Microsoft Word is a word processing software program that is an incredibly flexible and customizable tool with unique applications for all educators. It is readily available, easy to use and utilized by a majority of students and faculty. This handout describes a variety of features built into the program which facilitate the teaching and learning processes. You can quickly navigate to specific topics by using the Document Map Feature. Go to View>Document Map and then click on a topic in the new pane that is opened.
Additionally, the Microsoft web site provides a wealth of information and support. Check it out at:


1. SAVE (CTL + S) OR SAVE AS (F12)

It is helpful to teach your students to name and save every document upon opening any new document. You can also reset the Autorecover to save after one or two minutes. By default, Word saves after 10 minutes; a great deal can be written and lost in 10 minutes. TOOLS > OPTIONS>SAVE>Save AutoRecover info every ONE (or more) minute(s).


The use of color can be a powerful tool to enhance the performance of some students. Encourage students to trial what works best for them. When the document is printed, the background color does not print.
external image clip_image002.jpg a. Format>
Choose color

Using this feature, you can make the text more flexible and engaging (use text effects in the font menu). You can also emphasize different points. For example, you can color code activities. One idea is to open a document and ask students to change all of the nouns to blue or change all of the adjectives to green.
Some students find that their reading is enhanced when they are able to choose the font, the size, background color and/or the spacing. When a student selects a font, size, spacing or color choice that is unique, you should save it as a template with his or her name on it.


Right mouse click anywhere in a red-underlined or mis-spelled word to see possible spellings. This is an excellent tool that needs to be explicitly taught. A student must be able to identify when a word is spelled correctly to be able to use this tool effectively. When used in combination with text-to-speech, improvements in written output may be possible for students with learning differences.

Tip: The Spell Check and Grammar Check Features can be disabled. On the Menu Bar – Tools>Spelling and Grammar>Options>Uncheck Check Spelling and Grammar as You Type. (Some students benefit from enabling Spell check and Grammar Check AFTER they have inputted their rough draft. This is an important point as some students feel compelled to immediately correct anything that has been identified as misspelled or incorrect. This can interfere with the flow of the writing process. )

3a. Grammar Check (Click Explain)

external image clip_image004.jpg 4. SYNONYM SUPPORT

Right-click anywhere within a word and a new window pops up. One of the options is to click synonyms, which then provides alternative word choices. Again students need to be explicitly taught how to use synonym support. Students must be able to define the word that they've chosen to replace the original word. And they must be able to ensure that the sentence still makes sense. Using synonym support is an excellent tool for students who avoid more difficult vocabulary when they are unsure of how to spell a word.

external image clip_image006.jpg 5. CUSTOMIZED TEMPLATES

When you have created a document that you would like your students to use on different occasions, remember to save the document as a template. You do this by saving the document (Ctl + S) and scrolling down “Save as type:” to change Word document to Document Template. Tip: Save it to the desktop for easy access for students.

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external image clip_image011.gifWhen a document is saved as a template, notice that a gold bar appears at the top of icon as is apparent on the immediate left. This is an indication that this document is a template. IMPORTANT: When you open the template, open it from the desktop by clicking on the icon. If you try to open it through Word>File>Open it will open as the template and you may inadvertently make changes. Opening it from the desktop opens it as a new document that then can be named and saved.
external image clip_image013.jpgHere is an example of one type of document saved as a template which can be used repeatedly without accidental changes. It will need to be renamed when the student opens the template.