Common Formatting in MS Word

Microsoft Word Tutorial


Open a new blank document in Microsoft Word.  If the Toolbars are not visible go to View --> Toolbars and choose Standard and Formatting. As you become more familiar with using Word you may find other toolbars helpful, but for now these are good ones to start with.

This tutorial will take you through several common MSWord formatting options. For the exercise I am going to do a résumé makeover for Mr. Winnipeg Edward Bear, (Winnie, to his friends).  Although the end result of this tutorial may be a presentable résumé, it is NOT a résumé tutorial. Please DO NOT model your résumé after this one without some modifications. You might not get the job.

I have started with a page of information with very little formatting.  This is about how far you would get with an old-fashioned typewriter.


Headers and Footers

Microsoft Word can use Headers and Footers to place information that will be re-appearing on more than one page. It is also handy if you want to create a "letterhead" or template page that you plan on using over and over again.

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Cutting and Pasting

Highlighting the top three lines of text, I cut (Ctrl + X on a PC, or Command + X on a MAC) then open the Header/Footer window. The Header/Footer window is under the View menu.

Cut Ctrl + X Command + X
Copy Ctrl + C Command + C
Paste Ctrl + V Command + V

Use Ctrl + V to paste into the Header, (Command + V on a MAC).

Button allows you to toggle between Header and Footer.

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Modifying Text Style

Modify the font style and size and the Justification, (left, center, right alignment).

Font: The overall design of a set of characters

Size: Size of text in points. Originally measured by typesetters as a fraction of a millimetre, has been rounded to 72 points per inch.

Style: Bold, Italic, underlined

Justify: Text alignment can be set to align on the left, (normal), right, centered, or justified on both sides like a text book.

Color: Click here to bring up a color drop-down chart.

If you don't see the text formatting options make sure you have selected the Formatting Toolbars.

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Borders and Shading

Under Format --> Borders and Shading you can choose from a variety of styles of boxes or underlines.

With Custom selected I chose a double solid underline 1 1/2 points in thickness.



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The example to the left is a complete box surrounding the paragraph. Make sure you have the correct Paragraph or Text selected under "Apply To".

Spelling and Grammar

Spelling and Grammar is under the Tools menu. Spelling errors are underlined in Red. Grammatical errors are underlined in Green. Be careful when accepting suggestions, and don't use this as a substitute for proof-reading. A word can be spelled correctly, but used entirely out of context and it would not be caught by the Spellchecker.

You can add new words to the dictionary, but make sure that you spell them correctly!

Since this is a résumé of sorts, I am giving it a bit of style. A résumé should not look like a newspaper.

To make the headings stand out I changed their size to 16.  I changed the rest of the text to 14 pt. This is  pushing the limit for a font size on a résumé, but I wanted to balance the white space across the entire document rather than have a large blank space on the bottom. (See Brochure Basics about white space).

Bullets and Numbering

Forget about what you learned about always making complete sentences - bullets are a good way of accentuating important points in concise statements

To make a bulleted list first highlight the list of lines, then select Bullets and Numbering under the Format menu. If the pre-defined ones don't suit, choose Customize and fine-tune the settings.

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The Customize setting allows you to choose a different font and size, or an image to use for your bullet. Don't use anything too fancy for a résumé. It's also not a good idea to use too many font faces on a single document.
Bullet position:

Indent at: how far in the bulleted line starts from the left column.

Text position:

Tab space after: How far in the text starts (after the bullet)

Indent at: Where the second line starts if a bulleted line extends to the next line.

Paragraph Formatting

Choose Paragraph under the Format menu. Under Indents and Spacing you can choose the amount of space Before and After each line. Formatting to this degree allows you to create balanced, professional looking documents.

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In the case of a résumé, one or two pages is considered ideal for most people.  What if you have 1 1/2 pages? 1 1/2 pages could look like you ran out of things to say and couldn't make two pages, or you were trying for one, but rambled on too much. With creative formatting you may be able to either condense down to one page, or inject some balanced white space and creative font re-sizing to bring 1 1/2 pages up to two 'complete' looking pages. Of course, it is always a judgement call. Don't make it look crowded.



  The End Result

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One more thing...


Résumés often contain lists of point-form information that can easily be converted into columns. This is a good way of condensing a two-page document down to one without crowding. To put information into columns highlight the text and choose Columns from the Format menu. You can choose up to twelve columns, (two would be enough for a résumé). You can also change to space between columns.

This has been a basic Microsoft Word tutorial. There are many more features available, but the preceding should be enough for the average user. Keep checking back for more tutorials.