Because I’ve seen so many posts lately where people haven’t realized one of the easy ways to move/organize text in Word, I’m going to re-do a post I originally wrote back in 2007, updating it for Word 2010.   By the way, I’m using an old copy of my current manuscript No Accounting for Cowboys, which will release next year. It’s a rough draft, and it doesn’t look like that anymore, LOL.

Back in 2007, I wrote:

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.

Here’s the trick I use.

First, turn on the Navigation Pane. (It used to be called the Document map) You’re probably familiar with it. It’s what shows up on the left hand side of your document when you do a search.  To turn it on, click on View in the menu above, then make sure the Navigation Pane box is clicked.

how to get open the navigation pane

Now, when you’re writing your document, and you get to a point where you’re changing scenes or starting a new chapter, write what the scene is going to be about–I may say what’s happening, whose POV, or sometimes I’ve even put in Wordcounts. I also do this for the chapter headings. Then HIGHLIGHT that line of text and click on the formatting bar at the top and choose a Heading style.

highlighting scene titles


See how the headings show up in the sidebar? I highlight my chapter names in Heading Style 1, and the scenes in Heading Style 2. See how Heading 2 is indented to show me it belongs or is a child of that chapter (which I’d highlighted as Heading 1.)  Now when you’re writing you can see what you’ve written, or what needs to be done. And if you need to jump to that scene to check something, you just click on that tab on the sidebar and you’ll be taken straight to the start of that scene.

After a while, you’ll get in the habit of highlighting/adding those headers automatically. And of course, when you are going through on your final edit, you’ll want to take those scene headings out before you send it to your editor. (I leave them in for my beta readers.)

Now here’s the really cool trick for moving the entire scene and dropping it somewhere else.  See how the third scene is currently on Page 23 right now? Say I want to move it to later, maybe the start of Chapter 3. I’m not going to highlight any of the text. I’m simply going to point to the scene title on the Navigation Pane, CLICK AND HOLD on it, and DRAG it down (or up) to its new place in my manuscript.

premoving a scene

Once the black movement bar shows it’s in the right place, release the mouse button and drop it in place. See how the text has been automatically selected in the screen shot below? And how the page number has automatically changed in my header?

scene movedEasy peasy.



Here’s a Handy Trick If You Use Word

11 thoughts on “Here’s a Handy Trick If You Use Word

  • September 10, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    You are never too old to learn new things.. Thanks for this tip.

  • September 10, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Interesting! This moves Word one step closer to the convenience of Scrivener. Good to know, thanks.

    • September 10, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      LOL, the need to repost this was because I’m doing a Scrivener course and “the ability to move scenes easier than you can in Word” was mentioned and I was sitting thinking “I can do that in Word”. Even before Scrivener came about. For those still working on Word 2003, this still applies, though the side bar is referred to as a document map instead of a Navigation Pane. It’s just so few people knew how to use it properly.

  • September 10, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    thank you! Your suggestions are a little different on word for mac but I was able to figure it out and what a blessing!!! I can’t get the hang of scrivener, so this is a god-send. Thank you.

    • September 10, 2013 at 9:40 pm

      Glad to be of help, Christina. I’m trying to learn Scrivener myself, but as I’m going (so far) I’m not finding it that different than Word with the use of OneNote. (Although the big difference is having the little index cards to keep notes on at the side. And of course with One Note I have to flip off Word to find what I need where with Scrivener it’s all in the one doc.) But yeah, if you know about that Navigation Pane and how to properly use styles to move sections around, you may find you don’t need other software. (I’d be interested to hear what Word 2010 looks like on a Mac and where to find the Navigation Pane.)

    • September 10, 2013 at 9:37 pm

      The biggest obstacle at first is remembering to highlight those little titles as Headings. Once you start remembering to do that, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them.

  • September 11, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    Or…just bookmark any place you want with the bookmark feature. I bookmark each chapter, where I’ve left off writing, and where I’m editing. simple.

    • September 12, 2013 at 9:35 am

      Bookmarks are okay for setting places in a document if you want to jump from section to section in the doc, though personally I prefer the Navigation Pane as I can see it all at one glance, but it really is a personal choice. However from what I’ve seen, bookmarks don’t help you move entire selections intact from one place to another.

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