Use These Hidden Tools to Increase Your Productivity with Microsoft Word

by Avantix Learning Team | Updated April 7, 2018

Applies to: Microsoft Word 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365 (Windows)

There are a lot of features in Microsoft Word that are buried a little deeper in the program and I’ve found that many people have no idea where to find them or that they are available in Word.

Here’s a list of 10 extremely useful hidden features available in Microsoft Word 2010, 2013, 2016 and 365 (in the Windows environment). If you are using 2007, use the Office button whenever the File tab is mentioned in this article.

Recommended articles: How to Write Your Own Keyboard Shortcuts in Microsoft Word and 21 Shortcuts for Faster Formatting in Your Microsoft Word Documents

1. Change Word’s measurement system

Are your dialog boxes and the Ruler appearing in centimetres or inches? To change the measurement system in Word 2010 and later versions:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Advanced in the left panel.
  4. Scroll down to the Display group.
  5. Beside Show measurements in units of, choose Inches or your preferred measurement system from the drop-down menu.
  6. Click OK.

Below is the Options dialog box in Microsoft Word:

Microsoft Word Options dialog box with option to change measurement system.

2. Change Word’s default file saving location

To specify the default location for saving files (so you don’t waste a lot of time navigating to the correct folder), you can also use Word’s Options:

  1. Click the File tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click Options.
  3. Click Save in the left panel.
  4. To the right of the Default file location box, click Browse.
  5. Navigate to the folder you wish to use as a default location.
  6. Click the folder and click OK.
  7. Click OK again.

3. Find and replace fonts

One of the most useful, yet underused tools in Microsoft Word is the Replace command. You can find and replace formatting such as font, bold or italic or find and replace special characters.

Let’s say you want to replace the font for specific text in your document (in this example, some text has been formatted as Arial and the user wants to change it to Calibri):

  1. Position the cursor at the beginning of the document.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon and then click Replace or press Ctrl + H.
  3. Click More (if necessary) to display the expanded dialog box.
  4. Click in the Find what box.
  5. Click No Formatting at the bottom if formatting has previously been used. Be sure that there are no characters such as spaces entered in the Find what box.
  6. Click Format and from the drop-down menu, choose Font. Click Arial (or the desired font) in the list of fonts and click OK.
  7. Click in the Replace with box. Click No Formatting to ensure that no formatting is applied (this may be disabled). Be sure that there are no characters entered in the Replace with box such as spaces.
  8. Click Format and from the drop-down menu, choose Font. Click Calibri (or the desired font) in the list of fonts and click OK.
  9. Click Find Next to ensure that Word is finding the text with the desired font.
  10. Click Replace All.
  11. If you make a mistake, press Ctrl + Z to undo.

Below is the Find and Replace dialog box in Microsoft Word:

Replace Arial with Calibri in Replace dialog box.

4. Select text with similar formatting

An interesting feature available through the Home tab is Select Text with Similar Formatting.

Let’s say that throughout your document, you have formatted headings as 14 point, bold. You have now decided that you’d like to format these headings as 16 point, bold and blue. Ideally, it’s best to format these with styles such as Heading 1 or Heading 2 so you can use the Select Text with Similar Formatting to accomplish this:

  1. Position the cursor in one of the headings that is formatted as 14 point, bold.
  2. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon and then click Select. From the drop-down menu, choose Select Text with Similar Formatting. Alternatively, press Alt + H to access the Home tab, press SL (at the same time) and then press S. All instances with the same formatting should be selected.
  3. Click the desired heading style in the Styles group on the Ribbon. In this case, select Heading 2. You may also press
    Ctrl+ Alt + 2 to apply the Heading 2 style. All instances should now be formatted with the formatting settings for Heading 2.
  4. To change the formatting for the Heading 2 style, right-click Heading 2 in the Styles group in the Ribbon and choose Modify from the drop-down menu.
  5. Choose the desired Font, size, colour and any other formatting options.
  6. Click OK.

Below is the Modify Styles dialog box:

Microsoft Word Modify Styles dialog box.

5. Remove character formatting using the keyboard

One of the biggest timewasters is cleaning up formatting in a document that you have received from other users who have applied excessive amounts of bold, italic and other character formatting.

To remove manual character formatting such as font, size, bold, italic and colour from selected text and retain the underlying style such as Normal or Heading 1, select the text and press Ctrl + spacebar.

6. Change your keyboard back to normal

Have you ever had your keyboard start entering odd characters such as É or è when you meant to enter a question mark or apostrophe? To change the keyboard back to entering normal characters, press Ctrl + Shift (at the same time). Wait and then release. Enter the character again.

7. Repeat your last action

Most people seem to know that Ctrl + Z will undo your last action. However, you can also redo or repeat your last action by pressing Ctrl + Y.

8. Customize the Quick Access Toolbar

You can add buttons for many features (including hidden features) to your Quick Access Toolbar. To customize the Quick Access toolbar:

  1. Click the down arrow to the right of the Quick Access Toolbar (which appears above or below the Ribbon).
  2. Choose More Commands from the drop-down menu.
  3. At the top, choose All Commands from the Choose Commands from drop-down menu.
  4. Click the desired button on the left and click Add to add a button. Repeat for each button.
  5. Click OK.

Microsoft Word Options dialog box to customize the Quick Access Toolbar.

9. Hide and unhide text

You can hide text using the Font dialog (formerly the Character format dialog). The easiest way to display the Font dialog to apply or remove character formatting is to press Ctrl + D.

To hide or unhide text:

  1. Select the text you wish to hide.
  2. Press Ctrl + D.
  3. Check or uncheck the Hidden checkbox.
  4. Click OK.
  5. To display hidden text, you can click on the Show/Hide ¶ button on the Home tab. By default, hidden text does not print.

10. Delete all hidden text

To quickly delete all hidden text, you can again use the Replace command:

  1. Display hidden text by clicking on the Show/Hide ¶ button on the Home tab (if it is not already turned on).
  2. Move the cursor to the beginning of the document.
  3. Click the Home tab in the Ribbon.
  4. Click Replace or press Ctrl + H.
  5. Click More (if necessary) to display the expanded dialog box.
  6. Click in the Find what box.
  7. Click No Formatting (if formatting has previously been used. Be sure that there are no characters such as spaces entered in the Find what box.
  8. Click Format and from the drop-down menu, choose Font. Check Hidden.
  9. Click OK.
  10. Click in the Replace with box. Click No Formatting to ensure that no formatting is applied (this may be disabled). Be sure that there are no characters such as spaces entered in the Replace with box.
  11. Click Find Next to ensure that Word is finding the hidden text.
  12. Click Replace All. This should delete all the hidden text.
  13. If you make a mistake, press Ctrl + Z to undo.

Below is the Find and Replace dialog box:

Find and Delete Hidden Text Replace Dialog box.

If you’d like to learn more about getting the most out of Microsoft Word, check out our Microsoft Word: Intermediate/Advanced or Microsoft Word: Power User courses.

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You may also like

How to Change the Measurement System in Microsoft Word

You can easily change the measurement system units in Microsoft Word for all of your documents. If you’d prefer to work in inches rather than centimeters (or vice versa), simply change the measurement system in Word’s Options.

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Summary
10 Hidden Microsoft Word Features Every User Should Know
Article Name
10 Hidden Microsoft Word Features Every User Should Know
Description
Here’s a list of 10 extremely useful hidden features in Microsoft Word. You can quickly remove and replace formatting, remove hidden text, change Word's measurement system and perform many other useful tasks using these hidden tools.
Author
Publisher Name
Avantix Learning Inc.

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