I originally thought of posting this over at TeX.SE but the words "blasphemy" and "sacrilege" crossed my mind and I decided it may be better to post it here instead.

There are many LaTeX tutorials out there that are geared towards MS Word users making the leap of faith. Understandably, it's a one-way leap. In other words, there are no MS Word tutorials for LaTeX users (that I can find).

So why would I want to switch (back) to MS Word?

You wouldn't. You never would. Sometimes, though, one is forced to use MS Word in the workplace. The problem is, when using MS Word, I find myself often in the LaTeX mindset; in other words, I frequently catch myself trying to size a picture relative to the paper width or attempting to automate some aspect or other in the document structure. This of course leads to frustration and procrastination on my part.

I decided that I would like to become a true MS Word power user so that I may use it properly whenever I am absolutely forced to. The main problem I faced is the absence of tutorials that cater to a would-be power user. Most tutorials seem to be targeting an average home user who wants to get their job done with as many mouse clicks as humanly possible.

So I'm looking for tutorials that would allow me to delve deeper into MS Word and tune its knobs more finely.

How is this a specific question that is on topic here?

To make my question a specific one that is fit for the StackExchange format, the answer I am looking for will be one of the following two:

  1. "No such thing exists, hack at will and hopefully write such a tutorial."
  2. A link to a tutorial (book, lecture series, HOWTos, videos, ...) that satisfies the following criteria:

    • Explains how to handle page layout; for example, how to have a wider margin on the spine-facing side of the page as in the LaTeX book class.
    • Explains how to turn off the "helpful" defaults like auto-capitalization of the first letter of a sentence or automatic font family and size change. Ideally, it would explain how to fully customize the default behavior and save your customization as a profile.
    • Explains how to correctly implement cross-referencing, sectioning and reference (bibliography) management, without having it break the minute any small change is made.
    • Focuses on portability across the different versions of MS Word, ideally by explaining which features should be avoided and what are some best practices to ensure the formatting doesn't immediately break when the document is opened with another version of MS Word.


By extension, I would also be interested in a MS PowerPoint tutorial for LaTeX users.


I am not interested in starting a flame war and I don't mean to offend any MS Office users. I just sincerely wish to make the best of a (perceived) bad situation.

  • Nice question. As a Tex newb, I have absolutely no input but i can see where you're coming from :) Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 1:11
  • @Mothermole1 Thanks. I didn't mean to imply that I'm a TeXpert or anything. It's just that (La)TeX is such a paradigm shift, it alters the way you think about documents after a while.
    – Joseph R.
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 1:19
  • On a side note, I really need to learn TeX for my thesis that I'm writing :/ 500 pages of Word documents will be a nightmare XD Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 1:33
  • @Mothermole1 I sure hope that by "TeX" you actually mean "LaTeX" or "ConTeXt" or similar... Take a look over at TeX.SX whenever you need help.
    – Joseph R.
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 23:15
  • Cheers for that ;) Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 23:20

2 Answers 2


I have never seen a tutorial that I liked. That said, there are a few things you can do which will make it easy to become a Word power user:

1. The Microsoft Office Golden Rule

The single biggest thing you need to know for proper use of Microsoft Word is this:


Word is designed for you to create a "style" for the document (much like you can do with TeX) and to apply that style to the various parts of your document as applicable.

2. The Ribbon

The ribbon is extremely powerful because it is context-aware. If you select an image, it will show the Image tab. If you select a table, it will show the table tabs (one for "layout" and the other for "design"). If you select an image inside a table, it will show all of those tabs. That said, the ribbon can be very confusing when you first start - even Microsoft says so. (Note that the site linked here does have some good tutorials.)

In my opinion, one of the single most-important things you can do to become a real power user of Microsoft Word is to learn the ribbon. That includes learning the keyboard shortcuts for activating the ribbon, switching between its tabs, and activating the stuff inside them. Most users don't ever bother with learning this and then get stuck looking all over the place for commands that are really in logical spots.

To help learn the ribbon, Microsoft has an add-in you can install called "Search Commands" that will help you find where the commands you need are located. You can download it from here.

3. Keyboard Shortcuts

Get familiar with the keyboard shortcuts. You will usually find them significantly faster than using the mouse. (You will also easily impress people who are watching you who wonder how you are "doing stuff" so fast.) In addition to the ribbon hotkeys I mentioned above, many commands have their own dedicated shortcut keys. You can see what these shortcut keys are in the command button tooltips (when you hover the mouse over a button). If you don't see them, make sure the feature is enabled in "Options" -> "Advanced" -> "Display" -> "Show shortcut keys in ScreenTips".

4. Customize the Ribbon

As you use the ribbon, you will find that there are commands you tend to use more often than others. In Office 2010 and 2013 (not 2007), you can add and remove commands from the ribbon in the Options window. You can also export your customizations from there so you can import them into Word on another computer.

That said, I don't recommend customizing the ribbon. The ribbon is so complex that you can easily get lost in customizing it or mess it up completely.

Instead, you can customize the "Quick Access Bar". This bar can be set to be above or below the main ribbon and you can add any commands you need to it.

5. A few more miscellaneous tips

This is a list of a few little things that I have found really help, but you won't usually learn them until you are tearing you hair out in frustration. Learning them in advance is so much easier. (Right now there's only a few, but it would be nice to keep adding to this over time.)

  • Many ribbon "Button Groups" have a small "pop-out" icon in the corner. These pop-out buttons lead to more options related to the group that they are in. You should learn what is inside these pop-outs, and when to use them. (Note that while some controls in the pop-outs will be duplicates of those on the ribbon, there are other controls that are accessible only from the pop-out windows.
  • If you are having problems with image positioning, use the "Show Formatting" button to see where the image's "anchor" is located. You may get better results in some layouts if you move the anchor manually (click and drag it) to a better spot.
  • Word has a very nice Equation Editor, and a lot of its symbol codes are copied from TeX (such as \neq, \therefore, \bullet, \cup, \cap, and some of the arrows). However, others are different, and some can only be reach from the menu and not typed. In addition, despite the large collection of symbols available in the Word Equation Editor, it is still missing an awful lot of the ones you can get in TeX.
  • 1
    +1 for putting Styles at the top. The rest is all good too. Learning a bit of VBA can't hurt either. Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 23:22
  • These sound really interesting. Thanks for sharing. I +1ed you earlier but wanted to wait for other responses before accepting. Are these tips the results of hacking/experience or gathered from your reading? If you have links to MS Office/MS Word reading material, they would be really useful. The material need not be freely available.
    – Joseph R.
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 14:47
  • @JosephR these tips are the result of experience: my own use of the software, my observation of others using it, and my teaching others how to use it. Other than that one link I put in about the ribbon, I don't really know of any good resources.
    – Moshe Katz
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 16:25

I have found this website to be somewhat promising:

  • word.tips.net (if your version of Word is pre-2007; i.e., has the standard menu interface)
  • wordribbon.tips.net (if your version of Word is 2007 or higher; i.e., has the ribbon interface)

Warning: comes with some advertising.


5 years later and I have discovered pandoc and haven't had to look back since.

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