The general settings in Word allow you to control how you view and use the program based on the purpose of your document. You can change things like the number of pages on screen, the size of the ribbon icons, which tool panels are shown, etc. These articles include handy tips to easily navigate Word and adjust what is displayed in the window to suit your needs.
Tips, Tricks, and Answers
The following articles are available for the 'General' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.
A Shortcut for Switching Focus
Word provides keyboard shortcuts for lots of things, but it doesn't provide one for switching to the desktop and back to your document. Fortunately Windows does provide more than one shortcut to accomplish this task.
Adjusting the Size of Ribbon Icons
Do you feel like the icons on the ribbon take too much screen space? Your options in reducing that "icon footprint" may be limited. Here's an idea or two that may help.
Always Starting with a Blank Document
If you are using Word 2013 or Word 2016, you may have noticed that Microsoft changed what you see when you start the program. If you just want to see a blank document as in previous versions of Word, the steps in this tip will help.
Arranging Document Windows
When you have multiple documents open at the same time, you need a way to control how those document windows appear on the screen. Here's a way to make sure that all your windows are displayed as you want them displayed.
Automatically Opening a Document at a Specific Zoom Setting
Do you prefer to have your documents open at a specific zoom magnification? You can get whatever magnification you desire by adding one simple macro to your Normal template file.
Automatically Updating Fields and Links
You can update fields and links automatically when you print your document, but what if you want them updated when you open or close the document? That is not as easy of a proposition, but there are ways to fulfill the request, as shown in this tip.
Avoiding the Update Links Message
Word allows you to establish links from one document to another. When you open a document containing these links, you may be asked if you want to update those links. If this message bothers you, this tip explains what you can do about it.
Calculating Average Word Length
Word keeps track of many statistics about your documents. The problem, it seems, is getting exactly the statistics you need in a way you can readily use. This tip looks at how you can use the statistics to calculate an average length of the words in a selection or in the document.
Canceling a Command
Tired of waiting for a command to finish running? You can use the same shortcut to cancel a command that you use to dismiss any unwanted dialog boxes.
Cascading Document Windows
Want the various documents you have open to be cascaded on-screen so you can organize them easier? The capability is built into Windows, not into Word.
Changing Dialog Box Pull-Down List Item Order
When selecting options within dialog boxes, Word frequently uses drop-down lists to display the options. While customizing the order in which these options appear would be nice, the solution lies in the hands of the Microsoft programmers.
Changing from Pirated to Permitted Software
When you install Microsoft Office, you are required to enter a product key that unlocks the software for your use. This product key is stored in the Windows Registry. If you want to get rid of the product key so you can install a different copy of Office, you need to apply the steps described in this tip.
Changing the Document Window Background Color
Word's default black text and a white background may not appeal to everyone. There are a couple of ways to change the background color.
Clicking to Scroll Down Freezes
One irritating bug that seems to be new to Word 2013 is one that "freezes" the mouse so you cannot repeatedly click on the horizontal scroll bar without moving the mouse. This tip discussed the issue and provides a workaround or two.
Controlling How Documents Stack when Opened
When you open multiple documents, Windows cascades the document windows on your desktop. If you want the windows to be arranged differently when they are opened, it appears you are out of luck, as Windows doesn't provide that capability.
Default Sort Order in the Open Dialog Box
When you want to open a file within Word, the normal way is by displaying the Open dialog box. If you want to modify the way in which files are sorted in the Open dialog box, it is a good idea to understand how other programs can affect that order.
Direction Arrows Confused
What do you do if you open a document, only to find that the arrow keys don't work the way that they should? The first step is to figure out if the problem lies with the document itself, then you can go about figuring what to do next.
Displaying a Single Page
When displaying the information in your document, Word is rather flexible. It can, if you so choose, display multiple document pages on the screen at the same time. If you only want to see a single page, you can use the steps in this tip to get just what you want.
Displaying Shortcut Keys in ScreenTips
ScreenTips can appear with or without shortcut keys displayed in them. Here's how to control whether they appear or not.
Displaying the Full Ribbon
The ribbon, displayed at the top of the Word window, is very handy with all the tools it allows you to access, but it can really take up a lot of screen space. Word allows you to hide a portion of the ribbon, but once hidden it can be confusing on how you get the entire ribbon back again. Here's how it all works.
Factory Default Settings for Word
Do you long for a way to reset Word to a 'factory default' condition? It is almost impossible to get things to the way they were the day you installed, but there are a few things you can do, as described in this tip.
Finding Default Shortcut Keys
There are scores of shortcut keys defined in Word. If you want to discover what all those shortcut keys are, here are a few approaches you can use.
Fonts Missing in Word
What are you to do if you find that you have no fonts available in Word, but they are available in other programs? There could be a couple of different reasons for the missing fonts, as described in this tip.
Getting Audible Feedback
You can add a bit of sound to your editing tasks by turning on Word's sound capabilities. This tip shows where this configuration option is located.
Getting Help Offline
Word provides two different sources from which you can get help—either online or offline. By default, Word uses the online help system. Here's how to configure your program to only rely on the offline help.
Helpful Pop-up Screen Tips
Screen tips can be helpful to people reading your document on-screen. Using the technique described here, you can add screen tips to any words you want.
Hiding and Displaying Hidden Text
You can easily hide text by simply changing the attributes associated with the text. Once that is done, you can turn the display of your hidden text on or off, as described in this tip.
Jumping to a Line Number
Need to jump to a specific line number in your document? It's easy to do using the Go To command, as described in this tip.
Jumping to a Page within a Section
In long documents it is often helpful to jump directly to a particular page. Word provides several tools you can use to get to a page, but the most common is to use the Go To feature. Here's how to use Go To in order to get directly to a specific page within a section.
Jumping to a Relative Line Number
As you navigate through a document, you may have a need to move forward or backward a specific number of lines. This is easy to do using Word's Go To feature.
Jumping to a Relative Section
Navigating through a long document can be challenging, at times. Here's a way you can move forward or backwards in your document by jumping from one section to another.
Jumping to a Section
One way you can navigate through a document is to jump from section to section. Here's the traditional way to quickly get to the exact section you need.
Jumping to the End of Page after Enter
Imagine you start typing in a new document, and when you press the Enter key the cursor jumps a huge distance to the bottom of the page. What could be going on? The answer could be as simple as a single change in Word's page setup.
Keeping Word Open after Closing Documents
Usually when you are done working on a document, you want to close Word completely and move on to something else. There may be times, however, when you want to close that last document and leave the Word program window open. Here's how to do it.
Leaving Minimized Documents Minimized
If you have open documents minimized on the Taskbar and then open another document, all of the previously minimized documents are restored to their full-screen size. This can be a hassle, but you can work around this problem by following the process described in this tip.
Making Suggestions to Microsoft about Word
Got an idea for making Word a better program? Microsoft wants to hear from you and has created a website to solicit your input.
Making Word Remember My Settings
Ever had the experience of setting some configuration option in Word, only to have the option revert to a different setting all on its own? This can be caused by any number of reasons.
Missing Top and Bottom Margins
You get your document set up just the way you want it, and then notice that all of a sudden Word doesn't show any top or bottom margins for your on-screen pages. This can be disconcerting, until you know that this is actually a feature in Word, as described in this tip.
Mouse Stops Working in Word
Could you use Word without the assistance of your mouse? For most people the answer would be a resounding "no." What are you to do, then, when your mouse no longer works in the program? Here's the solution that will help make the world right again.
Multiple Taskbar Icons for Documents
If you like to see your open documents in multiple icons on the Taskbar, you may wonder how to make that happen. This is actually something you do in Windows, as described in this tip.
Navigating a Collection of Selected Items
Word allows you to easily select portions of a document that meet differing criteria that you may specify. Stepping through the selected items may not be as easy as finding the items, however.
Nifty Zooming with the Mouse
Want to use the mouse to control the zoom level for your document? You can do it by combining your mouse use with the Ctrl key.
Page Layout Zoom Settings
The zoom setting at which you view a document can sometimes be saved with a document. This tip explains how the zoom setting is set and reset within Word.
Printing a Screen without the Print Screen Key
The Print Screen key is a handy way to grab a screen shot. What if your keyboard doesn't physically have such a key, though? Here are a few ideas you can put to work.
Quickly Changing Document Windows
When working with multiple documents at the same time, you often have a need to move from one document to another. Here's some short, handy ways to navigate.
Removing Author Information
Word automatically stores lots of author-related information within a document. Because this data is stored in several places, deleting this identifying information is a bit tricky. This tip explains what you can do to get rid of that information.
Word allows you to customize the program's ribbon tabs so they more closely match the way you want to work. At some point, however, you may want the ribbons to revert to their default condition. This tip explains how you can quickly and easily accomplish the reversion.
Ribbon Acting Strangely
The ribbon is the place where Word stores all the tools you need to work with your documents. What happens when the ribbon starts acting oddly and you can't get to your tools as you expect? It could be that the ribbon has been "collapsed," as discussed in this tip.
Ruler Disappears when Entire Document Selected
The rulers in Word can be quite helpful when formatting your document. The rulers may not be displayed all the time, however, as described in this tip.
Selecting Tabs in Dialog Boxes
Dialog boxes normally present information in a series of tabs. If you want to move from tab to tab without taking your hands off the keyboard, here's how to do it.
Shortcut for Full Screen Reading View
Want to get rid of almost everything on the screen except your document? Here's how to easily maximize what you see.
Shortcut for Show/Hide
Hate to take your hands off the keyboard? Here's a handy keyboard shortcut you can use to display (or not display) the non-printing characters in your document.
Speeding Up Document Display
Are your documents displaying too slowly? You can configure Word so that it is as quick as possible on displaying by using draft fonts.
Switching between a Dialog Box and the Document
Word uses lots of dialog boxes as a way of setting configuration options and gathering information from users. When working with a dialog box, you may want to switch between it and the document. Whether you are able to do this or not depends on how Word was programmed.
Turning Off a Startup Sound
If you hear a sound when you start Word, it is because of some settings within Windows itself. You can use the Control Panel to turn off these sounds, as described in this tip.
Turning Off ScreenTips
All those little ScreenTips bug you when moving your mouse pointer over different parts of Word's interface? You can turn them off by following the steps in this tip.
Understanding ASCII and ANSI Characters
Two of the most common character coding schemes used in computers go by the acronyms ASCII and ANSI. This tip explains a bit of the history and difference between these important schemes.
Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting
Insert a date into Word, and you are presented with a variety of formats you can choose from for that date. The default option is controlled by the settings you've chosen in Windows, not in Word. This tip explains what is going on with this date formatting.
Word can understand many different measurement units. One common unit understood by Word is the pica, described in this tip.
Sections are handy if you want to subdivide a document so you can apply different document formatting to those subdivisions. Word provides several different types of breaks that you can use to signal the start of new sections.
Understanding the Clipboard
You can use the Clipboard to move information around in Word. You actually have access to two different clipboards in Word, as described in this tip.
Understanding the Normalize Text Command
Word includes tons of internal commands that you can access as you customize your system. One of these is the Normalize Text command, discussed in this tip.
Understanding Unicode Characters
Unicode is a character-encoding scheme that works with a huge variety of characters. This tip explains what Unicode is and how it works with Word and Windows.
Want to see how your document will look before it's printed? Or, do you want to see what things will look like if you put your document on the web? Word allows you to easily view your document in a few different ways. Here's how.
Understanding WIZ Files
A file that uses the WIZ extension will open just fine in Word. What are these files, however, and how do you create them?
Unwanted Font in Draft View
Word supports different ways of viewing your document as you work with it. One of those views, Draft, can use a specific font to display your document, regardless of how you format the text. Here's how to control that override setting.
Using the Style Area
The style area is an esoteric feature of Word that allows you to easily see the styles applied to the paragraphs in your document. Here's how to display and use that style area.
Viewing Document Statistics
As you develop a document, Word keeps track of certain statistics about the document itself. Here is how you can review those statistics.
Viewing Your Entire Document Width
The Zoom tool is very useful to help you see all of your document information. Here's how to make sure you can see all the document information horizontally.
Word Won't Maximize
Sometimes, for whatever reason, your computer might not display Word or other programs properly. There are a few things to check if this happens. This tip explains more.
Word's Native Measurement Unit
Word allows you to specify distances using a number of different measurement units. Figuring out how those measurement units are understood and used by Word can affect which unit you choose to use.
Zooming with the Keyboard
Want to zoom in and out without the need to using the ribbon tools? You can create your own handy macros that do the zooming for you.