5 Ways to Make Long Documents Rock

Jun 24, 2018 | Uncategorised, Word Hints and Tips

If you don’t use the tools that Microsoft Word provides you with for working with long documents you are missing a trick and making your life difficult for yourself.  It leaves you open to getting your file out of sync with the table of contents not automatically updating when you add new pages or put in extra headings.  Similarly, if you want particular words included in the index and more pages are added all the page numbers will be wrong.  Also navigating round longer documents can be frustrating.  Using the features available correctly will eliminate a lot of this annoyance.

Here are my top 5 tools for working with long documents

1: Styles

Styles are pre-set formats which are perfect for headings or other types of text that are used regularly.  The heading styles are really vital to use for long documents as they also pull information through to the Table of Contents, show up in the navigation pane to help you to quickly jump to certain points in the document and view different levels of detail in the outline view.

On the home tab some of the styles available are shown.  To apply just select the text and click on the style.  Using heading 1, 2, 3 etc are essential if a table of contents is to be created.  The pre-set style can be altered by right clicking on the style and selecting modify.  If the style has been used already then right click the style, select all instances before doing this to ensure headings already assigned are also altered.  A new style can be created by clicking on the more button for the styles then selecting create a style.

Heading styles also allow each section to be collapsed and expanded by clicking on the toggle button to the left of any heading.

2: Table of contents (TOC)

Normally used near the start of a document to show the order and hierarchy of key sections of the document.  If heading styles have been applied consistently already then this should be relatively straight forward and the TOC will update when alterations occur by a single click.  This helps you ensure the TOC is not out of sync from the rest of the document.

Click where the TOC is to be placed.  On the references tab choose table of contents.  Automatic table 1 or 2 create simple versions with minimum fuss.  Custom table of contents gives the opportunity to change the style.  If from template is selected then modify allows full flexibility.  To update the TOC if changes occur in the document then click in the TOC and select update table.  Update page numbers is OK to choose if only the page numbers the headings are on has changed.   Update entire table will include extra headings that have been added to the document

3: Navigation Pane.

Heading styles must be used to work with this feature.  It enables the key headings in the document to be viewed in a pane to the left of text and you can jump to any of these points in the document by clicking on these titles.

To activate this feature, select Navigation Pane from the View tab and make sure the option headings is selected.

4: Outline View

This again relies on heading styles being used.  The whole document can be viewed to a certain level of detail helping to ensure that the structure of the article work well.  The levels can easily be adjusted.  Any of these sections can be easily moved once they are collapsed without having to select large blocks of text.  There is also an option of working with subdocuments.

On the view tab select outline.  To view more or less detail double click on the “+” symbol next to any heading.  Double click again to reverse the change.  To move sections of text, collapse the section then use the move up or move down arrows.  Once moved the section can be expanded again.  If a heading is at the wrong level then it can be promoted or demoted by using the appropriate left and right arrows.  This changes the heading style.  The show level box allows detail up to and including that heading level to be shown rather than having to expand and contract each section individually.

5: Index

Allows an index to be created from marked entries.  If the pages these are on change then the whole index can be updated at a click of a button eliminating the risk of the page numbers not matching the pages the index entries are on if the file is updated.

First the entries to be shown in the index need to be marked.  Select the text that will form an index entry.  On the references tab select Mark Entry then Mark.  The dialog box can remain open so other text can be added by selecting it and clicking Mark.  Once all the entries are marked, click where the index is to be inserted (normally near the end of the document) and choose Insert Index.  That’s all.  If it needs updating then click in the index and press the Update Index button on the References tab.

These 5 features should have a dramatic impact on your efficiency when working with large documents and maintaining its accuracy as the document gets changed that is virtually impossible to keep on top of if it is performed by hand.