How to work with long documents in Microsoft Word
How to work with long documents in Microsoft Word
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Follow these tips on how to easily navigate and manage lengthy documents in Word by taking advantage of key features.

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Image: iStockphoto/littlehenrabi

Your Microsoft Word document has mushroomed to dozens or even hundreds of pages. The dilemma? Working with and navigating such a lengthy document can be slow and clumsy. Fortunately, Word offers features that can ease the burden of using a long document:

  • You can use styles to format your document in strategic places and sections;
  • You can add page numbers to keep track of the pages;
  • You can set up a table of contents to display different sections;
  • You can enable the Navigation pane to see and jump to a specific page more easily; and
  • You can zoom out to view multiple concurrent pages and turn on Split View to view different parts of the document at the same time.

This tutorial covers how to use each of these features. If you wish to follow along with this tutorial, create a long Word document with any type of content. Create headings throughout your document and apply a specific style to each heading. I’m using Word from an Office 365 subscription, but the features I cover here work in the past couple of versions of Word as well.

SEE: 50 time-saving tips to speed your work in Microsoft Office (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to use styles in long Microsoft Word documents

Styles can prove very effective in lengthy Word documents, as they play a key role if you wish to create a table of contents or use a Navigation Pane. Applying a heading style is easy enough. Place your cursor anywhere in the heading text. At the Home Ribbon, click on the icon for the heading style you wish to apply, such as Heading 1 or Heading 2 (Figure A). To see more styles, click on the Design tab and choose a style from the Document Formatting section. Repeat this process for all the headings throughout your document.

Figure A

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How to apply page numbers in long Microsoft Word documents

It’s a good idea to apply page numbers to any long document, whether or not you plan to print it or distribute it to other people. To set up page numbers most simply, click the Insert tab. In the section for Header & Footer, click the icon for Page Number. Choose the location: Top Of Page or Bottom Of Page. Then choose the horizontal location: Left, Center, or Right on the page (Figure B). If you wish to add other elements to each page, you can do so through a header or footer, but if you want to keep it basic, page numbers alone will easily do the trick.

Figure B

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How to set up a table of contents in long Microsoft Word documents

A table of contents (TOC) is another effective option for a long document. The table shows you the name and page number of each heading page, section, chapter, or other division in your document. Even further, you can click on each entry in the TOC to take you to that specific page. To create a simple TOC, position your cursor where you want the table to appear, typically at the top of your document. Click on the References tab. Click on the icon for table of contents. Choose one of the two automatic tables. Your TOC is instantly created for you (Figure C). To move to a specific entry in the TOC, Ctrl + click anywhere on that entry, and Word takes you to that specific page.

Figure C

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How to view the Navigation pane in long Microsoft Word documents

If you don’t want to add a full table of contents to your document, you can achieve a similar effect through the Navigation pane. The difference here is that the Navigation pane doesn’t include page numbers, though you can easily turn it on and off. To do this, click on the View tab. Check the box for Navigation pane. In the Navigation pane under headings, links to all your styled heading pages appear. Click on a link to navigate to that page or section (Figure D). To turn off the Navigation pane, uncheck its box on the View ribbon.

Figure D

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How to zoom out in long Microsoft Word documents

The Zoom feature also comes in handy for viewing multiple pages in a lengthy document. Here, you have a few options through various zoom levels. Click on the View tab. Click on the icon for Multiple Pages. Depending on the size of your monitor, screen resolution, and other factors, you should see at least two full pages or four partial pages (Figure E).

Figure E

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How to view multiple pages in long Microsoft Word documents

Here’s a zoom option that you can control. At the View ribbon, click on the Zoom icon. Then check the box for Many Pages and click OK (Figure F). You’ll likely see dozens of pages of your document that are too small to be readable or easily navigable. 

Figure F

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How to control the number of pages in long Microsoft Word documents

You can control the view of multiple pages. Hold down the Ctrl key and scroll up or down on the scroll wheel of your mouse or swipe up or down on your touchpad with two fingers. You’ll see that the view changes to display fewer or more pages depending on your action (Figure G).

Figure G

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How to control the rows and columns of pages in long Microsoft Word documents

Here’s another way to control how many pages you see in this mode. Click on the Zoom button and then click on the icon for Multiple Pages. Select how many pages you want to see horizontally and vertically, such as 1×4, 2×2, or 2×4. Click OK (Figure H).

Figure H

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How to use Split View in long Microsoft Word documents

You can use Split View to view two different pages of your long document at the same time. At the View ribbon, click on the icon for Split. A horizontal bar splits your document in half. You can move to one spot in the top half and a different spot in the bottom half (Figure I). You can also resize the bar to give more space to one half. When you’re done, click on the icon to Remove Split.

Figure I

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