Microsoft Word 2007 made simple

I finally figured out how to use some features in Microsoft Word 2007. Wanna join the fun? Read after the jump!


When I need to write a formal document (like my thoughts on why my neighbors feet smell) I usually go with LaTeX. Not because the name brings interesting thoughts, but because you don't have to deal with fancy stuff, like "What color should my title be?" or "Are the margins too narrow?".

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for fancy stuff. But I also get easily distracted. Hey, since when did WordPress add Ctrl+S for saving? I did it by accident (oh, you must make saving a habit, trust me) and it worked! Cool!

As I was saying, Microsoft Word has a lot of fancy things you can do with your plain and boring words, but they usually get on your way when you want to quickly - and I mean quickly, like, the deadline is in two hours - write your essay without adding anything. So I ended up using Word for my drafts until it was time to get serious. Then I would copy & paste the text in a .tex template I have created over the years and go on from there.

But recently I have been a little lazy. And by recently I mean the last two years. And by two years I really mean five. The thing is, LaTeX requires a lot of energy when you want your document to be fancy. Like any other thing in the Linux world, LaTeX has a LOT of options for anything you can think of. From fancy headers to editing the space around a title. The drawback, of course, is that they aren't in the tip of your finger, more like in a corner down at the basement of a house in the next town of the far away country. In other words, you have to find it, grab it, set it up, learn it and then you can TRY using it.

Just to give you an idea of the situation, here is the template I created. Every time I find something fancy I just drop it in there and see what happens. And here is an example output.

And to top that, LaTeX doesn't have a standard editor. There are a couple of them lying around but each and everyone I have tried seems like it's missing X but has Y. I mostly use TeXnicCenter because it supports projects. There is also a WYSIWYG editor, which probably beats the whole idea of LaTeX in the first place, but that's another discussion.

Anyway, recently I have been looking into Word with a different eye, the left one. I finally figured out how to properly use headers and footers, how referencing works, how to style my document in a consistent manner and various other neat tricks. So, before I forget them I thought of writing them down and accidentally sharing it with the world as if it was for them. Pff, silly Internet people.

So, without further ado, here is a list of features in Microsoft Word 2007 and how to use them.

Headers and Footers

STOP right where you are! I can see you typing your name on the header. Do you know what a section is? Do you know what is "linking" between sections? Do you know what is the option "Different First Page"? Do you know that I'm riding this horse backwards? Well, you should.

Section breaks are used in Word to separate layout or formatting in a document, such as page numbering. This is essential when you have a title page, a table of contents page, a list of figures page, a list of tables page, a list of lists page, and you want them all to have different headers and footers.

Remember how to start a paragraph in the next page? You press 1000 times the Enter key. Or, you simply click the "Page Break" and your done. Well, a section break is similar. Only this time you go the next page AND add a new section. Section breaks can also start in the middle of the page, an even page, or in an uneven page.

You can do this by going to the "Page Layout" tab and clicking on the "Breaks" drop down button. You can see there are four options for entering a section.

Section Breaks

Let's click the first option, "Next Page". Just like the "Page Break" our cursor was sent to the next page and nothing else has happened. Now, either double click the top of the page or go to the "Insert" tab, click the "Header" drop down button and select any option. You will see that a contextual tab called "Design" has appeared with various options.

Design Contextual Tab

You will also see that the header now says "Header -Section 1-" or "Header -Section 2-" instead of plain "Header".

Header Sections

Now start typing in the header. Not anything, type "". Thank you. Now look at the header in section 2, same thing. Thank you again. But we want to have different headers for each section. So click anywhere in the section 2 header and then click on the preselected button "Link with Previous". Nothing will happen, but if you now change it to, let's say, "pek", the header in section 1 will stay the same, "". Thank you once more.

Link to Previous

OK, we now have separated our sections, let's add some real content. Let's go to the footer and try to add "Page/Total Pages". So go to the footer and hit tab two times to go all the way to the right. You can always do this the easy and boring way: by clicking at the "Page Number" drop down list. But I like to have control.

Page Number

The way I do it is by going to the "Insert" tab, click the "Quick Parts" drop down and select "Field...". This has a list of a lot of useful things. To insert the current page, slide down the list, select page and click "OK". Oh, did I forgot to tell you to unlink the footer as well? Go to the footer of the first page of section 2 and unselect the "Link to Previous". Don't forget to delete the page number in section 1.

Everything seems fine until you notice that the page number in section 2 is 2 instead of 1. Well, unfortunately, you have to set the "Start at..." option. To do so, select the number, go back to the "Design" tab, click the "Page Number" drop down and select "Format Page numbers...". Here you can set the number format, like the fancy Roman "I,II,III", include extra information and set the "Start at", which is what we want. So select that and enter "1".

Page Number Format Options

Now let's add a "total pages" number next to the page number. To insert this, go back to the "Field..." window and select the "SectionPages". NOT the "NumPages"! The former will enter the total number of pages of the current section while the latter will enter the total number of pages in our document.

Another interesting option for the sections is the "Different First Page", which will allow you do edit the first page of each section separately from the next. It's kinda cool, but I find it easier to simply add another section.


So, for all you TL;DR people out there, here are some fancy bullet points (and by fancy I mean "plain"):

  • Use sections to separate different styles for different pages
  • Don't use "Link with previous" in order to separate them
  • Use section-related fields (SectionPages instead of NumPages)
  • Set the "Start at..." option to get your page number right


Here is what LaTeX has learned me: write first, add other shit later. In other words, leave Table of Contents, Headings and other stuff AFTER you have finished your first draft. This is important for two reasons: a) you don't get distracted and b) you don't get distracted. There are two levels of distraction in Word, you either try to style your document when you really have to write, or you added a style to the entire paragraph instead of a sentence and you have do undo, select carefully the words you want and style them.

Have you ever styled a paragraph and start writing only to discover that it has the same style? Typical in word processors. Here is a quick tip: press Ctrl+Space before you start typing the next paragraph. Voila! No styling what so ever! In fact, select any text that has some sort of formatting (like bold) and hit Ctrl+Space. Voila again!

Anyway, probably the most useful style is the Headings, aside from Bold, Italics and Color. Or Text Direction, Bullets and Indention. Or Font Family, Font Size and Strikethrough. Or... Anyway, Headings are important.

Luckily, headings DON'T continue after you have pressed enter. Cool right? Well, this can be configured for any style in that fancy box of styles up there. Even more cool is that you can have a consistent style for all your headings without selecting one by one and changing them. Just right click on any style and select "Modify".

Modify Style

Here you have a LOT of options. The "Style for following paragraph" will do the Enter trick. Feel free to change everything and see what happens.

Another important thing about the headings styles is that they are used to automatically create a table of contents. Add some Heading 1, 2 and 3 styles and then go to the "References" tab, click on the "Table of Contents" drop down and select one. Magic!

Table of Contents

The cool thing about the table of contents is that you don't have to write it yourself. Every time you add a new Headings style, simply click on it and hit the "Update Table" button.

Update Table of Contents

By the way, if you happen to loose a style (it doesn't appear in the Quick Styles list on top) click on that little icon on the bottom right of the styles box to show the "Styles" window. Then click on the "Options..." on the bottom right of that window and select "All styles" in the "Select styles to show" drop down. Once you use the style it will appear again at the top. If it doesn't, then right click on it, select "Modify" and check the "Add to Quick Style list"

Add Style to Quick List

I love this Ctrl+S feature in WordPress!

Among the many options you have for formatting the Headings, the one you will likely need is numbering. Especially if you are in the academics field. To add numbering go to the "Format" drop down and select... erm... "Numbering". Here you have a variety of options, but let's make it more interesting. Select the simple numbering "1,2,3,..." and click "Define New Number Format...". In the "Number format:" field, before the number, enter "Chapter ". Tada! All Headings start with Chapter. You can do the same for Headings 2 and enter "Section" etc.

Numbered Headings with Text

But wait, now the "Table of Contents" title says "Chapter 1. Table of Contents". Surely we don't want that. To fix this, simply... delete it! The next heading will automagically have the right number.

Update: Turns out, there is a better way of numbering your headings.


So, to summarize:

  • First write, do other shit later
  • Use Headings to automatically generate Table of Contents
  • Modify the style instead of a specific heading
  • Optionally add number and text before the title


One of the best things in LaTeX is its simplicity of adding citations: just add "\cite{Name_of_Citation}" which you have already defined in a Bibtex file in the Bibtex format, insert it into your main document, compile twice and your done. OK, maybe I have done this 23098420938 times, but still, this will add a fancy "Bibliography" at the end of your document with correct numbering and format (APA, IEEE etc). There is also this amazing tool, JabRef, that will help you.

Let's do the same fancy thing in Word. First of all, you need to decide what style you will be using. If it's APA, your OK, but if you are unlucky like me, it's definitely IEEE. This is not included in 2007, but you can download it here. Copy the file in the %programfiles%\Microsoft Office\Office12\Bibliography\Style directory and restart Word. You should now see the IEEE in the drop down in the "References" tab.

IEEE Reference Style

Let's add some sources: click on "Manages Sources" and add some books. Good thing there is a Master List, this will save you in the long run.

Source Manager

Go at the end of any word, click the "Insert Citation" drop down and select your book. That's it!

Insert Citation Menu

If you use APA, you will see "(pek, My Boring Book, 2010)" or, if you use IEEE, you will see just a boring "[1]". To create the bibliography at the end of your document, just click on the "Bibliography" drop down and select the style you want. This works the same way as Table of Contents, so if you see "Chapter X" simply delete it.


That was easy. Even easier are footnotes. Just click on the "Add Footnote" button and enter your text.


To create the list of figures, you must insert captions. Not the ones where you try to position the text under an image and call it a caption, I mean real captions, as in, select the image, go to the "References" tab and click "Insert Caption". Once you have done that to a couple of images, insert anywhere you want in the top of page 3 the table of figures by clicking "Insert Table of Figures". Again, works the same way. Make sure not to delete the number that is automatically added, otherwise it will not show up in the Table of Figures.

Table of figures

To cross-reference a section, a figure, a table, or any text, go anywhere and click "Cross-reference". There are many options there, but I will focus on bookmarks. You can bookmark anything in a Word document by simply selecting it and clicking the "Bookmark" button in the "Insert" tab. Just enter the name of the bookmark and click "Add". To cross-reference this select "Bookmark" in the "Reference Type" and then chose what to reference to in the "Insert reference to" drop down.


Finally, we can create an Index page that lists all of our important words, like Donkey. Select a word or phrase, click on the "Mark Entry" in the "Reference" tab and then click "Mark" in the . This will add some gibberish next to the word and also show all kinds of stuff. These stuff can be hidden again by clicking the "Show/Hide Marks" in the "Home" tab. Once you are done creating all your entries, create the index page by clicking "Insert Index" in the "Reference" tab.


Have I mentioned how much I love WordPress' Ctrl+S?


That's it for the references. Pretty simple I think. And here are your bullets:

  • Citations, Table of figures and Index can all be created automatically
  • Use the "Insert Caption" instead of manually adding text under your image
  • Use "Bookmarks" to cross-reference anything in your document

General Tips

SAVE. SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE. I can't emphasize this enough. Make Ctrl+S a habit. And I'm not just talking about Microsoft Word; PowerPoint, notepad, trees, everything. Just save whenever you stop for more than 2 seconds.

First type and then style. Even when you want to bold a text. You will avoid "bolding" a lot of things. Just remember, in case of panic, use Ctrl+Space.

Use comments under the "Review" tab to remember things. Comments catch your eye easier than underlining a sentence.


After finally figuring out the sections and citations, I started appreciating Word more. Of course, I still prefer LaTeX for my "serious" documents (see Cook Book), but now I can use Word for more than just drafts. And these are only the basics. I have yet to discover what this "Mailings" tab is or how to properly use the "Equation".

Have fun.

And save.