Tag Archives: ribbon

Quickly Recreate a Custom Ribbon after Catastrophic Failure

a map "locator pin" styled as the MS Word logo
Find out more about creating custom ribbons in Section 33.4 of the book and in our courses!

Suddenly, my custom ribbon stopped working! We don’t ask Word why it does things, we just fix it or find a workaround. I found a quick way to copy over all my favourite functions onto a new custom ribbon, and ditch the one that was making Word crash every time I clicked on it. It’s as easy as drag and drop from the old ribbon to the new, once you’re into the “Customize ribbon” interface. I hope you never need it, but when you do, you can watch the solution, here!

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Convert Straight Quotes to Curly Ones, and Back

Curly quotation marks curve or slant inward toward the content they bracket. (The font or typeface choice determines how they look, precisely.) Straight quotation marks are… straight. Word can do either, but you have to set your preference.


Why It Matters

Continue reading Convert Straight Quotes to Curly Ones, and Back

Change a Section After Creating a Break

Section breaks are created around columns and tables of contents automatically, and they can be inserted to control any layout aspect of a certain segment of text. Section breaks can be deleted, but what if you just want to change the section. On a Mac, you can.

To change the type of a section after inserting a break:

  1. Place the cursor in the desired section.
  2. On the Format menu, select Document.
  3. Select the Layout tab in the Document properties dialogue box that opens.
  4. At the top, in the Section area, choose an option from the drop-down list beside Section start:
  5. At the bottom, choose an option from the drop-down list beside Apply to. The type of section can be applied to the section the cursor is currently in, to all sections following the cursor’s location, or to the whole document.
  6. Click OK.


Break marks are only visible when non-printing characters are revealed. Click the pilcrow (reverse P: ¶) icon on the Home ribbon to show non-printing characters.

Sometimes in Print Layout view, section breaks get obscured at the bottom of the page. Switch to Draft view to reveal them.

book cover cropped to banner size
For more tips on viewing break markers, start on p. 42 of the book.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Start a New Section, Not a New Page

Word lets you insert a section break, not just a page break. That lets you assign different settings for each section: margins, columns, line numbers, heading numbers, or footer layout, for example.

There are two main types of section break:

On the Layout Ribbon, you’ll find this drop-down list of Breaks in the Page Setup area on the left.
  • one break starts a new page (next, next odd, or next even numbered page)
  • the other starts a new section on the existing page (continuous).

Uses for Section Breaks

Section breaks can be used to change page numbering — from Roman to Arabic, for example — or to make sure there’s no page number on the first page of a chapter.

Section breaks can be used to restart automatic numbering for each new chapter, so that numbering starts at 1 for figures, tables, footnotes, and/or headings.

Section breaks are inserted automatically around blocks of text formatted with a margin or page orientation that is different from the rest of the document, and around a table of contents.

Uses for Odd Page Section Breaks

Since layout conventions have chapters start at the top of an odd numbered page (the right-hand page), inserting an Odd Page section break might be the most useful option, though it is seldom used.

By inserting the Odd Page section break, you can guarantee that the content following the break will start at the top of a right-hand page (in Word or in the printed/PDF output), no matter what content before it gets moved, added, or trashed. No need to insert blank pages. And typesetters and designers can use these breaks to automatically set layout via macros that read the code.

Uses for Continuous Section Breaks

The Continuous section break does not force the start of a new page. We see this type of break most often right before a column layout begins, and where columns end. It also appears before and after a table of contents.

Here the continuous section break is visible before the columns start, marked with a double zig-zag line.


To delete a section break, click on it and press the delete key. The settings for each section are contained in the break at the end of it. So, when a section break is deleted, everything in the previous section will take on the characteristics of the section following it.

Break marks are only visible when non-printing characters are revealed. Click the pilcrow icon (¶) on the Home ribbon to show non-printing characters.

Sometimes in Print Layout view, section breaks get obscured at the bottom of the page or at the end of a column. Switch to Draft view to reveal these breaks.

book cover cropped to banner size
For more tips on viewing break markers, start on p. 42 of the book.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Photo by Sergey G. gkhaus via Pixabay.

Start a New Page, the Right Way

Don’t ¶¶¶¶¶¶¶. Use a page break to avoid layout nightmares.

Each chapter starts on a new page. Sometimes a section needs to start at the top of a page too. Even though Word is not a layout program, it helps the editorial process and the layout process to format the Word manuscript with proper page breaks.

The worst way to force a page break is to hit Return a bunch of times. Those hard returns mess up where the page breaks whenever content is moved around or margins are changed. And those hard returns misalign the page breaks whenever Word adjusts layout for another user’s printer; or when font changes either for headings or the body text. Those hard returns have to be manually removed by designers and typesetters when doing their work, and each of those changes is an opportunity to introduce errors and add cost.

Basically, the hard returns are a layout nightmare.

See the multiple blue pilcrows on the left page forcing a page break? They’re a nightmare.
Insert the Page Break from the Pages area of the Insert ribbon.

Instead, insert a page break. Place the cursor where you want the new page to start. On the Insert ribbon, select Page Break.

In Page View, all you’ll see is that a new page begins. To see where the page breaks are, either go to Draft view or turn on non-printing characters. Then Word will reveal a grey line at the bottom of a page, containing the words Page Break. That is shown in close up below, and in two-page view above, right.

Stop hitting return a bunch of times to start a new page. It messes up while you're writing, and down the road. It's terrible practice and there's a much easier way.

If there are still multiple hard returns in the document after inserting page breaks where needed, delete them. Use Find & Replace for ^p^p to ^p, to make this step easy.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Frog image by Alexandra Stockmar, Pixabay.

Find Comment Numbers

Word used to number comments automatically; you could see those numbers in the comment balloons at the right. Those numbers were handy because they aided cross-referencing and let us refer to specific comments in transmittal memos and other discussions.

Word still numbers comments, but those numbers don’t appear in the balloons in the markup area. Here are three ways to see them: in the Review pane, in Draft view, and by printing a list of markup.

Continue reading Find Comment Numbers

Number Comments in Word Automatically

UPDATE: Find existing numbers and a better way to cross-reference comments!

Sometimes it’s nice to have comments numbered in a document. That lets you refer to comments by number, which is useful for cross referencing (e.g., “See comment 12 again.”) or for talking about the comments in a transmittal memo, for example. Word used to number comments automatically. It still does, but those numbers are usually hidden. You can see the numbers on comments if you print off the markup, or by looking in the Review Pane. Numbers on comments also reveal themselves when looking at a document in Draft mode.

Modify the style for Comment text, setting the text to automatic numbering:

  1. Open the Modify Styles dialogue (instructions are in last week’s post).
  2. At the bottom of the box, click the Format button to open a sub-menu.
  3. Select Numbering…
  4. Select one of the numbered styles (not bullets). Customize it if you like.
  5. Click OK. Then click OK again.
book cover cropped to banner size
Find more on working with Comments (and Track Changes) starting on page 18 of the book. For more on Styles, begin on page 59.
screen shot
Select Numbering from the drop-down Format menu at the bottom left of the Modify Styles dialogue box.


Windows users may find that comment text is styled as Normal instead of as Comment Text. Changing the Normal style will change all text in the document that is set to Normal, and you probably don’t want to do that.

There are two primary snafus to be aware of when using this numbering method:

  1. The numbering applies to all comments, not just your own. You’ll see that other reviewers’ comments are numbered sequentially along with your own.
  2. As with any numbered list, the numbering will update every time you add or delete a comment, and when you reply to a comment. Remember this if you are cross-referencing comments. Numbers can change; be sure to double check them.

If your comments contain paragraphs, each paragraph will get numbered. To avoid this, use a “soft return” instead of a paragraph break. On a Mac, do this by holding down shift when you hit return.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Print Tracked Changes and Comments

There are at least two reasons you might want to have a “print” copy of the tracked changes and comments in a Word document: to distribute hard copy, or to extract the information into a memo or other use. Print is in scare quotes because this method can produce a PDF just as easily as a paper copy.

Continue reading Print Tracked Changes and Comments