How to work with long documents in Microsoft Word

Follow these tips on how to easily navigate and manage lengthy documents in Word by taking advantage of key features.


Image: iStockphoto/littlehenrabi

Your Microsoft Word document has mushroomed to dozens or even hundreds of pages. The dilemma? Working with and navigating such a lengthy document can be slow and clumsy. Fortunately, Word offers features that can ease the burden of using a long document:

  • You can use styles to format your document in strategic places and sections;
  • You can add page numbers to keep track of the pages;
  • You can set up a table of contents to display different sections;
  • You can enable the Navigation pane to see and jump to a specific page more easily; and
  • You can zoom out to view multiple concurrent pages and turn on Split View to view different parts of the document at the same time.

This tutorial covers how to use each of these features. If you wish to follow along with this tutorial, create a long Word document with any type of content. Create headings throughout your document and apply a specific style to each heading. I’m using Word from an Office 365 subscription, but the features I cover here work in the past couple of versions of Word as well.

SEE: 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to use styles in long Microsoft Word documents

Styles can prove very effective in lengthy Word documents, as they play a key role if you wish to create a table of contents or use a Navigation Pane. Applying a heading style is easy enough. Place your cursor anywhere in the heading text. At the Home Ribbon, click on the icon for the heading style you wish to apply, such as Heading 1 or Heading 2 (Figure A). To see more styles, click on the Design tab and choose a style from the Document Formatting section. Repeat this process for all the headings throughout your document.

Figure A