No, not that type of trick! Sheesh! Get your mind out the gutter! I meant my Lazy-A$$-How-to-Do-This-Easier-in-Word Bag of Tricks.

A couple months ago, Gizmo Guy complained that whenever he opened his manuscript he found himself re-reading the entire thing so he could remember what had already happened. Naturally this used up a LOT of his writing time and was taking more with each addition. Now being a former instructor of the MS Office suite, I have a lot of little tricks up my sleeve (or in the aforementioned bag) – usually because I’m lazy and want to find the quickest, easiest way to save myself time/energy. So I revealed my magic button that lets you jump to specific chapters or scenes without having to endlessly scroll. And I recently shared it with my editing partner for Margie Lawson’s course as she was having similar difficulties. In my discussions with her, I realized that a lot of people don’t know it exists.

No, I’m not talking about Find. Or even GoTo. I’m talking about using Word’s Document Map feature.

It’s fairly simple to use, and makes it so much easier to organize your doc. (One word of warning – I’ve read that people using older versions of Word – older than 2002, the Doc Map isn’t reliable. But for Word2003 it’s REALLY easy to use and will save you a lot of time.)  (**Edited in September 2014 to reflect Word2010**)

If you’ve set up your chapter headings using the Headings styles, your doc may already be formatted for doc map. It’s easiest to do it as you’re going, although it’s not that much more work on an existing doc. I regularly apply the Heading styles to lectures from courses so I can easily reference specific sections later. Go to each chapter heading and change the style of them to “Heading 1, 2, 3…” (This is done best by using the pull down menu in the Styles box although you can set up keyboard shortcuts, but that takes a tad more work and a LOT more explanation.) Even easier, I have added an “Apply Heading 3” button on my toolbar that I use for all my headings in my manuscripts.

Then if you look on your Word Standard Toolbar, you should see an icon that looks like a Page with a tiny magnifying glass on it. Click on it. (It’s a toggle switch, so it’ll turn it off when you don’t to view it anymore.)

Word Navigation ViewIf you’re using Word 2010, you need to click on the View tab, and then check off the “Navigation Pane” box.




A sidebar will open up on the left side of your page and all those lovely chapter or scene headings will appear. You can now click on any one of them and that page will be brought up on your screen like magic.

And you can layer them. Maybe you’ve taken a course on Historical Clothing, you can divide it up into Era. Elizabethan, Regency Era, etc.(Style Heading 2) There can then be subheadings of “Men’s Clothing” and “Women’s Clothing.” (Style Heading 3) And they can be broken down into further groups – shirts, trousers, hats, undergarments, etc. In the screen shot I’ve got to the left here, the title “Clothing Through the Ages” is Heading 1, Elizabeth Era and Regency Era are both Heading 2 (see how they’re indented a bit), and Men’s and Women’s Clothing titles are Heading 3, and the subgroups beneath them are Heading 5.

So if you are trying to dress – or better yet undress your Regency heroine – you can simply click on the ‘undergarments’ in the Women’s Clothing section and you will find yourself right there, no scrolling involved.

In a regular manuscript, you may want to follow Gizmo Guy’s lead and create markers within the chapters – Chapter One – “John gets phone call from Tom”, “Leah goes to work”, Chapter 2 may have “Leah goes jogging,” “John meets with Tom”, Chapter 3: “Leah gets kidnapped” “John gets the ransom message”. YIkes, what’s he planning? You however may want to leave notes like I do such as ‘First sex scene’ or ‘First turning point’ or that dreaded ‘FIX THIS SECTION! note. Whatever important note you feel you may need to reference later.

Handy, eh? (Yeah, I’m Canadian, I really do use ‘eh’.)

If you have a really long list, you can click on the little minus sign beside the title, and see only that one layer. If the sidebar’s too wide, you can resize it by hovering over the vertical line until you see the arrows and drag it wider or narrower ’til you’re happy.

And it’s really easy to get rid of the headings if you’re putting them in as temporary markers for your first draft. But that’s a lesson for another day.

Opening my Bag of Tricks
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6 thoughts on “Opening my Bag of Tricks

  • October 19, 2007 at 8:32 pm

    *head on desk* *sobbing*

    I think my version should do this, but I can’t get it to work. 🙁

  • October 22, 2007 at 6:54 am

    Thank you thank you thank you.
    I don’t write chronologically which makes my life hell. But no more, thanks to you!
    I’m bookmarking this post.

  • October 22, 2007 at 7:05 am

    Sue’s version was working – she just needed to add the document map button to her tool bar.

    I’m thinking that perhaps I should do a blog a week about some of the tricks I used on word – like creating a manuscript template for the page, and a manuscript ‘style’ for the paragraphs. And some of the other little tricks I have. Let me know if there’s anything you want to know how to do but don’t know how to.

  • October 22, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    This ROCKS!!! Thanks Leah. 🙂

  • October 22, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    Leah, that’s a great idea to post helpful tips occasionally.

  • October 22, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Well Leah, that’s the thing. I didn’t even know this doc mapping thing existed, so couldn’t ask!

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