Copywriter, technical writer, translator (FR>EN, ES>EN, IT>EN), journalist

Rearranging a long document the easy way

Ever tried rearranging sections in long Microsoft Word documents? Even if you use Heading styles and can quickly find your headings, even if you created a table of contents to help you navigate the document, finding and moving stuff using the onscreen page is a cumbersome process.

Fortunately, you did create a table of contents, which means you also used Heading styles in your document. All you need to do now is look at your document a little differently – not as a document, but as a hierarchy of headings.

Your first step: turn on Word’s Outline view. (If you use menus, go to the View menu and choose Outline.)

You can see all the text you would see in an ordinary document organized using plus and minus signs to the left of the headings.

(Note: I use the document shown in the videos below to compose blog posts, and what you see in the videos may not correspond to the text you read in this post.)

Hiding or expanding a section

To hide or expand a section, double-click the plus or minus sign next to the section, as shown in the following video.

Showing headings only

To view the overall structure of a document, click the toolbar numbers that correspond to the level of the heading you want to see.

In the following video, clicking 1, 2 or 3 shows the corresponding level of headings, while clicking the All icon fully expands the document.

Moving sections

To move a section from one part of a document to another, just drag it to that section (that part of the “document hierarchy”) as illustrated in the following video.

Promoting or demoting sections

To make a heading 3 into a Heading 2, or event a Heading 1, just drag it to the level you want it to occupy. (Watch the Style drop-list change as it happens in this video.)

  1. Luigi – thank you for the post explaining how to move documents in Word using the Outline View. It was a tremendous time saver!

    • You’re welcome, Laurie! Thanks for your kind words.