How to Use Outline View in Microsoft Word

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The "Outline View" in Microsoft Word provides easy ways to format and organize a long paper or an outline. When in this view, the program will automatically format what you type with "headings" for up to nine different levels of text. Adding and adjusting headings is more convenient in Outline View than in other views. Also use this view to create "subdocuments" that are linked to your main document. This is helpful if you have separate documents like chapters that you want to link to one another.

  • Change your document in Outline View by clicking the "View" tab and selecting "Outline." This will not alter any text you have written in the document but only its appearance on-screen. If your document is blank, you will see a bullet point with which you can start formatting an outline.

  • Adjust different "levels" of text in your outline by clicking the arrows to the left or right on the "Outlining" tab. The program will automatically format the text with headings of different fonts and sizes to indicate their levels.

  • Add subdocuments to your master document on the "Outlining" tab. Click "Create" to create a new subdocument, or click "Insert" to insert an existing document. Word will automatically assign file names of subdocuments based on the first view letters in their headings, such as "Chapter 1." Subdocuments are saved as separate files but are easily accessible through your master document. Once you have added subdocuments, you will have the options to merge and split them.

  • Change heading fonts and sizes in the Outline View by clicking the "Home" tab and changing options in the "Styles" group. Click on "Change Styles" to alter headings in a uniform way.

  • Return to the Normal view to see what your document will look like for printing or publishing. Click the "View" tab and "Print Layout."

Tips & Warnings

  • These instructions apply to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. Word 2003 also has the Outline View, but the toolbar is formatted differently.

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