Microsoft Word’s Navigation Pane

Trying to find the perfect writing software to write with was a frustrating endeavor. I thought how much easier it would be to just type my story in Microsoft Word. I had been using MS Word, but it wasn’t fun having to scroll down through all the pages to find the chapter or section I wanted. An easier way to go to specific sections of my manuscript was needed. When I discovered Microsoft Word’s Navigation Pane, I found just what I had been looking for. I mean, Charles Dickens didn’t have any writing software. All he had was paper and a pen.

MS Word, wikimedia commons

Microsoft Word is so much better than using just a pen and paper, although there are authors who prefer to write with those. I can type so much faster than I can write by hand. Because of the Navigation Pane, I can maneuver from chapter to chapter or section to section of my manuscript with ease. Even rearranging the order of chapters and/or sections is a breeze.

What is this Navigation Pane that I’m talking about? It is your own personal table of contents for your book or document. In Microsoft Word 2016, you can find the Navigation Pane under the View tab. It is in older versions of Word too, but it might be in a different place. Once you have opened it and can see it at the left side of your document, click on the Home tab.

Say you want to make Chapter 1 appear in the Navigation Pane. Type your Chapter 1 heading on your Word page. Now you need to highlight it then click on Heading 1. Chapter 1 will automatically appear at the top of the Navigation Pane. If you want to make it appear in a different color in your manuscript other than the preselected one, simply right click on Heading 1, choose Modify, and you can make it whatever font and/or color you want.

Do this for each of your chapters. When you click on a certain chapter in the Navigation Pane, you will be taken to it.

Navigation Pane, photo by Lisa Binion

What if you want to make a heading for each section in your chapters. Above a section you want to appear in the Navigation Pane, type Section 1 (or whatever you want to call it). Highlight it and click Heading 2. Section 1 will appear beneath Chapter 1 and will be indented to show that it belongs inside the first chapter. Do the same for each section.

If you wish to break each section down, you can use Heading 3 also. Or you could use Heading 3 for notes on your characters or storyline.

If when you read through your book, you decide that you want to change the order of the sections or chapters, all you have to do is drag and drop them in the Navigation Pane until you have them in the order you want.

The Navigation Pane can also be used to search for specific words or phrases. If there are certain words you tend to overuse and you want to find out how often you’ve used them in your manuscript, type one of the words—for example, very—into the “Search document” box. Every time you have used that word will appear under the results section. If you wish to change the word, you can easily go to each time you used it and do so.

I always have the latest version of Word because I have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home. If you would like to purchase this to make your writing easier with the latest version of MS Word, I have provided an Amazon link below.

Amazon Link: Microsoft Office 365 Home

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