BOOT CAMP 332 (29/06/04)


TOP TIPS 3 – Word


There are plenty of excellent word processor programs on the market but credit where it is due and one of the things Microsoft has got right is Word. It’s the world’s most popular word processor, combining exceptional ease of use with countless advanced features but as ever there is room for improvement. This week we have a few old chestnuts, next week how to use or switch off some of Word’s many useful, obscure and annoying features. All tips are meant for Word 2000 onwards, though many of them also work with earlier versions.


This is one of our most requested Word tips so no apologies for repeating it. If you access one or more documents on a regular basis then you should create a ‘Work’ menu on your toolbar, for single click access to your chosen documents. To set it up right click into an empty area of the toolbar select Customize then the Commands tab, scroll down the Categories list and highlight ‘Built In Menus’. On the Commands list opposite scroll down to ‘Work’ then click hold and drag and drop it onto the toolbar then close Customize. Open each document in turn that you want to include on the Work menu then go to the Work menu button and click ‘Add to Work Menu’. To remove entries from the Work menu press Ctrl + Alt + - (hyphen) and the cursor changes to a thick bar, place it over the entry you want to delete and click the left mouse button.


When returning from a break editing a really long document it is useful to be able to go back to the point where you left off. Word remembers the positions of last three changes you made after a document has been saved and closed. To recall the edits simply open the document and press Shift + F5, to step through the three change points.


Typing common accented characters in Word is easy if you can remember a few simple keyboard shortcuts. To insert an acute accent on a, d, e, i, o or u press and hold Ctrl, tap the single quote key, release Ctrl and type the letter. For example Ctrl + ‘ + e gives é. To produce a cedilla press Ctrl + , (comma) + c. Circumflex a, e, i, o or u is Ctrl + ^ (Ctrl + Shift 6) then the letter. For grave a, e, i, o, u or y the combination is Ctrl +  ` (the key to the left of ‘1’). To add tildes to a, n and o press Ctrl +  ~ (Ctrl + Shift #) and for umlauts on a, e, i, o, u and y use Ctrl + : (colon).


Here’s another old favourite, Word’s bright white desktop can be quite tiring on the eyes after a while, so tone it down a little. To do that right click into an empty area of the Windows desktop and select Properties to bring up the Display Properties dialogue box. Select the Appearance tab to show the Desktop windows settings. (In Windows XP you need to click the Advanced button). Now click into the white area labelled Window Text, below that the ‘Item’ box should change to Windows, on the same line click ‘Color’ then the ‘Other’ button. Drag the Luminance slider on the right of the large multi-colour palette box down a few notches to add a touch of grey to the white box marked ‘Color’, click OK and check Word’s desktop, increase or decrease the setting to taste. Note that this change is global and will alter the appearance of all Windows applications.


Word can throw the occasional wobbly and many problems are due to a corrupt document template file called ‘’, which contains many of Word’s configuration settings, custom dictionary, macros and so on. Whilst Word is working normally it’s a good idea to make a copy of your file and keep it somewhere safe. In Windows 9x (98/SE/ME) you’ll find it in C:\Windows\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates. In XP it should be in: C:\Documents and Settings\<yourname>\Templates. If Word starts misbehaving rename your existing file to normal.old and replace it with your archived copy; if you haven’t made a backup don’t worry, Word will create a new, however many of your personal settings and customisations will be lost. Incidentally, copying to another PC is an easy way of transferring your custom dictionary and settings to another copy of Word, though both versions must be the same.


When adjusting margins or tabs on the horizontal ruler, or objects on a page, you will find the increments are fairly coarse and ‘snap’ to a hidden grid. To make really fine adjustments hold down the Alt key and if you look at the ruler you will see the display changes to give a more precise reading, in hundredths of an inch or 0.01 of a centimetre.


Word has many hidden features, this one is especially useful for designing layouts by creating blocks of text made up of ‘the quick brown fox …’, repeated over and again. Simply type ‘=rand()’ (without the quotes) and press Return where you want the block of text to appear. If you want larger blocks of text put a number inside the bracket, i.e. =rand(20) will repeat the block twenty times, if you add a comma, i.e. =rand(3,5) you can specify the number of sentences per paragraph.

Next week – More Word Tips






A hidden matrix of horizontal and vertical lines to which text and objects are automatically aligned



Brightness or intensity



Used to quickly select a colour





Here is a sure fire way to make sure that your documents, however long and tedious they might be, will get noticed. Word has a number of animated text effects that can make your words really stand out on the screen. Try this, open a new document and type a word or two, highlight it and make it really big, 36 point say, (and don’t forget Word lets you size text and characters up to 999.5 points – in 0.5 pt increments – simply by typing the number into the size box next to the font name). With the words still highlighted go to Font on the Format menu and select the Text Effects tab, now take your pick from the list, which includes ‘shimmer’, ‘Las Vegas’, ‘Blinking Background’ and ‘Marching Red Ants’. Warning! Use sparingly, otherwise it can get very annoying…

Search PCTopTips 



Boot Camp Index















Top Tips Index

Windows XP

Windows Vista

Internet & Email

Microsoft Word

Folders & Files

Desktop Mouse & Keyboard

Crash Bang Wallop!

Privacy & Security

Imaging Scanning & Printing

Power, Safety & Comfort

Tools & Utilities

Sound Advice

Display & screen

Fun & Games

Windows 95/98/SE/ME






 Copyright 2006-2009 PCTOPTIPS UK.

All information on this web site is provided as-is without warranty of any kind. Neither PCTOPTIPS nor its employees nor contributors are responsible for any loss, injury, or damage, direct or consequential, resulting from your choosing to use any of the information contained herein.