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Chapter 3. Editing Documents > Changing the Way You View a Document Onscreen

Changing the Way You View a Document Onscreen

Everyone who picks up this book has a unique set of documents to work on and a unique style of working on them. If you are designing presentation materials with vivid graphics and informational charts, you can benefit from the ability to view details up close. Someone else might be generating a report where consistency in appearance is critical, and he or she can benefit from the ability to view more than one page at a time. And regardless of your industry, you probably spend lots of time simply just reading documents onscreen.

Word has built-in tools that enable you to customize the way you view documents onscreen. The idea is to give your eyes a break while you edit or read documents, and to make document review less of a chore.

The first options I’ll discuss are part of the Zoom feature. Zoom allows you to adjust the magnification of a document. You can blow it up or scale it down. This is the tool you will use when you want to “zero in” on details such as figure captions, graphics, or small print in footnotes.

The second options I’ll discuss are called view modes. These options allow you to view your documents in a variety of different layouts. You can choose from a special view mode just for reading documents onscreen and another for reviewing a document as it will look when printed.

Zooming In and Out

No matter what type of document you’re working on, whether you’re working with finely detailed graphics, charts with tiny legends, or very small print, Word has a way for you to view that document to make your job easier. Zoom controls the magnification of the document as it appears onscreen. Because the magnification doesn’t affect the printed copy, you can use whatever Zoom setting you need for the task at hand.


If you have a Microsoft IntelliMouse or other type of mouse with a scroll wheel, you can adjust the zoom ratio by holding down the Ctrl key and rotating the wheel. Notice that the wheel has small notches. Word zooms in or out at intervals of 10% for each notch on the wheel.

By default, Word displays documents at a zoom ratio of 100%, which displays the text and graphics in the same size that they will be when printed. A zoom setting of 50% displays the document at half the printed size. A zoom setting of 200% displays the document twice as large as the printed copy.

To adjust the zoom setting, follow these steps:

Click the drop-down arrow next to the Zoom button on the toolbar. A pop-up menu of zoom settings appears (see Figure 3.5).

Figure 3.5. Changing the zoom setting improves the readability of a document without affecting the printed copy.

Select a zoom setting.

You may decide that you don’t like any of the preset zoom settings. You can type the zoom ratio that you want in the Zoom box, or you can choose View, Zoom to open the Zoom dialog box where you can type the preferred zoom ratio.

Switching to a Different Document View

There are no written rules for choosing a particular layout to view your documents. It really just depends on your work habits. Most people prefer to work in Print Layout view, which displays the document as it will appear when printed. Others prefer to work in the simpler Normal view, so they can focus on content and then switch to another view when they want to polish the appearance. My favorite is the new Reading Layout view because it’s so much easier to read documents onscreen.

There are eight different options, all on the View menu. Some of the different options have buttons (next to the horizontal scrollbar) that you can click to quickly switch back and forth between view modes.

  • Normal— This view is designed for general editing and formatting tasks. No discernable page borders are visible onscreen, and page breaks are shown as a dotted line (see Figure 3.6).

    Figure 3.6. Normal view is the most frequently used view mode in Word.

  • Web Layout— In this view, the document is shown as it will appear when viewed in a browser. Text wraps within the window, backgrounds are shown, and graphics are positioned as they will appear in a browser window.

  • Print Layout— This view displays the document as it will look when printed. Text, graphics, headers, footers, footnotes, columns, and other screen elements are shown in their correct positions and can be easily edited. A vertical ruler is added on the left side of the screen (see Figure 3.7). Pages are shown with a gray border around them, so you can easily see the dimensions of the paper. Page breaks are easily identified by the gray border between the pages.

    Figure 3.7. Print Layout view gives you a good representation of how your document will look when you print it.

  • Outline— Just as the name suggests, this option is useful when your document is in outline form, or if it contains headings to separate sections of text. You can collapse a document to see only the main headings, or you can expand it to see all the headings and some of the body text. You can easily rearrange sections of text by dragging and dropping headings.

  • Reading Layout— A new feature in Word 2003, Reading Layout is designed to make it easier to read documents onscreen. The text is reformatted to fit the screen, and the font size is increased so you can read it without reaching for your glasses (see Figure 3.8). This view does not reflect the true pagination and formatting of the document. You can find a Reading Layout button on the Standard toolbar, although it might not be visible until you use it for the first time.

    Figure 3.8. The new Reading Layout view is well suited for reading documents onscreen.

  • Document Map— In this view mode, the screen is split into two panes. The left pane contains a list of headings in the document; the right pane contains the document text. You can click a heading in the left pane to quickly jump to that place in the document.

  • Thumbnails— Another new feature in Word 2003, the Thumbnails option displays a thumbnail image, which is a smaller version, of each page of the document. The left pane contains the thumbnails; the right pane contains the actual text (see Figure 3.9). Advantages include the ability to jump quickly to a specific page by clicking it in the left pane and the ease of reviewing multiple pages for a consistent appearance. The Thumbnails option is not available in Web Layout view or in conjunction with Document Map.

    Figure 3.9. The Thumbnails option is helpful when you need to navigate through a long document.

  • Full Screen— This option has been around for a long time, but it is easily overlooked. Full Screen removes every single screen element—title bar, menu bar, toolbars, scrollbars, status bar, even the Windows taskbar. Why? To give you the most screen real estate possible. The trick is remembering how to switch back to the previous view mode, by clicking the Close Full Screen button on the Full Screen toolbar (see Figure 3.10).

    Figure 3.10. In Full Screen mode, the screen elements are cleared off, giving you more room to review the document text.

Word offers several options, and all this information may seem like a lot to digest at this point. Just remember that the view modes are there, and when you’re ready, you can flip back to this page and review them. As you become more familiar with Word, your favorites will jump out at you.

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