By Jim Wong, CPA | May 25, 2016

Are you getting the most out of Microsoft Word? There are probably some capabilities you’re missing.

Microsoft Word is one of the most common forms of communication and document processing in the world. No matter what profession or industry you’re in, businesses tend to use the program in some capacity on a regular basis. Chances are you depend on the tool for various aspects of your accounting, finance or IT role—event if you spend the majority of your day in another Microsoft product, like Excel, or ERP staples like Great Plains or SAP.

With the ease and efficiency of Word, it’s no wonder how much it’s universally recognized as an essential word-processing product. However, there are likely many inner workings of Word you might be unaware of, intimidated by or not using for some reason or another. So, why not start maximizing the program you’re already using on a daily basis?

I bet you’ll even find ways to speed up a number of your tasks and help accomplish more in your role overall.

Recently, I came across an article in CGMA Magazine that discusses this topic and decided to share some of their tips, plus a few of my own, in the 5 Ways for Accounting, Finance and IT Professionals to Maximize Microsoft Word below. Note, most directions below are specific to Word 2013.

1. Remove white space. 
To make documents easier to read and more eye-catching, it’s best to hide excessive white space such as blank pages, headers, footers or page breaks. In order to do so, click on the “View” tab and then “Print Layout” option, and position the cursor between two separate pages until the “Double-click to hide white space” option appears. Next, double-click your mouse button. Want to get the white space back? Position your cursor on the break line separating any two pages until the “Double-click to show white space” option appears, and then double-click your mouse button.

2. Automate the table of contents. 
When working on an extensive, lengthy document, often times you’ll use a table of contents to organize the information. First, highlight each paragraph heading in the document that you want in the table of contents and from the References tab select Add Text, Level 1 and so on. Once you have done this step for every paragraph, position your cursor where you want the table of contents to appear and from the References ribbon select “Table of Contents,” and then click on the table of contents format. To update your table of contents as the document changes, click the table of contents to select it, and then press the “Update Table” button that appears at the top of your selected table of contents to update the table as you work.

3. View content side-by-side. 
Sometimes if you’re working on a lengthy project, it can be beneficial to see many pieces of the information at once. If you want to view two separate parts of your document, click on the “View” tab and select “Split.” In doing this, you can select the desired size of the split. Additionally, if you want to see three or more separate parts of your document, go to the “View” tab and select the “New Window” option (as many times as necessary) to launch copies of the document in separate windows. Next, from the “View” tab, select the “Arrange All” option to display the duplicate Word document windows side-by-side on your monitor.

4. Take a line from newspapers. 
We’ve all seen documents that are text heavy and difficult to read. One easy way to remedy that issue is to create a newspaper-style format that organizes your information into columns. To format this style, go to the “Page Layout” tab and select the “Columns” option. Then, select the amount of desired columns. Your document will update to the new format automatically.

5. Insert comments quickly. 
When collaborating with colleagues on a single document in Microsoft Word, inserting comments can be a helpful tool. To be efficient you can use a shortcut with hot keys that’ll help save you time. To do so, select the text or position where you want the comment to occur, press Alt+Ctrl+M to launch a blank comment box, and then enter your comment. Be sure to save the document. This time-saving step is one of the easiest ways to collaborate on an accounting, finance or IT project in Word.

These are only a few of the many ways to use Microsoft Word more effectively. Do you have other tips? Comment below and let us know!

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