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 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.

   Adjusting Navigation Pane Font Size
The Navigation pane can be quite handy for quickly jumping to different areas of your document. If the size of the text in the Navigation pane is too small for you to see, however, you may need to look for a different solution.

   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.

   Cannot View Multiple Pages at Once
What do you do when a ribbon tool you rely upon suddenly disappears? That's the situation addressed in this tip, where the Multiple Pages tool inexplicably disappeared from a user's ribbon.

   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 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 Ribbon Font Size
Changing the size at which your document is displayed is easy. What, though, of the elements that make up the Word interface? This tip looks at how you might be able to adjust those elements, as well.

   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.

   Controlling the Heading Levels Displayed in the Navigation Pane
The Navigation pane can be a handy tool for, well, navigating through your document using the various headings that it contains. You have complete control over how many levels of headings are displayed in the Navigation pane, as described in this tip.

   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 Navigation Pane when Opening a Document
The Navigation pane can be a big help in moving around a document. If you want to make sure it is always displayed for your documents, you'll appreciate the ideas in this tip.

   Displaying the Ruler
The ubiquitous ruler appears at the top of every Word document. It is so commonplace, 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.

   Documents Marked as Security Risk
If your Word documents contain macros, it is possible that Word (or Windows itself) may block the use of those documents because of the macros. In that case, you'll be notified that the document represents a security risk. This tip examines what to do if that occurs with your documents.

   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 Layout Options Context Menu
Do Word's attempts to be helpful drive you nuts? Here's a way that you can turn off at least some of the helpfulness.

   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 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.

   How Many Items Can be Added to the Quick Access Toolbar?
Want to add lots of tools to your Quick Access Toolbar? Word allows you to do so, seemingly without limit. This tip explains how the QAT works when you add lots and lots of tools.

   Incorrect Page Counts Shown in Status Bar
A common statistic to see on the status bar is what page number you are working on in your document. If the page numbers shown are incorrect, it can be confusing as to what is going on.

   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.

   Leaving Bullet Point Items Lowercase
When typing a bulleted list, Word seems to automatically make the first letter of each item in the list uppercase. The actual behavior of Word is more complex, and understanding that behavior can help make creating bulleted lists easier.

   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.

   Making Save As Display the Save As Dialog Box
Sometimes you just want to get to the Save As dialog box as quickly as possible. Word seems to make this increasingly difficult in newer versions of the program. Here's how to make a few changes that can display the desired dialog box quicker.

   Making the Paste Options Button Option Persistent
It is nice when you change settings in Word and the program remembers your settings from session to session. In this tip we examine a single setting that doesn't seem to behave as one would expect.

   Making the Show/Hide Setting Persistent
Word allows you to either display or hide non-printing characters that are in your document. This configuration setting should be persistent when it is changed. If it isn't, this tip provides some ideas on what you can do to remedy the situation.

   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.

   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.

   New Page Appears at Right of First Page
When you start typing in a new document and you get to the end of the first page, Word could place the next page at the right of the first page or below the first page. This is by design, and Word allows you to specify how you want the page placement to occur.

   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 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.

   Sizing What is Displayed in the Styles Gallery
The Styles Gallery can be a great tool for applying your often-used styles. It can be frustrating, though, if you cannot see all of the styles in the gallery that you need.

   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 Display of the Office Clipboard
When I am editing a document, I find it distracting for Word to display the Clipboard task pane at the left of the document. Here's how to turn it off so that it doesn't pop into view automatically.

   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 Off the 'Welcome Back' Notice
When you open a document that you previously edited, Word displays a message the right side of the screen about jumping to where you were last located. If this message bugs you, you can get rid of it by mucking about in the Windows Registry a bit, as discussed in this tip.

   Turning Off the Automatic Help that Word Offers
Word has a lot of tools that are invoked automatically based on what you are doing in the program. If these tools interfere with how you want to use the program, you'll want to become familiar with the Word Options dialog box.

   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.

   Typing in Boxes
Do you have bothersome boxes appear around the text in your document? Here's how you can get rid of them and make your document look normal again.

   Using Alt to Switch Language Keyboards
There are scores of keyboard shortcuts built into both Windows and Word. If you run into a conflict between shortcut keys, it can be confusing. This tip looks at one such conflict that involves the ALT key.

   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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