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Microsoft Word Basics : Research Guides | UTC Library

Microsoft Word is a common program to use and is made available almost everywhere! However, just because it’s there doesn’t mean everyone knows how to use it, and that’s okay. Join this beginner friendly workshop as we all learn the tools, how to format y


Starting out:

Starting out with a Word document takes you to the Backstage section. Here, you can open recently saved documents, create a new document, or use a template and work from there. Clicking on the search bar under the New tab allows you to make a search for any template you may need.

Once you open or create a document to work on, you're automatically taken to the Home ribbon. The tabs near the top of the document are called ribbons and each holds specific tools to help you edit and format your document.

The Quick Access Toolbar is at the top left corner. From there you can save, undo, and redo. With the dropdown bar you can customize the section to add or remove buttons.

If you ever get lost or don't know how to find a certain tool, use the search bar at the top. It may also have "Tell me what you want to do..." listed in the search bar's place depending on what version of Word you are using. It can find tools to use directly from the search bar.


Home Ribbon

The Home ribbon is located between File (takes you to Backstage view) and Insert. From here, we will go over a few of the features you can find within this ribbon.

Fonts & Text

By default, Word uses Calibri font at size 11. You're able to edit your font and colors inside of the Font tool. This allows you to format content inside of a cell regarding the text. That can be copied and pasted to keep everything consistent.

Anything copied will be placed in the Clipboard. Also, using the Format Painter only copies and pastes formatting done within your copied selection.

Inside Styles you can quickly edit selected text by preset font, colors, and size.

Alignment & Spacing

The Alignment tools allow text in the document to change its alignment from left, center, or right. Adjusting your text evenly between margins can be done with Justify.

Line and Paragraph Spacing edits how much space appears between lines of texts and paragraphs. Clicking on the tool gives you some premade options, but more advanced selections can be made under Line Spacing Options. This will open a new dialog box with tabs for indents, spacing, lines, and page break editing.

Another useful feature from the Line and Spacing Options window is under the Indentation section. You can create a hanging indentation by clicking the dropbox beneath Special: and changing (none) to Hanging. Click OK when finished and you will now have hanging indentations.

Borders & Fill Color

There are many ways to accent your sheet by using borders and fill color.

Borders add thicker lines around cells within a table or around a selection. This helps with grouping information or simply making content stand out. Clicking the dropdown will give you many more choices on how you want to edit your borders. You are given the option to draw the area for borders as well.

The icon with a paint bucket, the fill color tool, has a default color you may simply click on to fill the selected area or line with that color. If you want to change the color, click on the dropdown arrow and a list of colors will be available to you.


Creating Lists

The top left section contains the Bullets feature. You can either click the button to begin a bulleted list or select text you want bulleted then click the button. Numbering creates a numbered list in your document and is used in the same manner as bulleted lists. Multilevel Lists are useful for organizing items or creating an outline with a different format.

All three listing methods have a dropdown option with libraries for more detailed selections on the appearance you would want to convey in your document.


To add an image, select Pictures. You will be able to open your image from a file and include it to your document. Online Pictures pulls up an image search and OneDrive browser if you do not have an image saved to your device.

When an image is in a document, it creates a new format ribbon. This lets you make unique edits to the pictures, add effects, change how text interacts with it, and many other features.



Shapes can be added into your document and they range from circles and squares to arrows, stars and more.

Another nice feature is SmartArt. With this, you can make a change and the image will immediately adjust in real time. This is perfect for lists, cycles, and organization charts.



Columns, lines, pies, bars, and a combination are some of the options. The Insert ribbon has a section for placing Charts into your document.

There is a wide variety of different charts you can use for your needs. It even has a Recommended Charts option. When a type of chart is selected, a dropdown appears with additional options. For example, clicking on column charts will let you preview the types of column charts: clustered, stacked, and 3D variations. Similar options are available for other chart versions as well. This group includes Maps too.


Creating a Table can help you stay organized. There are a few different ways to insert tables into your document. Clicking on the dropdown will show a box grid you can edit for your custom table.

Directly below that is the Insert Table button. This lets you type in how many rows and columns you want in your table. If you enjoy drawing, there's a Draw Table option for you.

If you are familiar with Excel, inserting a spreadsheet is another option. The last section includes Quick Tables. Here, you will find tables formatted in special ways such as calendars or lists.

After creating your table, a new Design ribbon will appear if you would like to continue editing your table.



Inside of the Pages group, you can create a custom Cover Page and use premade selections for your document. If you do not see one you like, there is an option to view more under More Pages from

You can insert a Blank Page into your document. This prevents the use of hitting Enter or Return for an entire page.

Page Break, which is also under the Layout ribbon, can end your current page where you have made a selection and begin at the next page.


Header & Footer

The Header and Footer creates a contextual tab when selected. You can edit these areas by giving them page numbers, dates and times, titles, or unique margins. The first page can be excluded from the settings if needed. Other than double clicking at the top or bottom of your document, you can find this feature in the Insert ribbon.



The use of links can send viewers to websites or other sections in your document. Select the part you want to add your link to and click on Add a Hyperlink. You can select a place within the document if you created a bookmark, add an email address, make a new document, or link it to a website.

To create a bookmark, select the area you want to make into a bookmark and click on Bookmark in the Insert ribbon. The Bookmark dialog box will appear and you can name the section you want bookmarked. Remember, you cannot use spaces for naming a bookmarked area. Use an underscore or no spacing.

If you want to test a hyperlink, CTRL + click on the intended section.


Objects, Text, & Media

  • Text Box - adds a formatted section to distinguish a group of text from the rest of the document. These are normally used for quotes or sidebars.
  • Signature Line - creates a section for a signature within the document.
  • Date & Time - includes the date and time. When you select it, a new window will appear and offer several variations to present the date or time.
  • Object - gives the option to insert objects, display as icons, or use the dropdown and insert other text documents under the Text from File option.
  • Online Video - lets you insert a video from YouTube or from a website.


The Design ribbon works similar to Styles, but this formats the overall document. Here, you can edit Themes by giving unique colors or fonts.

Additional customization options are available on the far right. Adding a Watermark will have text or an image visible over every page. There are premade watermarks, ones you can import, or custom versions you can create. Removing a watermark is located below the custom option.

If you don't want a solid white background, Page Color can alter the appearance of your pages. There are theme and standard colors. If you don't see what you need, it offers the option to select more colors or to use Fill Effects.

Page Borders will open a Borders and Shading window for changing the effects, style, color, width, and check out a preview of your custom border. You'll have the option to apply the changes to a single page or to the whole document.


Margins will let you change the size between the text and page edges. There are premade sizes and custom sizes. You can change the Orientation of the page to be viewed in portrait or landscape. Size adjusts the entire length and width of the document.

If you want to break up text into Columns, there is a section located in this ribbon. The default settings are One, Two, Three, Left, and Right. If what you are looking for is not listed, you can select More Columns and additional formatting options will be available to you. This section can include changes to the width and spacing. It can even let you choose to apply changes to the whole document or from your current point onward.

Breaks can separate sections such as pages, columns, and more. It's useful when needing to start a paragraph on a new page without having to hit Enter or Return constantly. Adding Line Numbers counts the lines in your document and can be based by pages or sections. The Layout ribbon also lets you toggle Hyphenations on or off.

When working in Page Setup, you can open more options through the bottom right button in the group. This opens a dialog box with additional settings. Here, you can manage Print Options or make changes in the Paper tab before you have to print.


Advanced Editing Options

If you need more editing capabilities, click on the lower right corner of the Clipboard, Font, Paragraph, or Styles groups and a new dialog box will appear. This allows more formatting options and tabs are available to quickly swap to different features.

Auto Save Settings

Need auto-save to happen more often in case of recovering a crashed document? Go to File and select Options. A new dialog box will appear. Select the Save tab on the left. Make sure the checkbox is marked for the Save Auto-Recover information section and you can edit how frequently it will auto-save.

Find, Replace, & More

The Find tool offers a dropdown with many options. Initially, if you simply need to find something you can type what you need in the search bar.

In the Find and Replace window, you can refine your search by using the Options button. Using the Replace tab, you can find a word then replace it with a new word you type in.

How to Save

There are multiple ways to save. You can click on the Save icon at the top left corner within the Quick Access Toolbar. Another way is to click on the File ribbon and select either Save or Save As located on the left side of the menu. Saving a document will save over your currently opened file while using Save As will allow you to create a new save.

If it is your first time saving the document, a new window will appear and you will be able to select where you want your file to be saved, create a file name, and what file type you will save it as.

You can also save your file as a PDF. Either use the dropdown inside the Save as type: section or go to Export and click on Create Adobe PDF.

Microsoft Office for Students

Most colleges will require students to use the Microsoft Office Suite for assignments and using other software may mess up the format when converting.

A subscription to Office 365 is free for current students on up to five devices. If you are interested, here is the link:

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