There are as many different ways to use Microsoft Word as there are different kinds of written information. Below are a few basic starting points for using Word as a tool (rather than being the tool that is being used by Word).
- Paste text with (or without) formatting — You can copy and paste text from other documents, or from different places in your own document (e.g. if you want to move paragraphs around), rather than re-typing everything. Major time saver. (Of course, make sure that you cite the source if you paste in something that you didn’t write yourself!)
- Find and replace text — Need to fix something everywhere in your document? Word can do that for you.
- Insert a table (and format it once you’ve got it) — Tables are a way of neatly organizing lists or other information into a grid. Super useful for lab reports, or for comparing several specific concepts across the page.
- Insert a picture (make sure that you cite your source!) — A picture is worth a thousand words, etc., etc. — and, more to the point, using a good map or diagram can go a long way towards helping you to explain a difficult technical concept.
- Insert a chart or graph from Excel — You can insert graphs and charts from Microsoft Excel into your document, which is super-helpful when you’re writing that lab report (or analyzing data in any discipline).
- Style basics in Word — Why should you use styles? They make your life waaaay easier: everything formats itself for you, rather than you having to go through and fiddle with everything yourself.