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Get Organized with Word's Outline Tools

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Outlines are a time-tested method for organizing long documents. But remember what a pain it was to outline papers using index cards and many-colored notecards? Want to organize your thoughts before you start writing? How about creating headings that correspond to important ideas before getting to work on the text itself? Word's powerful outline tools can be a huge help. Peter Aitken shows you how to outline with the pros.

Outlines are a time-tested method for organizing long documents. Many writers use outlines to organize their thoughts before they start writing, creating headings that correspond to important ideas before getting to work on the text itself. Word's powerful outline tools can be a huge help, but many users are not aware of them. After you read this article, you will be outlining with the pros.

Heading Styles

Word's outlines are based on the built-in heading styles named Heading 1 for the top-level heading down to Heading 9 for the lowest-level heading. By default, you see only the top three heading levels available in the Styles and Formatting task pane or drop-down list, simply because most Word users do not use more heading levels than this. If you want to see all the heading styles (as well as all other available styles), select All Styles from the Show drop-down list on the Styles and Formatting task pane.

Each heading style is assigned formatting appropriate to its relative level. For example:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

You can change the formatting of the heading styles, of course, but we are interested in the fact that assigning a heading style to text automatically tags it for Word's outline tools. And these tools are closely connected with Outline view.

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