MS-Word / General Formatting

Working with Outlines and Master Documents

Working with Outlines

Word has built-in outlining tools that are handy whether you like to create detailed outlines in advance or you just want to check occasionally on the overall structure of your document to see how it's evolving. If you use Word to create reports or proposals or other types of documents that have a sense of structure to them, you owe it to yourself to find out the basics of working with outlines.

Switching to Outline view

You have two ways to switch to Outline view. You can

  • Click the Outline button in the Document Views group on the View tab on the Ribbon.
  • Click the Outline button that's second from the right in the group of buttons next to the Zoom slider in the lower-right area of the screen.

Understanding Outline view

The key to understanding Word's Outline view is realizing that an outline is just another way of looking at a document. The outline isn't a separate entity from the document. Instead, when you switch to Outline view, Word presents the headings from your document in the form of an outline. Any changes you make to your document while in Outline view automatically reflect in the document when you return to Print Layout view, and any changes you make in Print Layout view automatically appear when you switch to Outline view. The reason is that Print Layout and Outline view are merely two ways of displaying the contents of your document.

Note some important concepts about Outline view:

  • The outline is made up of the headings and body text of the document. Any paragraph formatted with a built-in heading style (Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3, for example) is considered to be a heading; any other paragraph is considered body text.
  • When you switch to Outline view, a new tab appears on the Ribbon, and the ruler (which isn't needed in Outline view) disappears. This tab, appropriately named the Outlining tab, contains buttons for performing routine outlining tasks.
  • When you first switch to Outline view, your document may not appear dramatically different from the way it does in Print Layout view. In the following sections, you see how you view your document quite differently in Outline view from the way you view it in Print Layout view.
  • While Word is in Outline view, you can type new text or edit existing text just as you do in Print Layout view. You can also apply character formatting, such as bold or italic, and you can apply styles to paragraphs. However, it's best not to apply direct paragraph formats, such as indentation, tab stops, and alignment in Outline view, because you can't see the results of those changes there. (They show up when you switch back to Print Layout view.)
    Outline view has its own set of keyboard shortcuts to help you move things along.
Keyboard Shortcuts for Outline View
Keyboard Shortcut 		What It Does
Ctrl+Alt+O 		Switches to Outline view
Ctrl+Alt+P 		Switches back to Print Layout view
Ctrl+Alt+N 		Switches back to Draft view
Alt+Shift+A 		Collapses or expands all text
Alt+Shift+- 		(hyphen) Collapses the selection
Alt+Shift++ 		(plus) Expands the selection
Alt+Shift+1 		Collapses or expands to Heading 1
Alt+Shift+(number) 	Collapses or expands to specified
                        heading level
/ (on numeric keypad) 	Hides or shows formatting
Shift+Tab 		Promotes selection
Alt+Shift+← 		Promotes selection
Tab 			Demotes selection
Alt+Shift+→		Demotes the selection
Ctrl+Shift+N 		Demotes selection to body text
Alt+Shift+↑ 		Moves selection up, similar to cutting
                                and pasting it
Alt+Shift+↑		Moves selection down, similar to cutting
                                and pasting it

Showing and hiding formatting

Before you spend too much time working in Outline view, you may want to hide the formatting from the outline so that you can concentrate more closely on the document's structure. Hiding the formatting in Outline view doesn't remove the formatting from your text; it just temporarily hides it.

To show the text formatting in the outline, select the Show Text Formatting check box.

Keep these tips in mind when using the Show Text Formatting check box:

  • To hide formatting, deselect the Show Text Formatting check box.
  • You need no formatting to distinguish among heading levels because the headings are indented for you. I usually work in Outline view with formatting turned off.
  • When you hide formatting, you're doing just that - hiding it. You're not removing it. When you deselect the Show Text Formatting check box or return to Print Layout or Draft view, all the formatting you so carefully applied to your document is restored.

Collapsing and expanding the outline

One main reason for working in Outline view rather than in Print Layout or Draft view is so that you can get a handle on the overall structure of your documents. The secret is in collapsing a document's outline so that the portions of your document you're not interested in are hidden.

The Outline Tools group includes a Show Level drop-down list that lets you collapse or expand the entire outline to a specific heading level. For example, if you want to see just the top two heading levels (paragraphs formatted with the Heading 1 or Heading 2 style), select Level 2 in the Show Level dropdown list.

Here are some important features to note about working with collapsed text in Outline view:

  • Some headings have fuzzy lines under them, to represent collapsed body text.
  • Each heading in Outline view has a large plus sign or minus sign next to it. Headings with plus signs have other headings or body text subordinate to them. Headings with minus signs do not.
    You can double-click the plus and minus signs to show and hide text.
  • If you're good with keyboard shortcuts, keep in mind that pressing Alt+Shift+A quickly toggles between Show Level 9 and Show All Levels. This handy shortcut quickly shows or hides all body text in an outline.

Promoting and demoting paragraphs

To promote a paragraph means to move it up one level in the outline. If you promote a Heading 2 heading, it becomes a Heading 1 heading. You do this by placing the insertion point on the line you want to promote and clicking the Promote button in the Outline Tools group on the Outlining tab on the Ribbon. You can't promote a Heading 1 paragraph; it's already as high as it can get. If you promote a body text paragraph, it becomes a heading paragraph at the same level as the heading it is subordinate to. Thus, if you promote a body text paragraph that follows a Heading 2, the body text paragraph becomes a Heading 2.

To demote a paragraph is to move the paragraph down one level in the outline. You demote a paragraph by placing the insertion point on the line you want to demote and clicking the Demote button in the Outline Tools group on the Outlining tab on the Ribbon. If you demote a Heading 1 heading, it becomes a Heading 2 heading. Demote the heading again, and it becomes Heading 3. You cannot demote a body text paragraph, but you can demote any heading to a body text paragraph.

Tip: You can drag and drop collapsed sections in Outline view to rearrange them. The body text paragraphs that fall under the heading always go along for the ride. You don't need to worry about losing a heading's body text.

Printing an outline

You can't directly print an outline from Word. You can display the outline onscreen, and it seems like it might print, but when you print it, the entire document prints, not just the Outline view. (Here's a clue: when you choose File → Print and check out the preview, it shows the entire document.) That's because Word prints based on the document itself, not based on the view you are using.

Here's a workaround: Generate a table of contents that includes all the heading levels, and then print just the page(s) of the document that contain the TOC.

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