Top 8 Tips for Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word Tips and Tricks

It’s unavoidable: Working with documents is a necessary part of any business—which is why enhancing your skills in Microsoft Word is important.

When you’re working hard to meet tight deadlines, you don’t have time to painstakingly bold every title in your document or fiddle with mysterious formatting inconsistencies at the 11th hour. By streamlining your skills in Word, you can create, format, and edit your documents more efficiently—giving you more bandwidth to focus on billable work.

Here are our top 8 Microsoft Word features that everyone should know.

1. Basic shortcuts: For the essentials

When you’re dealing with creating, scanning, and managing a high volume of legal documents or documents in general, it can be surprisingly easy to overlook the basics.

As such, the first step in making Word work for you is to ensure that you’re on top of the most common shortcuts and time-savers. Start with these Word document essential skills:

  • Double-click to select one word.
  • Triple-click to select a paragraph.
  • Use the “Find and replace” feature to change all instances of a term in a long document.
  • Know keyboard shortcuts for commonly used legal symbols, such as § and ¶. The § and ¶ symbols are Option+6 and Option+7 on a Mac; on a PC, they are Alt+21 and Alt+20 (make sure you have num lock enabled, and that you’re using the numeric keyboard on the right if you have one, or this won’t work).

2. Styles: For easier formatting

Consistent formatting instantly makes any document look more professional and feel more readable—but manually reformatting headings and tinkering with fonts and spacing is frustrating, and a waste of your precious time.

Styles let you quickly apply a set of predetermined formatting selections (such as font, text size, etc.) throughout your document—instead of manually locating and changing every instance. This eliminates the risk of accidentally missing an occurrence (and thus ending up with inconsistent formatting), while also saving you the time and energy you’d otherwise lose to tedious document formatting.

Image of the styles pane in Word

With Word Styles, you can set standard formatting for everything, including:

  • Body text (i.e., normal style)
  • Characters
  • Paragraphs
  • Headings
  • Tables
  • Lists (including bulleted lists and numbered lists)

The Styles feature is one of the most powerful available in Word, and knowing the basics can be a big time-saver. For an overview on how to create, modify, and customize styles, check out Microsoft’s styles basics page.

3. Templates: For a starting point

Once you’ve mastered Styles, streamline your workflows even further by creating reusable templates.

Templates are exactly what they sound like: You can use them as a basis for letters, arguments, and other documents rather than starting from a blank page every time. Spend less time formatting and never send out an inconsistent-looking letter again. Here’s how to do it.

Microsoft also has an online library of templates available, so you don’t have to start from scratch. For example, here’s their civil litigation pleadings template:

civil litigation pleadings template

4. Reset formatting: For a clean slate

Using templates and Styles is useful for creating a cohesively formatted document in Word, but what if your document is already a mess? It’s important to know the shortcut to resetting your formatting.

Here’s how:

  1. Copy all of the text of your affected document (“Command + C” on Mac or “Ctrl + C” on PC).
  2. Paste the copied text into a new Notepad document (“Command + V” on Mac or “Ctrl + V” on PC).
  3. Open a new Word document.
  4. Copy the text from the Notepad document.
  5. Paste the copied text into the new Word document.

5. Hyperlinks: For better digital readability

If your documents are likely to be read on a computer, tablet, smartphone, or other digital device, then adding hyperlinks can instantly add context and enhance their usefulness.

The process is simple:

  1. Copy the URL of the hyperlink you want to add to the document.
  2. In your Word document, select the text you want to apply the link to.
  3. Add the hyperlink by pasting the URL via:
    • Insert > Hyperlink, or
    • right-click and select Hyperlink, or.
    • “Ctrl + K” (PC) or “Command + K” (Mac).

6. The Navigation pane: For staying organized

When writing long documents, the Navigation pane in Word helps track your content and keeps you organized. Put simply, it’s a table of contents of all the headings in your document. Using it allows you to switch between sections with ease.

The best part? You can rearrange sections of your document by dragging and dropping headlines.

Enable the Navigation Pane under the “View” tab in Word.

7. Restrict edits: For more control

Turning on Track Changes is the easiest way to collaborate in Word. But with multiple people throwing in their two cents, things can sometimes get out of control.

To halt edit-overload, you can restrict editing privileges to certain parts of your document using the “Restrict Editing” function.

8. Mark as Final: For read-only status

There’s another option for keeping edits under control—use the Mark as Final function.

By marking a document as final in Word, you effectively set its status as read-only, which disables or turns off typing, editing commands, and proofing marks. While it won’t halt all edits (users can get around this restriction with some effort), the Mark as Final is still useful for clarifying your intentions to fellow collaborators.


Documents are at the heart of your business and cases. By using Microsoft Word to its fullest, you can create, format, and edit your documents more efficiently—so you can better meet your deadlines and be more confident in the accuracy of your documents. The more you invest in learning new tricks to save time in Word, the more opportunities you’ll unlock to save time on routine tasks, dedicate more time to billable work, and focus on helping your clients.


WAMS, Inc.

The experts at WAMS, Inc. all have a background in the legal industry and understand the software and the demands that come along with it. That’s why all our clients receive a dedicated account manager and engineer with specific planning that works for your business needs. We didn’t break into the tech world to pinch pennies from clients. We go into every partnership to help their business scale gracefully. Your company growth is our company growth, always.