


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