Word Power for Quality Documents

Are you using the full power of Microsoft Word in your quality documentation activities? I find many students in my Quality System Documentation classes are unaware of one or more of the following Word functions:

1. Review Comments

If you have been asked to review a draft document, don’t return your comments in an email note. There is a much easier way to provide your comments to the author. Use the Comment feature of Word to annotate the electronic copy of the document.

Select the text for your comment and click on Comment in the Insert menu. Enter your comments for that text in the provided window. Click the Close button to return to the document.

Your comments will be identified with your name and become part of the comment log for the document. Any text with “comments” will be highlighted in the document. When the cursor is over that area, the comments appear in a box next to the highlighted text. This view allows the author to see the text and your comments on the same screen.

Note: To set up your name and initials for the review comments, click Options in the Tools menu. Then click the User Information tab and type your name and initials in the Name and Initials boxes.

2. Hidden Text

A document template can include hidden text to instruct authors on how to write each section. These instructions will not print in the actual document. To create hidden text, select the text to be hidden. Click on Font in the Format menu and check the Hidden box under Effects.

To view hidden text, click Options in the Tools menu, click the View tab, and check the Hidden box under Nonprinting Characters. The hidden text will be shown as text with underlined dashes in the displayed document.

To omit hidden text in a printed document, click Options in the Tools menu, click the Print tab, and clear the Hidden Text check box under Include With Document. If you plan to distribute the document online, just delete the hidden text as you would any other text.

3. Grammar and Readability

Although aware of spell checking, authors may not be aware that Word can also analyze document grammar and readability. Click on Options in the Tools menu and select the Spelling and Grammar tab. Select the Check Grammar With Spelling box and the Show Readability Statistics box. When Word finishes checking spelling and grammar, it will display information about the reading level of the document.

The grammar function can verify subject-verb agreement, check for extra spaces, and identify any missing punctuation or capitalization. It will also spot passive sentences (e.g., the document is approved by the manager) that should be rewritten as active sentences (e.g., the manager approves the document).

The document statistics include a Reading Ease index and a reading Grade Level. Both readability scores are based on the average number of syllables per word and words per sentence.

The Reading Ease score rates text on a 100-point scale; the higher the score, the easier it is to understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 60 to 70.

The Grade Level score rates text on a grade-school level. For example, a score of 8.0 means that an eighth grader can understand the document. For most documents, aim for a score of approximately 7.0 to 8.0.

4. Watermark

A student in one of my documentation classes was purchasing special “Draft” watermark paper because she wasn’t aware of the Word support for it. A watermark is inserted into a document header or footer. The watermark is printed wherever you place it on the page. It doesn’t have to be confined to the area at the top or bottom of the page.

Click on Header and Footer in the View menu. Insert the text, such as “Draft,” by clicking the Text Box in the Insert menu and typing the watermark you want to appear on every page. You can size the text box by dragging the sizing handles.

To format the text in the text box, select it, click Font in the Format menu, and select the appropriate options. To rotate the text, click Text Direction on the Format menu and select the desired rotation option. Because the text box is a drawing object, you can use options on the Drawing toolbar to format its borders and background color.

To view a watermark as it will appear on the printed page, close the Header and Footer view and switch to Page Layout view or Print Preview. If the watermark interferes with the legibility of the text on the page, you can lighten the text by using the Font command on the Format menu to choose another color, such as light gray.

5. Table of Contents

Many authors create a table of contents for their quality manual by entering the section titles and page numbers in a manually created TOC page. When the sections and page numbers are changed by document revisions. the author has to remember to adjust the table of contents. Word will automatically create and maintain a table of contents and simplify this task.

To create a TOC, you first apply the built-in heading styles (Heading 1 through Heading 9) to the document headings you want to include in the table of contents. The Style box is on the Formatting toolbar. Once you’ve applied the heading styles, you can choose a design and build the finished table of contents.

To set up the TOC, place the cursor at the desired TOC location in the document and click on Index and Tables in the Insert menu. Then click on the Table of Contents tab and select the TOC format and the desired number of heading levels to be displayed.

When you build a TOC, Word searches for headings with the specified styles, sorts them by heading level, references their page numbers, and displays the table of contents in the document. The TOC can be modified by clicking within the table of contents and then pressing F9.

Once you build a table of contents, you can use it to quickly navigate an online document. Just click any page number in the table of contents to jump to the corresponding heading in the document.

6. Tracking Changes

To track changes while you edit a document, click Track Changes on the Reviewing toolbar. If the Reviewing toolbar is not displayed, click on Toolbars in the View menu and check the Reviewing toolbar box.

Make the changes you want to the text and its formatting. Word uses revision marks to show where a deletion, insertion, or other editing change has been made in a document.

Word can track changes in one of two ways: by marking the revisions as you make them, or by marking the revisions later when it compares two document versions. To specify whether Word should show tracked changes and how you want the inserted, deleted, and changed text to appear, click Options in the Tools menu and click on the Track Changes tab.

You can change the way revision marks look and work in a document by changing the marks and their colors. For example, inserted text could be underlined and deleted text marked by a strikethrough. To add review comments, see the Review Comments section of this article.