Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Understanding Outlining in Word.

Understanding Outlining in Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 14, 2017)

1

Word provides many tools that you can use to help you develop your writing. One tool which many people find particularly helpful is outlining. The outlining features in Word are basically an implementation of how you learned to create outlines in school. First, you develop your major ideas, which become the headings in your outline. As you add more detail, your outline takes form with different levels of headings.

The headings in an outline are, in reality, the headings you use in your document. Thus, the outline becomes a condensed version of your document, showing only your headings. You can switch between your regular editing views and your outline by simply clicking your mouse on the Outline View icon in the lower-right corner of the screen.

To create an outline from scratch, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new document.
  2. Make sure Outline view has been selected. The Outlining tab of the ribbon should be selected automatically.
  3. Start typing your document. The paragraphs you enter will be a first-level head (formatted with the Heading 1 style).
  4. Adjust the heading levels of your paragraphs by clicking the left and right arrow keys on the Outlining tab of the ribbon.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5968) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Understanding Outlining in Word.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is one less than 2?

2020-03-09 10:23:39

Clay Wisner

I cannot find, on your tip site or any other - including Udemy, Linda.com, etc. anyone tackling the multilevel list with associated heading styles (or the "PR1, PR2" paragraph styles which I suspect are leftovers from very old Word versions).
I have to match the formats for specification outlines supplied by architects all the time. The quality of the 'template' (which is just a Word document) varies wildly. Some are just text with spaces before and after the Outline levels, some use heading styles, some only provide the first three or four levels - some just provide a pdf which usually gets an email asking for a document and not a picture of one.

No matter what method we use to try to put our specification text into their format, we have inconsistencies and "random de-formatting" occurring on a pretty consistent basis. Even if you cave in and try to use format painter to reformat everything line-by-line, sometimes applying format properties for level 5 (for instance) in one part of the document will "break" all the previous level 5 entries (they will all jump over to the left margin, for example).

I feel that the hell that is outlining in Word is purposely avoided by Word "gurus" because Microsoft itself doesn't really know how it is supposed to work. There are to many redundant places to say where a line or outline level indents, where the text after the number indents, the hanging indent as lines wrap, what happens if you hit the 'enter' key, the font formatting, etc.

If ANYONE knows where this is clearly taught so that one can at least somewhat easily apply formatting from one document to another, it would be greatly appreciated to see the link to such training.


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