In this column, Vista provides practical tips to help you write clearly and concisely, including best practices for using Microsoft Word. Please leave suggestions for future posts in the comments. Subscribe now to make sure you don’t miss a tip!
Most engineers (and everyone else!) use Microsoft Word at work. It remains the standard tool for writing reports, memos and other documents. But most of us under-utilize Word because we don’t understand all of its features. Below you’ll find three Microsoft Word tips for engineers you might not have known how—or why—to use! Experiment with them and you will be amazed by your own efficiency.
1. The Styles List
This is a list of formats for headings, bullets, titles and more that lets you apply formatting with a single click. This gives your document a professional, consistent look and feel, and lets you use other navigational tools such as tables of contents and cross-references. Using styles also helps to prevent frustrating formatting problems by using built-in Word formats.
Access the Styles list on the Home tab. You can leave it docked on the ribbon, or press the little arrow in the lower-right corner to pop it out. Put your cursor in the document and select heading levels, numbered or bulleted lists, and a variety of other options to automatically format your text.
2. The Navigation Pane
Next up, the Navigation pane is a visual hierarchy of the headings in your document. It lets you quickly jump between sections, search for terms and easily organize your document. Similar to the Slide Organizer in PowerPoint, this tool lets you drag and drop entire chapters and sections of your document from one place to another.
Access the Navigation pane on the View tab. Click the check box in the Show area to make the pane appear. Click a heading to jump to that section, or drag and drop it to move it around in your document. Type a term in the Search field to highlight all instances in your document.
3. The Thesaurus
Word (and all MS Office programs) has a built-in thesaurus that helps you avoid repetition and pick the best words. Select the word you want to replace and hit SHIFT+F7 on your keyboard. A list of alternates appears. You can leave the thesaurus open while you work.
More Microsoft Word Tips for Engineers
Because it’s so widely used, Microsoft Word has dozens of useful websites dedicated to it. Here are a few of the best:
- 10 cool Microsoft Word tips and tricks
And when you’re ready for some slightly more advanced tips, check out the great suggestions on this page.
Engineering Projects Need Technical Writers
If you have a technical writing need for your engineering project, please click here to contact us.