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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article28 February 2018European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion5 min read

6 Microsoft Word tips to boost your efficiency

Microsoft Office is one of the most popular software packages in the world, with an estimated 1.2 billion users. An integral part of that package is MS Word and chances are, you’ll have come across Word many times in your working or personal life.

6 Microsoft Word tips to boost your efficiency

It’s a versatile programme with hundreds of clever features and useful shortcuts. We’ll be talking about some of our favourites in this article, which should hopefully help to make your time with Word more efficient and effective.

It should be noted that we’re working with Word 2016 for this article, so if you have an earlier version then some of the features may not be available.

Clear All Formatting

‘Clear All Formatting’ is, in our humble opinion, one of the best changes made to Word since the removal of the infamous paperclip. As the name suggests, this feature quickly and easily removes all formatting from selected text, taking it back to the default settings.

Why is this so useful? Well, if you’ve ever copied and pasted text from somewhere else (e.g. the internet) into Word then you may have noticed that you don’t just get the words: you get all of the formatting as well. Having to change the font size, font type, font colour and line spacing each time is a time-consuming process – and you can sometimes end up with elements that you can’t change, no matter how hard you try. ‘Clear All Formatting’ takes the problem out of your hands with the click of a button (Home > Font > ‘Clear All Formatting’ icon in the upper right-hand corner).

Format Painter

Continuing on the formatting theme, ‘Format Painter’ allows you to copy formatting from one location to another. It’s quick and easy to use; you just need to highlight the formatting you want to copy, select the ‘Format Painter’ tool (Home > Clipboard > Format Painter) and then click on the text that you want to apply it to. Clicking on the option once allows you to copy the formatting a single time before the tool disables. Double-clicking will keep the option turned on and let you to copy the same formatting multiple times.


‘Styles’ are basically a more advanced form of the ‘Format Painter’ tool. While they can seem a little daunting at first, they’re really just a way of pre-defining things like font size, font colour, line spacing, etc. This can be particularly useful in a longer document and will help you to avoid having to scroll back through pages of text in order to find the particular formatting you want to copy.

Once you’ve got your styles set up, you can apply them straightaway within your document. The styles viewing pane can be found under Home > Styles and on the right-hand side of the pane are three arrows – up, down and down with a line above the arrow. Clicking this third option allows you to create your own styles.

Table of Contents

Inserting a table of contents is quite a simple process and finding the option in the first place can be one of the trickiest bits. Rather than under the ‘Insert’ tab as you might expect, the table of contents option can be found under References > Table of Contents. Clicking on ‘Table of Contents’ will open a dropdown menu that contains any default tables that may be built into your document.

You now have two options: use a default table or create a custom one. If you don’t want to customise your table, or aren’t confident working with styles, then it’s probably best to stick to one of the default tables. Click on the table to add it to your document and get thing started.

If you’ve already been using a few of the default heading styles (usually called ‘Heading 1’, ‘Heading 2’ or ‘Heading 3’) then any headings with these styles will automatically appear in the table of contents. If not and your table is blank then don’t worry – you can manually select the headings you want to include. First, highlight the heading in question. Next, go to the ‘Add Text’ option and finally select the appropriate level. The next time you refresh your table of contents, the headings will appear.

Custom tables of contents are a little more complicated and we’ve left it to the experts at Microsoft to explain the process, so be sure to check out their advice if you want full control over your table.

Repeat your last action (F4)

Working in a programme like Word can sometimes involve repetitive actions. The good news is that rather than having to manually repeat the action each time, you can simply press F4 to automatically repeat your last action as many times as you want. This isn’t just true in Word either; the F4 shortcut works in Microsoft PowerPoint and Excel too and is a great time-saver.,

Simple Markup

The ‘Track Changes’ feature has been around for many years, but a more recent edition is the ‘Simple Markup’ option (Review > Tracking > ‘Simple Markup’ in the dropdown box). We particularly like this because it allows you to see where a change has been made and also the finished result, without you having to wade through all of the track changes (which, if you’ve got multiple editors, can be quite confusing!).

If you’d like to see what a particular change was, simply click on the red line on the left-hand side of the text and it will turn the full feature on.

So there you have it – 6 Microsoft Word tips to boost your efficiency. There are, of course, many other great features and shortcuts available in Word, but these are a few that we find particularly useful. We hope you do too!


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