Increase your efficiency with Microsoft Word

This 90-minute presentation was first given at the Society of Editors (WA) Inc. annual Winter Seminar, held in August 2015 in Perth, Western Australia. Other presentations of this session or a variation of it include: American Copy Editors Society (ACES) 2016 Conference (Portland, Oregon; March 2016), Environmental Health Australia (Western Australia) Incorporated (Perth, Western Australia; May 2016), ACES 2017 Conference (St Petersburg, Florida; March 2017).

Save time and your sanity: Increase your efficiency with Microsoft Word from Rhonda Bracey

Session summary

Many of us use Word regularly, either personally or for our clients. But are we using it efficiently? In this 90-minute session, Rhonda gives you lots of practical tips and tricks to help you become more efficient with Word. Some of the areas she covers include:

  • Show everything – formatting marks, fields, bookmarks, track changes, styles etc.
  • Set up an efficient workspace – Quick Access Toolbar, custom ribbon
  • Automate tasks – autocorrect, keyboard shortcuts, TOCs, preformatted tables/text etc.
  • Use the power of find and replace (including wildcards) to zip through changes
  • Use macros to automate repetitive tasks (summary only).

As any of these topics could be a full-day course on their own, in this session Rhonda gives you enough practical information to get started so that you can investigate further on your own.

Mac users: This presentation uses Word 2010 and 2013 for Windows for all examples and any demos. Many functions will be common with Word for Mac, but possibly not all.

PDF of this presentation (890 KB)


American Copy Editors Society Annual Conference 2017: Some of the live Tweets sent out while I was presenting this session on being more efficient with Microsoft Word, from follow-up emails, and from formal feedback from attendees:

  • @cybertext's Word efficiency session will save me SO much editing time! Can't wait to get it all set up!
  • Increase Your Efficiency with MS Word with Rhonda Bracey (she's Aussie and kind of delightful!)
  • Thanks @cybertext for all the #Word tips and tricks! Glad you made the trip out from Perth, Australia
  • Brushing up on some Microsoft Word everyday magic with @cybertext at #ACES2017
  • @cybertext is blowing minds over here in the Word session with her AutoCorrrect magic!
  • Rhonda Bracey's presentation is by far the most useful #ACES2017 (reply Tweet to this one from another person" By far the most useful presentation I went to last year)
  • "Life's too short to do something manually if you can automate it" -- @cybertext on making Word more efficient
  • "You can't fix what you can't see" @cybertext recommends turning on formatting marks in Word (follow-up Tweet a few days later: Am editing in Word with formatting marks showing, as @cybertext suggested, and it's SO much easier to fix weird spacing issues!)
  • @cybertext It was fantastic. And TextExpander just saved me so much time! Can't wait to try the rest of your tricks...
  • I went to your MS Word session at the ACES conference this past week. My colleague and I are so excited to program all the neat goodies you taught us!
  • @cybertext Thank you for a great session, Rhonda. I was taking snaps for a friend who was furiously jotting down URLs.
  • Great presentation, Rhonda. I will used what I learned every day.
  • BTW, never realised you could stop track changes for formatting while still tracking text changes. Holy hell...pful!
  • Good, helpful and engaging information.
  • Lots of helpful hints.
  • She was so knowledgeable!
  • Would have rated this "excellent" if material hadn't been PC-centric, as I'm on a Mac, but definitely learned useful info. [NOTE: The session summary available months beforehand on the conference website (and in the conference printed material), the intro slide, and the handout ALL clearly stated that Word for Mac wouldn't covered]
  • Again, an excellent speaker. A true authority on what Microsoft Word can offer to us editors. Loved her presentation style: no waste, no time lost, pure information transfer ...
  • Beyond excellent. There wasn't enough time for her to cover all that she could have. This was great, plus I love her accent.
  • Bracey knows her stuff. I didn't think I'd learn too much but I came away with good tips. I mainly went to learn how I can better teach new staff to fully utilize Word and her session and handout will fulfill that goal.
  • Bracey really knows her stuff.
  • Excellent presenter. Looking forward to implementing the tips and reading Rhonda's blog.
  • Extremely helpful and fun.
  • Great tips that will make a difference in my daily work.
  • Hands down, this was the best session of the conference! I consider myself a power user of Word, and yet I learned a bunch of shortcuts and time savers I did not know. The structure of the session allowed for a fast pace, which was effective in allowing us to cover a lot. I loved having the handout for reference during and after the session.
  • Hands down, this was THE session that beat all the other sessions I attended for the best. Bracey is awesome. She should have had more time than she did. Too much valuable insight and material to cover in the time we had. If she presents again, give her a bigger room with more chairs. People were standing in the back and sitting on the floor, that's how large a crowd she drew.
  • I didn't realize how much I didn't know about Microsoft Word!
  • I made myself go to this session - grudgingly - because I'm the accidental Word expert at my company. I wasn't even sure how much I'd take away, and I certainly don't want to spend extra time with Word. Wow, was I surprised! Rhonda is a genius! She was funny, smart and helpful. The last thing I expected was to come away so excited about Word, and yet it's the first thing I can't wait to play with Monday morning. This session was awesome!
  • LIFE-CHANGING. I can't wait to set up some of these shortcuts for me and for my technical writers!
  • Loved Rhonda! No-nonsense, helpful, and hilarious.
  • Mind-blowing list of new techniques I can't wait to try. And I think one of them could be a fabulous solution to a long-term problem I've had.
  • Picked up a few tips that will simplify my life and make me more efficient, and the handout has some great links. Rhonda's environment is familiar to me from jobs I've held in the past, so I understood where she was coming from. She may have been talking past some in the audience who work in very different environments, but my guess is there was something for everyone.
  • Probably my favorite. Rhonda is no-nonsense and clearly intelligent, came prepared with lots of helpful take-away information, and I learned so much to make my life easier.
  • Really enjoyed the speaker and learned some unexpectedly excellent shortcuts!
  • Rhonda sure knows her stuff. Amazing. And super practical. Her handout was crammed with good info.
  • Rhonda was great. Very informative. I look forward to implementing all the advice, shortcuts, and tools she passed down to us.
  • Rhonda's knowledge of Word is so impressive, and she is a fantastic speaker. I'd like to see her present a session in which advanced Word users can really dig into some of Word's quirks and she can help us troubleshoot common problems.
  • She deserves more time. This was one of the best sessions in the entire conference.
  • So helpful, entertaining, and eye-opening!
  • Such a great talk!
  • This was a repeat session but a good one. Recommend that you bring Rhonda back next year for those who have not attended her previous sessions.
  • This presenter was also very knowledgeable, and she cared a great deal about her work. She also offered help beyond just handouts -- she shared her email address.
  • This session alone was worth the cost of conference! Fantastic tips, resources, and the coolest Australian accent.
  • This session blew my mind. We're going to incorporate this into our processes and workflows.
  • This session was very informative and the speaker well prepared.
  • This was even better and more helpful than I'd hoped it would be. I can't wait to try out some of the tricks and shortcuts Rhonda showed us. This was a real game-changer.
  • This was fantastic. I learned so many neat little tricks and functions that I think will make my work a lot easier. I really liked Rhonda's no-nonsense speaking style.
  • This was probably the most useful session of the conference in terms of my daily workflow. I was hesitant to attend because I consider myself a fairly adept user of Word, but Ms. Bracey offered numerous practical, time-saving tips and suggestions for working with the software. She was easy to follow and her visuals and handouts seemed very well-prepared. I plan on sharing suggestions I learned here with colleagues.
  • This was such useful information! I will be more efficient thanks to this session. And the presenter was excellent.
  • Wealth of information. Excellent!
  • What I was looking forward to since last year! Awesome!!
  • The content was a bit confusing. The speaker presented too quickly.
  • This should be divided into 2 sessions. The amount of great information is overwhelming for one.

Feedback comments from the presentation at the Society of Editors (WA) Winter Seminar:

  • Excellent content and presenter. Only criticism is I wanted more.
  • Great to get more skills.
  • Most useful for my day-to-day work. Great approach and generosity in sharing her knowledge.
  • Could almost do a whole day workshop just on this. Hold it in a room where there are training computers so everyone can try it out.
  • Would have liked more time on this topic.
  • I'll definitely use some of these great tips.
  • Great. So much more to learn - more please!
  • Most enlightening and will be very useful.

The organiser of the seminar also wrote: 'Most attendees used the numbering system to show what they thought of the 'expertise of the speaker'. Without exception, all 21 responses ... were 5 out of 5. ... Our members were bowled over and expanded their understanding of Word in many ways. Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us once again. You're a total winner!' (PDF of letter)

In an email sent to me personally after this session were these comments:

  • I really enjoyed your practical presentation and tips and have already implemented some of them. ... I’ve turned on the advanced document content tips you gave, I’ve customised my quick access toolbar and moved it below the ribbons, created my own ribbon and am using them in my current report – awesome!! ... Sooo good having a few more tips and tricks for using Word and increasing efficiency – THANK YOU!

American Copy Editors Society Annual Conference 2016: Some of the live Tweets sent out while I was presenting this session on being more efficient with Microsoft Word, from follow-up emails, and from formal feedback from attendees:

  • Strengthening my (rather flabby) Microsoft Word chops with Rhonda Bracey
  • Rhonda Bracey is a hoot! Australian jokes and jabs in between expertise. Doing chin-ups on every syllable.
  • Rhonda Bracey: Awesome deep dive into Word in a lovely Aussie accent
  • In her Word efficiency session, @cybertext is doing straight-up MAGIC TRICKS. Whole room keeps oohing and aahing.
  • Over here in the Tips and Tricks in Word room we are all amazed by what you can do with autocorrect!
  • Use Word AutoCorrect to save lots of time and to be consistent with author coments in Track Changes. Collective gasp.
  • Why haven't I tweeted during the last hour? Because session from @cybertext is fantastic. Don't want to miss a microsecond. Great info!
  • Rhonda Bracey's kung fu is the best. Efficiency with Microsoft Word session
  • I thought I knew all the Word shortcuts. This is life-changing!
  • It's Friday, it's 70 degrees and sunny, and I'm learning tips for Microsoft Word... and I'm loving it! Thanks @cybertext!
  • Highlight of the day was either the glorious Microsoft Word hacks from @cybertext or eating lunch in the sunshine.
  • This was such a good session. Great resources.
  • I just learned tons from @cybertext's #ACES2016 session.
  • Thank you again for such an interesting and informative session about Word shortcuts at the ACES conference in Portland. I've customized my quick access toolbar per your excellent recommendation, and I'm getting a new computer and it was so empowering to know that I could save those customizations to transfer to my new machine. Hooray! [...] I'm downloading your slides from your ACES presentation now and will continue to reference your amazing tips. They have already saved me a lot of time, so I wanted you to know how grateful I am to you! (Monica Monzingo, ACES Conference attendee)
  • Along with the Google session, one of the best sessions I attended, for pretty much the same reasons. Also, presenter helped reinforce using shortcuts and not to continue "working stupid" (as I sometimes do). She was also fun.
  • As with Mike Pope's session Thursday, I was stunned by how little I know about all the bells and whistles Word offers.
  • Excellent speaker/presenter with a lot of novel information.
  • Extremely informative. I will use many of these tips in the future.
  • Gleaned some great tips I hope to incorporate into my work.
  • Good presentation; good tips
  • Got kind of technical toward the end, but overall good tips.
  • Great skill-set builder!
  • Great tips! Loved this nuts-and-bolts session.
  • I realized partway into this session that this was too in the weeds for what I use Microsoft Word for, plus the presentation only covered Word for PCs, not Macs, which is what I use. I left early.
  • I wish more would have been provided about using Word with Mac and not just Windows, but I still gained some valuable insight into time-saving techniques
  • Learned some good tips at this one, followed up by visiting her website.
  • My favorite session of the conference! Rhonda is super smart and had a ton of tips to share that I will use in my editing work.
  • Packed with information. Like a 3-hour class compressed into 1 hour.
  • Picked up some good tips, but the detailed info was for Word for PC, not Mac. Should have a Word for Mac session, too.
  • Rhonda Bracey was remarkable. I didn't realize one person could master Word so completely. Not everything applied to how I work, but the components that did have already made a difference for me since I came back to work. This is an essential session for someone working like I do. Thankful she made the trip from Australia.
  • Rhonda did a great job of keeping the session on track and being frank about what she couldn't cover (e.g., Macs)
  • Rhonda is extremely knowledgeable and efficient. Info was a little too much to digest in one session though.
  • So many great tips here, presented clearly and with humor.
  • Speaker was hard to understand
  • The information was excellent, and the speaker really knew her stuff. My only complaint is that between her accent and her quick speaking, I struggled to take in everything she was saying.
  • There was a lot of detailed information, especially for a session without handouts. Yes, the handouts were to be made available later.
  • This session was fabulous. I was expecting to know a decent bit of it, but it really filled in the gaps and introduced whole new tools that I didn't know existed. One of my favorites!
  • This was good. I already knew a lot of what was presented, but Rhonda did a great job answering questions, and I picked up a few new tricks to employ.
  • This was interesting but perhaps would have been better suited to a hands-on or more tailored class rather than a conference session, since not everyone has the same needs from Word AND it is easier to learn when you're actually applying what you're learning. Also, as a Mac user I found it a bit off-putting than Rhonda had no knowledge of how specific commands might differ between PC and Mac.
  • This was more in-depth than I thought it would be. It was probably a great session for those who format documents in Word, but I was looking for general tips and tricks. Guess I should have gone to the other Word session instead!
  • This was one of the best sessions. I wish she could come speak at Vanguard, but I doubt we could get her all the way from Australia.
  • This was probably the most valuable session I attended. If there's another expert who can present a similar session on Word for Mac next year, I'd be delighted.
  • This was truly outstanding. So much useful information.
  • Tons of great info, and she has so many outside resources for later. Very valuable session.
  • Very clear and straightforward presentation. Lots of great tips and tricks. Looking forward to reviewing posted presentation.
  • Would have been a terrific session if only I knew how the tricks applied for Macs! In general though, Rhonda sped through the material in a very useful way and presented solutions that attendees clearly appreciated.
  • Would have loved more time for this session.
  • Wow. This was incredible. Too much info for a short period of time but very useful.


A 45-minute version of this presentation was given at the inaugural Technical Writers Industry Association Inc. annual conference, held in Melbourne, Victoria (23-24 October 2015).

Save time and your sanity: Increase your efficiency with Microsoft Word (short version) from Rhonda Bracey

Session summary

Many of us use Microsoft Word regularly, either personally or for our clients. But are we using it efficiently? In this 45-minute session, Rhonda will give you lots of practical tips and tricks to help you become more efficient with Word. Some of the areas she will cover include:

  • Show everything – formatting marks, fields, bookmarks, track changes, styles etc.
  • Automate tasks – autocorrect, keyboard shortcuts, TOCs, preformatted tables/text etc.
  • Use the power of find and replace (including wildcards) to zip through changes

Mac users: This presentation uses Word 2010 and 2013 for Windows for all examples and any demos. Many functions will be common with Word for Mac, but possibly not all.

PDF of this presentation (670 KB)

Tweets from this presentation

Tweets from TWIA Conference 2015


Feedback from this abbreviated 45-minute session (no demo):

  • Must check my settings.
  • Wish there was more time to get in depth.
  • Plenty of stuff I didn't know.
  • Good range of content.
  • Too rushed.
  • Knew quite a bit already but still very interesting and useful.
  • Some very clever hints, but also some content that was too simple.
  • We're fortunate enough to not have to use Word.
  • Presentation needed to be reshaped for 45 mins. Great content though.
  • Fast but very informative. Need to read the blog more regularly.
  • Needed more time.
  • Very useful info; a pity it had to be a bit rushed.
  • Was rather rushed, although that was at best partially due to technical issues.
  • A double session would have been worthwhile. Great info.