Outlining
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Outlining in Microsoft Word

This chapter is for use with Word 97 - Word 2019/365. Unlike many of the other chapters, it is not a collaboration but the work of a single author without peer review.  
 

bulletBig Idea #1 - Use Styles with an Outline Level Set
bulletBig Idea #2 - Use Built-In Heading Styles Rather Than Create Your Own
bulletBig Idea #3 - If You Want Outline Numbering or Even Different Levels of Lists stay away from the buttons!
bulletBig Idea #4 - Use Outline View
bulletBig Idea #5 - Use the Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later
bullet Big Idea #6 - Use Collapsible Headings in Word 2013 and later
bullet Big Idea #7 - Do Not Destroy Your Work Using the Master Documents "Feature"

Big Idea #1 - Use Styles with an Outline Level Set

See Understanding Styles in Microsoft Word

You want to use a paragraph style that has an outline level set.

Word 1997 - 2003

Format > Style > New Style > Format > Paragraph > Outline Level

Word 2007 - 2019 (365)

Home Tab > Styles Pane > New Style (button) > Format > Paragraph > Outline Level

You could apply this outline level formatting through direct paragraph formatting, but why would you want to? This is what styles are for!

 

Big Idea #2 - Use Built-In Heading Styles Rather Than Create Your Own

See Why use Microsoft Word’s built-in heading styles? by Shauna Kelly

The Built-In Heading styles already have outline levels assigned. They also have special properties that make other Word features work better. The first three levels even have built-in keyboard shortcuts (Ctrl+Alt+1, Ctrl+Alt+2, Ctrl+Alt+3). You can even have shortcuts for all nine levels if you want.

You can modify these styles to have any appearance you want.

Big Idea #3 - If You Want Outline Numbering or Even Different Levels of Lists

Do not just press a button or choose numbering format. This is almost always a mistake. Instead set up your styles by attaching them to a numbering list using the procedures outlined by Shauna Kelly:

bullet How to create numbered headings or outline numbering in Ribbon Versions of Word
bullet How to control bullets in Ribbon Versions of Word
bullet Outline Numbering in Word for OS X - Mac Instructions

This is the only known method of creating multi-level numbering/outlining/bullets that survives editing.

Big Idea #4 - Use Outline View

Outline View has been available since at least Word 97 and continues in the Ribbon Versions of Word. It not only changes the view but gives quick access to Outlining controls. These allow collapsing Outline levels, promoting and demoting paragraphs and other helpful methods. Leave the Master Document controls alone!

In Word 97-2003, you can access it under the View Menu, in later versions, under the View Tab. Once you click on Outline View, you are taken to the Outlining Tab.

Outline view lets you Collapse/Expand parts of your document quickly. You can select and copy/move entire parts of your document within Outline view.

You can print just the outline (collapsed/expanded as wished) by using the Quick Print button (Word 97-2003). For later versions of Word, you will need to add the button to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) as outlined by Suzanne Barnhill in this Answers Thread.

If you use the method set forth so well by Shauna Kelly of linking your numbering to styles, that works well with the Outline View. Changing levels will also change your style.

Warning: The Outline View in versions of Word after Word 97 has given access to the "Master Document features" of Word. These are dangerous and can destroy your work. See Master Documents before touching these "features."

See also: How to Save Yourself Hours by Using Outline View Properly by Dave Rado, MVP.

Big Idea #5 - Use the Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later

Word 2010 introduced the Navigation Pane. Documents organized using Outline-Level headings and structure can be viewed and manipulated. Do not confuse this with the Document Map in earlier versions of Word, which should not be used.

See also: Navigation Pane in Word 2010 and later.

Big Idea #6 - Use Collapsible Headings (in Word 2013 and Later)

Word 2013 introduced the ability to collapse text under headings, actually under any paragraph with an outline level set in the paragraph formatting.

If your mouse pointer over any paragraph that has an outline level set, you will see a little triangle, either pointed to the right or angled down. That triangle appears in the left margin next to the paragraph. The appearance of the triangle is different in different versions of Word. The screenshot below is from Word 2019.

Clicking on the Triangle Toggles Between Collapsed and Uncollapsed

When you collapse a heading, Word hides the text following the heading paragraph until the next heading paragraph of the same or higher outline level. This will mean the rest of a document if there are no paragraphs in the appropriate outline level to stop the collapse.

The triangle showing collapsed text will show on the screen always.

The one to collapse text shows when you hover the mouse pointer over the paragraph. In the document shown the mouse pointer is over Heading 1, you still see the triangle indicating collapsed text in the first Heading 2, the second Heading 2 is not collapsed and does not show a triangle.

Printing a Document with Collapsed Text

When you print a document that has text collapsed, the text collapsed is not printed. The little triangle indicating collapsed text is also not printed. The text is still there in the document. Links and Cross-References to that text will still work and using them will uncollapse the text.

If you convert to PDF, it will also not be printed.

The Navigation Pane and Collapsing Text in the Body are Independent.

If you collapse text in your document at level 2 and there is text set to outline level 3 or lower in the collapsed area, it will still show up in the Navigation Pane. Likewise, if certain levels are collapsed in the Navigation Pane, it has no influence over what shows up in the document.

If you click on a heading shown in the Navigation Pane that is in a collapsed area of text, it will uncollapse the area. Clicking on either Heading 3 or Heading 4 in the Navigation Pane will uncollapse everything that is collapsed under that Heading 2 in the document text.

You can collapse your view of headings in the Navigation Pane. That has no effect on what is seen in the document, only on what is shown in the Navigation Pane.

Options for Collapsing Text

This is a feature designed into the Word program, itself. It is not a user option and you cannot turn it on or off.

There is an option to always uncollapse this text when opening a document. This is a user, not a document setting.

 

 

Big Idea #7 - Do Not Destroy Your Work Using the Master Documents "Feature"

This is on this page only because the Outlining Tab has buttons and options dealing with "Master Documents." I repeat: Do not touch these without reading my page on the Master Documents "Feature".

 

Note: The idea of labeling of sections as "big ideas" was stolen directly from Bill Coan's article on page numbering.

This page last edited by Charles Kenyon on Wednesday 13 March 2019

 

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