Computer skills to prepare scientific documents

Ghi chú: Người viết soạn tài liệu này để đào tạo kỹ năng vi tính cho nhân viên văn phòng của một công ty quốc tế. Nội dung liên quan đến việc trình bày hồ sơ dự thầu và báo cáo dự án. Tuy tài liệu bằng Anh văn nhưng người có nhiệm vụ soạn thảo những hồ sơ như thế đều có thể hiểu được bài này.

You should learn these basic skills so that you can produce professional scientific documents. For your first document, it may take some time to learn and practice, so be patient. Once you complete a document, you can use it as a model to prepare the next documents – all have professional looking and are completed in a short time. Your work efficiency will be improved a lot using these skills.

First, you will be shown how to learn basic skills:

  • Quick Access Toolbar
  • Basic writing/editing skills
  • Page setup
  • Styles
  • AutoCorrection
  • Spelling check

After that, you can choose to read a certain function when you need to do it:

  • Page numbering
  • Headers and Footers
  • Shortcut keys
  • Macros
  • Working with tables and pictures
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures, List of tables…

The description of steps to do (based on Microsoft Word 2013) look difficult to you, but in fact they are easy. Be patient to learn and your work productivity will be greatly improved.

Quick Access Toolbar

To save your time in the other skills, you must add some functions to your Quick Access Toolbar. Your work efficiency will be improved a lot: for each function, instead of several keystrokes you will click only once.

To customize your Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Place the mouse pointer at any point on the top toolbar showing FILE HOME… then right-click the mouse. When a small menu appears with the line Customize Quick Access Toolbar, select this line.
  2. At the box Choose commands from, change to All commands. See menu below. The block at right is for my computer, so ignore it.
  3. Move down and up the list of commands in the left-hand box Choose commands from.
  4. Select the command Open then click the box Add >>
  5. Repeat the above step for other commands: Close – Format Painter – Insert CaptionInsert Horizontal Frame (on the Quick Access Toolbar its name is Insert Frame – Insert Table of FigureManage Styles – Macros – Modify Style – Page Setup – Paragraph Settings – Save – Style. Enough for now.
  6. You may delete the command you add: select the command then select <<Remove.
  7. You may change the order of the commands: select a command then press the icon at right to move it up and down.

Word_customize Quick Access Toolbar

Basic writing/editing skills

Practice the skills below. They can help improve your work productivity.

  1. When working with menus, you may notice some letters of functions are underlined, like Add. In this example, you can type “a” instead of moving the cursor to the icon Add and click. Many people find it’s faster to work with the keyboard than with the mouse. Try both ways to see what you prefer.
  2. Open any existing Word file, then save it with another name: Select FILESave As. Choose the directory you want, then type a new file name. You must do this step first whenever you open an existing file for practice. This is to avoid saving a file by mistake after you practice on it.
  3. IMPORTANT TIP: You may have to spend many days to prepare a large, complex scientific document. My experience is that during this time, the file may be lost since anything wrong may happen: a power cut, or an unknown error… So once in a while (normally half a day and after an important work), I select FILESave As. and give the same file name with a version number. This way, if something wrong happens I will waste at most several hours of work, and most importantly, I will not miss the deadline.
  4. To delete a word: double-click on that word, then press key Delete, or right-click and select Cut in the menu.
  5. Note that after you double-click a word, a small menu will appear. Observe it and you can guess what to do. Try several functions in that menu, like Italic, Bold
  6. To move a word: double-click on that word, click the mouse then keep pressing and move the word to the new position you want.
  7. To copy a word: double-click on that word. (a) Click the mouse then keep pressing the key Ctrl and the right mouse button to move the word to the new position you want. Or (b) right-click and select Copy in the menu, move the pointer to the desired position then press Ctrl-V to paste.
  8. To delete, move, copy a paragraph: triple-click (click the mouse fast 3 times) on the paragraph then do as with a word.
  9. If the paragraph has only 1 line (including headings): move the cursor in front of the line, an arrow will appear. Click, the line will be highlighted. Now you can delete, move or copy the line as above.
  10. Note that after you triple-click a paragraph, a small menu will appear. Select Styles then move the cursor over the style names. You can see the effects on the paragraph. Click on the style name you want, or move the cursor away to keep the existing style. Wonderful, isn’t?
  11. To change letter case of a word or a paragraph, double-click that word or triple-click the paragraph then press Shift+F3. See the effect?
  12. To apply the format of one word to another word: select the word (double-click), select Format Painter on the Quick Access Toolbar. The icon will be highlighted. Move the cursor to another word then click, or quick the first word and drag the pointer to the last word
  13. To apply the format of one paragraph to another paragraph: select the paragraph (triple-click), then do as above.
  14. To cancel what you just did (undo): press Ctrl+Z. Very useful as you are sure to make mistakes!
  15. To repeat what you just did (re-do): press Ctrl+Y.
  16. To go back to the previous position: press Shift+F5.
  17. To save the file: press Ctrl+S (the sign + indicates pressing 2 keys at the same time) , or select Save on the Quick Access Toolbar.
  18. To close the file without saving: press Ctrl+W, or select Close on the Quick Access Toolbar. To present you press that by mistake, the system will ask whether you want to save or not.
  19. To open a new file: press Ctrl+N, or select New Black Document on the Quick Access Toolbar.

In the last three skills, you are shown to use shortcut keys or the Quick Access Toolbar. Choose the method that you prefer.

Page setup

This is the first thing to do when you create the first new file.

  1. Select Page Setup on the Quick Access Toolbar (you have been asked to put this command on the Quick Access Toolbar, right?). If you do this step for the first time, the first menu contains default parameters. For now, keep them that way.
  2. Select Page. If you do this step for the first time, the second menu also contains default parameter. By default Paper size is Letter because Word is an American product, and in America they use Letter size paper. I have seen too many documents prepared by Vietnamese agencies that apply Letter size paper but nobody in Vietnam use this size! You should change to A4 for use in Viet Nam, then press OK.
  3. Select Margins. The default of Apply to is Whole document. If you make different sections of the file, you may want Apply to Section, meaning each section has different formats. For example, the first section uses A4 paper, the second A3, and the third back to A4.
  4. Set As Default: If you click this, the next time you create a new file, all Page Setup parameters will be applied to that file. So you do not have to repeat the steps here.

word_page setup

Using styles in Word

This is the skill you should learn; it helps a lot!

Advantages of styles

There are several advantages to use styles, as you can:

  • Make the system work more for you, so that you work less! For example: many people still maintain a habit like in the old time with a typewriter: after each paragraph they press Enter twice to create a blank line then press Tab to make the first line indented. For each paragraph they press 3 keystrokes. Why not let the system handle this hard work?
  • Have consistent format throughout the document, like once you determine the paragraph formats, these formats are used in all paragraphs except where you use other styles.
  • Change format of the whole document by just a few key strokes. For example: line spacing of 2 and font size of 14 for the draft document can be quickly changed to line spacing of 1 and font size of 12 for the final document.

Example: to modify style Normal

Style Normal is the default for main text, so you can modify it to your choice.

  1. Put the cursor anywhere on a line of style Normal (observe the icon Style on the Quick Access Toolbar). Select Modify Style on the Quick Access Toolbar. You have the menu below. Read the instruction.
  2. See the current formats for style Normal (red circle). Its means that all paragraphs have space of 6 point before it, line spacing of 1.1 (suggested for Vietnamese text), and font Times New Roman of size 12.
  3. Click at each symbol to see its effects.

Word_modify style

To change paragraph formats, select FormatParagraph. There are more options for paragraph. From the Paragraph menu, select Line and Page Break. Useful functions are:

  • Window/Orphan control: to avoid ugly pages having first line at bottom and last line at top. Word will automatically adjust the paragraphs for you.
  • Keep with next: suppose you have a heading, you don’t want this heading on page bottom. Word will automatically bring the heading to new page.
  • Keep lines together: a paragraph is not cut onto two pages. Word will automatically bring the entire paragraph to new page.

Example: to create a new style

You have sub-headings with bold font but sometimes they are on page bottom. Ugly! Create a new style to avoid that.

  1. Select Manage Styles on the Quick Access Toolbar, then select New Style. You have a menu below.
  2. At Name, change to the name that you will remember, like “Sub_heading”.
  3. Style type: “Paragraph” is correct, as some other styles apply to character only.
  4. Style based on: “Normal” is correct, since we want the sub-heading to look like normal text except for the changes we make.

At Style for following paragraph: type “Normal”, as we want the text after a sub-heading to have style Normal.

  1. Click icon B to make bold font. This is the first change.
  2. Select FormatParagraphLine and Page Break, then check the box at Keep with next. This is the second change: no sub-headings will be on page bottom
  3. Click OK until you go back to the text.
  4. Try typing a sub-heading, such as “Equipment”, then select HOME . In the Style group, click at the arrow at right bottom corner, then select style Sub_Heading.

Word_create new style

Shortcut keys for styles

Suppose you use style Sub-Heading often, so you need a shortcut key to apply this style quickly. Do as follows.

  1. Place cursor on text with style Sub_Heading, select Modify Style on the Quick Access Toolbar, select FormatShortcut key.
  2. At Press new shortcut key: suppose you press 2 keys together Ctrl+S. See the message in red circle. It means Word already assigns Ctrl+S as the shortcut key to save file. So do not use Ctrl+S.
  3. You must try another shortcut key, until you see the message Currently assigned to: [unassigned], then click Assign.

Word_customize keyboard

From now on, when you press that shortcut key, the new style Sub_Heading will be applied at the cursor. So convenient!

Default or specific style?

If you use a default style like Normal, when other people copy your text into their file, the text with Normal style will use the formats of their Normal style. Convenient for them.

If you want the file to maintain your style, create styles with specific style names, like: Normal_me. But if other people copy your text into their file, they will have both Normal and Normal_me. Inconvenient for them!

TIP: In this case, after Ctrl+C for a text of style Normal_me, put the cursor on style Normal of your file, select HOMEPaste Special then select Unformatted Text. This way, you copy only the text without any format, so the text will have formats of style Normal.

Formatting for style Heading 1

  1. You may want to have Heading 1 begins with “Chương” in Vietnamese text. Do as follows.
  2. Place the cursor on Heading 1, select HOME – icon Multilevel List in Paragraph group.
  3. Select Define New Multilevel list. Insert the word “Chương” in front of level 1 as shown, then click OK.
  4. Select the block having “Chương 1”.
  5. From now on, your Heading 1 will begin with “Chương 1…”, “Chương 2 …”, to appear in the Table of Contents as such.

Word_define new multi level list


This is a powerful function offered by Microsoft Office. If you exploit this function, it will help save your time and avoid misspellings. The beauty of this function: once you define AutoCorrection for Word, you can use it for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and even Outlook for emails.

The main purpose is to type a short string of characters and let the system type the entire term according to your definition.

For example, after you have set-up for AutoCorrection, you can enjoy your effort:

  • You type: eia] then the system will autocorrect it to “environmental impact assessment”, or
  • You type: dtm\ then the system will autocorrect it to “đánh giá tác động môi trường”.

Wonderful! In my system, I choose the sign ] for English, and \ for Vietnamese, as no words end by such signs. But if you really want “eia]” to appear in the text, no problem: after Word autocorrect it, press Ctrl+Z.


Check: Select FILEOptionsLanguage: you must have English as the default language, even though you may files in English or Vietnamese, French…

Also ensure the styles use English: select Manage StylesModifyFormatLanguage. The selected language must be English (United States).

Enter as many as possible strings of characters to be autocorrected, as it is time-consuming each time you enter just one string. Make it systematic so that you can remember to type what string of characters for what term.

For English language, I start with acronyms and specific names, like:

  • usaid] : U.S. Agency for International Development
  • un] : United Nations
  • undp] : United Nations Development Programme
  • unep] : United Nations Environment Programme
  • us] : United States

For Vietnamese language, I start with compound terms, like:

  • cocu\ : công cụ
  • coda\ : công danh
  • codo\ : công đoàn
  • cohi\ : công hiệu
  • cokh\ : công khai
  • cola\ : công lập
  • cong\ : công nghệ

Steps to do

1. Open Word.

2. Open any Word file or just a blank document.

3. Make sure you are using the selected system language, like English (U.S.). One way to do this quickly is:

Press Ctrl-A to select the entire document;

Select REVIEWSet Language then select English (U.S.).

4.a For Word 2007 : Select Office Button on the top-left corner of Word 2007 screen, then Word Options.

4.b For Word 2007 : Select FileOptions.

5. Select ProofingAutocorrect Options.

  1. The language English (U.S.) must appear as shown below, otherwise repeat Step 3).
  2. Suppose you start with the word American. Enter am] under Replace and American under With.
  3. Select Add.
  4. Continue with the next words.
  5. Select OK when you stop entering the words.

Options for establishing definitions

Individual definitions

  • The computer users define the way AutoCorrection works for them.
  • Advantage: each computer user works in a different field (accounting, procurement, technical reports…) so the AutoCorrection function is tailor-made according to individual needs.
  • Disadvantage: each computer user has to spend much time, so a number of staff will not want to do it.

Office-wide definitions

  • Appoint a person to handle the list of autocorrected terms, to ensure consistency among all users across the office, and to type the definitions.
  • Advantage: only one person types the AutoCorrection definitions, then the result can be copied to other computers. This is a nice way to do!
  • Disadvantage: the work requires good planning and organization.

The IT specialist in your company should do this job:

  • Determine the lists of strings to be autocorrected to words, each list for a different language like Vietnamese and English.
  • Print-out the lists to all staff for use.
  • Find the dictionary file for AutoCorrection: MSO1033.acl and note down its directory.
  • Copy the file MSO1033.acl in the correct directory on all other computers.

Spelling check

For English text:

  1. Make sure the file uses English language. Press Ctrl+A then select REVIEWLanguageCheck Proofing Language. You must select Language (United States). This is required for both spelling check and AutoCorrection.
  2. To have misspellings shown as you type, select FILEOptionSpelling. Check the box at Check spelling as you type. From now on, misspellings are marked on screen.
  3. Even so, Word may mark too many words that you know for sure they are correct, making the screen messy. So, after completing a text in English, you must check spelling. Select REVIEWSpelling & Grammar. You should add any strange term that you know for sure it is correct but Word does not recognize.
  4. After repeat the above step with different documents, you can see that your screen has fewer marks.

For text in other languages:

  • I don’t want too many misspelling marks, so I cancel the spelling check: REVIEWLanguageCheck Proofing Language, then check the box at Do not check spelling or grammar.
  • You may want to check spelling in order to add to the dictionary common words such as Nguyễn, Việt…

Page numbering

Even when you have a short document, put page numbers for reference.

A simple way is: select INSERTPage NumberBottom of page , then select the center position. (Menu at left)

Word_page number

An elaborate way is for a document with different sections with different page number formats.

  • Section 1 may be for Table of Contents, List of Figures, List of Tables…, having Roman page numbers. Select INSERTPage NumberFormat Page numbers. At Number format: select Roman numbers “i, ii, iii…”, do not check the box Include chapter numbers, then select the box Stat at: put “i”.
  • Section 2 for Chapter 1. Insert a section break to have a new section having Arabic page numbers: Select INSERTPage NumberFormat Page numbers. At Number format: select Arabic numbers “1, 2, 3…”; check the box Include chapter numbers, then at box Stat at: put “1”. This section will have page numbers 1-1, 1-2…
  • Section 3 for Chapter 2: do steps similar as above. Insert a section break. Select INSERTPage NumberFormat Page numbers. At Number format: select Arabic numbers 1, 2, 3…; check the box Include chapter numbers, then select the box Stat at: put “1”. This section will have page numbers 2-1, 2-2…
  • And so on: Section 4 for Chapter 3, Section 5 for Chapter 4.

This set-up is for automatic numbering. For example, if you move section Chapter 3 to be ahead of Chapter 2, the old Chapter 3 with numbers 3-1, 3-2… will become Chapter 2 with page numbers 2-1, 2-2…, and the old Chapter 2 with numbers 2-1, 2-2… will become Chapter 3 with page numbers 3-1, 3-2… And the headings and page numbers 1-1, 1-2… 2-1, 2-2… in the Table of Contents will be changed. So wonderful!

Headers and Footers

Here we try the methods for headers; they are similar for footers. In each picture below, pay attention to the messages at left-bottom corners.

  1. Double-click anywhere on the header space then you can type or modify a header.
  2. In top picture: this header is for Section 2, not the same as for Section 1 (cover page). Therefore Link to Previous is not highlighted.
  3. In middle picture: after we click at Different First Page, the cursor moves to the first page of Section 2 and the header is blank – that most users want. Link to Previous is not highlighted as Section 2 is now the same as Section 1.
  4. In bottom picture: subsequent pages show the same header as before.

word_3 headers

  1. We click at Different Odd & Even Pages. This is useful when we print the document on both sides of paper sheets.
  2. Top picture: for odd pages, the header is right-adjusted.
  3. Bottom picture: for even pages, the header is left-adjusted.

word_headers odd &amp; even

This is another example of headers and footers that I created as follows.

  1. The Chevron logo is copied then pasted onto the position we want: outside the margin. See the method in heading “Positioning simple pictures”, above.
  2. The file name after “File:” is in fact a field; it’s not typed manually. Select INSERTQuick PartField. Scroll down to click “FileName”. For Format: select what you want, then click OK. Because this is a field, it will be changed when the file has a new file name. So it’s useful as we read the print-out and can search for its Word file.
  3. For a document with different chapters in different sections, we must not select Link to Previous, as the chapter heading (in green color) can be changed for each section.
  4. I prepare the word “DRAFT” in Corel, then paste it into Word. You have a similar feature with WordArt. Click the heading then select INSERTWordArt. Click the format you want then type the word “DRAFT”. It is like a picture, so see heading “Positioning simple pictures”, above, to adjust its size and position.
  5. In the footer, we can insert a table. Select INSERTTable, highlight 2 rows and 3 column, then type the contents.
  6. For page numbers, see heading “Page numbering” above.

Word_header &amp; footer B

To sum up, you can put a lot of details in the headers and footers, with file name, page number and chapter number as fields that can be updated when you print, or when you highlight them then press F9.

Shortcut keys

You work faster with shortcut keys than with the mouse. You don’t have to memorize all shortcut keys right now. Press F1 then enter the search term “shortcut key” to find out. Highlight a list of frequently used shortcuts then press Ctrl+C to copy and Ctrl+V in a Word document for reference. When you have to perform a function often, find a shortcut for it instead of using the toolbars and menus. You will like it!

Memorize the following frequently-used shortcuts and use them whenever you can. They can save a lot of your time.

Word_shortcut keys


Word_record macroYou may create a macro of many keystrokes as an icon, so instead of those keystrokes you just click the macro icon, so convenient! I often need to copy texts of other people into my files, but I don’t want to use their formats, so I created a macro to copy the text only, as follows.

  1. In the file of other people, highlight the text to copy then press Ctrl-C.
  2. Put the cursor at the position to copy to.
  3. Select Macros on the Quick Access Toolbar, click the triangle then select Record Macro.
  4. At Macro name: type name such as “Paste_text”, then click Button. (Keyboard is difficult to remember.)
  5. A menu is shown for you to put the macro in the Quick Access Toolbar. Highlight the name with “Normal.NewMacro…”, click Add>>.
  6. Click Modify. Select an icon of your choice, at Display name: change to “Paste_text” to have the icon name the same as macro name. Press OKOK. When you move the pointer, an image of recorder follows.
  7. Now, go through the steps to be recorded in the macro, in this case to copy unformatted text: select HOMEPastePaste Special then select Unformatted Text, click OK.
  8. Select Macros on the Quick Access Toolbar, click the triangle then select Stop Recording.

Word_Word option

Now we have an icon Paste_Text on the Quick Access Toolbar. Instead of 5 keystrokes and cursor movements at the menu, we need only 1 keystroke at this icon. I also have macros that save dozens of keystrokes for each click.

WARNING: After you press Ctrl-C to copy text on Internet, avoid using Ctrl_V to paste it onto Word or Excel. My Word file was once corrupted this way. So I paste only text, not any format, and the macro above is handy.

Working with tables

It’s better to complete the text first, then work with figures and tables next, from the beginning of the text to the end. In this way, you can determine the locations of the figures and figures and will not waste time to move them around if you type the next later.

Numbering tables

A table often has its caption with number and note. Do as follows.

  1. Click on the first line of the table, select Insert Caption on the Quick Access Toolbar (above, you have been told to add this command on the Quick Access Toolbar).
  2. Menu Caption may show “Table” by default, but you want a new label. Select New Label. Type “Exhibit” in menu New Label, then click OK. This menu will disappear.
  3. In menu Caption, select Numbering to check. In menu Caption Numbering, it’s alright: we want Arabic numbers, but we do not want to include chapter number. Click OK.
  4. You can see “Exhibit” following by chapter number and figure number. Type a colon (:) or a hyphen (-) followed by the figure caption.
  5. Below the table, type the table note. (You may create a style for table notes.)

Word_table caption

NOTE: If you add, move or delete exhibits, the exhibits and the List of Exhibits will be renumbered accordingly. So wonderful!

Framing tables

Now we have three parts: caption on top, table, and note at bottom. We want to put them in a frame so that all 3 parts are on the same page.

Drag from the beginning of the caption to the end of the table note (shaded area in picture at top), then click Insert Frame on the Quick Access Toolbar. The frame may be too wide, so put the cursor on the black square at right and drag it (red arrow in picture at middle) to make the frame narrower.

Word_presenting table

We want the frame at right margin (picture at bottom). Put the cursor on the frame margin then double-click.

Word_table frame BIn menu Frame, ignore Width: At:. Put other parameters as shown.

For a small table, select Around for Text wrapping and Horizontal Position: Right. The table with be at right with text wrapped around. In any case, you can click on the frame to drag it to any position you want.

For a big table, you may want it at the center and no text wrapping around. So you must select None for Text wrapping, and Horizontal Position: Center. You should try also this option to see the difference.

Cross-references for tables

  1. As an example, in the text, you may refer to Exhibit 49 as “Exhibit 49”. Do as follows.
  2. Place the cursor at the position you want (red line). Select REFERENCESCross-reference.
  3. In the menu, ensure “Exhibit” at Reference type and “Only label and number” at Insert reference to.
  4. Scroll down to find the line of “Exhibit 49”, highlight in then click Insert. The reference “Exhibit 49” will be put at the red line.

Word_table reference

Captions to include chapter numbers

You may want to have captions like “Exhibit 1-1”, “Exhibit 1-2”… in Chapter 1, then “Exhibit 2-1”, “Exhibit 2-2”… in Chapter 2. Do as follows.

  1. Put numbering for the style Heading 1. See heading “Formatting for style Heading 1”, above.
  2. Break the document into sections. See heading “Page numbering”, above.
  3. In menu Caption above, you must check the box at Include chapter number, then click OK.

Working with pictures

Copying pictures to Word

I often need to copy an Excel table/chart by Ctrl+C but I don’t want to paste it into Word by Ctrl+V. In this case, other people working on the Word file may click on the table/chart and easily make it messy! The same way for a picture from PowerPoint. So I paste the materials from Excel and PowerPoint by HOMEPastePaste SpecialPicture (Enhance Metafile). This way, I have pictures in Word that nobody can modify. If I want to modify Excel/PowerPoint table/chart, I do it in Excel/PowerPoint then paste the product to Word again.

Positioning simple pictures

For a simple picture, the method is simple: Click on the picture, select FORMATWrap textSquare, then keep pressing on the picture to drag it to the position you like. The text will be wrapped around it.

TIP: after you click on a picture, you can see small squares around it. You may put the cursor on these squares then drag them to change the picture size. You may also put the cursor on the semi-circle at top and drag to change the picture orientation. Try and have fun!

Numbering, framing, referencing and captions

The steps are similar as for tables so they are not repeated here.

The difference is that people like to have figures for English text (hình for Vietnamese text) and tables (bảng), but I prefer to call them all exhibits (biểu). So, people may have List of Figures and List of Tables, but I have only List of Exhibits.

Table of Contents

You may use the styles Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 and Heading 4 (maximum 4 levels) so that they go to the table of contents.

Numbering headings

Select HOMEMultilevel List, then select the number style, example in picture. From now on, the heading will start with 1., under it 1.1 and 1.1.1, then 2 in the next section, under it 1.2 and 1.2.1, etc.

You may change the styles Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3 and Heading 4 as you like. Select Manage Styles on the Quick Access Toolbar then select the style name. See the example below.

  • Heading 1: Arial Bold 16. Left border is created by HOME, Borders in Paragraph group, Borders and Shading.
  • Heading 2: Arial Bold 14.
  • Heading 3: Arial Bold 12.

There are other kinds of heading that have no numbering, like “Summary”, “Annexes” and titles of annexes, and you also want them in the table of contents. There are two default styles that you can use:

  • Style Title, for “Summary” and “Annexes”
  • Style Subtitle, for titles of annexes.

Creating Table of Contents

Move the cursor to the location desired, select REFERENCESTable of ContentsCustom Table of Contents. You may change Show level: normally 3, maximum 4 levels. More than 4 levels, the Table of Contents is too complex to read.


Select Options. Move down and up the TOC level. If you determine 3 levels, you can see that Heading 1 is for level 1, Heading 2 is for level 2 and Heading 3 is for level 3 (menu at left). Enter TOC level 2 for Subtitle and 1 for Title (menu at right).

Word_TOC options

Select OKOK to create the Table of Contents.

In the Table of Contents, the three levels have styles of TOC 1, TOC 2 and TOC 3 that you can change their formats as follows.

Select Manage Styles on the Quick Access Toolbar then select style TOC 1.

Right-click then select Modify, and check Automatic update. This means that when you change the format of any TOC 1 line, all other TOC 1 lines will be changed.

Do the 2 steps above for TOC 2 and TOC 3.

Select VIEW then check the box Ruler, to show the ruler.

Highlight any TOC 2 line then double-click. You can see from the ruler: the first green line indicates First line Indent and the second, Hanging Indent, that are easy to change by placing the cursor at the ruler and move any triangle symbol. You can also change the parameters of Italic, Boldface, font color… Try these options to see the effects.

Word_modify TOC 2

Place the cursor on any TOC 3 then double-click. Use the same way above to change the format of TOC 3.

Table of Figures

Word calls this function as “Table of Figures” but in fact you can create Table of Figures or Table of Tables or, for me, Table of Exhibits.

Select REFERENCESTable of Figures. You may keep the default for figures, or change Caption label: to Table, Exhibit…

Word_Table of Figures

Preparing the next documents

The first document takes some time, but the next will be much quicker to finish.

  1. Use the first document, select FILESave As to save with a new name, perhaps in another directory.
  2. Type new text over the existing text.
  3. Type new Heading 1 over the existing Heading 1, new Heading 2 over the existing Heading 2, and so on.
  4. For figures and tables: delete the old ones and replace with the new ones at the same location.
  5. For captions of figures and tables: change only the text, not the label and numbering like Figure 1, Table 2…

Cross-references will be updated for the existing tables and figures. See heading “Cross-references for tables” above.

You may also:

  • Copy text from another document to the document with good formats. For the Normal style, it’s better to Paste Special – Unformatted Text to maintain a good Normal style in the new file.
  • Copy Heading 1, Heading 2… and paste them at the locations you want, then modify the contents. The numbers of Heading 1, Heading 2… will be automatically updated.
  • Copy a figure or a table together with its caption and cross-reference (like “See Figure …”) to another location, then delete the old figure/table and insert a new one. The cross-references and the caption numbers will be automatically updated.
  • You may also move a section with different formats (like: A4 Landscape, A3 Portrait…) to paste in a new location.
  1. Press Crtl+Shift+* so that you can see the Section Break (Next Page) mark.
  2. Highlight the Section Break (Next Page) mark and the Figure/Table and the next Section Break (Next Page) mark.
  3. Press Ctrl+X to delete.
  4. Move the mouse pointer to the new position, press Ctrl+V.

Once you complete, update the cross-references, Table of Contents, List of Tables, List of Figures… by pressing Ctrl+A, right-click then select Update Field. So easy and enjoyable! If you make a mistake (like deleting a table), there will be messages of “Error!” Search for this term to find out where they are and fix them.

So, look for complete files, one in English and one in Vietnamese, as specimen files. You do not have to start from scratch!

In this post, the steps described and the products shown are my real works. If I can do it, you can do it also!

Compiled by Diệp Minh Tâm

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