Microsoft Word: tricks and secrets to know

A guide to Word tricks that you can’t help but know and that are also very useful during daily use of the Office suite.

While there are many alternative Office suites, Microsoft Word remains one of the nearly ubiquitous software. From a stand-alone application , Word has become one of the reference products of the Microsoft 365 package : most of the program’s features remain present and can be used in exactly the same way both in the locally installed version of Word and in the “cloud” variant that can be used against the payment of a monthly or annual fee.

We have already had the opportunity to highlight the differences between Office and Microsoft 365 .

Below we present some tips and tricks for Word that can be used both with Office and with Microsoft 365.

Edit a PDF file and turn it into Word

Launch Word then drag any PDF file into the main application window (you don’t even need to open a blank document).

After clicking OK at the message ” Word will convert your PDF document to an editable Word document “, the file will be opened and immediately made editable. To proceed, just click on Enable editing at the top.

PDF documents that contain scanned images: how to get editable text

The PDF format is often used as a container for scanned images of paper documents . Opening the PDF file with an editor or with the same web browser (for example Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge) the text is not selectable and cannot be copied elsewhere.

As seen in the case of the previous trick, try dragging the PDF file containing one or more scanned images into the main Word window. By clicking on OK when the message ” Word will convert the PDF document into an editable Word document ” appears, the images that made up the PDF are disappeared and in their place Word shows the purchase text (subjected to OCR ) which is immediately usable.

Look at the image: on the left there is the original PDF with the scanned image (although of poor quality); on the right the text recognized by Word using its integrated OCR.

Create a new document from your web browser

If you use Word for free using the Office online office suite, you can create a new document by simply typing in the address bar of your web browser.

Convert text to table

Word allows you to transform a text into a table very simply. just select it then click on Insert, Table, Convert text to table .

If you have a list of names and surnames, you can indicate 2 as the number of columns and then press the space bar once on the More option .

Create a table in Word

Everyone knows that to create a Word table , simply click on Insert, Table then set the number of rows and columns you want to obtain.

However, try typing something similar in a Word document and then press the Enter key:
+—————–+——+—— ———+——+

Obviously, the number of dashes allows for more or less wide columns to be obtained. To add a new row , as in the case of any other Word table, just go to the last cell on the right and press the TAB key .

Move rows in a table

A simple key combination that can come in handy in many situations is the one that allows you to move rows in a table up or down.

It is not necessary to select the row of the table to be replaced: just click or move the cursor to it and then press ALT+SHIFT+up arrow or ALT+SHIFT+down arrow .

By selecting instead two consequential rows which follow one after the other in the table, it is possible to use the two key combinations already mentioned to move the rows en bloc.

Sort a list with two clicks

To order a list , simply select the various elements, click on the button highlighted in the figure with a red arrow and then click on OK.

Word also allows you to order the contents of a table : just select it then click on the button in the figure and finally choose the column number from the drop-down menu.

How to do calculations in Word

Word is a wordprocessor , not a spreadsheet . However, when necessary, it is possible to make calculations.

Suppose you have a table containing several values: moving to the last empty row (possibly adding one by clicking on Layout, Insert below ) then clicking on Layout, Formula it is possible, for example, to calculate the sum of the values ​​contained in the previous rows ( =SUM( ABOVE) ).

By clicking on Paste function it is possible to choose among many functions to which Excel users are accustomed and possibly combine them. The Number format drop-down menu allows you to establish the format you want to obtain.

Count rows in a table

If you want to add a count of the rows that make up a table, just select the table itself then click the right mouse button on the selection and then use the Insert columns on the left command .

After selecting the rows of the column just added, click on Home, Numbered lists you can get the numbering of the rows of the table.

It is interesting to note that the numbering is dynamic: if one or more rows of the table are deleted, it is updated accordingly.

Select a page

Pressing CTRL+A selects all text in the Word document .

If you want to select the content of a specific page just press the F5 key then choose Page and type \page to select the current page (the one where the cursor is).

Alternatively, the number corresponding to the page to be selected can be indicated .

This trick also allows you to delete a Word page almost instantly.

In another article we saw how to move pages in Word by reviewing the structure of the document.

With minimal effort, it is also possible to combine pages from multiple documents and merge Word files .

Select words, sentences, paragraphs with the extended mode

Pressing the F8 key in Word allows you to activate the so-called extended mode : depending on the number of times you press the F8 key , specific elements of the document are automatically selected:

  • F8: Activate extended mode
  • F8 pressed twice: select the current word
  • F8 pressed three times: select the sentence on which the cursor is located
  • F8 pressed four times: select the paragraph
  • F8 pressed five times: Select the entire document
  • Shift+F8: Pressed repeatedly cancels the previous operations
  • ESC: allows you to exit extended mode


Microsoft Word’s smart clipboard

In both Windows 10 and Windows 11, you can press Windows+V to access your clipboard history and retrieve what you previously copied from memory using CTRL+C .

Word integrates a similar mechanism: if you expect to often have to use information copied to the Clipboard with CTRL+C , we suggest selecting the Home menu and then clicking on the small arrow to the right of Clipboard .

As you copy text, images and other elements into memory, they will appear in the Clipboard column, ready to be inserted into the document.

Generate random text

Sometimes it may be necessary to insert random text into a Word document, for example to test the rendering of character fonts or the structure of a document.

Try inserting the following into your Word document:

  • =lorem(10) Type ten paragraphs in the style of ” Laurem ipsum “.
  • =lorem(10,12) As above, with the difference that the second value allows you to set the length of the paragraphs.
  • =rand(5,10) As in the previous case with the difference that a meaningful text is generated.
  • =rand.old(10) Repeat the same phrase 10 times (” Sing to me o Diva del pelide Achilles …”)

The values ​​indicated in the examples can obviously be customized to your liking.

Normalize text and make it lowercase or vice versa

It may happen that you have to deal with texts that have been written entirely in uppercase or in lowercase without respecting punctuation marks (sentences begin with a lowercase letter instead of a capital one).

To solve the problem and carry out the necessary text conversions , just select the portion of text on which you want to intervene and then press SHIFT+F3 .

Move the cursor through the text

You can use a few useful keyboard combinations to move quickly through the text of a document. We also covered this in the article on how to highlight and select text in Word . Some interesting points:

  • CTRL + left/right arrow Move through the text one word at a time
  • CTRL + Down/Up Arrow Move to beginning of next or previous paragraph
  • CTRL + SHIFT + right/left arrow Select an entire word to the right or left
  • CTRL + Backspace Delete one word at a time instead of just one character
  • CTRL + Home/End Move the cursor to the beginning or end of the document


Extract images contained in a Word document

The DOCX format used by default in Microsoft Word has the structure of a compressed Zip file. By renaming a DOCX document as ZIP and opening it in Windows, with 7-Zip or with any other compressed archive manager, it is easy to extract the images contained in a Word document : they are in fact kept in a dedicated folder.

Copy text formatting

To copy the styles used to format text for use elsewhere in the document, simply click on the formatting you want to copy then click the Format Painter icon in the Home menu . The mouse pointer changes to show a brush – just make a selection to set the format.

By clicking twice on the Format Painter in rapid succession a special mode is activated: simply selecting the text to which you want to apply the formatting, it will be used immediately.

Create an index in Word

Word integrates the Table of Contents function in the References menu which allows you to create an index of the contents of the document with a simple click.

The important thing is to have assigned the Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3, Subheading and so on styles to the elements making up the document: otherwise the index cannot be automatically generated and updated.

Set the default character font

Pressing CTRL+D opens the window for choosing the character font to use.

Word normally uses the Calibri font for all new documents created from scratch: if you want to replace it with something else, just set your favorite font and possibly change size, font style and color.

By pressing Set as default and selecting All documents based on the Normal.dotm template , from now on Word will always use the chosen font for new files as it is created.


Word in dark mode

When night falls and you work in dimly lit environments, to avoid straining your eyes it is advisable to activate the dark theme : you can also do this in Word by clicking on the File menu then on Account .

Not all versions of Word, however, allow you to select the interface with dark colors (black predominates): if the item is absent, just opt ​​for Use system settings and then activate the dark theme in Windows at the system level operating.

For some people, however, the dark theme can create discomfort and severe headaches: we are referring, for example, to astigmatism . So be careful when activating it.




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