Adding a Dotted Line in Microsoft Word

There's a very simple way to add a dotted line in Word.

First, open a document at the place where you want to insert the line, then add three "---".

Press Enter and there's your line.

You can also use three of the following instead: "~", "_", "#", "=", and "*".

Totalling Cells in Word Tables

There was a time when, to sum a column or row of numbers in a table, you probably did it manually or used a VBA macro. These days, Word has a nifty little function called Formula in the Layout tab.

To use the function, you need to position your cursor in the cell in which the total is to be placed and select Formula.

Sample table showing cursor placement

Here is the function with a description:

Formula function in Layout tab

For our purposes we need SUM(LEFT):

Formula text entry

Select the number format and hit OK. The total is now showing in the last column.

Total shown in final column

To get totals for the cells below, you will need to repeat the process. However, the formula offered will assume SUM(ABOVE), because it thinks you’re totalling a column, so you need to change it to SUM(LEFT).

When you’re finished, you can if needed sum all the columns, like this:

Row and columns totalled

If any of the values are changed, the totals adjust automatically.



Using the Keyboard to Enter Symbols

When typing, having to remove your hands from the keyboard to insert a symbol can be avoided by using a simple trick, though it only applies to the copyright, trademark, and registered symbols by default. These are set in AutoCorrect.

Instead of pausing to use the mouse to select Insert and then Symbol from the ribbon, type the following (add space after in Excel):

“c” for ©
“tm” for ™
“r” for ®

Another approach is to hold down the Alt key and enter a value using the numeric keypad. For example:

0169 for ©
0153 for ™
0174 for ®

To add a symbol to AutoCorrect, select File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect:

The default symbols are shown:

To add a symbol, use the Alt key and numeric pad. For example, to auto-correct (l) to become the sterling symbol, press Alt-0163. Click Add.

AutoCorrect is available in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but not Outlook.

Open Word Without Blank Document

I don’t like Word presenting me with a blank document each time I open the application, as I’m far more likely to search for a recent document I’ve been working on. To avoid the new document being shown, Microsoft provides a “/n” switch.

To use the switch, create a shortcut and enter the following as the target, assuming Word 2016 is installed in its default location.

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\root\Office16\WINWORD.EXE” /n

Search & Replace Across Word Files

If you have several dozen Word files which contain the same content (such as Header, Footer, some special words or number), and you need to replace the same content across those documents in Word. How would it be easier for you to get it done quickly? Certainly, you can open those files one by one to replace the same content, but it will be time-consuming and troublesome. This tutorial will show you a tricky way to replace same content within multiple documents in Word at once.

Step 1: Press “Alt-F11” to open the Microsoft Visual Basic for Application window;

Step 2: Click Module on the Insert tab, copy and paste the following VBA code into the Module window;

Step 3: Then click Run doc-remove-numeric-characters-1 button to apply the VBA.

VBA: searching and replacing same content across multiple documents at one time


Protect Word Documents

When you send out Word documents to a limited number of trusted recipients, it’s unlikely you’ll feel the need to apply protection. If you’re asking for it to be reviewed, you’ll probably have set Track Changes on. Sometimes, though, you can’t be sure in whose hands the document might fall, and then you’ll need to prevent it from being changed.

Here’s how to achieve that. Open the File menu and select the button to Protect Document.

Word document protection info
Word document protection info

There are four levels of protection that Word allows.

Mark as Final

This is the first option. Select it and a message tells you:

Word document protection confirmation
Word document protection confirmation

Click OK. Another message pops up:

“This document has been marked as final to indicate that editing is complete and that this is the final version of the document. When a document is marked as final, the status property is set to ‘Final’ and typing, editing commands, and proofing marks are turned off. You can recognize that a document is marked as final when the Mark as Final icon displays in the status bar.”

This won’t prevent you from updating your copy when you need to.

When the recipient opens the document, they’ll see this message:

 “MARKED AS FINAL. An author has marked this document as final to discourage editing.”

(Note the word “discourage”. The recipient actually sees a button saying Edit Anyway. If they go ahead and make a change, they can also set the document as final if they choose to do so.)

Encrypt with Password

Word document encryption
Word document encryption

This is a more secure option than marking as final. The process is straightforward. Enter a password, re-enter it to confirm, close the document. Now open it with the password to check that it’s worked.

Save the password in a safe place. If you use this method for a number of documents, you may find it advantageous to keep a record of each document and its password in a spreadsheet.

You can remove the password by selecting Protect Document and Encrypt with Password again and deleting whatever is in the Password field. Re-save the document.

Restrict Editing

When you choose this option, the document is shown with a panel on the right:

Word document restrict editing
Word document restrict editing

As can be seen, you can restrict either or both formatting and content.


If you elect to restrict formatting, select Settings…

Word document format constraints
Word document format constraints

By default, all styles may be changed. You can select None or allow only the Recommended Minimum. I prefer None, as style changes can have unintended consequences. It’s also a good idea not to allow theme or scheme changes or Quick Style Set switching.


If you check Allow only this type of editing in the document, additional options are shown:

Word document editing constraints
Word document editing constraints

The default is No changes (Read only). Tracked changes, Comments, Filling in forms can all prove useful if you’re looking for detailed review of the contents, but they’re mutually exclusive. If you need them all, then you don’t need to restrict editing.

The Exceptions (optional) section applies only if No changes (Read only) is chosen. Select More users… to identify the users who may make changes. Otherwise the document is read-only.

Start enforcement

Select Yes, Start Enforcement Protection to complete the protection settings. You will prompted for a password:

Word document start protection
Word document start protection

Save the document and re-open it to see the effects. To cancel Enforcement Protection, click the Stop Protection button at the bottom of the right pane, enter the password, and click OK.

Add a Digital Signature

Word document digital signature
Word document digital signature

NOTE: You need a digital signature to take advantage of this one. You can get one from a Microsoft partner.

Choose your commitment type and purpose and click Sign. You have now applied a digital signature to your document. The recipient will be informed of this when they open the document, which will be in read-only mode.

To remove a digital signature, select Info > Protect Document. Click View Signatures. In the Signatures pane, select the arrow next to the signature and click Remove Signature followed by Yes.

Add a Dictionary

A useful add-in is Collins Dictionary. It provides not only a dictionary but also a thesaurus and a translator.

It can be sourced from Microsoft AppSource.

When it’s installed, you access it from Insert > My Add-ins. It then opens a panel on the right:

Collins Dictionary panel
Collins Dictionary panel

Add Background to a Single Page (Word)

Sometimes you need a cover page with an image background, but you don’t want to see it replicated on the remaining pages. The way to do this isn’t obvious, and you may end up considering a career change after a frustrated hour or two of fruitless attempts. Thankfully, there is a way.

Begin by placing the cursor in the header area of the first page. Click and then from the Insert ribbon choose Shapes:

Select Rectangle:

Starting as close as possible to the top left corner of the page, drag the cursor to the bottom right corner of the page or as much of the screen as you can see (reducing the magnification to 50% should reveal the entire page):

The white handles on the sides indicate that the shape hasn’t completely filled the page. Click on each one and move it to the edge until it disappears.

Next, right-click on the shape and select Format Shape:

Select Fill and then Picture or texture fill.  You can choose to use an image from a file, the clipboard, or online. We’ll choose File.

The image is dropped onto the shape, and in this example it has filled it.

If the chosen file does not provide a full-sized image but is suitable for tiling, check Tile picture as texture (see Format Picture panel above).

Close the Format Picture panel. Select Close Header and Footer from the Design ribbon and you’re done.

Image Add-ins

In Word and PowerPoint, you can include add-ins that will insert royalty-free images into the content. Two that I use, both free, are Pickit Free Images and Pixabay.

Once they’re installed, they appear in the ribbon in the Insert panel.

The Pixabay add-in can be sourced from Microsoft’s App Store.

The Picket Free add-in can also be installed from the App Store.