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Tips for boosting your essays with Word

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Published: 30 January 2020

University of Sunderland in London student writing an essay with Microsoft Word on a computer.

Whether you’re writing your MSc Nursing dissertation or finishing off that BA (Hons) Business and Management essay, you’re probably becoming very used to Microsoft Word. But you might not know that Word has hundreds of tricks that make academic writing easier. Take advantage of a few of these and become a Microsoft Word expert.

 

Paste without formatting

Have you ever tried copying some text from a file or website found that the text is different from the style in your essay?

Word remembers the formatting from text you’ve copied which can be useful. But if you want everything to look the same it can be time-consuming to fix.

To make life easier, click where in your essay you want to paste the text, then hold down Ctrl+Shift+V. The text will appear in the same style as the rest of your essay.

 

Start a new page

Have you ever needed to start a new page in a document and found yourself tapping enter over and over until you get to the bottom of the page?

Obviously this can take a lot of time. But another issue is that it’s actually taking up space and affecting your formatting.

An easier and cleaner way to get a new page is to simply click Ctrl+Enter. This starts a new page without affecting the formatting of what you’ve already written.

 

Replace mistakes

It’s a common problem to make the same mistake a few times throughout an essay. For example, you might find you’ve written the wrong name in a reference.

One option is to go through the whole essay looking for the word and replacing it with the correct one. This takes time and you might never be sure you’ve got them all.

Instead, click Ctrl+F. In the box that comes up, click on Replace and type in the word you want to change. Then type in the word you want to replace it with and you’re done.

 

Checking your word count

A big part of writing a good essay is learning to keep to the word count down. This can be tricky, especially if you’ve got a lot to say. But learning to explain something in a short, understandable way can help you get better marks.

To make sure you’re keeping to the word count, go to Review in the top bar of Word. Then click on Word Count in the ‘Proofing’ group.

As an extra tip, if you want to know how many words are in a sentence try highlighting it and go to Word Count.

 

Do your research in Word

A really useful feature of Word is the ability to look up definitions directly in the programme, saving you going to Google.

To do this, simply highlight the word you want to look up, right-click and click Smart LookUp.

A sidebar will open with useful search results including from Wikipedia and Google along with other suggested words.

 

If you want to find out what more you can do with Word further, take a look at the Library’s Study Skills page. Book your place on a Digital Literacy session now.

There are loads of other ways Word can help you during your time at the University. Make sure you explore Word and let us know if you find anything you think other students might like to use. Get in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.