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VAs – Create Word Templates to speed things up!

VAs – Create Word Templates to speed things up!


Templates help speed up work. A template will hold formatting such as Styles and Margins plus any standard text that is needed. Templates can be created for many purposes, a standard letter, a letter of engagement, anything that will save you time if you have it as a starting point. As a busy VA you likely work with several clients.

When you start a new blank document, you are using the Normal Template. Note that the font, alignment, margins and styles are all set.

If you need headed paper to include your logo, house styles and some standard text then a template is what you need.

Start a new document based on a template

Note that you are looking at Featured templates. Here Microsoft offers you a selection of templates to choose from

Click Personal and you will see any templates that you have created and saved yourself.

Choose the document template you want to use, and the document will open.

Create a template from scratch

Set up the document, adjust the margins add any standard text, add Headers and Footers etc.

  1. Click File and then Save As
  2. Click Browse
  3. Name the template and change the document type to Word Template
  4. The save location will change to Custom Office Templates – a folder that Word created in your Documents Folder
  5. Click Save

Modify a template

You saved the template and then realise that you need to change something. You must open the actual template from the folder you saved it to and make changes and then save. If you just start a new document based on the template, you will not be changing the template, just the copy.

  1. Navigate to the Custom Office Templates folder
  2. Right Click on the template you wish to amend
  3. Choose Open
  4. The Template will open – you will see its name at the top of the document not just Doc 3
  5. Make the changes and then click Save
  6. Once you have saved the changed, close the template to avoid making any further changes to it.

Now that you can see how easy it is to create a template and how much time it will save you when creating your standard documents, you can learn how to make it even more time saving by changing the Styles.

Create templates for each client you have with their own branded style gallery! Huge Time Saver- Huge!

To learn how to apply, modify and create styles take my Work Smarter with Style Course – there is a Windows Version and a Mac Version. As a reader of my blog, you can get 15% off by using the coupon code WORD15 at the checkout!

Go to Courses

This code applies to any of my Word Courses. Visit the course page to see what is available.

Let me know how you get on and how much time this is going to save you! Leave a comment below.

Smoke and Mirrors Day

Smoke and Mirrors Day

What do you do that others think is like Smoke and Mirrors?

Today March 29th is Smoke and Mirrors day. I know an odd kind of day to mark but it got me thinking. How much of what each of us does appears to be like Smoke and Mirrors or Magic to others?

I was reminded of this recently when helping a client. She had written a huge dissertation, something like 70,000 words! Amazing work. Now all she needed to do was to format it.

The problem was, that she first came to see me when she was half way through and she had not thought through how the document should look.

When working on a very long document, you need to think through a few things and set them up before you start!


I know I have written about Styles before, but you can’t say enough about them. Styles control the way your document looks and behaves and are essential for generating a Table of Contents.

Now my client, sat with me for a few hours whilst we went through the whole document. Deciding what the Heading levels were and how they should look and how many levels of heading styles there would be too.

We set them all up along with a couple of other styles needed for making things stand out in a particular way.

So far so good. Off my client went to write some more and finish a couple of sections.

A couple of weeks later she was back. She had added several chapters and a lot more words and was very conscious that she would need to cull or rewrite. So we set about fixing the rest up.

Oh No

When left to her own devices, my client had forgotten some of what we had done. As a result, she had forgotten to apply the Styles we had so lovingly created and had simply applied direct formatting.

So what is direct formatting?

Glad you asked. Direct Formatting is when you apply bold or italic or change the font or size or colour to a selected piece of text. When you do this, the text is not in a Style and the Table of Contents will not find it. Apart from that, she had applied styles to images in the document or tables and they were now showing up in the Table of Contents.

Here is where Smoke and Mirrors come in

Together we were able to go through the document on her last visit (her third) and apply the correct Styles to the headings. When things appeared in the Table of Contents that shouldn’t have, I was able to work out why and correct it. My client really thought it was magic.

It was not Smoke and Mirrors or Magic, just that I have invested a lot of time and effort in learning how Microsoft Office works! I know the ins and outs and I also have the ability to transfer that knowledge so that my clients and students can go on to create amazing work in each of the Microsoft Office packages, be that Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook.

Courses for all

Of course, I can’t write all this without reminding you that I have a whole school of courses including one called Work Smarter with Style! ( available for both Windows or Mac) this course will teach you everything you need to know about using modifying and creating Styles in Microsoft Word.

You can find the courses here

What do you do that others think is like Smoke and Mirrors? Let me know in the comments below.

Until next time….


How to add a cover page to Word 2016 for Mac

How to add a cover page to Word 2016 for Mac

Cover Page word 2016 Mac

Finish off your report with a Cover Page

You have written a large brilliant report and you need a cover page to finish it off. Word helpfully comes with an option to add a cover page. There is a selection of cover pages built in which you can reach via the Insert Ribbon.

Here is how

  1. Click on the Insert Ribbon
  2. Chose the Cover Page you wish to use

You will see a range of ready to use Cover Pages. If you are using your own Theme and have changed the colours in the colour scheme, the colours of the Cover Page will use your theme. If you use a new document without a design, they will use the standard Microsoft Word colours.

Simply complete the fields with the information such as Title, Subtitle, Company name date etc.

Modify the cover page

Once you have the new cover page in place, you can change its colours and add or remove elements to make fit the report

Remove Cover Page

If you decide that you no longer need a cover page in this document, simply click on Remove Current Cover Page from the Insert Cover Page dialogue.

Can I create my own cover page?

Yes, you can. However, in Word 2016 on Mac you cannot add Cover Pages to the gallery as you can in Windows. If you want to have a specific cover page to use, then you need to create a template with the cover page as the first page of the document. Then you can start from that template whenever you want to use the cover page.

How will you use this?

Will you be adding cover pages to your reports?

Let me know in the comments below.

How to use AutoText in Word 2016 for Mac

How to use AutoText in Word 2016 for Mac

Auto Text Word 2016 Mac

AutoText in Word 2016 for Mac

Do you find yourself writing the same text again and again? Maybe it’s a signature or sign off or you may have standard paragraphs of text that you need to use from time to time.

When working with several different clients, you will be looking for ways to speed things up. One of my favourite tools is AutoText.

AutoText stands for Automatic Text and that is exactly what it does. It automatically inserts prewritten and/or pre-formatted text into your document at a keystroke.

I worked with a lady who ran an estate agency and she had several paragraphs of text to choose from when building terms and conditions. Not every client needed exactly the same content, so she created a series of AutoText entries which could be added quickly and easily.

Type Text to become AutoText

  1. Type the paragraph of text or whatever you want to store as an AutoText entry.
  2. Select the text
    AutoText Word 2016 Mac
  3. Click on the Insert Menu and choose AutoText – NewAutoText Word 2016 Mac


  1. Type a memorable name for your AutoText entry – make sure that it is longer than three letters.

auto text Word 2016 mac


That’s it your AutoText entry is now saved.


To use your new AutoText using the keyboard

Start to type the name of the AutoText Entry and you will see an AutoComplete tip on the document with instructions to press Enter to insert.

Press Enter and the text will appear!

Autotext Word 2016 Mac

Note: This is the fastest way to insert an AutoText entry.

Insert an AutoText entry using the menu

Place the cursor where you want the AutoText to appear.

Click Insert > AutoText > and then select your entry from the list.

Find the entry in the list 2) Click on Insert 3) see the preview
Autotext Word 2016 Mac

Delete an entry

If you need to delete an entry – follow the steps above and click Delete to remove it from the list.

Store your AutoText Entry

Word stores the AutoText entry in the Normal template, which makes it available in all documents. If you want to limit AutoText entries to particular documents, on the Insert menu, point to AutoText, click AutoText, and then select a different template on the Look in pop-up menu when you create the AutoText entry.

Can I store formatted text or shapes as AutoText Entries?

The answer is of course yes!

For example, if I want to re-use this table several times when writing a user guide, I can select the whole table, click on Insert > AutoText > New and name the entry. Then I can use the tool tip to add it.

Autotext Word 2016 mac

Autotext Word 2016 Mac

Some examples:

  • Sign off for different clients
  • Name and Address details that you often type
  • Standard paragraphs of text
  • A table with a particular style applied
  • The list goes on….


How will you use this tip? Will you create AutoText entries to speed up your working day?

Let me know in the comments below.


How to use Autocorrect – Word 2016 for Mac

How to use Autocorrect – Word 2016 for Mac


AutoCorrect – get your spellings right – Word 2016 for Mac

Autocorrect is one of those tools in Microsoft Word that you may not even be aware of. As a VA you may work for various clients and I don’t know about you but I sometimes struggle with spelling of names or certain words. For instance, I never can type the word lunch. I usually type luch and Word automatically corrects it before I have even noticed.

When my children were small, I helped organise a trip to London for a charity group and I was writing up the itinerary. I noticed that on each day where I had intended to write lunch I had in fact written luch! That was when I discovered how Autocorrect could help by automatically spotting each time I made this mistake and automatically correcting it.

You can set Autocorrect to correct those words that you always get wrong, like I do or to make sure you spell a name correctly. You can even set it to replace one word with a sentence or paragraph although AutoText is a better option for that and the subject of another post – look out for that one – coming soon.

AutoCorrect is in two places

Word Preferences

Click Word then Preferences

Word Preferences for Autocorrect Mac

Then you need AutoCorrect

Autocorrect preferences Word Mac

Tools menu

  1. Click Tools
  2. Click Autocorrect

    Tools Autocorrect Word Mac

Once in Autocorrect you will need to type in the word to correct and the correct spelling then click Add.

Autocorrect options Word Mac

Make sure Automatically correct spelling as you type is ticked – then it will all happen in the background like magic.

Note that there are some other options at the top of the dialogue box which you can leave switched on or you can uncheck to stop them if you prefer.

Tick box

What it does

Show Autocorrect Smart Button When this is checked, Word will display a little button under any thing that has been automatically corrected. This allows you to decide if you want the correction to stand or not.
Correct two INitional CApitals As is says, it will correct thos annoying instances where you left caps lock on too long.
Capitalise first letter of sentences Makes sure to capitalise the first letter following a full stop. If you use a lot of acronyms you may wish to turn this off or you may end up with too many capitalised words.
Capitalise names of days When you type the name of a day Monday for example, Word will make sure to capitalise it.
Capitalise first letter of table cells When in a table, the first letter in each cell will be capitalised, turn it off if you don’t want/need this setting.
Replace text as you type Replace text as you type replaces mis-spelled text as you type.

Existing entries

You will see that there is a list of miss-spellings already in the AutoCorrect  preferences dialogue box. These are words that are commonly mis-spelled and if you did spell them incorrectly you won’t even know as Word will correct them before you even noticed!

I really love this feature and love the fact that it beavers away in the background taking the pressure off me to remember to correct my habitual mis-spelling.

Do you use Autocorrect? Has this article helped?

Let me know in the comments.

How Jennifer learned the joy of Styles

How Jennifer learned the joy of Styles


Or – how can a VA get their work done in less time?

Jennifer – 
One of her clients was  a City accountancy practice and she was commissioned the task of collating a large number of reports from different departments within the business. However, ‘collating’ was really not the task at all, as all the documents needed to be formatted and published in a house style that reflected the company’s professional image.

collate reports

From past experience, she knew this would typically take her several hours to reformat each document. It was a task that neither inspired or used her own unique talents to their full potential and would mean that other administrative tasks would be piling up for attention whilst she was busy with this one. It meant that other clients would have to wait, and this city accountancy firm would be paying too much for the job in hand. It would all take so much time.

For Jennifer, this was a pain!

How could Jennifer complete the task to the highest standard in less time?

Jennifer brought me in  to help. I introduced her to the joy of Styles! In the 1½ hours I spent training her one to one, she discovered how styles could be formatted once and used forever more, over and over again. The styles could be saved as a style set and applied whenever she wanted to any document that already had styles applied.

That individual attention was bespoke and delivered with her and her task completely in mind. She was then able to complete the task in a third if the time she had allowed for it.

What would knowing about Styles do for your business?

  • Show a consistent image and attention to details to all your clients and prospective clients
  • Demonstrate that you understand the value of your brand as you are using it consistently
  • Save yourself and others who work with you hours of formatting time, allowing the space to focus on creation of the message not the way it looks.

Can you afford to ignore the time wasted on formatting business documents? It is well known that Time is Money!


You cold book a one to one session with me or you could take one of our online courses.

Benefits of a One to One Session with me

  • The time is booked to suit you.
  • Learning is focussed on exactly what you need to do
  • We can often cover lots more than you think as when it is one to one we can focus on more than just the immediate issue.

Benefits of my online course

  • The course is built on just the topic in hand – in this case Styles
  • You can log in and learn when it suits you with no need for anyone else
  • You get a full year’s access so that you can go back and repeat whenever you feel the need for a refresher
  • It comes with a downloadable user guide for you to keep

How do you book?

To book time with me, drop me an email and we will have an initial chat on the phone to see exactly what you need to learn.

To take an online course – simply click on the image that represents Word and your Operating System – Windows or Mac and it will take you to register for the course.

Styles in Word




Word Styles Mac







p.s leave a comment below if you have any questions!