Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.
The general settings in Word allow you to control how you view and use the program based on the purpose of your document. You can change things like the number of pages on screen, the size of the ribbon icons, which tool panels are shown, etc. These articles include handy tips to easily navigate Word and adjust what is displayed in the window to suit your needs.
The following articles are available for the 'General' topic. Click the article's title (shown in bold) to see the associated article.
A Shortcut for Switching Focus
Word provides keyboard shortcuts for lots of things, but it doesn't provide one for switching to the desktop and back to your document. Fortunately Windows does provide more than one shortcut to accomplish this task.
Accessing the Source of a Document Link
If you have information linked into your document, you may want to display the source of that linked information. Word provides several ways you can access the source, as described in this tip.
Alternative Ways of Creating Random Text
You can use a built-in Word feature (RAND) to create random text, but such text may not be to your liking. This tip explores other ways you can get random text in a document.
An Unruly Ruler
Does the ruler in Word seem to have a mind of its own? If you have problems understanding why the ruler behaves as it does, you'll appreciate the information in this tip.
Automatically Opening a Document at a Specific Zoom Setting
Do you prefer to have your documents open at a specific zoom magnification? You can get whatever magnification you desire by adding one simple macro to your Normal template file.
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.
Automatically Updating Fields and Links
You can update fields and links automatically when you print your document, but what if you want them updated when you open or close the document? That is not as easy of a proposition, but there are ways to fulfill the request, as shown in this tip.
Blue Background Blues
The blue background option of Word works well unless you add a text box.
Can't Split the Document View
Word allows you to split the screen so that you can view two different parts of the same document. This can come in very handy when editing long documents. What do you do, however, if you can't split the document? Here are some ideas on why this situation may exist.
Canceling a Command
Tired of waiting for a command to finish running? You can use the same shortcut to cancel a command that you use to dismiss any unwanted dialog boxes.
Changing a Toolbar Button Image
Changing the image of a button on a Toolbar in Word.
Changing Above-the-Line Fonts
Word maintains a list of the fonts most recently used in the program. You can't modify the list, but you can turn it on and off with a change to the Registry. This tip explains how to make the proper change.
Changing Dialog Box Pull-Down List Item Order
When selecting options within menus, Word frequently displays additional options in dialog boxes. While customizing the order these options appear in would be nice, the solution lies in the hands of the Microsoft programmers.
Changing from Pirated to Permitted Software
When you install Microsoft Office, you are required to enter a product key that unlocks the software for your use. This product key is stored in the Windows Registry. If you want to get rid of the product key so you can install a different copy of Office, you need to apply the steps described in this tip.
Changing How Word Presents Your Document
Tired of the old black-on-white text displayed by Word? Depending on your program version, you can configure Word to show your document as white text on a blue background.
Changing Stubborn Ruler Measurements
Can't get the Ruler to reflect the measurements you want? Chances are good that you are suffering from a glitch caused by how Word handles Asian "character units." This tip explains how to fix this situation and get the units desired.
Changing the Comment Color
If you don't like the default color used for comments in a document, you can't change them in Word. You can, however, modify them by changing some settings in Windows.
Changing the Company Name
When you install Office or Word, you are asked for your company's name as part of the installation process. If you later need to change the company name, you'll find it can be a time-consuming endeavor.
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 Word to Work in English
What are you to do if you know English but need to work in a version of Word that uses a language other than your own? The short answer may not be satisfying, but this tip provides some other helpful ideas.
Concise Directory of Available Symbols
Need to know what the different codes are that you can use with the Alt key, along with the characters resulting from those codes? Here are a handful of resources you can use to find the information you need.
Creating a Calendar Tool
Word has no way to add a calendar to your document that can be used for inserting dates, but you can add a calendar tool that can be used for reference purposes. Here's how to access this tool.
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.
Delay in Dialog Box Appearing
If your copy of Word seems to be slowing down a lot lately, it could be time to do some remedial work on your system. This tip provides a "high level" look at what things you may need to check.
Delays when Double-Clicking a Document Icon
Do you notice delays when you double-click a document icon, perhaps on your desktop? If you are confused by such delays because you don't see the same delay when you open the document from within Word, then the explanations in this tip will be helpful.
Direction Arrows Confused
What do you do if you open a document, only to find that the arrow keys don't work the way that they should? The first step is to figure out if the problem lies with the document itself, then you can go about figuring what to do next.
Disabling the Caps Lock Key
A few tips and tricks for working around the dratted Caps Lock button.
Displaying a Single Page
When displaying the information in your document, Word is rather flexible. It can, if you so choose, display multiple document pages on the screen at the same time. If you only want to see a single page, you can use the steps in this tip to get just what you want.
How to display the variety of toolbars in Word.
Dotted Letter Fonts
Teaching children to write the alphabet can be rewarding. One common way to teach is to create worksheets that show letters composed of dots, and the students can trace over the dots to form the letters. There are a wide variety of places you can get fonts that can be used to create these worksheets; a few of the Web sites are discussed in this tip.
Editing a Toolbar Button Image
You already know that Word allows you to customize the tools on your toolbars. You may not have known that it also allows you to change even the image on the tools, pixel by pixel.
Embedding Your Phone Number in a Document
One way you can designate your responsibility for a document is to add your phone number to it. There is no need to add your phone number in the actual document text, however. Instead you can add your phone number to the properties that Word maintains for each document.
Excellent XML Resource Available
Where to get more information on XML.
Fatal Errors in Word
If Word runs into a problem and the program can't continue, that can be distressing. Here are some things you can check to get Word running right again.
Finding a Lost Menu Bar
Once in a while Word can get confused and stop displaying an object you need to fully use Word. If your menu bar suddenly disappears one day, you'll appreciate the information in this tip.
Need to make sure that Word is installed correctly from the original installation CDs? You can do it by using a command built directly into Word.
Folder Locations for Add-Ins
Add-ins can be stored in a number of different places on a computer system. This tip explains the many different places you can look for add-ins, along with why those places exist in the first place.
Fonts Missing in Word
What are you to do if you find that you have no fonts available in Word, but they are available in other programs? There could be a couple of different reasons for the missing fonts, as described in this tip.
Forcing the Properties Dialog Box to Appear
Do you want the Properties dialog box to appear when you first save a Word document? You can configure Word so that it does just that by following the steps in this tip.
Does Word freeze up on you? Try these potential solutions.
Getting Audible Feedback
You can add a bit of sound to your editing tasks by turning on Word's sound capabilities. This tip shows where this configuration option is located.
Getting Help in Dialog Boxes
Dialog boxes are prevalent in a program like Word, and they can contain dozens (if not hundreds) of options. This tip describes how you can get help with the options in any given dialog box.
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 the Task Pane on Startup
Tired of the task pane appearing every time you start Word? Here's how to get rid of it.
Getting Rid of Wizards and Templates
Templates and wizards are used rather extensively in Word to either process a document or define how that document is to look. If you don't need all of the wizards and templates provided with the program, you can get rid of them. How you do so depends on your version of Word.
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 a Stubborn Toolbar
Got a toolbar giving you problems? Here's some ideas on how to make sure it stays hidden except when you want it displayed.
Hiding and Displaying Hidden Text
You can easily hide text by simply changing the attributes associated with the text. Once that is done, you can turn the display of your hidden text on or off, as described in this tip.
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 to Turn Add-in Toolbar off by Default
Add-in programs for Word often add toolbars that offer whatever features the add-in enables. Sometimes you may not want these toolbars to be displayed. Figuring out how to turn them off can be a headache, however. This tip offers some suggestions on things you can try.
I Can't Transfer My AutoText Entries
Tip on transferring AutoText entries from one version of Word to another.
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.
Keeping Word Open after Closing Documents
Usually when you are done working on a document, you want to close Word completely and move on to something else. There may be times, however, when you want to close that last document and leave the Word program window open. Here's how to do it.
Making Word Remember My Settings
Ever had the experience of setting some configuration option in Word, only to have the option revert to a different setting all on its own? This can be caused by any number of reasons.
Measurement of Choice Isn't Persistent
Normally, Word allows you to specify what measurement units you want used for the program; just choose Tools | Options | General | Measurement Units. If Word won't remember your selection, then you may be suffering from a known program bug, described in this tip.
When upgrading from Word 2000 to 2002, many people have a problem with the Ruler function. This tip explains how to fix the issue.
How to locate missing toolbars in Word.
Missing Top and Bottom Margins
You get your document set up just the way you want it, and then notice that all of a sudden Word doesn't show any top or bottom margins for your on-screen pages. This can be disconcerting, until you know that this is actually a feature in Word, as described in this tip.
Modifying Behavior of the Open Dialog Box
The Open dialog box is one that few of us think about, but you can control how it behaves with a little bit of macro coding. This tip provides a few examples you can use right away.
Moving Found Text Down On a Page
When you use the Search feature to find information, if the information is not on the visible page, then Word displays the page with the information and the occurrence of what you are searching for is highlighted on the top row of the window. It is often helpful for it to be on the second or third row, so you can see the context of what was located. This tip explains how you can "move" the page a bit so you can see what was found within its context.
Multiple Document Directories for Word
Word 97 users would follow these steps to specify multiple directories for documents.
Notification when Caps Lock is Active
You're typing along, look up at your screen, and notice that everything is in ALL CAPS. Drat! You activated the Caps Lock key without knowing it, and now you have to correct your typing. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way you could be notified when the Caps Lock key was turned on? Well, there is, as discussed in this tip.
Permanently Getting Rid of 'My Pictures' and 'My Music'
Getting rid of unwanted folders in Windows.
Persistent Reviewing Toolbar Display
How to fix a problem with the Word 2000 issue of the Reviewing Toolbar disappearing.
Program Opens without the Desired Document
Double-click a document link in the recent documents list maintained by Windows, and you may be surprised if Word doesn't open the document. There is a reason for not opening such a document, most likely that Word can no longer find the document.
Reducing Word's CPU Load
A series of options for checking the CPU load of your Word document.
Removing Author Information
Word automatically stores lots of author-related information within a document. Because this data is stored in several places, deleting this identifying information is a bit tricky. This tip explains what you can do to get rid of that information.
Removing Errant Buttons
Got some toolbar buttons that are rather stubborn? Getting rid of buttons that are installed by an external program can be bothersome, but here are some ideas that can help.
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.
Reveal Codes in Word
While there are no true Reveal Codes in Word, as in WordPerfect, as they are vastly different word processors, there is a vaguely similar function.
Saving a Preview Picture in Word 2007
When Word saves a document, it can also save a preview picture for that document. This comes in handy when you are using the Open dialog box to browse through a series of documents, looking for the right one.
Scope of Word Options
There are dozens and dozens of settings you can make in Word. Some of them affect only the current document, while others affect the entire system. Figuring out what the options are and how they are set can be a hassle. But, as this tip discloses, there is some free help you can get to decipher your Word settings.
Seeing Small Rectangles when Inserting Symbols
If your symbols are presenting as small rectangles, follow these steps to see if your video driver may be the culprit.
Selecting Tabs in Dialog Boxes
Dialog boxes normally present information in a series of tabs. If you want to move from tab to tab without taking your hands off the keyboard, here's how to do it.
Shifting Margins Evident in Word 2002
When you open a document in one version of Word and compare it to what you see for the same document in a different version of Word, you may notice some differences. Many times these differences are caused by "rule changes" from one version of Word to another. This tip explains how you can use the compatibility options in Word to help documents be treated the same.
Small Symbol Size
Are the characters in the Insert Symbol dialog box too small for you? Here's how to make them larger.
Status Bar Icons
Near the center of the status bar Word displays a number of different icons. This tip describes the meaning of each possible icon, along with how they can be used to make your work faster.
One of the tools that Word provides is to display thumbnails of your document pages at the left side of the program window (choose View | Thumbnails). This can be helpful at times, but it can be a bother if the thumbnails appear every time a document is opened. This tip explains how to turn off this bothersome behavior.
Switching between a Dialog Box and the Document
Word uses lots of dialog boxes as a way of setting configuration options and gathering information from users. When working with a dialog box, you may want to switch between it and the document. Whether you are able to do this or not depends on how Word was programmed.
Text Doesn't Wrap at Margin in Normal View
If you are using Word in Normal view, and the text on the screen doesn't wrap at the right margin like it should, the culprit could be a simple setting in the Options dialog box. This tip explains this setting and why it even exists in Word in the first place.
Turning Off a Startup Sound
If you hear a sound when you start Word, it is because of some settings within Windows itself. You can use the Control Panel to turn off these sounds, as described in this tip.
Turning Off Dynamic Menus
By default, Word's menus only display the options that you use most often. You can configure the menus, however, so that all the menu options are displayed all the time. This tip explains how to quickly make that change.
Understanding ASCII and ANSI Characters
Two of the most common character coding schemes used in computers go by the acronyms ASCII and ANSI. This tip explains a bit of the history and difference between these important schemes.
Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting
Insert a date into Word, and you are presented with a variety of formats you can choose from for that date. The default option is controlled by the settings you've chosen in Windows, not in Word. This tip explains what is going on with this date formatting.
Word can understand many different measurement units. One common unit understood by Word is the pica, described in this tip.
Understanding the Normalize Text Command
Word includes tons of internal commands that you can access as you customize your system. One of these is the Normalize Text command, discussed in this tip.
Understanding Unicode Characters
Unicode is a character-encoding scheme that works with a huge variety of characters. This tip explains what Unicode is and how it works with Word and Windows.
Unwanted Graph Paper Effect
When you open a document or start to use Word, do you see a background that looks like graph paper? It could be because of any number of reasons, as described in this tip.
Using the Function Key Display Toolbar
Need to know what various function keys do? One easy way to find out is to use the Function Key Display toolbar, described in this tip.
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.
Where Are Word's Settings Stored?
Ever wonder where Word stores all its settings and configuration information? There are only three places where this information ends up, as described in this tip.
Word Abnormally Ends when Maximizing Program Window
If Word crashes when you maximize a previously minimized instance of the program, it is a sure sign that there is something wrong with your installation. Tracking down the problem can be challenging, but this tip provides some guidance concerning things you can check out.
Word Freezes When Working with Lots of Clip Art
Don't you hate it when Word freezes? Laurie has that problem when she works with clip art in her documents. There are any number of reasons that the freezing could be occurring, and this tip describes a few things to check out to clear things up.
Is your version of Word acting sluggish? Here's some things you can do to speed it up.
Word Won't Maximize
Sometimes, for whatever reason, your computer might not display Word or other programs properly. There are a few things to check if this happens. This tip explains more.
Word's Native Measurement Unit
Word allows you to specify distances using a number of different measurement units. Figuring out how those measurement units are understood and used by Word can affect which unit you choose to use.
Zooming with the Keyboard
Want to zoom in and out without the need to use the mouse? You can create your own handy macros that do the zooming for you.