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The hidden power of Microsoft Word, Part 2
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule


The hidden power of Microsoft Word, Part 2


Technofile for April 4, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, The Syracuse Newspapers

I wrote recently about the hidden power of Microsoft Word, the standard high-quality word-processing program for Windows PCs. I told you about five features of Word 97 you probably never knew were there. Here are six more:

  1. A way to see everything the exact way it will print.
  2. The Print Preview function is right there in plain sight, in the File menu, but nobody seems to know what it really does. Listen up: Print Preview doesn't just give you a cute preview of how things will look when they're printed. It gives you an EXACT view. A totally exact view. It shows you EXACTLY how your document will look. Why am I doing stuff LIKE THIS in big letters when I tell you about Print Preview? Because most people who use Word don't realize that Print Preview shows them every little booboo in advance -- lines out of place, tabs that don't line up, all that kind of thing. Use Print Preview EVERY TIME you're going to print something.

  3. A way to fix your document while you are previewing it.
  4. OK, you get serious about this and follow my advice about the Print Preview. Then you see a goof in your finely crafted prose and need to fix it. So you get out of Print Preview and stop the projector! Wind it back! DON'T GET OUT OF PRINT PREVIEW. Word 97 has an almost totally secret feature that lets you write and make changes while using Print Preview! Even savvy users usually don't know about this, because the Print Preview magnifying l glass gets in the way. (You can't type or use your mouse in any normal way when the magnifier is showing.) To turn the magnifier on or off, click the second toolbar button from the left while using Print Preview. With the magnifier turned off, you can type and use your mouse to make changes while using Print Preview.

  5. A way to make Word scroll up and down automatically.
  6. I swear nobody knows about this. I defy anyone to find it in any of the menus. It's called AutoScroll. Make a toolbar button so you can get at it. Right click a blank area where the toolbars are and click Customize. Click Commands. Under Categories:, click All Commands. Scroll down the list on the right until you see AutoScroll. Click AutoScroll and drag it out and drop inside one of the toolbars to create a new button. Close the Customize window. AutoScroll works only if your document is longer than one screen. Gently move the mouse up or down to make scrolling slower or faster.

  7. A way to unduexx undo your misteakesxx mistakes.
  8. My favorite combination of keys is Ctrl-Z. It's the all-too-easily-forgotten combination called Undo that forces Word to be very forgiving when you make mistakes. Ctrl-Z makes Word "undo" whatever it did last. There's also a way to get Word to undo something using the menu, but telling you that is like telling you there are two ways to get from Boston to New York -- going from Boston to New York, or going from Boston to London to Moscow to San Francisco to Chicago to New York. The menu method is Total Dumbness, because when you need to undo something in a hurry, nothing could be faster than Ctrl-Z. A bonus of Undo is that it's got a memory; it will undo the last goof, and the one before that, and the one before that, and so on.

  9. A way to get your printer to behave.
  10. Don't you hate it when you print out something that's 11 pages and they're all out of order? Don't you wonder why nobody figured out a way to get your printer to print stuff backwards? Guess what? Somebody already did, then they hid it away so you'd never find it. Here's how to turn it on: Tools menu, then Options, then "Reverse print order."

  11. An image viewer.
  12. People think I'm nuts when I tell them Word has an image viewer. But they're wrong and I'm right. Want proof? Run your Web browser, open up a page that has nice pictures, press Alt-Print Screen, then run Word 97. Start a new document and press Ctrl-V. See what I mean? An image, right in your Word window. You can save it, print it out, whatever you want. (Uh-oh, I've just caught myself pulling an old trick -- slipping in a quick tutorial on one thing while talking about something else. I just showed you how to capture the foreground window on a PC. That's what Alt-Print Screen does. But we can talk more about that another time.)


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