If your work involves creating reports, eBooks, guides or academic documents you’ll be thankful for Microsoft Word.
It gives you much more than a white page on the screen to type into.
Word helps you with references, research and rolling out a bibliography. It provides the tools to expertly top and tail your documents.
You may know some of what it can do. Other functions may be a surprise or revelation to you.
Table of Contents
Adding a table of contents to a long document makes life easier for the reader. It helps them to see immediately what they are about to read and to pick out the section or sub-headings of most interest to them.
It allows them to skip to that part first or know how far down it is.
Chapter headings for books and eBooks are really useful for the same reason. Why do you think Amazon has a ‘Look Inside’ feature on its bookselling website? It allows people to read the first pages AND get a look at the chapter headings and topics covered – which may help to sway the browsing customer into buying.
In Word, the table of contents shows what’s in the document and numbers each section accordingly.
If you are writing a business report, summary or guide you may have images, charts, diagrams or illustrations in your document.
Adding a caption for each one helps the reader to quickly understand what they are about. If you are referencing them in the copy, you can number the captions accordingly, e.g. Figure 1, Figure 2, Figure 3, etc.
Table of Figures
When you have all your captions in place, and in the right order, you can create a table of figures. This is like a table of contents except it only lists figures, pictures or tables in your Word document.
The cross-reference function is a neat way of helping the reader to find the references made in the copy.
It allows you to link the wording to, say, a graphic or a chart that features in another part of the document. Instead of having to scroll down the reader can just hit the link. Hey, presto!
It’s also possible to create a cross-reference link to a heading, bookmark, footnote, endnote or even an equation in your Word file.
If you are tasked to work on a book, e-Book, research document, white paper or academic paper, you’ll find the bibliography feature in Word a time-saver.
If information, data, text segment or a quotation is being used as a reference in the document, you can include its source through the citation function.
When you have provided all the sources, you can create a bibliography to list all the books and reference points used in writing the whole thing. The function allows you to format things in a range of styles.
Footnotes and Endnotes
Microsoft Word also allows you to add footnotes and endnotes to your Word document.
A footnote appears at the bottom of a page. It can either add additional information or research relating to a section of the main text or a source of reference.
Endnotes are another way to create, present and organise citations or help to put together a bibliography.
An index lists the topics and terms that appear in a Word document. It is typically found at the end of a work, to help people find a specific word or phrase. The function allows you to provide page numbers as an easy reference point for the reader.
Perhaps a less well-known feature of Microsoft Word is its research capability. It allows you to work on a book, eBook, guide, report or paper and find information as you go.
You can use the search bar in the ‘researcher’ function to discover links to sources of information about the person, place or topic you’re looking for. You can also highlight a word or subject in the body text of your document and use ‘smart lookup’ for a similar result.
Get Booked Up and Raise Your Worth
Whether you are a VA, PA or EA, being able to design, edit and add polish to eBooks, guides, reports and papers is a valuable skill.
If working in an organisation, bosses will notice the creative publishing edge you bring to your role.
If you are a VA or other freelance assistant, these skills can open doors to new clients and opportunities.
So much is being published these days, in print and online. Someone who can make sense of longer documents and arrange and knock copy into shape is going to be much sought after. If they can also sort out all the tables, captions, reference points, citations sources, index and bibliography – even more so.
Some VAs have made a nice niche out of being a book, eBook or guide specialist.
If you like the sound of the potential, can see opportunities for yourself yet feel a little unsure of your skills in this area, it’s worth taking a look at my online course on Creating E-books and Lead Magnets in Word. It will show you how to do the important stuff well.
The more you know, the more valuable you are. The higher your value, the more you can charge and rise in reputation. That’s good for your personal brand and your career prospects.