Tips for editing in Word

A copy-editor’s relationship with Microsoft Word can be a love–hate one, but like any relationship the key to its longevity is focusing on the positives. So here are five features of Word that make my life easier and save time.

(These tips are for Word 2010 on a PC – sorry Mac users.)

1. Displaying paragraph styles in the style pane

Many of us are now using templates to style every element of a manuscript. Displaying paragraph-level styles in the style pane (rather than in a dialogue box) allows you to see which style you’ve applied quickly and easily:

Displaying paragraph styles in Word 2010

Here’s how to set this up:

  1. Set the view to ‘Draft’, not ‘Print Layout’ (View > Draft).
  2. To turn on the style pane, go to File > Options… and select the Advanced tab. In the Display group, set the Style area pane width field to 2 cm or so.

2. Updating or removing all field codes

Depending how the manuscript files are being typeset, field codes can be either an essential or a nuisance. (Some editing tools crash when they come across them.)

To update all the field codes in a document, do Ctrl + A then hit F9. To remove them once and for all, do Ctrl + A then hit Shift + F9.

3. Macros for Editors: unembedding footnotes

Paul Beverley’s mind-boggling Macros for Editors (available free from his website) is an invaluable source of editing shortcuts (see also FRedit, which will feature in part 2).

Paul’s collection of macros is extensive yet still growing. The one I use most often is for unembedding footnotes (on page 139 of the current edition); it converts embedded footnotes to straight text quickly and cleanly with just a couple of clicks.

It can be daunting getting your head around macros at first, and I have to admit it only really made sense to me after I attended Paul’s seminar at the 2010 SfEP conference. If you’re interested in macros, it might be worth contacting him about his training courses.

4. Always displaying the developer tab

The developer tab includes many features that are useful to copy-editors (e.g. templates and macros), but for some reason Word hides it by default. Here’s how to change this:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. Under Help, click Options.
  3. Click Customize Ribbon.
  4. Under the Customize the Ribbon column, select the Developer check box and click ‘Ok’.

Setting up Word 2010 to always display the Developer tab

5. Alt codes

An old friend to most copy-editors, Alt codes are a handy way to insert special symbols without the hassle of going to ‘Insert / Symbols / Special symbol…’.

My favourites are Alt + 0150 (en dash), 0128 (Euro) and 0215 (multiplication symbol), but there’s a comprehensive list at

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