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Have you ever spent hours trying to format a Microsoft Word document? Or thrown your hands up in frustration after trying to figure out how to use 'paragraph alignment' and 'mail merge'? Many are not aware that complex and repetitive tasks in Word can be simplified, saving a lot of time and hassle. Fortunately, help is available online.

Rediff Guide to the Net has put together the best resources and tutorials on getting the most out of Word.

The basics

Start with the Microsoft Word homepage. It offers information on the newest features, shortcuts and template galleries.

Other tutorials will take you through the basics like adding special effects to a word, aligning text and creating borders. This tutorial is even more detailed and visual.

A professor has put together an online help site, complete with screenshots, which has tutorials on using menus and toolbars, Word art, wrap text, watermarks, AutoShapes, and headers and footers. Especially helpful is the mail merge tutorial that tackles something many dread - printing on mail labels.

More tutorials

Learn That: Aids beginners and also gives tips to more experienced users on the popular functions of Word.

NailitNow: Takes you through the first few steps - from turning on your computer to writing and printing a simple letter.

Internet4classrooms: Get tutorials for both PC and MAC, with short quizzes after each section.

Baycon Group: Help with the basics and working with advanced features like tables.

Knowdule: Extensive tutorials on the basics.

Advanced features and macros

Once you've mastered the basic commands, it's time to move on to the more advanced features.

Did you know frequently used words can be completed automatically while you're typing? These 'keyboard shortcuts' are very helpful. To view and print the complete list, follow the steps given here.

For more advanced tutorials like password protection and changing default file locations this page has a set of useful links. TechTutorials uses screenshots to illustrate various commands.

If you do a lot of writing, this guide on using the style and grammar check could prove helpful. Macros can speed up editing and formatting. A macro records a series of menu selections that can be completed in a single step when selected.

Here's an example of a simple macro created (without programming) using the Word recorder. Also check out this FAQ and get a grip of VBA (Visual Basics for Applications) when you feel confident enough to programme your own macros.

Tips and tricks

-- Word Tips
-- Microsoft
-- Tips for Publishers
-- Vital News
-- Directory
-- Document Recovery

Once you get a hang of the many features of Word, you can read up on tips and tricks. PC Mag has a section that gives you a whole lot of tips like changing the default template and getting rid of the pesky horizontal line that automatically appears when you type in three or more hyphens and press enter.

This one - 'Hiding Word's recently used files' - could be helpful if you don't want anyone to find the love letter you've been secretly composing in office!

Downloads that add more power to MS Word:

Microsoft Word Viewer allows users of all versions of Word to share documents with those who might not have it.

Word Booster is free to try, and comes with about 30 macros that add functions and ease of use to Word 97, 2000 and 2002 users.

If your documents get corrupted frequently, try Word Recovery, a data recovery programme that restores formatting and password protected files.

Word Pipe simplifies the search and replace functions across multiple MS Word documents.

More Resources:
-- Jazz up your pics with image editors

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