Microsoft Word can help you be time efficient. It can automate a number of time consuming processes, ensuring you spend less time messing around and more time writing.
Whether it’s finding and replacing words, inserting an automatically updated time and date, or just keeping the program itself up to date, we’ll show you some of the things that Word can automatically update for you.
If you have your own tip to share then please be sure to let us know in the comments section below.
1. Date and Time
It’s very easy to insert the current date and/or time into your Word document and have it automatically update every time the file is opened or printed. To do this, navigate to the Insert tab and then click Date & Time, which can be found within the Text category. A new window will open where you can select what type of date and time format you wish to insert into the document. Select one, then tick Update automatically, then click OK.
Note that this field won’t update in real time as you type. Instead, you need to click into the field and click Update. Bear in mind that whenever someone else opens the document, they’re going to see their current date and time, not the one which was set when you saved it. If you don’t want it to automatically update anymore, click into the field and press Ctrl + Shift + F9.
2. Spelling and Grammar
Who needs to bother learning how to spell things nowadays when we have spell checkers?
Word makes things even easier by automatically correcting a vast number of common mistakes, along with other helpful features, like capitalizing words where appropriate and applying formatting to symbols.
To adjust these settings, or enable them if you’ve got it turned off, navigate to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options… This will open a new window with various tabs. It’s worth exploring each to see what’s possible. For example, the AutoCorrect tab will allow you to add, edit and delete words which will get automatically corrected. Elsewhere, the AutoFormat tab will let you automatically create bullet point lists or turn hyphens into dashes.
3. Find and Replace
If there’s a word or phrase that appears throughout your document which you now need to replace en masse, don’t go through them individually and do it. Word can automatically update all instances for you. To get started, press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace window.
There’s two fields to input: Find what and Replace with. Put the existing word or phrase in the former and the replacement in the latter. When ready, hit Replace All to change every instance or just Replace to take them in turn. You can also click More to get more advanced options, like match case, wildcards, and words that sound similar.
4. Links to Other Files
Word functions well with other Office programs and allows you to embed some elements from them within your documents. The best example of this is with Excel, which allows you to embed tables, graphs, and more.
If you want, whenever you update that element in the other program, it can be automatically updated within your Word document too.
This feature can be found by going to File > Options > Advanced. Then scroll down to the General heading and tick Update automatic links at open. Every time you open the document, Word will ask whether you want to update the linked elements within. This is extremely useful to ensure that the data remains in sync, but remember you can just untick this box if you don’t want the automatic update to occur.
If you’re often using Excel alongside Word, be sure to check out our advice on must-have Word and Excel skills.
5. The Program Itself
Microsoft Office 2016, the latest version of the suite, automatically updates itself depending what update branch you’re on. This is similar to how Windows 10 updates, though unlike the operating system the updates aren’t mandatory.
The Current Branch is a monthly update with new features, security patches and bug fixes. The Current Branch for Business provides the same on a four-monthly basis, allowing any problems to be resolved before they hit enterprises.
To check your update settings, load Word and navigate to File > Account. From here, click the Update Options button to Update Now, Disable Updates (though this isn’t recommended) and View Updates to see the update history.
For more information on all this, check our guide to automatic updates in Office 2016.
Automatic Is Better Than Manual
Automating as much as you can is excellent. Even if you’re only saving a few seconds in the moment, if it’s an action often repeated then that time will mount up. Plus it just makes life that bit easier when you don’t have to do things manually.
If you’re looking for even more great Word tips, be sure to check out our articles on Word features to make your life easier and simple Word hacks that everyone can do. You’ll become a master of Word in no time.
Do you use any of the above tips to save time in Word? Do you know of other things that can be automated in Word?