The Invisible 80% of Office - Part 3

Office for Mere Mortals
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We continue this series by providing another assortment of simple, yet often “invisible” features in Office.

According to Microsoft, around 80% of the feature requests they get for Office are already currently within the applications. Last year we started a series of articles in Office for Mere Mortals about this so-called “Invisible 80% of Office”.

In this article we pick right where we left off and point out another assortment of these simple, yet often invisible features.


In many cases the “My Documents” folder isn’t the most convenient place to save your new documents. Sometimes you can be working on a particular project for a long period of time. Every document you create belongs in the project folder that may itself be in a deep hierarchy of folders. Navigating through this deep hierarchy of folders to the project folder every time you need to save a new document is frustrating, but that’s life right?

Not at all! The default saving folder can be quickly changed if you know where to look. Start by navigating to “Tools | Options” and select the “File Locations” tab. The “Documents” file-type should be selected, and by default the location is set to the “My Documents” folder in the currently active user-profile. To change this setting, click the “Modify” button and in the “Modify Location” dialog navigate to the desired folder before clicking “OK”.

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Every time you save a new Word document in your profile, the default save folder in the “Save As” dialog box will now be the one you have selected. If at any stage you want to save a document to the “My Documents” folder, simply click the “My Documents” icon on the left-hand side of the “Save As” dialog box and then save as normal.

Finally, if you start a new project folder and the old project folder is no longer the desired default save folder, simply go back and change the setting again.


Ever wondered how the computer savvy users in a typical James Bond film are always able to do what they need without ever using a mouse? While “suspension of disbelief” certainly plays its part, many people will argue that it is simply faster to navigate through a document with the keyboard if you know what you are doing.

These keyboard navigational shortcuts can be broken down into three logical groups:

  • Move cursor one paragraph up (Ctrl + Up Arrow)
    Move cursor one paragraph down (Ctrl + Down Arrow)
    Move cursor one word to the right (Ctrl + Right Arrow)
    Move cursor one word to the left (Ctrl + Left Arrow)

  • Move cursor one screen up (Page Up)
    Move cursor one screen down (Page Down)
    Move cursor one page up (Ctrl + Page Up)
    Move cursor one page down (Ctrl + Page Down)

  • Move cursor to the beginning of the document (Ctrl + Home)
    Move cursor to the end of the document (Ctrl + End)
    Move cursor to the beginning of the line (Home)
    Move cursor to the end of the line (End)

While these shortcuts certainly aren’t for everyone, they can help to navigate through a Word document logically and quickly. We are certainly not advocating that you give up on your trusty mouse, but a combined approach may just improve your efficiency.

NOTE: While writing this section I stumbled across what appears to be a Windows XP shortcut that rotates the entire contents of the screen. By holding down Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow my screen turned upside down. After the initial shock, turning it on its side was achieved in the same way using the left or right arrow. I finally set the screen the right way up by using the Ctrl + Alt + Up Arrow key combination.

This will not work on every computer running Windows XP as it is probably reliant on specific video drivers to work. What a shame April Fools’ Day wasn’t a weekday this year – it’s good for a laugh if seemingly little else.


Do you have a printer that stacks pages with the first page face-up at the bottom of the pile? Lots of printers do this and you can be forgiven for thinking that’s just the way things are. Our office HP inkjet printer works that way (with the pages coming out face up so they have a little more time to dry) but the trusty HP Laserjet produces pages face down.

Wouldn’t it be a whole lot better to print your documents in reverse order, so they pile up with the first page first and the last page last?

Word gives you this functionality in the “Tools | Options” menu on the “Print” tab. Simply check the “Reverse print order” checkbox, click “OK” and print your document.

You can also set this option by clicking the “Options” button on the “File | Print” dialog and checking the “Reverse print order” checkbox.


Many of you already know about the “Tools | Word Count” function that displays the number of pages, words, characters (spaces and no spaces), paragraphs and lines in your document or a selection of your document.

For even more specific statistics about your document that you may never have known existed, turn on the “Show readability statistics” checkbox in the “Tools | Options” dialog on the “Spelling & Grammar” tab. Then navigate to “Tools | Spelling and Grammar” to run the spelling and grammar check of your document. When Word has finished checking your document, it displays the information about the reading level of the document.

The “Readability Statistics” dialog displays “Counts” of the number of words, characters, paragraphs and sentences. It displays “Averages” for sentences per paragraph, words per sentence, and characters per word. It also displays “Readability” levels for passive sentences, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

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According to Microsoft, the “Flesch Reading Ease” score rates text on a 100-point scale with a higher score suggesting the document is easier to understand. For most standard documents, Microsoft suggests that you aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.

The “Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level” score rates text on a U.S. school grade level. For example a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, Microsoft suggests that you aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

As always, take these “readability” statistics with a huge grain of salt – they’re certainly no substitute for proof-reading. The statistics mean less with technical and specialized documents too.


An Office for Mere Mortals reader asked if he needed to enable a particular setting to make the =rand() function in Word work. This function was discussed in part 2 of our “Invisible Office” series as a way of quickly inserting sample text into your document.

For any reader who types in =rand() and hits the “Enter” key without any sample text appearing, navigate to “Tools | AutoCorrect Options” in the menu and choose the “AutoCorrect” tab. If the “Replace text as you type” checkbox is NOT checked, then select it and your =rand() function should now work.

For the vast majority of people this is not an issue as the “Replace text as you type” option is selected by default.


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