Microsoft Word

Using the Selection Pane to Arrange Layers in Microsoft Word 2010 or Higher

As a word processing program, Microsoft Word can do many things. However, one of the things it hasn’t managed to do so well over the years is images.

Sure, you can add images to Word documents, adjust them, move them around, bring elements backward or forward, and even combine images, but traditionally the process has always been a little clunky.

Have you ever tried to select one shape, only to discover you actually selected the one you didn’t want? Have you ever wished that you could just “turn off” an image temporarily, so you could work with what’s behind it?

Now you can do all of this and more – if you have Word 2010 or higher.

Microsoft got wise to the frustration of Word users, and included a new feature in Word to help fix these problems and limitations. This feature is known as the Selection Pane, and while it’s one of Word’s most useful tools, it is also one of its best kept secrets.

Accessing the Selection Pane

To access the Selection Pane, you need to have a shape or image on your document already. Please note that this feature works best when you have several images on your document.

You can add images easily by going to Insert at the top of the Ribbon, and then selecting Pictures, Outlines, or Shapes.

For the purpose of following along, open a new word document, and insert several shapes, say a circle, square, and triangle, and make them each a different color. You should now have something that looks similar to the image below.

Shapes in Word 2013

Shapes in Word 2013

Once you have at least one image on the screen, you will be able to turn on the Selection Pane. To do this, click on any of the images on your document. A new tab should appear at the top of your Ribbon, called Format. Click on the Format Tab, and then click on Selection Pane.

Accessing the Selection Pane from the Ribbon in Word 2013

Accessing the Selection Pane from the Ribbon in Word 2013


The Selection Pane will open on the right side of the screen. From here you can drag and drop your images to re-arrange them, or turn various layers off so that you can adjust the layers underneath. You can even opt to show all images or hide all images, depending on what you are trying to accomplish during the editing of your document.

Selection Pane in Word 2013

And that’s all there is to it. Once you learn how to use the Selection Pane, you will find that it goes a long way to alleviating the frustrations of editing image layers within Word.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you get the most out of your software. Email:[email protected]. Website:

Microsoft Word: Other Document Formatting Tips

Paragraph Dialog Box

Paragraph Dialog Box

When it comes to properly formatting documents in Microsoft Word, using the Ruler and Tab Stops aren’t the only features that help you create a clean looking product. There are many additional features built into Word designed to help you make the most out of your formatting, if you know where to find them.

*Note: This post is specifically geared towards Word 2007 / 2010 users. If you use a different version, you probably have the same features, but they may or may not be in a different location.*

Adjust the Space Between Lines

Sometimes it’s helpful to have extra spacing between lines of text, particularly when you’re giving the document to someone else for review and editing.

To adjust the space between text, highlight the information that you would like to change the spacing on (or do this on a blank Word document before typing), then right click, and when the menu appears, select Paragraph.

The Paragraph dialog box will appear, allowing you to change various aspects of your paragraph. The last section is about spacing. To change your spacing, change the drop down under Line Spacing from Multiple to whatever you want, such as Single (for single spacing) or Double.

To further adjust the space between lines, change the After field (to the left of Line Spacing) to something other than 10 pt. Note: The higher the number the greater the spacing, and vice versa. Once everything is

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adjusted, click OK to save your settings.

Tip: When adjusting a document to single spacing, change the Line Spacing to Single, and the After field to 0 pt.

Increasing and Decreasing Indents

When you want a paragraph indented a certain way, you don’t want to hit tab repeatedly, as manual formatting can cause a lot of unnecessary, extra work to make sure everything lines up correctly. Instead, use the Increase / Decrease Indent buttons, to indent your paragraphs just the way you want them.

Increase Decrease Indent

Increase / Decrease Indents

To use this feature, either click before the paragraph in question, to move the cursor, or highlight the paragraph. Then, click on the Increase Indent button located on the Ribbon under Home > Paragraph. (See image for more details.)

If, for example, you want to increase your indent, and one click doesn’t quite do it, click the increase indent button again, until your text is formatted the way you want.

The Paragraph Button

When you can’t format your document properly, but you don’t know why, you need to use the Paragraph button. This button is probably one of the more underused features in Word. However, when used properly, it can work wonders.

Paragraph Button

Paragraph Button

To view your Paragraph formatting, click on the Paragraph button, otherwise known as the large backwards P on the top of the Paragraph section of the Ribbon. (See image for more details).

When activated, this feature shows you ever space, every return, every part of the layout in great detail, which can often help you find and fix where formatting went wrong. To turn off the feature, simply click on the paragraph button again.

Knowing how to use these few simple tools in Word can go a long way in helping you create clean looking, well laid out documents.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you create clean looking documents. Email: [email protected].

Formatting Word Documents with Tab Stops

Accessing the Ruler

Accessing the Ruler

When formatting documents in Microsoft Word, many users will press the space bar, or tab key, repeatedly, until the text is in the location they want. However, formatting your text manually can cause lots of formatting issues and alignment problems. Not to mention that formatting a Word Document this wan can take up a tremendous amount of time.

Instead, save yourself the time and the trouble by formatting your Word Document using Tab Stops.

A Tab Stop is a way to align your text properly by only having to press tab once. When you set a Tab Stop, you are telling the computer that this is the location that you want the cursor to stop when you press the tab key. It eliminates the need to repeatedly press tab to line up your text, saving your fingers and your sanity.

*Note these tips apply to Word 2007 and 2010. If you are using a different version of Word, these tips still apply, but will need to be accessed differently, depending on the version you are using.*

Turn On Your Ruler

Before you can begin using Tab Stops, you must first turn on your Ruler. To do this, go to View in the Ribbon at the top, and then click the Ruler check box. You should now have two rulers, one on the top, and the other to the left of your document.

Tab Stops Are Your Friend

Once the Ruler is activated, you can begin adding your Tab Stops. To do this, click on the Ruler, in the location where you would like your Tab Stop to appear. So, if you want your text aligned at the three inch mark, click on the 3 on the Ruler, and a little black L will appear. That L is a Tab Stop.

There are several different types of Tab Stops. If the L is pointed to the right (just like a typical upper case L) then your text will extend to the right of the tab. If you would like a different kind of Tab Stop, double click on the Tab Stop and the Tabs dialog box will appear. From here, you can set the type of Tab Stop that you want, along with the exact location which allows for more control over your

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The types of Tab Stops available are:

  • Left: Text is extended to the right of the tab.
  • Center: Text is centered in the middle of the tab
  • Right: Text is extended to the left of the tab.
  • Decimal: Any text before the decimal point extends to the left, and text after the decimal point extens on the right.
  • Bar: A vertical bar is entered into your document.

To remove a Tab Stop, double click on the Tab Stop, then click on Clear All in the Tab dialog box, and then click OK. Or, simply drag the Tab Stop down from the Ruler, and it will disappear.

Despite being so simple to use, Tab Stops can give you greater flexibility and control when it comes to formatting your documents.

What’s your favorite Microsoft Word trick? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you use your favorite software more effectively. Email: [email protected].