Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Word 2007 drop-down menus - GONE!

UPDATE: I am still in two minds about the new "ribbon" menu in Word 2007 - I have personally found it easier to use in some ways, but I am very proficient in the use of Word 2003 so it takes some getting used to. In the meantime, if you are sick of the "ribbon" and you want to use old-style Word 2003 menus, there is a little bit of software out there called Classic Menus for Word 2007 from AddInTools which is supposed to customize Word 2007 so the menu looks like the old 2003 one. I cannot vouch for this software, but you can download the trial version and see if it solves your ribbon-related woes. And let me know what you think.

This site is still mostly concerned with the most common, previous versions of Word, but just a note regarding Word 2007, recently out as part of the Office 2007 package. It concerns the implementation of drop-down menus. Well in short, they are GONE!

We will be testing Word 2007 here on Word Tips World soon and will update when we have got a better idea of how it works, but the new interface is quite radically new, and might well pose some problems for existing users until they get used to it. First impressions are that the new replacement for drop-down menus, the "Ribbon", as Microsoft have dubbed it, IS a more logical approach - a kind of context-sensitive tab system. A bit like in Macromedia Dreamweaver, if you have used that.

I will just give you a quote from the Microsoft site for now (link to full article below):

"The primary replacement for menus and toolbars in Office Word 2007 is the Ribbon, a component of the Office Fluent user interface. Designed for easy browsing, the Ribbon consists of tabs that are organized around specific scenarios or objects. The controls on each tab are further organized into several groups. The Office Fluent Ribbon can host richer content than menus and toolbars can, including buttons, galleries, and dialog box content."

We will get back with a full overview once we have trialled the new replacement MS Word interface and see what the implications are for the world of Word Tips!

Microsoft Reference article: Locations of Word 2003 commands in Word 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Increase or decrease font size in Word using keyboard shortcuts

You want to increase or decrease the size of the font in Word from, say, 10 to 12. What do you do? Reach over for the mouse and select a new font size from the drop-down menu? You should know better by now!

Highlight the text whose font size you want to increase/decrease (perhaps using some of the text highlighting tips I talked about previously!) and press the key combination

CTRL + SHIFT + > to increase font size by 1 point
CTRL + SHIFT + < to decrease font size by 1 point
(the < and > symbols MAY be on different keys depending on your keyboard layout - they are the two keys to the right of the M key)

On some versions of Word you can also use CTRL+ [ and ], which is even simpler!

This is such a simpler way of changing the font size, especially by just a few points, you'll wonder why you ever used the mouse. And the other cool thing is that you can use this to increase the font size by the same increment across your whole document - even if you have different font sizes in there they will be increased by the same amount, retaining relative sizes.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Good Word habits - save save save!

Forgot to save your Word document? You could try my article on this subject, but read the following advice first, and be prepared for the worst...

A habit I strongly recommend you get into is VERY regular saving of your Word document. I don't mean every hour, or once a day, I mean every other sentence!

What? That's a bit over the top, isn't it? Well, all I can say is that it is a LONG time since I lost anything more than a few sentences of a Word document, and I am happy to keep it that way! Ever lost a few hours' (or more) work because you forgot to save? You know what a downer that can be!

Sure, Word has an Autosave/Autorecover feature, which is supposed to bail you out, but for some reason it seems always to let you down just when you need it most! It's probably wise to make sure YOU are saving your document on a VERY frequent basis.

So how do we make sure we are saving our Word Documents regularly? My advice is get to know the keyboard shortcut CTRL+S very well! As soon as you create a New Document (using CTRL+N, of course!), even before you type ANYTHING in, press CTRL+S! You will be prompted for a filename and you can save your document immediately, before you run off 20 pages and forget to save it at all. Yes, it is quite OK to save an empty document, nothing bad will happen!

Now, this is the bit you need to turn into a habit: press CTRL+S as often as you can while typing your document in! Like I say, I do it practically after every sentence, and after a while it becomes second nature, to the extent you don't realise you are doing it anymore! This will ensure a very recent version of your document is always saved, and will drastically decrease the chances of your losing a large amount of work! It only takes a second for Word to save, it will not interfere with your work, and the CTRL+S shortcut is, again, much much quicker than using the mouse and clicking the toolbar button or (heaven forbid!) the Save option from the File menu.

Happy saving!

DISCLAIMER: Look, I can't PROMISE this will absolutely protect you from losing a document, so please do not rely solely on this method. You need to take all possible precautions, it's your responsibility to save regularly, and make regular backups, and you cannot later blame me, or say "Word did it by itself"! OK?! Also, a reminder of my article Forgot to save my Word document, which might help in a pinch.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Word keyboard shortcuts via drop-down menu

Note: if you came here looking for information about drop-down menus in the new Word 2007, or the lack thereof, have a look here! This article is about, er... something else!

A lot of commands in Word do not have a specific shortcut, unless you actually make one, or it is tricky to remember. But there is a way to eliminate excessive RSI-inducing mouse movement (and just stick to keyboard induced-RSI!) even with commands that you DON'T know the shortcut too.

One example is Insert comment. You do use this, right? Well, comments are used more often when, like me, you often edit or write (or translate) texts which are not for direct publication but are going to be read by others before they are finalised. The comments are not part of the text themselves, but float in a bubble, or appear at the bottom, depending on which View mode you are in, Print Layout or Normal.

Insert comment quickly with a "shortcut"
The default shortcut to Insert comment is CTRL+ALT+M, but you can do it like this too:

  1. Press Alt. A menu item is highlighted at the top of the page, and you can't type now - if you do, you will find yourself selecting menu items you didn't want! Accidental pressing of Alt, followed by other keys, is actually a common cause of the complaint "Word keeps doing things I didn't tell it to!"
  2. Now press I. You will see that the drop down menu with the underlined I, i.e. Insert, appears. This works all over Windows by the way - the underlined letters are shortcuts of a sort! More about that another time maybe.
  3. Now press the underlined letter for the Comment option, that being not C (who knows why, probably C is in use by some other menu item), but M.
Hey presto! (I say that a lot here - it's not really magic or anything!) You have inserted a comment! Once you use the quick key sequence

Alt -> I -> M

a few times it becomes second nature and saves a whole load of time and mouse movement, which is what we are trying to achieve here!

Do a word count quickly!
Here is another example, maybe you need this more often - press the sequence:

Alt -> T [Tools menu] -> W [word count]

Abracadabra! (There's another useful magic spell!) You have done a word count 50 x (at least!) quicker than hunting for it around the menus.

Many commands have a shortcut in Word, but even if you don't know it, you can use this method to navigate the menus at the top, select just about anything, and save on using the mouse. Just use ALT to activate the top menu, and then use the underlined letter of the menu option to select what you want.

Like all shortcuts and hints, it is much easier just to not bother with this, and keep doing things the way you always have, which is fine I guess, but with a little effort you can hugely improve your skill and speed in using Microsoft Word and other Windows applications and starting looking like a pro user!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Highlighting text in Word using the mouse, WITHOUT tracing the whole text

Here is another thing I see people doing in Microsoft Word and other applications all the time. They want to highlight a block of text using the mouse (we covered doing it with the keyboard for short, local sentences/words - here, so check this out too). They dutifully position the mouse at the beginning of the text they want to highlight, hold down the left mouse, and then sort of TRACE the whole text along until they get to the end!

In this video you can see, in the first part, an example of how people do this (oh wait, that's you!), and in the second half how do do it much quicker just by MOVING the mouse to where you want!

See?! You DON'T have to trace along with the mouse, you can just move it to the end, or even move it about wherever you want! You won't break it, really! And this is true for any Windows application - you don't actually need to highlight each letter in turn, Windows is clever like that, it knows you want to highlight everything between the start and end too!

Once again, if you think this is blindingly obvious, well, you're reading the wrong blog then - go and read Word Genius World!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Using SHIFT and CTRL together in Word to highlight whole words

OK, this is where it gets exciting! If you've just joined us, WTW's mission is to serve up basic, but incredibly useful tips on using Microsoft Word. The goal is to help people who may have been using Word, maybe even for years, but have never really gone beyond using SPACE to format things (a really nasty habit!) There are lots and lots of time-saving hints on using Word of which advanced users will say, "that's obvious!", but I assure you, it isn't!

Today I want to combine two previous tips: Skipping words with CTRL and Highlighting words with SHIFT. If you didn't catch those, check them out now, and then come back here!

Again, what I see an awful lot of people doing is using the mouse unnecessarily (it slows you down and can cause back and arm trouble in the long term!), in this case to highlight words, even if these words are ones in the same sentence, or nearby. You don't need to! As we learned, you can

1) Quickly reach the word you want using CTRL + cursor keys
2) Highlight letters using SHIFT + cursor keys.

Well, now try both together! Type a short sentence, then press CTRL + SHIFT and, say, the left cursor key.

Abracadabra! Your text gets highlighted a whole word at a time, and you can either hold down the cursor, which can rapidly highlight multiple words, or press it repeatedly, to highlight one word at a time.

Either way, this is a really simple, but incredibly useful way to copy/paste text that you have recently typed. Go on, try it now! Do it a few times, and it will become second nature, trust me!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Highlighting words with Shift in Word

You can use the Shift key in Windows (and Word of course) to highlight letters and words, without reaching over for the mouse. Really simple, but again, not a lot of people know it!

Just press Shift at the point you want to start highlighting and move the cursor keys! Voila! Your words get highlighted letter by letter, which is great if you need to highlight the word you were on and far quicker than using the mouse.

Next time we are going to combine this with another recent tip, making it even more usable! Stay tuned!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Skipping words with CTRL

This is really simple too, but it is surprising how often people are not aware that they can use CTRL to move around from word to word in Word (erm, follow that?!) Actually in more or less any Windows application.

Example - you are typing a sentence, realise you made a mistake a few words back and want to move there to correct it. Oops. I have just realized I want to go back in the last sentence and change the spelling in the word realise to the American spelling!:

You are typing a sentence, realise you made a mistake |
The cursor is after the word "mistake", so how do you get back to the word realise? You can either strain your arm reaching for the mouse, or I see a lot of people moving back with the cursor one letter at a time, which takes ages.

But hold down CTRL while using the left and right cursor keys and, hey presto, the cursor jumps a whole word at a time! Once you get used to using it, it seems silly to stab away at the cursor keys, or use the mouse and you'll wonder how you did without this simple feature!

Really obvious? Everyone knows this? Nope, if you did know this, then you're probably reading the wrong blog, but there are plenty of people out there who have just heard this for the first time! And to them I say, free your mind, and get skipping those words using CTRL!

You are TOO SLOW in MS Word!

Word pro video

Watch how fast this pro uses Microsoft Word™! (VIDEO) - CLICK HERE) and find out how you can massively boost your productivity in MS Word just by learning a few simple "secrets" (our cheat-sheets and video reveal all :))