Judy Hudson – Three Ways MS Word Works for Writers

Today my guest blogger is Judy Hudson, an artists, photographer and writer who has to be one of the most creative people I’ve ever met. Today she’s talking about why she likes using Microsoft Word for her novels.

Three Ways Microsoft Word works for writers

Jo-Ann’s blogs on Scrivener were fascinating. It sounds a lot like some other programs for writers that I have tried to use like YWriter5 and Power Structure. For me, the learning curve on these other programs was too time consuming for the benefits I could see, considering I felt I could do what I wanted in Microsoft Word.

Not everyone agrees of course, but I do feel that the more you understand, the more useful this easy-to-maneuver program is. So for the people who like me are sticking to Word for now, here are a few of my most useful Word functions for writers.

 1.  Styles and Document Map

I write the whole manuscript in one file. To move easily from one chapter or section to another, I use Styles for the headings and then move from one to another in the Document Map.

To do this, select the chapter heading to be highlighted with Styles, then go to Home in the Tool Bar, and pick a Heading. I pick Heading2 for chapter headings, Heading1 for bigger sections like Act 1, etc, and Heading3 when I first start writing and I want to separate scenes. After you’ve set the Styles for your Chapters etc., click Document Map in View on the Tool Bar. The Doc Map opens at the left of your screen and your chapter heading are there. When you are ready to submit, Select All [Control A] and go to Home, Styles, and pick Normal. The colour, strange font and bold disappears and your heading look normal again.

2. Learn the Keyboard Commands

They are wa-a-ay faster than using a mouse. Yes it takes a while to learn, but soon becomes automatic. It is particularly valuable when you are editing and using many more commands than when you are writing. Some of the basic ones are:

– to select text use the Shift plus arrow keys,  Shift plus end  or home keys. Or, hold Shift and Ctrl with one finger of your right hand and a left or right arrow key to select complete words.

– to copy, Control C; to remove to clipboard, Control X; to paste, Control V; and let’s not forget Undo, Control Z.

If this is new to you, experiment. If combined with the commands above it is great for moving chunks of text around. To move a paragraph, Shift plus down arrow repeated to bottom of paragraph, Ctrl to bottom of paragraph, Ctrl X to cut, move curser to where you want it and Ctrl V to paste. Voila!

– also with selected text, Bold, Control B; Italics, Control I; underline with Control U.

3. Customize the Quick Access Tool Bar

at the very top of the screen. Add your favourite tools and learn to use the keyboard commands to get them. [Alt plus a number] I include Doc Map, Shading (Paint bucket), Text Highlight Colour, Quick Styles, Font Colour. These can all be found somewhere in the menu, but for the ones you use a lot, why not plant them in the Quick Access Tool Bar. To change what is in your Quick Access Tool Bar, click on the little point icon at the end of the Tool Bar and go to More Commands to customize the commands you’ll use most. Then, use your keyboard commands [Alt and a number] to access them even more quickly.

There are lots more Word tools that are useful for writers and anyone else who uses Word a lot, but that’s enough to practice with for now. Watch my website, www.judyhudsonauthor.com  for more tips obscure tips in the next few weeks.

Bye for now, and happy writing.

Judy Hudson


Author: Jo-Ann Carson

About Jo-Ann Carson Where magic happens … Reports of Jo-Ann Carson’s death on a Gulf Island are greatly exaggerated or, at the very least, premature. The eclectic crew of ghosts that haunt her head spill onto the page in two series: The Gambling Ghosts and The Ghost & Abby Mysteries. A Viking with existential issues, a broken hearted Highlander, a Casanova man-witch and a Pirate with a secret are just a few of the males her strong heroines encounter in tales of fantasy, adventure and romance. A firm believer in the magic of our everyday lives, Jo-Ann loves watching sunrises, walking beaches near her home in the Pacific Northwest and reading by the fire. You can visit her on social media: Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook

8 thoughts on “Judy Hudson – Three Ways MS Word Works for Writers”

  1. Thanks for having Judy, Jo-Ann. I’m sticking with Word for the time being,too. Judy, I do pretty much what you do, I just don’t use all the keys for the stuff you’re talking about. I’m pretty quick with the mouse for that cutting and pasting stuff.
    What I did love hearing about, however, and am very grateful for is the Undo-Control Z! Lots of times, I’m filling out a form, or posting on a blog or on a website where I don’t have access to that magic backward arrow thingy. This is a super discovery! Thanks for sharing and I’ll probably experiment a bit with some of these “key thingies,” 🙂


  2. Hi Judy,
    Great post. I also use Word. Although I like the functionality of Scrivener and its cork board, I don’t like how I have to export to get all my writing into one document. That’s what I really like about Word. Instead of using headers, I just use the Control F (find) function and set it to “chapter.” I also find once I’ve plotted out the main story arch, I don’t do a lot of chapter swapping, which is why I think a lot of writers like Scrivener. I’m also just lazy. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, and I don’t find Word getting in my way of writing…yet. I often hit the button to make the “ribbon” go away, but I didn’t know I could customize it. I learned something new. Thanks for that! 


    1. I too am of the not-broke-don’t-fix mentality. Or maybe just stuck in my ways. I did try a couple of Scrivner-like programs but was not a fan.
      I make a corkboard on my white board and use post-its in different colors for each POV in the story line. I actually like having some functions – my virtual calendar etc – in real paper. The “Find” function is handy for getting around too. I often remember an odd word or phrase in the section I’m looking for and that is enough to go right there. But I do write a few key words in the chapter line while I’m working that act as a micro-mini outline in the Doc Map.
      Glad you found something useful. We have such a huge amount of information between us, it’s good to share.


  3. Great blog, Judy. I’m going to try and learn all the keyboard commands you mentioned. Also figure out how to navigate around the document map with my new computer – being installed next week. I decided that I’m not computer savvy enough to learn Scrivener. Learning Window 8 will be hard enough. I will be checking out your next blog on Word on Nov. 1st. Thank you for all the information.


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