How to Use Outline View in Microsoft Word and Organize Your Documents

Outline View is perfect when you need to see a long document in Microsoft Word. Here’s how to use this interesting feature.

There are situations in Microsoft Word where you might want to use Outline View. It’s ideally suited for reading and reviewing longer documents, including books. Here’s more about Outline View and how to use it.

Outline View

By default, Microsoft Word uses the Print Layout when presenting documents. This option shows the size of the paper and its margins, plus font information. Read mode, Web Layout, Draft, and this article’s topic, Outline View, are the other view options.

This view in Microsoft Word isn’t for everyone, and it’s not practical to use when you’re actually writing the document. In general terms, the view strips a Word document of everything but its headings and subheadings, when applicable. By doing so, you can better concentrate on the flow of the document and make structural changes as necessary. The paragraphs in your document remain in Outline View. However, they’re truncated by default.

Turning on Outline View

To use this view in Microsoft Word:

  1. First, open your document in Microsoft Word.
  2. Click Outline under the Viewing area on the ribbon.

Outline View in MICROSOFT WORD

Unlike other views in Microsoft Word, Outline View has its own set of tools in the ribbon.

Adjusting Outline View

Outline View on Microsoft Word

This view is entirely built on outline levels you can adjust using a drop-down box in the special Outline View ribbon. Use the arrows on either side of the box to decrease or increase the levels. You can also rearrange items directly below the levels.

On either side of the Outline Level box, you’ll find arrows. Those on the right side let you decrease one level, while those on the left do the opposite. Below those arrows are additional options. With the up and down arrows, for example, you’re able to move items in different directions and rearrange your points. Meanwhile, the plus and minus signs allow you to expand and collapse Outline levels. You can collapse or expand levels at any time.

Next is the “Show Level” drop-down list. Use this tool to determine which levels to show.

“Show Text Formatting” and “Show First Line Only” are checkboxes that you can use to tweak the current view by either removing formatting or hiding text, when applicable.

Master Documents

When selected, “Show Document” will let you include subdocuments, expanding that section of controls. For example, perhaps you want to attach a contract or other type of document to your Outline View. By clicking “Insert,” you can embed an already saved file; with “Create” selected, you can make a new document.

With subdocuments included, you can click the “Collapse Subdocuments” button, which will collapse its content and only show a link to it. The button becomes “Expand Subdocuments,” which you can use to expand the content at will.

Other Options

Additional options for Outline View in Microsoft Word include:

  • Unlinked, which removes the link to the subdocuments while also copying the text to the current document.
  • Merge puts together multiple subdocuments, so there’s only one remaining.
  • When activated, Split separates subdocument content into different documents. You can create splits at insertion points.
  • Lock Document makes it impossible to keep changes from moving into subdocuments.

As you can see, there’s much you can do with the Outline View in Microsoft Word. It’s beneficial when dealing with long documents or books.

There’s much you can do with Microsoft Word. The most recent articles covered how to combine document revisions, sort Word lists alphabetically and viewing multiple pages. Many more are also available online.

You can find Microsoft Word inside the Microsoft 365 suite. For home use, the Microsoft 365 suite is currently available in three varieties, including a Family, Personal, and Home & Student plan. Price-wise, the first is $100 per year (or $10/month) and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook for Mac. Membership covers up to six users. The Personal version is for one individual and is $70/year or $6.99 per month. Finally, the student plan is a one-time purchase of $150 and includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

Business users can select from Basic, Standard, and Premium plans, starting at $5 per user/month.

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