Archive for category Word

Microsoft Office: Customize the Quick Access Toolbar

Do you find yourself looking for a button on the toolbar that used to be quickly accessible in the old version of Office? Do you frequently use an uncommon feature? Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar in Office 2007 can put the features you use the most right where you want them.

Here’s how:

  1. Right-click on the Quick Access Toolbar and select “Customize Quick Access Toolbar…”
  2. Use the menu that appears to find the commands you would like to see. Click the “Add” button to add to the toolbar. Click OK when finished.
  3. You can also right-click on the toolbar and select “Show Quick Access Toolbar Below the Ribbon” to make it even more accessible.

As shown below, I’ve added buttons for creating a new document, doing a print preview, and printing the document. I’ve also moved the toolbar below the ribbon.


BONUS: If you extensively customize the Quick Access Toolbar, you can double-click on the title section of the ribbon to hide it and give yourself more space for your document! Double-click again to bring it back.


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DownloadSquad: “How to hide the Ribbon menu in Microsoft Office applications”

I may have shared a similar tip before, but this one is always useful. Some folks feel like the Ribbon is just a little too bulky, and the DownloadSquad shares a couple of ways to keep it hidden but accessible.

From the article:

To collapse it, simply double-click one of the Ribbon’s tabs, such as “Home”. The whole thing will instantly shrink down to the line of tabs. Clicking a tab will temporarily expand it back. If you’d rather do the same thing using the keyboard, simply hit Ctrl+F1 (that’s what I normally do).

DownloadSquad: How to hide the Ribbon menu in Microsoft Office applications

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Word: Easily clear a table of numbers and preserve formatting

We compose our note disclosures, including number tables, in Word. This has its advantages and disadvantages, but that’s another topic entirely. One process, though, that gets tedious after a while is rolling forward a set of note disclosures and clearing the numbers out of a table. Luckily, I found a great way to speed up the process.

Take, for example, a table for a property, plant, and equipment note disclosure. In the one shown below, we can easily copy and paste the 2009 column over the 2008. But for the 2010 column we would have to manually remove each number, unless we wanted to lose the tabs and spacing set for each row.


To roll this note forward for 2010, I first copy the 2009 numbers and paste them over the 2008 values and update the heading. I then change the 2009 heading to 2010. Now, using this method, I can quickly clear the 2009 values, leaving the tabs and spacing in each row.

  1. Using the mouse, select the column of numbers.
  2. On the Home ribbon, click the Replace button.
  3. In the Find and Replace dialog box, click the More >> button.
  4. Click the Special button near the bottom and select “Any Digit.”
    There should now be a “^#” in the Find What field.
  5. Do not enter anything in the Replace With field.
  6. Click Replace All. You will see a notice asking if you want to search the rest of the document. Click No.
  7. You will notice that the commas are still in the column. Before closing the Find and Replace dialog box, enter a comma in the Find What field.
  8. Click Replace All. You will see a notice asking if you want to search the rest of the document. Click No.
  9. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

The table should now look as shown below. It is now ready for fresh numbers!


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Word: Styles, part 2 – more on customizing and clearing styles

This is a continuation of my short series on using styles in Word. Last time I went over applying styles and creating an automatic table of contents. This week I will go into a little more depth on modifying the built-in styles and how to clear styles from existing content.

Modifying built-in styles

Word has some very good built-in style sets which provide us with a good bit of flexibility, but I often feel the need to tweak things a little. To change style settings on a broad basis, the Style section of the Home ribbon gives us some simple solutions. The Change Styles menu allows us to change Style Set, Colors, and Fonts.


Experiment with these options before tweaking individual styles, as you may find exactly what you’re looking for. Once you have a style set, fonts, and colors selected, there are two primary ways to modify the built-in styles individually: 1. the easy way, and 2. the involved way.

The easy way:

  1. Format some text to suit your needs. In the example below, I’ve tailored a subheading with a particular font, weight (bold), color, size, border, alignment, and vertical spacing (paragraph settings).
  2. Once the text looks the way I want, select the text. For a heading or subheading style, I like to select the entire line:
  3. Choose a style category (e.g., Heading 3) from the Styles section of the Home ribbon and right-click on it.
  4. Select “Update [style name] to Match Selection”
  5. Now the style should match your selection and can be applied throughout the document.

The involved way:

  1. Choose a style from the Styles section of the Home ribbon. Alternatively, you can click on the lower-right corner of the Styles section to display the Styles pane.
  2. Right-click on the style and select “Modify.”
  3. This will display a dialog box which gives you a very large number of options for customizing a style.
  4. Many of the options are on the face of the dialog box, but the Format button at the bottom-left gives a comprehensive set of options:
  5. Explore the options and experiment, if you dare.

Clear existing styles

Sometimes we paste in text from other documents, and often by default Word keeps the source style. To start fresh and apply your own styles, the solution is easy yet hard to find.

  1. Open the Styles pane as shown earlier.
  2. Select the text from which you want to remove formatting.
  3. Click “Clear All” on the Styles pane.
    The text should now look normal:
  4. Alternatively, you can selectively clear formatting by opening the Style Inspector for the selected text.
  5. With the text selected, click the Style Inspector button at the bottom of the Styles pane.
  6. The Style Inspector window will open, detailing all of the bad choices made:
  7. Click any of the buttons along the right side to clear the applicable formatting. This window can also be used to modify the style or clear all formatting from the selected text.

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Word: Styles, part 1 – the basics & easy table of contents

I have spent a good bit of time recently composing training materials for an upcoming IDEA training session. With over 70 pages so far with many more to go, I assumed that one of the most daunting and annoying tasks would be creating the table of contents. I was aware the built-in feature for creating a TOC, but I assumed it would be too complicated. I’m glad I was wrong. The first in a series on styles, today’s tip is and will show how to set a few basic styles and use them to create a table of contents automatically.

Microsoft Office programs have included a feature for managing “Styles” for a few versions now. With 2007, applying and modifying styles is really simple. For this tip, I created a simple document with headings, subheadings, and paragraphs of content. Until I apply styles, Word assumes each section of text is a paragraph. That is why you almost always see the “Normal” style selected in the Styles section of the ribbon.


The benefits of using styles are many:

  • Easily update the format of your document. Modifying “Heading 1” updates all of the sections of your document that use that style.
  • Using the built-in styles can make your document look more professional and consistent.
  • Improved conversion to PDF and other document formats.
  • Easily create tables of contents and cross-references within your document.

Apply styles

When I apply a heading style to a heading in my document, Word now understands that it is not just another paragraph. To apply a heading style:

  1. Place the cursor anywhere on the heading line.
  2. Click one of the heading styles on the ribbon. The first line of my document is a main heading, so I will select Heading 1.

Here is my heading before applying the style:


Here is the heading after:


I can do the same thing with my subheadings. For those, I will choose Heading 2 as the style.

Subheadings before styles:


Subheadings after styles:


Modify styles

The easiest way to modify a style is to right-click on the style on the ribbon and select Modify.


From there, you can customize any aspect of the style, like font, size, color, spacing, borders, tabs, etc. The modified styles can either be saved just to the current document or to all future documents based on the normal template.

Easy table of contents

If, at a minimum, you have headings set using styles, you can very easily create a table of contents. I have one “Heading 1” and five “Heading 2” set.

  1. Insert a new page at the beginning of the document. With your cursor at the very beginning of the document, click the Page Break icon on the Insert ribbon.
  2. With cursor on the new page (very beginning of the document), go to the References ribbon, click on Tables of Contents, and select one of the automatic options. I selected the first option.
  3. The result shows up immediately. You will notice the Heading 1 is the first item, and the Heading 2s are sub-items below it.

Page numbers are entered automatically and can be updated periodically as the document develops. To update the table of contents for new headings and changes in page numbers:

  1. Click anywhere in the table of contents.
  2. Click the Update Table button that appears above the table.
  3. Choose whether to update the entire table or just the numbers and click OK.

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Speed up Word and other programs with a PDF printer

icon_publisher_13_printerMicrosoft Word, for some reason, checks with the default printer prior to performing various tasks, including opening a document. This can cause a number of delays if your printer is not plugged in, not turned on, or in some sort of “hibernate” mode. This is a particular concern for me when I am out in the field and have not plugged in my printer. The default printer is initially set to the main office printer on my end of the building, which Word takes a long time to determine is not really there.

I have come up with a simple solution to alleviate some of those delays: set a PDF printer as your default printer in Windows. If you have Adobe Acrobat installed (the full version, not just Reader), you should have a PDF printer installed on your computer. Otherwise, I recommend CutePDF Writer, which is free for both commercial and noncommercial use.

To set up a PDF printer as the default printer:

  1. In Windows XP or Vista: Go to Start -> Control Panel -> Printers and Faxes *OR* Start -> Printers and Faxes
    In Windows 7: Go to Start -> Devices and Printers
  2. Find the “Adobe PDF” printer (or CutePDF Writer)
  3. Right-click on the printer and select “Set as default”

An added bonus to this trick is that you never waste paper on mistakenly printed files, like those times you accidently click the Print icon on the toolbar. In those cases, the file will print to a PDF, which is easy to cancel or delete.

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Word: Change paragraph spacing defaults

This applies to Word 2007.

Last week I posted a tip showing how to change the default font for Word and Excel documents. Since then, I’ve been asked how and urged to share how to fix the default paragraph spacing in Word. Currently, the default is to add a space after each paragraph, which nearly none of us are used to.

Here’s how to make it go back to the old way:

  1. In a new Word document, click on the lower-right corner of the Paragraph section of the Home ribbon.
  2. Set the spacing parameters as shown below:
  3. Click the Default… button
  4. Click Yes.

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