Microsoft Word has several word processing tools and features that can be helpful, but misusing them can disturb your document’s formatting. Read through common Microsoft Word mistakes and the best way to avoid them.

1. Using Spaces or Tabs to Indent Paragraphs

The space bar or tab key puts an indent at the first line of a paragraph but can cause formatting errors. If you modify the document, your tabs can move out of place, shifting your text.

Solution

The correct way to indent paragraphs without tabbing is to set a default indent:

  1. In the “Paragraph” section of the “Home” ribbon, click the arrow in the lower right corner to open the “Paragraph Settings” dialog box.
  2. Under “Indentation,” choose “First line” in the “Special” drop-down menu.
  3. For “By,” select your indentation measurement.
  4. Click “OK” to save the settings or “Set As Default” to apply to all new documents.

2. Ending a Paragraph with Two Returns

Some Word users hit the “Enter” key twice after a paragraph to leave a blank space between paragraphs. If you modify your document, your extra spaces can end up in the wrong place and alter your formatting.

Solution

You can add extra space after a paragraph with paragraph spacing settings. Highlight the text you want to be modified. In the “Paragraph” section of the “Home” ribbon, choose “Line and Paragraph Spacing,” then “Add Space Before Paragraph” to give your highlighted text block formatting.

3. Turning the Spelling and Grammar Checker Off

Microsoft Word has a built-in editing tool that highlights misspelled words, grammar errors, and more. Some users find these markings annoying and disable the spelling and grammar checker. Without the Editor, some errors may slip through into your final draft.

Solution

Use the Editor in Microsoft Word by selecting “Editor” in the “Review” ribbon. You can choose which kinds of errors the Editor looks for under the “File” menu, click “Options,” then “Proofing.”

4. Stylizing Text Manually

Microsoft Word offers several style options for text, including font, size, and color. You can click through the font settings to change your text or use the Format Painter tool to copy and paste the text style elsewhere. Manually formatting your words is tedious, and if you decide to change the appearance of parts of your text, finding and adjusting each instance takes time.

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Solution

When possible, format headers and text using the options in the “Styles” section of the “Home” ribbon. You can apply a style to a block of text with a few clicks to make your formatting consistent.

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