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Getting the most out of Microsoft Word

Did you know that you can save time by learning some shortcuts on Word? Dr Neil Paul has advice for GPs.

Knowing Word’s full capabilities can save you time and money (Photograph: JH Lancy)
Knowing Word’s full capabilities can save you time and money (Photograph: JH Lancy)

Here is a quick briefing on some of the features of Word you may not be familiar with that might make your life a little easier.

Styles
If you are producing a report, you may need to use more than the simple bolding or underlining styles you might put in a short letter.

It can be laborious to change all the headings from bold to underlined. If, however, you set all your headings to be in the same style, then all you need to do to change them is tell Word to change the heading style. This is easy to do but I am always amazed by how many people do not use style sheets in Word.

Forms
I am sure you often fill in forms by hand. Did you know, that if you can get hold of the form in a Word format, you can use Word to fill it out?

Word has the ability to know that some bits of the document are not for editing and some bits are for filling in, and only allows you to type in the bits that need filling in.

Custom dictionaries
Do some of your administration staff lack a medical background and constantly spell things wrongly? Did you know that you can buy medical dictionary packs to add to Word that include things such as drug names, diseases or operations?

AutoCorrect and AutoText
Have you noticed that some words you spell wrong are automatically corrected by Word, while others are not? That is because there is a core set of words we all make the same mistakes with, either by spelling them wrong or by typing them wrongly. An example is 'teh' which autocorrects to 'the'. If there are certain words you always type or spell wrongly, you can teach Word your idiosyncrasies.

AutoText is the big brother: if you find yourself typing the same thing over and over in different documents (for example, a brief biography) Word can store this on a menu.

Selecting it will bring up the whole piece of text, saving you loads of time. You could use this for things like addresses and emails.

Mail Merge
In case you do not know, mail merging is the ability to have a master document that is automatically personalised, for example with name and address details.

You may have used your clinical system to do this, but Word can produce such professional-looking documents it can be worthwhile using its Mail Merge.

It can take details from a spreadsheet in Excel - possibly extracted from a search in your clinical system - and its 'wizard' will lead you through creating a document to merge those details into.

  • Dr Paul is a GP in Cheshire.

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