Documentation Tips Using Microsoft® Word

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 functions (based on Word 2002):

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 comments and click on Comment in the Insert menu.  Enter your comments for that text in the displayed markup balloon. The markup balloon will show your comments in the document margin.

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 click on the Fontstab. Select the Hidden box under Effects.

To view the hidden text on the screen, click Options in the Tools menu, click the View tab, and check the Hidden Text box underFormatting Marks. The hidden text will be shown as text with underlined dashes in the displayed document. If you leave Hidden Text unchecked, you can still display the hidden text on the  screen by clicking Show/Hide (the paragraph symbol) on the standard toolbar

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.

Then 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.  On the Format menu, point to Background, and then click Printed Watermark.

Then select either Picture Watermark or Text Watermark.  For a picture watermark, click Select Picture, select the picture you want, and then click Insert. For a text watermark, click Text Watermark and then select or enter the Text you want.

To view a watermark as it will appear on the printed page, select Print Layout on the View menu.
5. Table of Contents

Many authors create a table of contents for a large document by entering the section titles and page numbers in a manually created TOC page. When the sections and page numbers are affected by a revision, the author has to remember to manually adjust the TOC. Word will automatically create and maintain a table of contents and greatly 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. Go to the Styles and Formatting option in the Format menu. Once you’ve applied the heading styles, you can choose a design and build the finished table of contents.

Place the cursor where you want to insert the TOC in the document. Click on the Insert menu, point to Reference, and click onIndex and Tables. Then click on the Table of Contents tab and select the 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.

When you display a document in print layout view, the table of contents includes page numbers along with the headings. When you switch to web layout view, the headings are displayed as hyperlinks so that you can jump directly to a topic by clicking on it.

6. Tracking Changes

For online reviews, Word allows you to easily make and view tracked changes and comments in a document. In order to preserve the layout of your document, Word shows some markup elements in the text of the document while others are displayed in the “balloons” that appear in the margin.

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.

To specify whether Word should show tracked changes and how you want the inserted, deleted, and changed text to appear, clickOptions 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.

7. Boilerplate

You can use the AutoText feature of Word to store text or graphics you plan to reuse, such as product names, boilerplate text, a company logo, or a formatted table. When you’re ready to retrieve an item, select from the list of AutoText entries, or have Word automatically insert an AutoCorrect entry as you type.

When you create an AutoText entry, it’s automatically linked to the paragraph style of the text or graphic you stored in the entry. That way, when you’re ready to insert an AutoText entry into a document, you can choose from a list of the entries that are relevant to the style of that text.

Select the text or graphic you want to store as an AutoText entry. On the Insert menu, point to AutoText and click New. When Word proposes a name for the AutoText entry, accept the name or type a new one.

If you plan to create, insert, or modify lots of AutoText entries, you may want to use the AutoText toolbar instead of the AutoText command. To display this toolbar, point to Toolbars on the View menu and click AutoText.