7 More Word Best Practices

The faster you teach students to be problem solvers, the more they’ll learn. Computers are a foreign language. Even with small class sizes, the more students can do for themselves, the more fun they’ll have learning the intricacies of technology.

The good news is, students love to be independent. They find it cool to know keyboard shortcuts for getting stuff done. In my class, students can help their neighbors, and they love showing off their problem solving skills. Here are 9 tricks that cover many common problems students will face using MS Word:

  1. Ctrl+Z–undo

This will be your favorite. There are too many times to mention when I’ve had a frantic student, almost in tears because s/he thought s/he’d lost his/her document, and two seconds later I retrieved it. I was a hero for a class period.

  1. Macro for a heading

This is great for students who have to remember MLA rules. What goes in a heading? How big are the margins? Where’s a page number go? No worries. Create a macro and save the resulting document as a template. Never more worry.

  1. How to find lost documents

It takes a while for users to get accustomed to saving files on a network. Often, documents end up lost (in my school, students must drill down through five levels to get to their unique location). My students learn early to use ‘search’ on the start menu.

  1. How to insert data

The ‘insert’ key is so confusing I’m told it is being inactivated in the future. If students complain they lose data as they type, this is probably why. Show them how to push the ‘insert’ key and all will be fixed.

  1. Show-hide tool.

Kids try to strong-arm Word into doing their will–often the wrong way. My favorite is ‘enter enter’ as a shortcut to double space. It seems to work until they have to edit the document, and then everything gets messed up. Have students push the show-hide button to see if they’re using the double space tool. Then, show them where the icon is.

  1. Tables—they work so much better than columns and tabs.

Teach it to kids early and use it often. It will save you miles of distress.

  1. How to insert the date

It takes until Middle School for students to remember the date. Before that, they will always ask. Show them the Shift+Alt+D shortkey that inserts the current date into Word. They love it and it saves a lot of time for you.