Microsoft Word Shortcut of the Week: The Navigation Pane

Last Updated Apr 19, 2011 12:06 PM EDT

Word is brimming with features. So brimming, in fact, that Microsoft completely replaced the overloaded menu system with the new ribbon interface to make less common features more discoverable. Even so, there are more capabilities under the hood than most people can keep track of. Like, what's up with the new Navigation pane in Word 2010? For months, I've just sort of ignored it. Turns out it lets you do some powerful things pretty easily.

As described in a recent How-To Geek, the Navigation pane (which usually sits on the left side of the screen, but you can turn it on by choosing Navigation Pane in the ribbon's View tab) shows you all the sections in your document, as if you were looking at it in outline mode.

Here are the coolest things you can use it for:

  • Want to re-order the sections in your document? Just drag a heading to another location. It'll update your entire doc when you release the mouse.
  • Want to change the hierarchy of a section? Suppose you have a section with a Heading 2 title, but you'd like to make it a Heading 1. Just right-click the heading and choose Promote.
  • Searching for some txt in your document? If you use the search box at the top of the Navigation pane, each section that contains your term will be highlighted in yellow, making it easy to zoom through the text.
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Dave Johnson was employed by Microsoft Corporation at the time this article was written.