Configuration

Word can be configured to show what is most useful for you. For example, you may not need to see ScreenTips or spelling errors, but you may need to turn on nonprinting characters or the Developer tab of the ribbon. Check out these tips to take advantage of Word's configuration options.

Tips, Tricks, and Answers

The following articles are available for the 'Configuration' topic. Click the article''s title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.

   Adding a Hidden Tool in Word
Word no longer includes a Hidden tool on the ribbon as it used to in earlier versions that used toolbars. You can still add such a tool, but it won't function in exactly the same way as in earlier versions.

   Adding Common Line Spacing Options
Sometimes the options presented by Word's tools don't exactly meet our formatting needs. Rather than changing the tools (which may not be possible), Word typically provides other features which can meet our needs.

   Automatically Saving Changes to Defaults
Have you ever started a new document only to find that the settings in Word seem to be different than what you expected? This tip explains why this happens and what you can do to prevent it.

   Calculating Expressions
Word can do some simple calculations for you, if you add a little-known tool to your toolbar. Here's how to add and use this handy tool.

   Changing Colors of Spelling and Grammar Underlines
The red and green wavy underlines used in Word can be a boon for proofing a document, but they are of little use if you have a certain type of color blindness. This tip explains some things you can do to hopefully change those colors to something you can see.

   Changing Measurement Units
When working in Word's dialog boxes, most people understand that you should enter measurements using inches. If you don't like inches, you can change the default unit of measurement to something more to your liking.

   Changing the Default Font
Don't like the font that Word uses for a default in your new documents? You can pick a different font, but the way you make the selection is not as straightforward as you might expect.

   Changing the Format for a Date Inserted Using the Keyboard Shortcut
If you are having difficulties getting Word to insert the date exactly the way you want, it could have to do with how you set your defaults and which languages you are using. This tip explains how to set the defaults correctly.

   Changing the Insertion Point Cursor
Want to change the characteristics of the insertion point used by Word? You may be out of luck, unless you make some changes in Windows itself.

   Changing the Maximum Undo Levels
Want to change the number of "undo" steps available when editing? You can't, because Word doesn't' really have a maximum. This tip explains how undo levels work in Word.

   Changing the Startup Directory
When you start Word, it makes an assumption about where your documents are stored. If you want to force Word to change that assumption, you can follow the steps in this tip.

   Changing the Style Area Font
The style area, displayed at the left side of your document, can be helpful in understanding how styles are used in your document. Word doesn't allow you to change the font used to display the information in the style area, but there are some tricks you can try.

   Confirming File Conversions
Open a file that isn't a Word document and Word will still try to convert it to a Word document. If you want Word to let you know when it is going to do these conversions, here's how to specify that.

   Controlling Scroll Bars
Scroll bars are helpful if you have a document that won't fit entirely within the program window. Here's how to turn off the scroll bars if you have no need for them.

   Default Units that Change
Word allows you to specify the unit of measurement you would like used in dialog boxes throughout the program. It can get frustrating if your default units change without warning to something other than what you want used. This tip discusses some things you can check if you find your default changing without any action on your part.

   Displaying Nonprinting Characters
Nonprinting characters are a great boon when you are editing a document. Turn them on and you can easily see what characters make up your text. Here's how you can control which of the nonprinting characters Word displays.

   Displaying ScreenTips
ScreenTips are those small, yellow boxes that appear when you hover over different objects in Word. You have complete control over whether they appear or don't appear, all by making a simple configuration change in the Word Options dialog box.

   Displaying the Developer Tab
The Developer tab of the ribbon is the gateway to many advanced features in Word, including those features related to macros. Problem is, the Developer tab is not visible by default in Word. Here's how to make sure it remains displayed on your system.

   Displaying the File Tab of the Ribbon by Default
When you first start Word, it displays the Home tab of the ribbon. If you want to display a different ribbon tab by default, the solution isn't as easy as one would hope.

   Displaying the Ruler
The ubiquitous ruler appears at the top of every Word document. It is so common place, that you may forget that it is easy to turn off or on, as your needs dictate. This tip explains how you can use the View tab of the ribbon to control the display of the ruler.

   Finding and Changing Word's Internal Commands
If you know how to create macros, you can easily create entire replacements for Word's internal commands. Here's all you need to do.

   Getting Rid of Blue Squiggly Underlines
In an effort to make your writing better, Word uses "squiggly" underlines to mark things it thinks you may need to change. If you see some blue squiggly underlines on your screen, you may wonder what they are for and how to get rid of them. Here's the skinny.

   Getting Rid of ScreenTips
All those little ScreenTips bug you when moving through the toolbars and ribbons of Word? You can turn them off by following the steps in this tip.

   Getting Rid of the Paste Options Box
Paste something in a Word document, and you may notice a dynamic little set of options appear right next to what you pasted. If you find these "paste options" distracting, you can configure Word so that they aren't displayed.

   Getting Windows to Recognize Word 2010
When you have two versions of Word installed on the same system, it can cause a few problems, such as Windows opening the wrong version when you open a document. Here's how to correct for this problem.

   Getting Word to Remember the Default Date and Time Format
One way to insert the current date into your document is to use the Date and Time dialog box. The Default button in the dialog box can be confusing, unless you know how Word handles the dates and times it inserts. Here's the low-down.

   Hiding Spelling Errors
When you are typing in a document, Word normally checks your spelling in the background, marking possible spelling errors as you go. If the markings bother you, here's how you can turn them off.

   Horizontally Viewing All Your Text
If you are viewing a document and your text runs off the right side of the document window, it can be a real bother to scroll left and right. Word allows you to configure the program so that your text will always stay within the display space available.

   Increasing the Size of the Draft Font
When looking at your document in Draft view, you may want Word to use a larger font than what it normally does. Here's how you can change that font size easily.

   Making Draft View the Default View
Word normally uses Print Layout view to display your documents. You may want, instead, to always use Draft view. Here's how you can configure Word so that your desires are followed.

   Margins On the Screen Don't Match Printout
Does your text on the screen sometimes look "scrunched up" when it comes to the transition between pages? It could be a simple case of making a configuration change in Word.

   Modifying Quick Access Toolbar Images
Want to modify the button images used for Quick Access Toolbar images. It can be done, but it is not as easy as anyone would like. Here's some guidance on what you can do.

   Moving Text Using the Mouse
Many people use the keyboard to do their primary editing tasks. Word doesn't limit you to the keyboard, however. You can also use the mouse to do your editing, as described in this tip.

   Potential Shortcut Key Problems
When configuring Word so that it matches your preference in shortcut keys, you need to be careful about what shortcut keys you select. Here's an explanation of the problems you can run into if you aren't careful.

   Quickly Customizing the Keyboard
Want a quick way to change the shortcut key associated with a tool available on a ribbon, toolbar, or menu? Here's one esoteric shortcut that will help in that regard (and it displays a cool cloverleaf mouse pointer).

   Replacing a Group on a Ribbon Tab
Don't like the way that the ribbons are arranged? Getting them changed can be more of a challenge than you may want to tackle.

   Replacing Text Selections
When editing a document, Word normally replaces whatever text you select with whatever you start to type. Here's how to turn off that capability, if you find it annoying.

   Resetting a Function Key
Function keys are often used, in Word, for common operations. You can, if desired, change the way in which a function key is interpreted by the program. If you want to reset what the function key does, here's how to do it.

   Resetting Ribbons to Their Default
Customize Word 2010 enough, and you may at some point want to set the ribbon tabs back to their original condition. Here's how to do it.

   Setting User Information
Need to change the information that Word stores about you? Here's how to find the info.

   Setting Your Default Document Directory
Word allows you to specify where it should start looking for your documents. This setting can come in handy if you store your documents in a specific directory structure.

   Showing Text Boundaries for Pages, not for Paragraphs
Word allows you to configure how your document is displayed rather extensively. One configuration that has been around quite a while is known as text boundaries, but how they actually appear changed beginning with Word 2013. Here's the skinny on that change and what you can do if you prefer the old way of displaying text boundaries.

   Turning Off Background Repagination
When you use Word, it normally performs several tasks in the background while you are typing. One of those tasks is to continuously repaginate your document. Depending on the view you are using, you can turn this feature off if you don't need it.

   Turning Off Paste Options
Paste information into a document and you'll immediately see a small icon next to the pasted information. This icon allows you to access options that affect the pasting operation. Don't like the icon? Here's how to get rid of it.

   Turning on Picture Placeholders
Displaying graphics in a document requires a great deal more computer processing than displaying simple text. A document that has "too many" graphics in it scrolls very slowly. If switching from Print layout to Draft view does not speed up scrolling to a satisfactory point you can also tell Word to display the graphics as simple empty box placeholders.

   Using Object Anchors
An object anchor is used to signify the point at which an object is inserted into a document. If you want to see these anchors, you need to configure Word to display them.

   Using Text Boundaries
Text boundaries can help you better visualize where text can appear in your document. The feature is easy to turn on and off, as described in this tip.

   Using the Insert Key to Insert Text
The Insert key can be used for different purposes, depending on how you configure the program. This tip explains those uses and shows how to make the configuration change.

   Viewing Multiple Pages
If you have a large monitor, you can view more than one page at a time in Word. This is very handy when you want to understand how your text looks over several pages.

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Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

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