Tips for Microsoft Word

Faster and better writing with our tips for Microsoft Word! Our editorial team has summarized the best tips for text editing and formatting of scientific texts. This not only saves time and nerves, but also gives your work a professional look!

The most important things in a nutshell

Many institutes set their own specifications for the formatting of household work as well as thetheses. These can usually be found on the website of your institute. If there are no official requirements, we will introduce you to helpful standards here.

  • The standard for formatting the flow text in scientific papers is Times New Roman in font size 12 Pt and block set.
  • A line spacing of 1.5 lines provides better readability.
  • Margins should be 2.5 cm at the top, left, right, 2 cm at the bottom.
  • As a page format, DIN A4 is the standard in Germany.
  • Longer quotations from three lines should be separated and indented as separate paragraphs.

Formatting help

What does a text have to look like in order for it to appear as a book on GRIN? We’ve summarized the most important formatting notes:

The expert tips of the GRIN editorial team

We have also summarized our best tips and tricks in two e-books for you:


Template for housework etc.

In our style, all presets are already saved, so you can start writing right away.

Link to the book

How do I write a housework?

Step by step from conception to delivery: Our tips on organization, research, citation styles, scientific writing and much more.

Link to the book

Basic features in Word

In principle, you will find almost everything you need to format a text in Word under the Start tab.

Here you can choose, among other things, the font and font size, and determine whether the selected text should be bold, italic, undercut, crossed out, low-cut, or high-rise, or delete all formatting for a selected section.

You can also find the drop-down menus for the different list types, buttons for text alignment, line spacing, indents and borders, and for displaying formatting symbols.

In Word, you automatically create a paragraph with each time you press the Enter key.

On the other hand, if you want to use a line break without a paragraph change, for example, to write a poem line by line in a paragraph, you must use a text break by pressing the Shift and Enter keys at the same time.

In order to structure a scientific work clearly and, for example, to clearly distinguish quotations, bullets and lists from the flow text, indents are very practical. While Word automatically incorporates lists and bullets to highlight them, you’ll need to put your hand on deposed literal quotes. To do this, simply click at the beginning of the second line of a paragraph and press the Tab key to move the entire paragraph in. If, on the other hand, click at the beginning of the first line of a paragraph, only the tab key will be indented after pressing the tab key.

With illustrations and diagrams, complex issues can be clearly displayed.

Insert images

To insert an image, click the Pictures button in the Insert tab, and then select the file you want to insert.

The selected image is then inserted at the cursor position with the format With Text in line. You can determine the size of an image by right-clicking the image to open the context menu and select “Size and Position” there.

Caution: To avoid distorting an image, you should always use the Lock Aspect Ratio options and leave Relative to the original image size selected.

Create charts

You can also see the Diagram button that inserts a chart in the Insert tab. With one click you will be taken to the chart selection window. Simply choose a suitable chart type.


Images composed of text boxes in Word are very easily confused. It is best to create images in a separate file (or other program) and insert them as an image. If a program does not offer you the possibility to export pictures, you can usually take a screenshot.

You can easily create automatic lists in Word:

  • First, write your list points entry by entry as single paragraphs
  • Then select the entire list and select the desired list format in the Start tab, e..B. an unnumbered enumeration.

If you simply click the appropriate button, the text is converted to a default list. For more options, open the associated drop-down menu.

You create an indented sub-item within a list with the Tab key, as if you wanted to insert a paragraph (see above).

Of course, the procedure described also works with numbering:
If you just press the Numbering button, your list looks like this:

  1. Point 1
  2. Point 2
  3. Point 3

As with bullets, you can choose from multiple templates or choose what you want your list to look like. If you need a list with several levels, each entry with the tab key is not only indented, but also automatically reduced by one list level.

You can easily create tables in Word by clicking the Table button under the Insert tab. You can use the mouse to determine how many rows and columns you want the table to contain.

You can change the details of a table that has already been inserted by using the Table Properties window. To do this, select the table, then click on the right, and select Table Properties from the context menu.

The drop-down menu to insert formulas into a Word document can also be found in the Insert tab, along with the button to insert icons.

Clicking on the Formula button opens a quick selection menu where you can find some commonly used formula types.

Instead, click the Insert New Formula option, a formula input field appears in the body text instead of your cursor, and the formula tools open in the menu bar. This allows you to enter and nest almost any complex formulas.

Automation sands and other functions

You don’t have to insert page numbers manually in Word. There is an automatic function that inserts the correct page number on each of your pages.

To do this, go to Page Number in the Insert tab and open the drop-down menu. Select where to insert the page number. You can also format the page numbers and, for example, select the format you want. For publication at GRIN, we recommend the end-of-page and center option.

Do you want the page number format to change from a specific page or to start counting again?

Simply insert a section change. This function can be found in the Layout > Breaks tab (Section Break Next Page).

To make changes to the text possible afterwards, it is best to use automatic footnotes or endnotes. Thus, the footnote always remains on the same page as the quoted digit and the numbering of the footnotes is also updated automatically.

To set automatic footnotes or endnotes in Word, you must first position the cursor where you want it in the text. Then go to the References tab. There you will find the Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote buttons, which you use to insert the corresponding. After clicking the button, the cursor jumps directly into the footnote or endnote field, where you can type your annotation text or literature reference.

With an automatic table of contents, Word transfers all existing chapters to a clear directory. You can also update the directory at any time to see the correct page numbers.

The only requirement for an automatic table of contents is that the headings in the Styles Heading 1 through Heading 9 are formatted. You can find the styles in the Start tab and you can also visually customize them there.

If all headings are correctly labeled, go to the References tab and click on the Table of Contents button. Here you can select one of the built-in directories and use the Custom Table of Contents button below to determine the look you want.

Word’s pre-built table of contents only extends to the 3rd heading level—if you want to display additional layers in the table of contents, you can set this in a custom directory.

To automatically label and number figures, tables, or charts, right-click the object and select Insert Label from the context menu.

In the following window, you can preview what the label will look like. You can choose from the existing labels such as Table, Tab, Figure, or Fig., and specify the location of the label.

Automatic table and table tables contain all the tables or illustrations that you used in your work. You can also automatically update the page numbers at any time.

To create an automatic directory for images, tables, or charts in Word, there is a requirement: The corresponding objects must be automatically labeled. If this requirement is met, the rest is quite simple: go to the References tab and click on the Insert Table of Figures button.

Attention for long directory entries: If you have used a label that contains .B also the source of an image, it will be transferred completely to the directory. You can move the source under the image and outside the actual label to a separate paragraph so that this part is not transferred to the directory.

Automatic headers and footers are inserted identically on each page. If you need to correct something, the change will be implemented for all pages.

The function to insert automatic headers, footers and page numbers can be found in the Insert tab. Click on the appropriate drop-down menu and select the layout you want. The most useful template is the Blank (Three Columns) template, because it gives you the most room for manoeuvre. You can easily delete unnecessary fields.

The First Page Different option also allows you to set a separate header and footer for each first page of a section (e.B. the cover page).

You can completely leave the management of your literature and quotes to Word. This gives you source information and a bibliography that automatically adapts to citation standards such as MLA, Chicago Manual of Style, APA or IEEE by selecting a style. To insert a source reference, click the Insert Quote button in the References tab.

In the menu, you can enter all data about your source or create a placeholder and supplement the source information such as year, publisher and author later.

Once created sources or placeholders can be recited with one click. To insert the bibliography at the end, also click on the corresponding button in the References tab.

Tools for the final proofreading

In the Check tab, you’ll find some helpful features to finalize your text before you submit it:

  • The thesaurus suggests synonyms for a word.
  • Counting words helps you if you have precise specifications for the length of your work.
  • If you want to take notes on individual places or give them to someone else for proofreading, the comment function is useful for creating annotations outside the text.
  • The function also helps to track changes. This allows you to see exactly where the text has been changed. You can use the Accept and Reject buttons to confirm or discard changes. It may also be useful for group work to track the changes.
  • The Compare feature allows you to match or combine two versions of a document—also useful when multiple people are writing to one text at the same time.

However, before you export your work as a PDF, make sure that all comments have been deleted and that all changes have been accepted or rejected.

No matter how carefully you work, double spaces, unnecessary blank lines or tab stops can always creep in somewhere. View the control characters and use the Search & Replace function to search for such errors. Paragraphs, tab stops, and similar formatting characters can be selected from the Search Special Format button.

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