As writers, we’re bound to the computer. Gone are the days of the quill pen and parchment paper or even the yellow legal pad and Bic pen. Today, we count on programs like Microsoft Word to bang out thousands of words to engage our readers, even if we don’t have any readers yet. And, as much as we use the basic functions of Microsoft Word when we write, most don’t take full advantage of all the features it offers. Employing these features can save time when writing and money when editing your book. So, here are seven essential features of Microsoft Word for writers.
Whether it’s professional work, typing an essay, or free writing, Microsoft Word is one of the most popular applications used by writers. One of its most significant features is its editor. When you click the editor feature, it displays an editor score ranging from 0 to 100%, which lets a writer know the quality of the document. If you have a low-scoring document, the feature provides all the input you need to raise your score. With a click of a button using its artificial intelligence, it checks for spelling or grammar mistakes and any necessary refinements. It also goes beyond that by having the similarity feature that helps ensure your content is original and that if you are using any outside sources, you can properly cite them. The insight feature is also a bonus for people who want to know the exact statistics of their writing by providing word count, word averages, and determining the readability of the document.
If you have ever felt that you can think and talk faster than you type, then I’d strongly urge you to test out the Microsoft Word dictation feature. This is a speech-to-text feature that allows Microsoft Word to directly take your speech and put it onto your document without having to type a word. It may feel a bit strange to beginners, but once you start using it and getting used to dictation, it’ll make writing a lot more convenient. For example, it’s a nice way to give your hands a break from the keyboard and even stretch out a bit while still being able to work on your content. In some instances, it allows you to get more on the page in a shorter time as compared to typing since most people can talk faster than they can type.
Keep in mind that there are a lot of benefits to this feature, but, of course, it isn’t perfect. The software can misinterpret a word that you say and transcribe it into something different. Unfortunately, this requires the writer to maintain an eye on their document and not to become too confident in dictation. Other than that, dictation is a wonderful tool that everyone should give a chance. Typing can become tiresome, and with so much to write, the dictation tool is there to give you an alternative method to continue your work.
3. Find and Replace
A tool in Microsoft Word that everyone should know about, especially writers, is find and replace. The find and replace tool allows you to search for a specific word in your document, which then can help you edit or replace it if you like. It makes writing so much easier by allowing you to click the tool and then type the word you’re looking for in it rather than having to read through your entire document. For example, if you were writing a story and for some reason decided to change a character’s name, you could simply place the character’s name in the find and replace tool to quickly change it and thus making an extensive task simple and easy. Not only that but because of how it highlights the word you are searching for it also shows you how many times you have used the word, letting you know if you should try substituting it for another word so you sound less repetitive. The tool is a true game-changer for writers.
4. Review and Comments
The review and comments section in Microsoft Word is another great tool for writers because it allows you to add comments to your document if you have any ideas that you want to come back to later. All you need to do is hit the Review tab, highlight the phrase you have in mind, and then hit the comment button. And then, add your thoughts in the comment box. It makes it much easier for the writer, so they don’t have to make a separate sheet to keep all their ideas, and instead keep it all on the same document. Even if you add a bunch of comments to your document, this feature allows you to list all your comments, so you don’t have to scroll through your entire document looking for a specific comment. On top of that, if having a bunch of comments on a document seems distracting, you also have the choice to hide your comments so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Not only is this a great feature for writers, but also an essential tool for peer reviews and editors. If you are working on a document with multiple people, then within a comment, you can @ someone’s email, which will then notify the person of the comment you made on the document. If the document is shared, the person can then come in and quickly make the necessary changes without having to scroll through the entire document. This also makes it so much easier for editors since the comments and additions they add can then be sent back to the writer, who will know exactly what needs changing. Overall this tool is great for a writer, their peers, and any of their editors because of its ability to let them make comments in a structured and organized fashion. This is why it’s also the most common way Professors in colleges now utilize Microsoft Word.
5. Read Aloud
The read-aloud feature in Microsoft Word is another tool that can help when reviewing and editing your document. It does so by reading aloud what you have written. Rereading your work over and over tends to get tedious, and with this feature, you can save your breath by having the read-aloud feature read your work for you. On top of that, hearing yourself reread the exact text repeatedly will eventually make your mind numb to your own text and will likely lead to you missing mistakes. Make your life easier by hearing your work read out loud to you. It can help give you a different perspective on your work and lets you know if certain parts sound too repetitive or too confusing. It helps identify the cohesiveness of your text, if all the parts flow well with each other, and whether you need to make some adjustments.
When it comes to breaking up certain parts in a document, rather than always splitting a paragraph using return, you can opt for adding a break to your page. For example, if you are writing a book and want to start each chapter on a new page, you just add a simple break right after you finish the previous chapter, and then the page automatically ends and adds a blank new page. In this case, you’d use the Page Break feature. This feature can come in handy if you choose to add a figure or an image to your document and thus are able to add a page break to separate it from the page you’re writing on. By using the Section Break, you can separate sections of your document that may be treated differently. You may use this instead of a page break for new chapters. This is useful for people using headers or footers to distinguish certain parts of their writing or when adding columns in certain parts of the text, among other uses. In general, this feature is a useful way to keep your writing organized and easier to be formatted into a book.
Probably the most well-known and utilized feature of Microsoft Word or any online writing tool is autocorrect. It’s like having a peer reviewer by your side as you write your document. It relieves the worry of misspelling any words. It boosts a writer’s productivity by allowing them to write continuously, knowing that if they do make a mistake, they can fix the word with a click of a button. Sometimes, Microsoft Word will automatically do it for you. What makes it even better is that within the settings for the autocorrect feature, you can also edit some of its capabilities, such as capitalizing the names of days or capitalizing the first letter at the beginning of a sentence. You can also choose to add new words to the autocorrect system so it doesn’t accidentally autocorrect the word automatically. On top of that, as time goes on, the autocorrect feature gets smarter and faster within Microsoft Word because of the updates it gets or the other autocorrect applications, such as Grammarly.
Take advantage of these Microsoft Word features so you can write and publish your book faster and easier.