I write using Microsoft Word running on the Windows operating system.  When I write, I like to configure my Microsoft Word environment to optimize the use of screen real estate to display all the tools and options I depend upon while discarding those I don’t need.  This post outlines how to configure my optimized Microsoft Word screen layout.

Run Microsoft Word Full Screen

The only reason to run Microsoft Word in a small window is to display windows side-by-side so that you can transcribe information from one window to the other.  Otherwise, run Microsoft Word full screen to make the most of your screen real estate.  In Windows, you do this by clicking on the square box icon in the upper right side of the Microsoft Word window.  In response to this action, Windows will expand Microsoft Word to fill the screen.

View Zoom to Page Width

To edit a single page of text at a time, click on the View menu and select Page Width from the Zoom section of the menu ribbon.  This will produce a large display of your text.  Don’t worry, the text is about to get smaller as we display panes that take up horizontal screen space.

Collapse the Ribbon

The menu ribbon needlessly consumes vertical screen space while not in use.  To reclaim this screen space, collapse the ribbon by clicking on the down arrow to the far right of the ribbon and selecting Show tabs only.  This action will collapse the menu ribbon, only displaying it when you make a menu tab selection.  To always display the menu ribbon (this is useful when performing extensive editing and configuration operations), click on the down arrow to the far right of the ribbon and select Always show Ribbon.

Display the Navigation Pane

Use the Navigation Pane to navigate your document and to make quick structural changes.  Display the Navigation pane to the left of the editor pane by clicking the View menu tab and checking the Navigation Pane checkbox in the Show section of the menu ribbon.  The navigation pane displays a hierarchy of the document heading levels.  Click on any chapter heading in the Navigation Pane to jump to that chapter in your document.  Click and drag chapter heading to rearrange chapters within your document.

Display the ProWritingAid Editor Pane

I use the ProWritingAid Microsoft Word plugin to perform spelling and grammar checking on my documents while I write.  Display the ProWritingAid editor pane to the right of the editor pane by clicking the ProWritingAid menu tab and selecting Start Realtime from the menu ribbon.  You might alternately run Grammarly as your spelling and grammar checker.  I recommend you run one or the other of these programs.

The result of performing these actions is my optimized Microsoft Word layout as seen in this screen snapshot.

I’ll see you in the classroom,