How to Use Microsoft Word

Focus Mode, Spike, Tell Me, and other hidden tricks make Word easier to use

What to Know

  • To enter Focus Mode, select View > Focus. Press the Esc key to exit.
  • To use Smart Lookup, right-click a word or phrase and select Smart Lookup to open an Insights panel.
  • To quickly change text case, select the text and choose Change Case. Select an option.

This article explains a variety of little-known tips and tricks to help you use Microsoft Word like an expert. Tips include how to use Focus Mode, Spike, Tell Me, Smart Lookup, and more in Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word for Microsoft 365.

How to Pick up Where You Left Off 

Press Shift+F5 to return to the last place you made changes.

Focus Mode: How to Use Word With No Distractions

Changing the view in Word can be helpful in varying situations. Changing to Focus Mode could help when you need to zero in on your document. It hides all the toolbars from view, allowing you to concentrate on your work. Toggle between Focus Mode and other view options as needed.

  1. Select the View tab.

  2. Select Focus in the Immersive group. The document view will change to Focus Mode.

    Focus on View tab
  3. Press the Esc key to exit focus mode.

Smart Lookup: How to Research Without Leaving Word

Smart Lookup lets you check multiple sources on a topic, including Bing, Wikipedia, and the Oxford English Dictionary. This feature lets you research a topic without leaving the document you are working on.

  1. Select a word or phrase in your Word document.

  2. Right-click the selection and select Smart Lookup. The Insights pane will open showing relevant search information.

    Smart Lookup in right-click menu
  3. Select the Explore tab to browse articles and other search results, or select the Define tab to view definitions.

    Smart Lookup pane
  4. Select More to expand the search results and see more options.

    Selecting More to see more options.
  5. Select a search result to view it in full detail online.

    A sample search result in Word.
  6. Close the Insights pane when finished.

    Closing Insights in Word.

Tell Me: Get Microsoft Word Help Fast

When you know what you want to do in a document, but aren't sure how to go about it, Word is there to lend a helping hand with a feature called Tell Me.

Tell Me in Word

To use Tell Me, find the search box at the top of the ribbon and enter a brief description of what you're looking for or the result you hope to achieve. Select an option from the provided results to use the tool or apply the formatting desired.

How to Change Case Quickly

If you've ever typed away while reading a hardcopy or talking to someone only to look back at your monitor to realize you had the Caps Lock on, you'll appreciate this feature in Microsoft Word, which lets you change the case of selected text with only a few clicks.

  1. Select the text you want to change.

    Text is selected in MS Word.
  2. Select the Change Case drop-down arrow in the Font group of the Home tab.

    Selecting the change font arrow in the Font group.
  3. Choose the desired option from the following:

    • Select Sentence Case to capitalize the first letter of each sentence and change the rest of the letters to lowercase.
    • Select Lowercase to change all of the selected text to lowercase letters.
    • Select Uppercase to capitalize all of the letters in the selected text.
    • Select Capitalize Each Word to capitalize the first letter of every word and change the rest of the letters to lowercase.
    • Select Toggle Case to shift between two case views.

    Press Ctrl+Z to undo a case change.

    The Change Case menu options.

How to Proofread Your Work

Word's editing tools will check a document for spelling and grammar errors as well as potential issues with clarity.

  1. Select the Review tab.

    The Review tab in Word.
  2. Select Check Document or Spelling & Grammar in the Proofing group. The Editor pane will open.

    Check Document on Review tab

    You can also press F7.

  3. Select Review all Results to move through the document checking for errors.

    Editor pane in Word
  4. Choose a suggested edit or select Ignore Once to skip to the next one.

    suggestions in Editor pane

How to Use Word to Check Your Score

Another way to review and potentially improve your work in Word is by checking a document's readability score. Set up Word to check the score of any document when you check spelling and grammar.

  1. Select File > Options to open the Word Options window.

    Options on File window
  2. Select Proofing in the left pane of Word Options.

    Proofing in Word Options
  3. Under the When Correcting Spelling and Grammar in Word section, select Check Grammar and Refinements in the Editor Pane and Show Readability Statistics.

    Show Readability Statistics
  4. Select OK to apply the changes.

    Selecting OK.
  5. Press F7 or select the Review tab, then select Check Document or Spelling & Grammar in the Proofing group.

    Check Document on Review tab
  6. Correct or Ignore all errors found in the document. When you're finished, the Readability Statistics window will open.

    Readability Statistics in Word

How to Compare Documents Side-by-Side

Open two files next to each other in Word to view, compare, or copy and paste from them.

  1. Select File > Open, then find the first Word document you want to view and open it.

  2. Select File > Open again and find the second Word document you want to view and open it.

  3. Select the View tab.

    Selecting the View tab.
  4. Select View Side by Side in the Window group.

    View Side by Side
  5. Choose the name of the second document you want to compare in the Compare Side by Side with dialog box.

    Compare Side by Side dialog box
  6. Select OK.

    Select Synchronous Scrolling on the View tab in the Window group to scroll both documents at the same time.

    Selecting OK.

How to Spike Copied Text in Microsoft Word

Cutting, copying, and pasting in Word is pretty basic, but if you want to cut and paste several text selections, use the Spike feature.

  1. Select the first section of text you want to copy in Word, then press Ctrl+F3.

  2. Repeat the process for each bit of text you want to copy.

  3. When you're ready to paste all of the text selections, select inside of another document and press Ctrl+Shift+F3. Word will paste all of the text segments following the order in which you cut them.

    If you want to use Spike, but would rather copy than cut the text, press Ctrl+Z to undo the cut. Doing so will not remove the text from Spike.

How to Use Microsoft Word to Create Quick Parts

If you use blocks of custom text on a regular basis, such as a signature, business information, or legal wording, creating AutoText with Quick Parts could save loads of time.

  1. Select the text you want to save. It can be a phrase, sentence, paragraph or any portion of a document.

  2. Select the Insert tab.

    Selecting Insert tab.
  3. Select Quick Parts in the Text group.

    Quick Parts menu in Word
  4. Select Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.

    Save Select to Quick Part Gallery
  5. If you want to reuse the text after you save it to the Quick Part Gallery, select Quick Parts, then choose the selection from the gallery.

  • Can I use Microsoft Word for free?

    Yes. You can get a Microsoft Office free trial to try Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and other Microsoft products for one month.

  • What can I use instead of Microsoft Word?

    Popular free alternatives to Microsoft Word include WPS Office Writer, WordGraph, WriteMonkey, FocusWriter, and RoughDraft. Many of them can edit Word documents and use free MS Word templates.

  • How do I use Microsoft Word Online?

    Go to and log in with your Microsoft account to use Word online. That way, you can share files and work on documents with other people in real-time.

  • How do I use word count in Microsoft Word?

    To display word count in Microsoft Word, go to the Review tab and choose Word Count in the Proofing group. Alternatively, right-click the status bar at the bottom of the window and select Word Count, or use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+G.

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