9 Microsoft Word Tips to Make Assignment Rushing Less Painful

As students, we can’t go a week without using Microsoft Word. We’ve all grown up using the word processor, and are deeply familiar with its blue-themed interface and Quick Access Toolbar.

Here’s the thing: there are quite a few tricks Word has up its sleeve! Utilising them will reduce stress levels when assignment deadlines are right around the corner. Here are a few we think you should know.

1) Creating Custom Shortcuts

Whether you study Sciences, Engineering, or Humanities, there are some go-to symbols or styles you’ll use. Instead of manually configuring your document each time, or googling the internet to copy-and-paste an em-dash (that’s me), create a custom shortcut you won’t forget!

Here’s how you do this:

Windows:

  1. Go to FileOptionsCustomize Ribbon OR Press ALT+F, T
  2. Go to the “Customize Ribbon” tab, then select “Customize” at the bottom left
Image credits: Microsoft
  1. Assign the command for what you desire and choose something easier to remember. Word will inform you if the shortcut is already taken: replace it if it’s not one you use regularly! You can also try out shortcuts until you find one that’s unassigned.
Image credits: Microsoft

Mac:

  1. Go to ToolsCustomize Keyboard (Mac)
  2. 2. Assign the command for what you desire. Word will inform you if the shortcut is already taken: replace it if it’s not one you use regularly! You can also use an unassigned one.

That’s it! Pretty simple, isn’t it?

A quick tip: You can restrict the shortcut changes to the document you’re working on! Just select it from the drop-down menu before saving your changes.

2) Use Quick Parts

Write articles that begin with the same opening? Does your assignment require a standard disclaimer paragraph you find yourself opening previous assignments to copy and paste, over and over?

Quick Parts (Windows) helps you cut down these steps! Simply highlight the text you want to save, go to the “Insert” tab, and click on “Quick Parts” > “Save Selection to Quick Parts Gallery.All saved text, or parts, will be stored in alphabetical order.

Mac users can try out AutoText, which is also under the Insert tab:

3) Use the Spike function

This little-known function will save you from a lot of stress when rearranging your essays or dissertations!

Named after the sharp, pointy, old-school paper holders that you will still spot at restaurants or offices, the function allows you to cut and paste multiple items at once. It’s really handy when you need to gather or combine important data, for example.

Here’s how you do it:

  • Highlight the text you want, then press Ctrl-F3 (Windows) or Command-Fn-F3 (Mac)
  • Repeat for the other chunks of text
  • To paste, press Ctrl+Shift+F3 (Windows) or Command+Shift+Fn+F3

That’s it! Do note that the text portions are cut and not copied. Share this tip with your friends to make their lives easier, too.

4) Format Painting

We all know how tedious it can be to format a document. Well, fear not, because Microsoft Word’s Format Painter is here to save the day!

The Format Painter is like a magic wand for formatting. It can copy all kinds of styles, like fonts, colours, and spacing, from one part of your document to another. No more spending hours tweaking the same styles over and over again!

You can even use the Format Painter on other things besides text, like tables, images, and shapes. It’s like the Swiss Army Knife of formatting tools.

Here’s how it works: you select some text or an object with a formatting style you like, click the Format Painter button and then paint over the text or object you want to apply the formatting to. Easy peasy!

Or, you:

  • Press Ctrl + Shift + C for Windows or CommandShift + C on a Mac
  • Select your text or graphics
  • Press Ctrl + Shift + V for Windows or CommandShift + V on a Mac

So, next time you’re struggling with formatting your document with limited time to spare, remember the Format Painter and let it work its magic. You will reduce the likelihood of losing marks due to format issues (and be one step closer to that “A” grade).

5) Split View

Microsoft Word Split View is a helpful feature if you need to work on multiple parts of your assignment simultaneously. With Split View, you can view and edit different sections of your document side-by-side, without having to constantly scroll up and down!

To activate Split View, simply go to the View tab on the Microsoft Word ribbon and click on the Split button. This will divide the screen into two separate panes, each displaying a different part of your document. You can also drag the divider bar to adjust the size of each pane to your liking.

Split View can be especially useful for if you need to compare different sections of your work. For example, you can use Split View to view the introduction while the other pane displays the conclusion. This way, you can easily reference and make sure the two sections flow and are stylistically similar, without having to scroll through the whole document. This can help you stay focused too!

6) Adding Placeholder Text

Do you need to format your document first before it’s complete? Or some filler text while you figure out what to write for a section?

Just type “=Lorem()”, press enter, and you’ll have what you need! This familiar paragraph, specifically:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Maecenas porttitor congue massa. Fusce posuere, magna sed pulvinar ultricies, purus lectus malesuada libero, sit amet commodo magna eros quis urna.
Nunc viverra imperdiet enim. Fusce est. Vivamus a tellus.
Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Proin pharetra nonummy pede. Mauris et orci.
Aenean nec lorem. In porttitor. Donec laoreet nonummy augue.
Suspendisse dui purus, scelerisque at, vulputate vitae, pretium mattis, nunc. Mauris eget neque at sem venenatis eleifend. Ut nonummy.

 

If this isn’t sufficient, here’s another shortcut you can try! “=rand(paragraphs,sentences)” lets you customise the amount of dummy text you need, as well as its length.

Let’s say you require two paragraphs with an average length of three sentences each. Word can generate that for you! Here’s the result of using “=rand(2,3)”:

Video provides a powerful way to help you prove your point. When you click Online Video, you can paste in the embed code for the video you want to add. You can also type a keyword to search online for the video that best fits your document.

To make your document look professionally produced, Word provides header, footer, cover page and text box designs that complement each other. For example, you can add a matching cover page, header and sidebar. Click Insert, then choose the elements you want from the different galleries.

You’ll have to space out the paragraphs yourself, but isn’t this nifty? Give it a try!

7) Shrink One Page

Remember when you needed to print documents or readings, but had a line or two on the next page? You’d do your best to reduce font sizes or remove the spacing so that everything fits for easier reference — or just to save paper.

To make things quicker, here’s what you can do:

  • Go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar (Windows) or Word > Preferences > Ribbon & Toolbar > select Ribbon or Toolbar (Mac)

  • Choose the tab you want it to fall under and create a custom group for it

You’re now good to go!

8) Double-click to Teleport

Microsoft Word is very much like a treasure box: the more you use it, the more you discover just how much it has to offer. Perhaps everyone else knows this hack, but I was today years old when I discovered you could simply double-click on a space to type there directly! Like so:

Do test this out for yourself!

9) Document Readability

Last but not least (for this article), did you know that Microsoft Word can analyse your document and provide you with a range of readability statistics, including the Flesch Reading Ease score and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level?

Scoring 90 to 100 points means that your assignment is readable by a 10-year-old or fourth-grade US student. The higher the score, the easier your message is to understand! Aim for around 60 points.

To find out the readability level:

  • Enable “Show Readability Statistics” under “Spelling and Grammar”

I hope you’ve learnt some cool tips that you’ll put to use immediately the same way I have (the “em dash” symbol is now linked to the “Command+9” shortcut for me), that will make your assignment and work crunching easier!

If you’ve any tips that aren’t shared here, please feel free to share it with us in the comments section! Knowledge is power.

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