How to Format Word Documents Like a Pro 5 Handy Tips

  • John Boone
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Every passing day brings us closer to the time when digital solutions would replace papers completely, so being able to create Word documents is a skill everyone needs. However, formatting them can be quite challenging, especially when you need to convert other kinds of text files into .docx. The good news is that you can use several tricks and tools to ensure formatting goes smoothly.

1. Split The Document Into Sections

Microsoft Word is the most popular text processing app in the world, and one of the main reasons for this is its formatting flexibility. Word allows you to shape the text however you like, and even apply different format styles[1] within a single document.

To apply various format styles, you need to insert section breaks, which would split the page into parts that can be formatted separately: Advertising

Page Layout → Page Setup → Breaks

You can set up formatting for every even/odd page, as well as format starting from the next page, or on the same one, but directly after the section break.

2. Use Specialized File Conversion Tools

There is no need to copy the text by hand when you need to transform a document of non-Microsoft Office formatting into Word. Today, you can find a specialized tool for every type of file. Advertising

Students working on their dissertations use the Word to PDF[2] and PDF to Word conversion[3] most often, since a majority of schools require papers to be submitted as PDF files. However, the actual formatting guidelines (MLA, APA, etc.) are all designed for Microsoft Word. If you are a student, be sure to use the exact formatting rules set by your school, and find out if they offer a custom conversion solution.

3. Use The Source Document Formatting

When you work with documents for a living, you often need to produce a text in the same format as the original; Word allows you to do this easily, since it has a built-in feature of adopting the source's format when you copy-paste a piece of text. This approach might have some issues when copying from non-Word documents, but they are easier to fix than re-setting the format from scratch. Note that you can use the Keep Text Only feature[4] when copying the text to transform it into your default formatting from the start. You can change the Copy/Cut/Paste settings through Help → Options.

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4. Fix Your Current Styles Scheme

Creating your specific set of Word styles allows you to apply the proper type of formatting in a single click. However, every time you make a change in some document, the style would be updated by default; in order to disable this feature, go to: Advertising

Home tab → Styles → Choose your style → Modify → Uncheck Automatically Update

5. Unleash the Power Of The Find And Replace Feature

The Find and Replace feature of Microsoft Word is an invaluable helper that makes your life easier. However, not everyone knows that aside from replacing specific characters, this feature can also change formatting. Of course, the exact list of formatting adjustments Word can make via this feature is limited, but it can still be helpful; for example, you can use it to replace all underlined text with bold.

Set the Right Word Formatting And Stick To It

Word is a highly versatile program, and you definitely need to spend a few days studying all its useful features and creating your formatting styles gallery. Once you've completed your formatting styles gallery, you would be able to apply a specific style for any type of document, so you'll only need to make a few small changes to make it perfect. Using various built-in Word formatting features[5] and special document conversion tools makes this easier. Advertising

Featured photo credit: SEO Stock via


[1] ^ Microsoft Office: Apply, change, create, or delete a style
[2] ^ Microsoft: Save or convert to PDF
[3] ^ PDFCandy: PDF to Word/Convert PDF to Word document online
[4] ^ How-To Geek: Make Microsoft Word Always Use Plain Text for Pasted Text
[5] ^ How-To Geek: Microsoft Word: Document Formatting Essentials

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