4 hacks for Word 2016 to save you time authoring documents

A male student, seated in front of his Windows device, completes an assignment in the library.

If there’s one thing we Microsoft engineers have learned in our dialogue with teachers, it’s that each and every one cares deeply about the success and well-being of their students. Helping give educators back a few precious minutes of their day, spent in one of the most demanding, time consuming, and hectic professions in the world, is the least we can do.

We have four easy tips – or hacks, if you prefer – for Microsoft Word below, and we believe they’ll save you minutes every day during your lesson planning, classroom organization, grading, assignment creation and more.  We can’t wait for you to see how those savings add up over the course of a year.

Inking equations


Creating math and science worksheets can take hours, especially if you are customizing problems for multiple classes and students. With digital inking in Word, however, you can move through this process quickly by having your handwritten math automatically transformed into proper, typed equations without having to mess around with a symbol picker.

An animation showing how to enter equations into Word through Digital Ink.

  1. Go to the Draw tab in the Ribbon.
  2. Click on Ink to Math.
  3. Write out your equation with a pen in the given space. Simply circle any parts that are picked up incorrectly to modify them.

Accurately add up rows in a table


Ever sit there all night with a calculator to input numbers into a Word table, only to realize – usually later, when a student points it out –  that you missed a row in the sum? With this trick, Word can do calculations for you in the blink of an eye, minus mistakes.

An animation showing how Word can add up column sums for you.

  1. Add a row to the bottom of your table where you want the sum to go and put your cursor there.
  2. Go to the Table Tools Layout tab of the Ribbon.
  3. Select formula.
  4. Select okay for a sum, or modify the formula as you need. Instant averages, anyone?

Sort a list


You just copy/pasted a list of your student’s names into Word for a field trip roster and now you have to put them in alphabetical order.  No need to manually sort through the list as you iterate through the alphabet in your head – this tip has got you covered.

An animation showing how Word can sort a list for you.

  1. Select the text that needs to be sorted.
  2. Select the Sort button under the paragraph group on the Home tab of the Ribbon.
  3. Choose your preference over ascending or descending and hit OK.

Turn text into a table


You pasted something into Word for an assignment and you need to turn it into a table. Or the opposite – all of the information pasted as a table, and you really need it to be simple text. You really don’t want to retype all that information. This trick gets it done in three speedy clicks.

An animation showing how Word can convert a table into text for you.

To turn text into a table:

  1. Select the text that you want to turn into a table.
  2. Go to the Insert tab of the Ribbon.
  3. Click on the Table drop down and select Convert Text to Table.
  4. Choose your number of columns and preferences and you’re done.

To turn a table into text:

  1. Select the table.
  2. Go to the Table Tools Layout tab of the Ribbon.
  3. Select Convert to text.


These are just a few time-saving hacks you can use with Office. We will have more blog posts over the coming months from Microsoft engineers and educators, demonstrating other tips and tricks to help you and your students save time. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter (@cathy_harl) to ask questions and share your hacks with Word using #WordHack.

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