Spade Technology: Blog

Microsoft Word 2016 Features, Tips, and Tricks

Word 2016 is feature-laden and highly functional – if you know all of the ins and outs of Microsoft’s latest offering.

Microsoft Word 2016 is the latest and greatest offering from the Microsoft Office suite. As with every previous incarnation of this much-loved Office staple, Word 2016 brings a few new functions and features to the table that its predecessors lacked. We’re going to show you what those functions and features are, and how to get the most out of the best version of Word yet.

The Ribbon – Redesigned and Optimized

Right-clicking on a feature that appears in the Ribbon gives you the option to add that feature to a custom Quick Access Toolbar that appears below the Ribbon. Styles can also be modified with a simple right-click, and a number of sub-features can be accessed with yet another right-click. The Ribbon can even be collapsed if you don’t want it visible at all times, or prefer a bigger document screen.

Much of the overview in the Ribbon is very well-organized. The Tabs available here contain specific features and functions based on their uses. For example, the ability to add a Table, Shape, or TextBox can all be found under the Insert Tab. It’s abundantly clear that Microsoft has made great use of customer feedback here, and taken a lot of care to make sure that features are organized in a way that makes sense and saves you the trouble of having to search for them.

Commands can quickly be added or removed from the Ribbon to suit your preferences by once again right-clicking on the Ribbon and selecting the Customize option. Commands can be selected or deselected, and the drop-down lets you see items based on popularity, function, or even display only features that are not already in the Ribbon.

One of the biggest changes to the Ribbon in Word 2016 is the Search function. Available across all of the Office 2016 programs, Search has been replaced by “Tell me what you want to do”. Instead of searching by keywords, you can now pose Word a question, and be directed to the resources or feature you need to complete an action.

Researcher and Insights – Reliable Sources At Your Service

Highlighting a word or phrase within a Word document and right-clicking on the highlighted text brings up the option to select Smart Lookup. A sidebar will appear within your document with suggested resources relevant to your highlighted text for easy research into a subject. This is a fantastic feature for students, but can also be useful in a business setting for things like adding depth or interesting information to a company newsletter. Clicking on any of the provided links will launch the Windows Edge Browser by default, but you can set up Word to launch your preferred browser instead if you don’t typically use Edge.

Clicking on the References Tab displays the Researcher icon in the Ribbon. This feature allows you to quickly find quotes, citable sources, and images. Clicking on the icon brings up a sidebar similar to the one seen with the Smart Lookup feature. Type in your keyword or subject, and choose from both website and book results to fulfill your resources requirements for that specific project.

Additional features make it simple to manage your sources, change your citation style, and create a bibliography for research papers and reports. The Citation feature is especially useful as it is a live feature, which updates automatically and can be changed as you go along. If you submit or share a document digitally, the citations remain embedded in the document to be viewed by others instead of requiring you to add extraneous text.

You even have the option to highlight, drag, and drop a chunk of text from an online source found using Researcher into your document, then right-click on the original text. Researcher will automatically add the needed citation for you. As long as you’re logged in to your Outlook or Office 365 account, Researcher will save your searches under My Research.

Quick Parts – No More Repeating Yourself

Quick Parts gives you the option not to have to type things over and over again. Chances are that any document you produce will need to have your company information included in it. Often this can be included in the header or footer, but occasionally having this information there can make your document look cluttered.

The more information – such as website addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, and fax numbers – you need to include, the less inclined you’ll be to want to type it out each time. If this information needs to be part of the main document, you can save yourself that effort and the trouble of remembering the formatting by creating a Quick Part.

You’ll find the Quick Parts icon under the Insert Tab on the Ribbon. Type out and then highlight the text you want to use for your Quick Part. Select the Auto Text option from the drop-down, and then select Save Selection To Auto Text Gallery. In the Create New Building Block window that will pop up, fill out the required fields and click OK. Now, you can click the Quick Parts icon and select that saved text from the Auto Text drop-down whenever you need it. You can go back and edit your saved text at any time by selecting Building Blocks Organizer from the Quick Parts drop-down.

Themes and Styles – Make It Yours

Branding is a huge part of who you are as a company and how you appear to your clients and to the public. It sets the tone for pretty much everything that you do, which means you’ll want it to be a part of all of your documents, whatever they may be.

The Design Tab will let you choose a theme that will set the tone for your overall document. This sets your font style, font color, font sizes, heading options, and other elements for the entire document. You can customize your color scheme to match your branding once you find a theme you like. There are also options to change things like paragraph spacing, and options to add watermarks and borders.

More targeted changed can be made using the Styles options, found under the Home Tab in the Ribbon. Right-clicking on a Style allows you to fine-tune elements like font size and color. You can use Styles to set the formatting for Titles, Headings, and Subheadings to clearly define each section of your document.

Table of Contents – Automated and Structured

This feature is especially useful when you’re creating longer and more complicated documents.

Start by deciding where in the document you want the Table of Contents to appear. Then, click the References Tab and select the Table of Contents icon. The drop-down will give you several automatic options and a manual option to choose from, as well as an option to download other automatic templates from if you don’t like what you see and don’t want to create your own.

Choosing an automatic option will save you a lot of time, especially if you already have Titles, Headings, and Subheadings in place within the document. Select your Table of Contents of choice from the drop-down, and it will auto-populate and auto-format the table in your document using the Titles, Headings, and Subheadings.

If you make changes to your document after the Table of Contents has been created, simply clicking Update Table under the References Tab will automatically update the Table to reflect those changes. This includes any changes to the page numbers.

Format Painter – Consistency Across Elements

The Format Painter makes it so that you can set an element, make as many tweaks to it as you’d like, and then not have to remember what those changes were.

When you add an image or shape over existing text, you can click on the Format Tab under the Drawing Tools heading to layer the object behind the text by selecting Send Behind Text. There are several layering options that will let you stack objects as needed. The Theme Styles option will then let you adjust colors in order to make the element stand out, or make it easier to layer another element behind it.

To replicate the same element with different text, create the shape and select Send Behind Text. Then, select the first element and click on Format Painter under the Home Tab. Click on the new element you want to format, and the changes you made to the original element will automatically replicate themselves on the new element.

Find and Replace 2.0 – More Powerful Than Ever

Find and Replace is not a new feature, but in recent years it has gotten more useful. Not only can you use Find and Replace to swap out text, but you can also use it to change formatting as well.

Start by placing your cursor in the Search field. By clicking the Format button at the bottom of the Find and Replace window, you can search for any text that matches a specific format (like text in italics), Style, size, or even color. Move your cursor to the Replace field and click the Format button again to select any specific formatting changes you want to be made to the text in the Search field. Set as many specifications as you’d like.

AutoCorrect – How To Make It Work For You

Word helps you to avoid mixing words up in two ways. First, the drop-down that appears when you right-click on a misspelled word will give you the option to hear the suggested replacement spoken out loud to verify that it’s the word you’re thinking of. Second, it will give you a few synonyms to clear up any confusion about whether it’s the right word or not.

If there is a certain word or two you find yourself constantly misspelling in the same way, you can choose to add that particular misspelling to AutoCorrect to have Word fix the mistake for you without you having to use the Spell Check functions.

Sharing and Collaboration – Working Together In Real-Time

One of the highlights of Word 2016 is the program’s integration with Microsoft OneDrive. OneDrive allows you to save a document to the cloud by selecting OneDrive instead of This PC under the Save function. OneDrive appears as an option in the sidebar of the Save window.

Files saved to OneDrive can be shared instantly with everyone in your organization, and well as anyone else you choose to share the link with, such as a client or associate. If the person you’re sharing with has access to the online version of Word 2016, they can edit your document in real-time alongside you. This means you could have a coworker completing a section of a report at the exact same time you’re completing your own section, and see the work they’re doing as it’s being done.

Bonus Tips and Tricks


If you decide you’d like to change the format of a specific section of text within a document, the Sections feature will allow you to make those changes without affecting the layout of the rest of the document. Say for example you want a single section to appear as columns of text. Place your cursor at the beginning of the section. Under the Layout Tab, you’ll find the Breaks button. From the Section Breaks options in the drop-down, choose New Page. Place your cursor at the end of the section, then select Continuous from the Breaks drop-down. Now, nothing before or after that specific section will be impacted by changes made to that section. Highlight the text you want to alter, then select Columns from the Breaks drop-down to format your section.

The Sections options are an easy way to break up your document into more visually interesting sections without having to spend a lot of time messing around with layouts and formatting or fighting to keep some elements the same while changing other elements around them.

Form Lines

Creating a line for a signature or other information that needs to be filled in on a document is easy enough when the document will be printed out but challenging when your form will be sent out digitally. A series of underscores creates a perfect line for a printed document, but trying to type on that line simply makes the underscores shift over to accommodate your text.Type three dashes then hit Enter. This creates a solid line that can be typed on without disrupting the line itself.

Mail Merge

Under the Mailings Tab, you’ll find the Start Mail Merge icon. Select the Step-By-Step Mail Merge Wizard option from the drop-down, and Word will show you how to make full use of this feature in whatever way you need to.

If you’re looking to learn even more about Word 2016, or want to put everything this latest version has to offer to work for your business, get in touch with the Microsoft Experts at Spade Technology at or (508) 332-4849.