10 Most Useful Microsoft Word Tips & Tricks

Microsoft Word is one of our favorite text editors. With such a big array of features, Microsoft Office Word can look complicated. There are many hidden tricks and shortcuts that make text editing easier. Here are some tips I think will help you when you are using Microsoft Word.

Microsoft Word Tips And Tricks

1. Vertical Selection Of Text

Normally, we select a character, a word, a sentence or a paragraph. All these selections are horizontal selections. Sometimes you may need to select vertically. For example, if your text has numbers in the beginning, you may want to select only the numbers to delete them at one go (see figure).

To select text horizontally, press ALT and click to drag and make a selection. Remember to release ALT key before releasing mouse else it will open the Research dialog. Check out the different uses of vertical selections and let us know what all you did with this feature.

2. Default Line Spacing

The default line spacing in Microsoft Word 2010 is 1.15 against 1 in Microsoft Word 2003. Microsoft changed the line spacing to make your text more readable. If you want the default line spacing as 1, follow this procedure:

  1. While on the Home tab, right click on the Normal quick style button and select Modify
  2. In the Format list that appears, select Paragraph
  3. Under Spacing, change the line spacing from 1.15 to 1
  4. Click OK
  5. Check the box against “New documents based on this template.”
  6. Click OK

3. Changing The Default Save Location

By default, MS Word opens Documents folder when you press CTRL+S for the first time. If you think this is irritating you, you can change the default file location to some other place where you normally store your documents.

  1. Click on File
  2. Click on Options
  3. Click Advanced in the left side of the window that appears
  4. In the right part of the window, scroll down to the button that says “File Locations”
  5. Select Documents and click on Modify
  6. In the Save File dialog box that appears, enter or select the new path and click OK to close the Save File dialog box.
  7. Click OK to close the window.

4. Change Default Font

The default font for new documents in MS Word 2010 is Calibri. Though the font is good for online viewing, it creates problems when printing. You may be using Times New Roman or Arial for print jobs. One method is to change the font manually each time after you have typed the document. But then, it would involve formatting the document again. Another method is to change the default font.

  1. Right-click on the Normal quick style button on Home tab.
  2. Click Modify
  3. In the dialog box that appears, click on Format… to open the drop-down menu and select Font
  4. In the Font dialog box, select the font you wish to use with every document.
  5. Make any other changes you wish such as font size etc
  6. Click OK
  7. Click to select “New documents based on this template”
  8. Click OK to close the Modify dialog box.

5. Move Rows Of Text In Table

Sometimes when you are working on the table, you may want to move one or more rows in the table up or down without having to change the table formatting. One method is copy pasting but that risks formatting.

Another method is using ALT+SHIFT+UP arrow key to move an entire row up. Similarly, to move the entire row down, use ALT+SHIFT+DN arrow key. Note that you have to select the row before you can move it using the ALT+SHIFT+Arrow keys. This method makes sure the formatting is not disturbed.

6. Quickly Change Line Spacing

Sometimes need arises that you have to change line spacing among different paragraphs. Here are the shortcut keys:

CTRL + 1 –> Change line spacing to 1

CTRL + 2 –> Change line spacing to 2

CTRL + 5 –> Change line spacing to 1.5

Note that you just need to place the cursor on the paragraph that needs to be styled. You need not select the paragraph.

7. Quickly Adding Borders to Paragraphs

If you wish to add borders to some paragraph, you can use the Borders and Shading dialog box. However, if your need is just to add the bottom border to text/paragraph, you can do it by adding three special characters and hitting Enter.

Press – (hyphen) three times and press Enter to draw an underline border of 3/4 points

Press _ (underscore) three times and press Enter to draw an underline border of 1.5 points

Press ~ (tilde) three times and press Enter to draw a zigzag underline border

Press * (asterisk) three times and press Enter to draw a dotted underline border

Press = (equal to) three times and press Enter to draw a double underline border

8. Find Special Formatting

You can find text that is specially formatted. For example, you can find highlighted text or text whose font is Times New Roman. You can also search for bold text or italics. There are many more options when you use the Find option.

  1. Press CTRL+F to open the Find pane. In Word 2010 it appears to the left side of the window.
  2. Click on the down-facing triangle next to the magnifying glass and click on Advanced Find…
  3. In the Find dialog box that appears, click on More.
  4. You can see plenty of options under Format.
  5. When you select anything, it appears under the “Find What” textbox. When you click, Find Next without entering anything in the “Find What” text box, it searches for the format you have selected. For example, you can select Font and in the Font dialog box, select a font and its properties (bold, italics, etc.).

9. Merging Formatting When Pasting Across Documents

When you copy anything from another document and paste it in the current document, you will want the copied text to match the formatting of the current document. While you can manually format each time you copy text from other documents to the current one, you can also set the default paste to merge formatting so that the text copied from other sources acquires formatting of the current document.

  1. To set the default formatting, click on the down-facing triangle below Paste on Home tab
  2. Click Set Default Paste
  3. In the window that appears, Select Merge Destinations in 1] When Pasting in the same Document and 2] When Pasting between Documents.
  4. Click OK to close the window

10. Copy Only Formatting

Sometimes you may want to apply an already existing formatting from one part of your document to another part. You have the Format Painter for the purpose. Using the Format Painter can be irritating when dealing with long documents.  Here is another method that is easier to use.

Press CTRL+SHIFT+C instead of CTRL+C. This will copy only the formatting and leave the text.

Move to the destination where the formatting is to be applied. Select the text to which formatting is to be applied. Press CTRL+SHIFT+V to paste the formatting to the selection.

Above are some Microsoft Word tips and tricks that make your working on the editor easy. If you have anything to share, please use the comments section.

Posted by on , in Category Office with Tags
Arun Kumar is a Microsoft MVP alumnus, obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN


  1. Stuart Moon

    Why is word 2010 so complicated? I just want to write a simple letter and not spend 3 hours training to become a word geek.
    Can I load a earlier version of Word

  2. Newson91

    This was a really useful piece, especially your section on merging formatting across documents, I’ve always struggled with getting that right until now! I’ve recently constructed an article on how to use word more creatively by using 5 incredibly simple tools! I hope it would be of use to your readers. http://www.microsofttraining.net/b/wordtraining/2013/02/26/5-reasons-why-your-word-documents-are-losing-its-readers/

  3. Newson91

    Hi Stuart, maybe you could use some of these tools to help when creating a simple letter? Not all of them may apply but it could give some food for thought http://www.microsofttraining.net/b/wordtraining/2013/02/26/5-reasons-why-your-word-documents-are-losing-its-readers/

  4. Locutus

    Vertical selection – tip 1 – doesn’t work. If I release the mouse first, Research comes up as you said. If I release Alt first and then the mouse, Research still comes up. Also, the 2nd paragraph starts with “To select text horizontally…” The whole point was selecting text vertically. I’m using Word 2010.

  5. nimblejack

    It is not for use if the items you are trying to select are bullets. Try

    1 item a
    2 item b
    3 item c

    where 1, 2 and 3 are not bullets but text. Perhaps a better example would be

    Corn flour
    Beer hops
    Bread grains
    Fruit basket

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