Word Best Practices Video

Another video in the best practices series. For Microsoft Channel 9. Have a look. This video shows what EVERYONE should know about Word. So please share it with everyone you work with as well as your loved ones. This is the best gift you can give a child: Knowledge!


View at http://bit.ly/nitinch9word, 35 minutes. View in FULL SCREEN mode at high resolution for maximum learning. Includes links to detailed articles and sample files.

How to reorder the topics of a long document instantly?

Well, this was written earlier, but this brilliant feature was hidden behind other features. Create a document using Styles (more details). Now open Navigation Pane from View tab. It shows the entire structure of the document. Assume that you have already written lot of content under each heading and sub-heading. No problem! Just drag and drop things into a new position. That’s all. If you drag a higher level item, the child items move with it. Numbering, if any, will also be readjusted automatically!

The real benefit is that you can reorder your thoughts easily. This feature works only after Version 2010. But in earlier versions – you could use Outline View – Show Heading levels 3 and use Shift Alt Up / Down arrows to reorder the document content.


Writers: How to write a balanced article containing opposing views

This is a post primarily aimed at journalists, students and writers who often have to write articles, blogs, thesis, dissertation, review articles, etc. about opposing or competing views. It could be an article comparing two products, or discussing two political rivals or even a review of current affairs with contrasting views.

When you write such an article, you have to balance it by ensuring that one party / view does not get more coverage than the other. I am sure all experienced writers have their own way of getting this done.

This article discusses a simple but ingenious technique using Word Styles which can help you.


Continue reading

Names and tech words shown as spelling mistakes! Here is the solution.


The problem: False Positive Spelling Mistakes

This is a funny problem which everyone suffers from.

You send a proposal to a customer. The customer name is shown as a spelling mistake. Now you correct it on your PC by adding the name to your dictionary… now you think you have solved the problem… but it has not been solved.

Your dictionary will not be traveling with the document. So on the customer’s PC it will show that name as a spelling mistake (unless customer has added the name to the local dictionary). Usually customer would add their own company name to dictionary – so it is not a problem.

But on their PC, your name will be shown as a spelling mistake… that is a problem! In addition, many technical terms may be shown as spelling errors – which they are not.

How do you solve this problem while knowing that you have no control over the custom dictionaries at the destination?

Amazing solution

The solution is intelligent and elegant.

First of all, you must do a regular spelling and grammar check. No shortcuts available here.

Having done that, you still have some spelling errors which are words not included in the dictionary – but in the context of your business domain, those are correct words.


Now go to Tools – Options – Proofing and choose two smart options …



That’s it.

Notice that this setting is specific to the file. That means, it travels with the document.

The mistakes will not be shown on ANY PC. Problem solved!

Warning: this setting is dangerous

If you keep this setting ON all the time, you will not be able to notice genuine spelling mistakes as well. Therefore here is what you should do.

  1. Create document
  2. Regular spelling and grammar check
  3. Enable hide spelling and grammar errors setting
  4. Send document to the intended recipients
  5. Immediately disable the hide spelling and grammar settings
  6. Save the file

This way you don’t have to worry about missing genuine spelling mistakes.

The best way

Of course, what I showed above is a workaround. Word is NOT a workaround. It is a comprehensive solution to all our problems.

This problem has also been thought of and an elegant solution given.

The solution? Create a new style derived from Normal style. Name it as “No spell check”

Modify the style – Format – Language and choose this setting


Now whenever there is a word which is shown as a spelling mistake but it is a domain specific word or a name, select it and apply this style.

This is the right way.

Be stylish – Use Word Styles

Thank you for responding the vote in the previous article on 3 Efficiency Best Practices. In this article, we explore Word Styles in greater detail. Read this even if you are using Word Styles.


Picture created using Fresh Paint on Surface Pro with finger painting.

Problem: We spend too much time on formatting and too little on the core content.

Solution: Use Word Styles

Styles are just ready to use formatting which is created by graphics experts. There are 9 styles – Heading 1 to Heading 9

While creating a document, you know which of the paragraphs are Headings or Topics or Titles. As soon as you type the paragraph, choose the style.


Main topics get H1, sub topics get H2 and so on.

How to select styles quickly

  1. Click the style in the Home tab – Styles drop down (it is called a Gallery).
  2. Or use keyboard shortcuts CTRL ALT 1 for H1 CTRL ALT 2 for H2 and
    CTRL ALT 3 for H3
  3. Or use the shortcut Shift Alt Up arrow to apply Higher styles, Shift Alt Down arrow to apply lower styles

Default styles in Word 2013

This how the default styles look. If you want to change the appearance to match your corporate branding guidelines, Right Click on each style, Choose Modify and change the look and feel.


Customized styles affect only the current document by default. If you want all further documents to have the customized styles, choose the following option in the Modify dialog.


Change the look and feel instantly using Themes

Choose Page Layout tab (2007,2010) or Design tab (2013) and open the Themes dropdown. Just move the mouse cursor over each theme and see how the document reformats instantly with different color and font combinations.

If you find some combination which resembles your brand colors, it is the easiest way of customizing document look and feel for corporate branding. Remember to use the same theme in Excel and PowerPoint as well.

What are the benefits of using Styles?

The main benefit is that Word knows what are the main and sub-topics in your document. Word uses this information intelligently to provide you with many useful features.

Navigation Pane

Choose View tab – Navigation Pane. Now a Separate window opens on the left side and shows you the document hierarchy. This never gets printed. This is your on-screen navigator.


  1. Just click on the item to navigate to that area. No more scrolling and searching.
  2. Reorganize the document (and your thoughts) by just using drag-drop.
    (Amazing! is it not?)
  3. Right click on any heading and you get many useful options. Explore and find out.
    The Show Heading levels option is very useful for reading complex documents. Just show level 1 first and then drill down into the desired area quickly.


Sample file for practice

This file contains styles and TOC Download Style Document

Automatic Table of Contents

Now that word knows your topics and it anyway knows the page numbers, it can put these together and create a TOC automatically.

Go to the place in the beginning of the document where you want to create the TOC and Choose References tab and choose Automatic Table of Contents


By default three levels of headings are added to the TOC along with page numbers. You can change the settings from the Custom Table of Contents option.

Remember to update the table before printing because the page numbers are not automatically updated when you edit the document. Right click on the TOC and choose Update Field or click inside the TOC and choose Update Table option.

Choose the second option.


For very large and complex documents you can choose the first option (which is faster) when you are sure that you have not added any new headings. In most cases using the second option is safer.

Retrofitting styles into non-style documents

You will love Styles once you start using them. But then you will feel very sad that your older documents are not getting all these benefits of styles. But don’t lose heart. Microsoft has thought of that as well.

Open a document which is using manual formatting. You need to find all areas where manual formatting indicates various levels of headings and then apply the correct Heading Style. But this is going to be very time consuming if you want to do it one by one. Repetition means inefficiency.

Solution: Select text with similar formatting

  1. Click in one of the manually formatting heading. Choose Home tab – Select dropdown – Select text with similar formatting

Don’t worry if it shows (No Data). It works anyway.

  • Now Word finds and selects similar headings. You just have to apply Heading 1 once
  • If you have three levels of headings, you will have to do this thrice. Absolutely worth it because now you get all the benefits of Styles

Next article

Styles have many more benefits. One very useful feature is the ability to convert a Word document to a presentation. I will cover that in the next article.