Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a passion for reviewing the basics. At the start of every season, he would stand in front of his players, hold up the ball, and say, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Lombardi would then explain the basics of what a football is and its role in the game. He would follow this up by taking the team onto the field and explaining the out-of-bounds and yard lines and the end zones. Lombardi didn’t think his players were stupid, and he knew that he wasn't telling them anything they didn’t already know. He just strongly believed that having the basics firmly in mind was essential to long-term success. He said reviewing the fundamentals was a great way to learn something new, or remind us of something we may have forgotten. He also won eight NFL championships (including the first two Super Bowls) so maybe he was on to something.
Reviewing the basics isn’t just for football. It applies to office productivity training as well.
The TestOut Office Pro course teaches several advanced features in Microsoft Word, such as section breaks, page numbering, themes, styles, and references. Many of our students are surprised, however, when they find just as much value in learning or relearning basic skills. Mastering the simple features can often have the greatest impact on our productivity at home and in the office.
Here are five basic and easy to use features of Word that can help us stay sharp and save time:
- Text Selection: Most Word users know they can select text in several different ways. However, too many of us resort to using the click-and-drag method for everything. We neglect more efficient text selection methods, such as pressing Ctrl + A to select all text in a document, triple-clicking to select an entire paragraph, or holding Shift and clicking for a selection that extends across pages.
- Paragraph Spacing: By default, Word adds extra spacing between paragraphs. You may want to adjust this extra spacing in the Paragraph dialog box. Many casual Word users are not aware of Word’s default paragraph spacing, which creates frustration when the extra space between paragraphs won’t go away.
- Page Breaks: To begin a new section of an essay or report, many of us still press the Enter key multiple times until we reach the top of the next page. However, it’s much better to use a page break. Pressing Ctrl + Enter moves the cursor to the top of the next page. This page break allows you to add text to the previous section without bumping the new section down the page with empty lines.
- Clear All Formatting: A common frustration with collaborative projects is inheriting a document with mysterious font or paragraph formatting. You can try sorting out paragraph formatting by clicking the Show/Hide ¶ button on the Home tab of the ribbon. But often the best option is to select the troublesome text and use the Clear All Formatting command.
- Paste Options – Keep Text Only: Do you frequently copy and paste text from a website into your Word documents? If so, how often do you take advantage of the Keep Text Only paste option? This simple practice will save you time by not having to manually change the font and paragraph formatting to match the rest of your document.
Learning advanced Microsoft Office features is exciting, but sometimes it’s even more important to return to the basics. It worked for Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers, and it will work for you.
About the Author — Paul Miller is an instructional designer for TestOut, and has a wicked three-point stroke on the basketball court.
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- Tags: Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Office Pro, TestOut, TestOut Continuing Education