Tips: Find the best hidden Microsoft Word features

Word 2013 Logo

Microsoft’s Word is a cabinet full of wonders yet most people only use the very obvious and basic features. The more obscure tools and utilities stay hidden out of sight, though that does not have to be the case. Sometimes, someone will come along and point out a feature in Word that you had no idea existed and you will stay there pondering your existence for the next couple of minutes over a tool that could have potentially saved you hours/days/months of frustration. Today, I am going to be that guy although my aim is more to help than to laugh with your pain and suffering, even though I will do that as well.

Quickly hide the ribbon

I tend to profess my love for minimalistic designs at any opportunity and I always search for ways to make interfaces I have to work with as fluid as possible. You can easily imagine that that hiding the ribbon has been one of my top priorities whenever I have had to use Word. Here is what you can do:

Ctrl + F1: Makes the ribbon appear/disappear from view.
Alt + W + F: Enables “Read Mode”, making most tools disappear. The ones that are left are more tailored to reading the article you are editing rather than actually editing it.

Another neat option is to click on the Ribbon Display option and select the Auto-hide Ribbon item. This will make the Ribbon appear whenever you move your mouse towards there but hide it immediately after you leave the area. I do not tend to use this feature because it sometimes bugs out but feel free to try it out.

Hold up to 24 items in the clipboard

Word Clipboard Pane

The clipboard, in case you have not heard about it, is where your copied text is temporarily saved. You already know that you can only copy one piece of text at a time as copying something else will replace your previous selection. That is not true in Word, however. In fact, pressing Ctrl + C twice will bring up the Clipboard Panel, allowing you to view up to 24 previously copied items and move them around in the document you are editing. This tool works across all Office documents and works until you close the last of them.

Outline View

Word Outline View

Click on the View tab in the Ribbon and select the Views option. Finally, click on Outline View. This style allows you to reorganize text blocks and headings. It even brings up a specialized tool that allows you to quickly promote or demote text (move it up and down the field). I frequently use Outline View because I still cannot really comprehend how headings work and I am sure you will find something to like about it too.

Click and Type

This should be one of the most obvious features in Word yet very few people know about it. If you double click anywhere in the text field, you can immediately start typing there. You do not need to move with spacebar or whatever, just double click and type away. This feature only works in two of the layouts, Print Layout and Web Layout so keep that in mind before getting too frustrated.

Write equations

Word Equation

Equations have actually always been a part of Word., known as “Equation Editor” in every edition other than Word 2013 where it is known simply as “Equation”. You can access the tool from the Insert > Equation in Word 2013. Otherwise, go to Insert > Object > Microsoft Equation. The latest version of the tool is actually a lot more advanced. Thankfully, you can convert older documents to the newest format and then use the new equations editor with no problem.

Easily convert tables to graphs

Since we are already on the subject, let us talk about converting tables into beautiful graphs. The easiest way to do that is to open the Insert tab, click on the Object item, open the Object tool and select the Microsoft Graph Chart from the list. All tabular data can now be displayed as graphs, easy as that!

Translation tools

Word Translate

Microsoft’s Translator services have been gaining a lot of ground lately. Just take a look at the team’s latest efforts with Skype Translator and you will see what I mean. All Office products use the same service for their translation needs. The tool is included in Microsoft Office 2010 and later. If you are using 2003 or 2007 versions, head over here to manually download and install the tool.

After installing, using it is easy. Click on the Review menu and select the Translate option. You have three distinct options: translating the whole document, translating highlighted text or enabling the mini translator, meaning that you will get quick translations just by hovering your mouse over words or selected paragraphs. The translation language can be changed from the same menu by selecting the Choose Translation Language option at the bottom.

Hidden text goodness

Microsoft Hidden Text

You might have already seen this feature as it can be used for things like quizzes, hiding the answers. Here is how to hide your text:

1. Highlight the text you want to hide.
2. Go to Home > Font.
3. Check the Hidden box.
4. If you want to print hidden text, go to File > Options > Display, check the Hidden text and Print hidden text boxes and click on OK.

This is a useful and fun feature although most of you will probably not use it very often, if at all. Also note that printing sometimes becomes wonky when hidden text is enabled. If you are still having problems even when following the above steps, then you might need to use another version of Word or remove the hidden text all together before printing.

Inspect your document for personal details

Word Document Inspector

If you want to share your document online, it is generally a good idea to remove any personal information that might be hidden inside as malicious users can use it against you. To find the tool, go to File > Info > Prepare for Sharing. Click on Check for Issues and then select the Inspect Document option. Select what you want to look for and click on OK. The Document Inspector will then show you all the information that it found. Click on the Remove All button next to each item and the Inspector will automatically remove the information from your document so you can share it freely.