Learning How to Learn MS Word

Learning how to learn MS Word offers an education in itself, and I’ve organized this project in a way that will help you develop an approach for learning other technologies, beginning with an introduction to the context for learning this technology, including a review of reasons we we learn it, how it is designed and used, and now this advice on learning

Learn how to learn such things

Work with a partner Some people learn such things effortlessly, especially geeky guys like me, but most normal people are baffled by such things and for good reason: while your phone and the many texting and social web applications that you got with your mother’s milk are wonderfully intuitive and so easy, MS Word and programming languages and business applications are far more complex, have not been developed as consumer services and so are organized according to the logic of engineering or business models, and so are often difficult to learn. Working with a partner will save most of you a lot of time and energy!!!

Read my advice as I have been teaching students how to use this stuff for a long time, have carefully selected the few uses and features out of hundreds available, and basically provided a checklist overall and as you will see below.

Videos Some people are very happy and successful walking through procedures alongside modern instructional videos, as you will find on How to work with outlines | lynda.com tutorial and by using Google Search to find videos addressing your specific problems

MS Word Support. Others do much better working with relevant support files, which you will find by using this formula in Google Search: “MS Word YourVersion Support Outlining” and selecting such topics as Create an outline from Scratch and Use Outline View to manage headings and arrange text

Specialized Support Guides There are lots of other people like me who have written up specialized guides for specific audiences, such as those offered by the University of Waterloo: WIN/MAC

Document Everything

There is simply no way around your developing your own note-taking system for the dozens of new procedures, concepts, and methods you will need to learn to make MS Word (and your PC) your own

  • For every new thing you learn, make a note that you can easily find and use later in Notes (OSX) or OneNote (WIN) and sync to cloud
  • Copy and use the following symbols for commands, ⇧⌃⌥⌘ ⌫→←↑↓☐✓⇒☞ ↩︎, so your notes will be brief and to the point
  • Using Jing or screenshot apps native to your OS so you can make screenshots for especially difficult and important things
  • Arrange your notes in meaningful groups for easy reference, such as I demonstrate in class
  • Take the time to walk through difficult methods slowly, and repeatedly, until you have them memorized: you are learning here methods for a lifetime!

Learn how to use your PC efficiently and safely

Most students arrive in class using a mouse to open up everything (and so working VERY slowly and using a device that will lead to carpel tunnel syndrome), opening applications in tiny windows that are difficult to see and so quickly exhaust their eyes, not knowing how to back up their data and so join the 10-20% of students each year who lose files at the worst possible moments, and so, generally, using their PC in a completely inefficient, painful way; in my classes you will learn how to make PC’s your friend.

  • Shortcuts When you learn how to use shortcuts, of which you’ll need about 24 by the time you are done, you’ll be able to open applications with 2-3 keyboard strokes in one second, find it easy to structure your text using the Outline View and move things around like you’ve likely never, ever done and to the end of thinking powerfully: To learn how shortcuts are registered and changed, look up How to Customize your OS X Keyboard and Add Shortcuts or Customize keyboard shortcuts Windows
  • Reduce Noise Learn how to organize your application windows to fill up your display neatly, or to have two windows open each occupying exactly half of your screen, so you don’t spend forever unnecessarily going back and forth with your mouse: look up “windows manager YourOS free” and install and use one
  • Back up your data, all of it, daily and effortlessly To not lose your data when your system inevitably crashes or a little less often is stolen or damaged, visit my Security page and learn how to make daily backups on a cheap external hard drive
  • Stop being a filthy pig Unless you are weekly spraying a rag with window cleaner and wiping down your pc, and shaking out or blowing out the garbage that collections among the keys, your PC is covered with grime and bacteria, your screen smeared with your every breath and so reflecting a zillion fingerprints, and after working with your pc you will feel yucky! Follow the advice on How to Clean Your Filthy, Disgusting Laptop
  • Don’t injure yourself We get to walk around like we are basically invulnerable and will live forever until we turn thirty, when if we are not careful all of our sins start to catch up to us, including, infections from filthy phones, walking into cars while texting, getting headaches from trying to read from tiny letters on shrunken applications on dark screens, and being unable to work for weeks because our wrists are in a cast as we have saved our term papers for the last weeks and use a mouse, and suffering bad circulation, heart disease, injury to our spines, and fatigue because we have not looked at how and where we place our desk and chair and how we sit and how often we get up to take a break, plus we are likely dehydrated for having forgotten to drink water: convince yourself of the dangers and explore effective counter-measures as outlined on my Health page

Outlining Checklist

Now the moment you have been waiting for, the basic checklist, the essential functions you’ll need to learn to outline effectively:


  1. Switch views: print, outline, headers
  2. Select and move lines up and down
  3. Promote/demote levels, display levels by #
  4. Expand and Collapse levels
  5. Display Levels
  6. Show/Hide Ribbon
  7. Zoom to page width/full page


  1. View/Non Printing Characters/All
  2. Header/Insert page numbers, add "Firstname, dd.mm.yy – “ for every page
  3. Copy that "Firstname, dd.mm.yy – “, then “save as”, navigate to your class folder, paste that name as the filename, so you have the same filename as you do on the outside as you have in the headers on the inside
  4. Insert new page break
  5. Insert a table of contents