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How to Use Microsoft Word to Boost Your Book Writing Productivity

Before you start writing your book—learn your writing tool!

If you’ve already started writing… wait for it… learn your writing tool!


NOTE: The following instructions are for Microsoft 365 Word on a PC. If you use a Mac or a different version of Word, options and menu may be different. Search online using the terms listed here plus your device or version.


Topics to boost your book writing productivity



Page Break


DO NOT hit Enter multiple times to get the chapter on the next page. Add a page break.

  • Press both the CTRL key and the ENTER key (Ctrl+Enter

This shortcut will also work for most PC applications.

      

Find

Open the Results tab in the Navigation pane by…


  • Either clicking on FIND on the Home ribbon, Editing section,

  • Or using the shortcut Ctrl+F.


Find | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • In the search bar, type the term you are looking for.



Find and Replace


  • From the Home Ribbon, choose REPLACE in the Editing section.

  • From the Navigation pane, click on the down caret in search box, then click REPLACE.

  • If you already have the FIND dialog box open, just click on the REPLACE tab.


Find and Replace | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Enter what you’re looking for in FIND WHAT and add what you want to replace it with. You can use MATCH CASE and FIND WHOLE WORD ONLY options for more precise changes below.

  • You can then choose to REPLACE ALL or search for instances and REPLACE one at a time.


Advanced Find: Match case or Find whole words only


Search for words that are capitalized (or not) and whole words.

  • From the Home Ribbon,

    • click the down caret next to FIND in the Editing section and

    • choose ADVANCED FIND.

  • From the Navigation pane,

    • click on the down caret in the Results search box and

    • choose ADVANCED FIND.  

  • Click on the MORE >> button at the bottom left of the dialog box.

Match Case | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Search for specific words by choosing MATCH CASE or FIND WHOLE WORDS ONLY (or both).


Whole Words only | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?


Advanced Find: Special Format


Search for formats like bold, italicized, etc. — you can!


  • Open the ADVANCED FIND window as above.

  • Click on the MORE >> button at the bottom left of the dialog box.

  • At the bottom left click on FORMAT.

  • Choose FONT.

  • Highlight BOLD or ITALIC or whatever format you want to find.

  • Hit OK.

  • Then press FIND NEXT.


Find Special Format | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?


Set Up Paste Text Only


If you want to copy text from one document, paste it into another document and change the format (font, size, etc.) to match the formatting of the document you're pasting it into, use Paste Text Only.


For most applications you can use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+V, but it may not be set up in Word. If Ctrl+Shift+V doesn’t work in your version of Word to paste the text only, check out my video on setting the shortcut or work through the steps below



  • Click the FILE TAB at the top.

  • Scroll down to the bottom.

  • Click on OPTIONS.

  • In the option window, go to CUSTOMIZE RIBBON.

  • Click on the CUSTOMIZE button next to KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS (bottom left).

  • In the CATEGORIES box, scroll all the way down to ALL COMMANDS.

  • Next, in the COMMANDS box, scroll down to PASTETEXTONLY option.

    • If there are keys in the CURRENT KEYS box — use them for your shortcut

    • If no keys are assigned, place your mouse in the PRESS NEW SHORTCUT KEY box and press Ctrl+Shift+V on your keyboard — that is the shortcut keys.

  • Click on the ASSIGN button.

    • If that combination of keys is assigned to another command, you will see it listed in the CURRENT KEYS box. Hit ASSIGN and the short cut keys will be re-assigned to your Paste Text Only.

  • Click CLOSE


Your shortcut to Paste Text Only is ready to use.


Add Page Numbers


Page numbers provide a reference point for you, your editor, or anyone reviewing your manuscript. Add them!

  • Double click in the footer (or the header). This opens up the Header & Footer ribbon.

  • Click on PAGE NUMBER

  • Choose Top of Page or Bottom of Page

  • At this point your goal is to have page numbers. Don't waste time trying out different formats. Keep it simple for now and choose one of the plain numbers.


Page Numbers | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?


Set Your Styles


Setting your styles before you begin writing allows you to make universal changes with a few clicks of a button. The styles you set are not written in stone, but having clear divisions of chapters, sections, and subsections makes editing easier. Varying fonts and styles help the reader (your editor) identify the levels of information and their relationship to the rest. Formatting changes are also much easier when you’ve set your Styles.


There are several ways to get to Styles, but I'll focus on accessing the Styles gallery from the Home ribbon.

  • Click the up arrow on the right to scroll up through the gallery.

  • Click the down arrow on the right to scroll down through the gallery.

  • Or click the down arrow with a bar (the "more" button) to see an expanded Styles gallery and menu open in one pane.


Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

Find the style you want to modify.


  • Right click on the style.

  • Click MODIFY.


Modify Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • You can change the basics in the FORMATTING section or click on the FORMAT button for more a number of other options.


Format Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

But there’s a quicker way to update.


The Quick Way to Update Styles


  • Type a couple of words in the font and size you want for your style. Then…

  • Highlight your text.

  • Right click on the Style (in this image it's Heading 1). Click on UPDATE HEADING 1 TO MATCH SELECTION.


Update Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Do the same for any other style you want to update.


NOTE: You may have noticed that when you highlighted your text or right clicked, a menu called the right-click menu pops open. You can access Styles from here as well.


Create New Styles


You can also create new styles.


  • Click on the "more" button (the down arrow with a bar over it) to open the expanded Styles gallery and see the menu.


New Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Choose CREATE A STYLE.

Create Styles | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Name your new Style. I include what I'm using it for (section title, 2nd paragraph, bullet, etc.). I often include a number at the beginning for alphabetical listing. I sometimes include font details if it's different from the general text.


Name Style | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Again, you can change the basics in the FORMATTING section or click on the FORMAT button for more a number of other options.


Style Format | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?



Add Headers Automatically Using Page Breaks


NOTE: You need to have used your Heading 1 Style for your Chapter Titles. Jump to Setting Your Styles if you haven’t already done that.


Add chapter titles (usually on odd numbered pages) and either your book title or author name (on the even numbered pages). I use Section Breaks and previously added the chapter titles manually for each section. But you can add them automatically using Page Breaks.


Create your Headers


  • Open the Header of your document by double clicking inside the Header area (the top and center of the page is a good point).

  • Place your mouse on an odd page, if it’s not already there.


On the Header & Footer ribbon


  • Select QUICK PARTS, then FIELD


Automatically add header using page breaks | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Under CATEGORIES, choose LINKS AND REFERENCES


Automatically add headers | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Under FIELD NAMES, choose STYLEREF

  • Select HEADING 1

  • Click OK


Automatically add headers - Heading 1 | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

Still on the Header & Footer ribbon

  • In the Options section on the ribbon, check the box next to DIFFERENT ODD & EVEN PAGES



different odd & even pages | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

  • Move your mouse to an even page header and type in the title of your book.


Book page headers | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

You can choose to center both your book's title as well as the chapter titles or right justify your chapter title and left justify your book title.


A drawback to adding headers using Page Breaks rather than Section Breaks is you can’t remove the header on the Chapter Title pages. Choosing a Different First Page doesn’t work.


According to book format experts, headers on Chapter Title pages is not correct. However, you’ll see some traditionally published books have them. Decide if it will distract the reader, then choose where you put your effort.


That being said, and with this new trick, I’ll probably set up my styles and the headers and use Page Breaks for the first couple of drafts so that I spend my time WRITING rather than twiddling with my writing tool. Remember, these directions aren't for formatting your manuscript. They're for adding reference points for you and your editor.


Add Section Breaks


Section breaks allow you to create different formatting for individual sections. Use SECTION BREAKS: NEXT PAGE to add the different chapter titles as headers, remove the header on the chapter title page, and change the page numbering format for certain sections.


Add a SECTION BREAK: NEXT PAGE at the end of each chapter.


  • Click on the LAYOUT on the ribbon

  • Click BREAKS

  • Choose NEXT PAGE under SECTION BREAKS


section breaks | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

If you want to change the formatting for only a portion of a page, such as adding columns, use SECTION BREAKS: CONTINUOUS.


Create your Headers


On the Header & Footer ribbon

  • Ensure that the box next to DIFFERENT ODD & EVEN PAGES in the Options section is checked.

  • Add your book title on the first even page and your chapter title on the first odd page.

  • For the odd pages (your chapter titles)

    • Check the box next to DIFFERENT FIRST PAGE in the Options section.

    • In the Navigation section, turn off the LINK TO PREVIOUS. If it's highlighted in gray then it's on. If it isn't highlighted, it's off.


header & footer ribbon | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?

Add a Table of Contents (TOC)


NOTE: You need to have used your Heading 1 Style for your Chapter Titles. Turn back to Setting Your Styles if you haven’t already done that.


  • Go to REFERENCES on the ribbon.


  • Click on TABLE OF CONTENTS.


  • Choose a Table.

You can choose one of the options they show you or you can customize your TOC. At this point, if you’re not familiar with creating a TOC, then just choose one of theirs. This isn’t about making it perfect, but about getting something started.



table of contents | Boost Your Book Writing Productivity | Your First Draft is Complete, Now What?



Learning how to use Microsoft Word (assuming it's your tool of choice for writing) will boost your book writing productivity.

 

Congratulations on conquering the blank page and completing your first draft!

As an author, your primary aim is to ensure your readers can fully engage

with your message without distractions. Now that your initial draft is done,

it’s time to embark on the editing journey.

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