4 Useful Microsoft Word Tips & Tricks You Should Know About

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mswordmanualsEver since Microsoft first created MS Word, I’ve been using the software to write articles, college essays, important letters and just about any other document I’ve needed to create in my life.

A lot of people enjoy other word processors, and I would never claim that Microsoft Word is the best one out there. All you have to do is read articles like Israel’s 6 Less Known Free Word Processors or Aseem’s 6 Free Office Suites That Are NOT Microsoft to recognize that there are some amazing and very useful word processors out there.

However, there are over 500 million Microsoft Word users in the world, and it’s still the most popular word processor out there. Because of that, many people often find themselves sifting through the Internet for tips on some of those not-so-easy tasks within Microsoft word.

Today, I’m going to offer 4 of the most useful Microsoft Word Tips that I’ve learned through the years. These include:

  • Placing an image anywhere in a document without ruining text formatting.
  • Inserting page numbering into the footer and starting the numbering over in new sections.
  • Inserting pop-up comments for highlighted text inside your document.
  • Making use of integrated Internet functionality to research selected text within word documents.

I’ve found each one of these techniques to be extremely useful throughout the years, and I’m sure you will too if you haven’t already tried them. For the purpose of this article I’m using MS Word 2003 so that most readers (who likely have later versions) will more likely have all of the features available that are shown in this article.

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1. Placing An Image In Your Document Anywhere You Like

For the purpose of demonstration, I’m using the text from my recent article on how to repair a CD with toothpaste, but I’ve removed the images. Many people just insert images into a word document between paragraphs, since this is the easiest and simplest method to embed images in your document. However, if you want to have images appear within your document like on a typical web page, where the text flows smoothly around the image – it’s possible using a simple approach I call, “playing inside the box.”  Let’s say that you have a word document formatted in the standard way, as shown here.


Now, if you try to just do an Insert -> Picture where the blue circle is located, all of the text gets shoved rudely down the page as your inserted image takes over that entire section of the document. Don’t worry – you can teach your image to play nicely with text by forcing it to: Play Inside The Box.

Start off by inserting a text box (Insert -> Text Box) anywhere on the document, and then move it so that it’s located where you want the image.


Now, right click on it and select “Format Text Box“.  Under the “Colors and Lines” tab, make sure “Lines” is set to “No Line.”  Then, under the “Layout” tab, make sure that “Square” is selected. Click OK, and now your document will look like this.


As you can see, the text box is now invisible, and the text wraps cleanly around it. Just click anywhere inside your invisible text box, insert your image (the box will automatically resize to fit the photo) and you now have a cleanly embedded photo within your document. This technique also works to the right side of the text if you wish as well.

2. Page Numbering Magic

Another thing that many people like to do, especially when writing a multi-part manual or long document, is to number multiple sections of a document starting over from 1. Most people know how to insert page numbers into the footer of a document, but re-numbering starting within multiple new sections can get tricky.

The first step is to create the page numbering format that you want.  For this example, I’m inserting a number in the footer that reads “Page x of x”. You do this by going to View -> Header and Footer, switching to footer and centering the text, and then typing in the text “Page“, then click on the “Insert Page Number” button, type “of” and then click on “Insert Number of Pages” button.


This is your standard page numbering setup. But what if you want to start over at Page 1 on the next page, to start a brand new section of your document?  First, you need to define the next page as a new section by going to the page and clicking “Insert -> Break” and choosing the “Next Page” section type.


Now, when you go back into “View -> Header and Footer“, you’ll notice that the footer for Section 2 has the normal continuation of page numbers from the previous section. To change this, when you’re viewing the footer for Section 2 (or the section you want to start over), just click the “Format Page Number” button and change the “Page Numbering” to start at “1”.


Now your page numbers for Section 2 will start at page 1 and continue on until you create another section break and start the numbering all over again.

3. Pop-Up Comments For Editing or Offering Reader Tips

Another really cool feature that I use in a lot of my own documentation are pop-up tips or comments. You can define specific text to pop-up whenever the reader places the mouse cursor over specific text in the document. You can do this by highlighting the text and then selecting Insert -> Comment from the menu.


The manner in which Word has you edit the comment is different depending on your version and what page layout you’re in. After you create the comment, whenever the reader reads your document in normal view, the text you’ve commented only appears highlighted. When they roll the cursor over the text, your comment (or tip) pops-up.


This is an awesome feature for creating a user manual or a how-to document, because you can embed additional information about a term or idea without cluttering the rest of your document with information that not everyone reading it might need or find useful.

4. Researching Selected Text Within Word

The last useful Microsoft Word tip that I’d like to share is one that I use more often when I’m reading someone else’s documents. If you’re reading along, and there’s a particular word or term that looks foreign, or there’s a concept that you’d really like to learn more about – Microsoft Word has an entire research library integrated into it. All you have to do is highlight the text or phrase, right click on it, and select “Look Up…


You’ll immediately notice an entire menu bar open up on the right side of the screen with all of the research options available to you, including not only the typical dictionary or thesaurus resources, but also research sites like Factiva iWorks, HighBeam Research, Live Search (now Bing) and more.


For each of the research sites like Live Search, the results show up right inside Microsoft Word. If you spot one that may be helpful, you can click the link and go to the site outside of Word. I’ve used this particular feature in Word (particularly the Encyclopedia) many times, and I consider it probably the most helpful embedded tool within Word.

Were any of these tips brand new to you? Or are you an old formatting pro with a few unique tips of your own? Check our more Microsoft Word tips here and share your own tips in the comments section below.

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