Controlling Your Outline View

You've already heard that Word's outlines enable you to "view the forest and the trees." In fact, you can control the exact level of detail you view at any time. It's as if you could not only view the forest or the trees but also specific leaves, branches, trunks, individual trees, or groups of trees as well.

Displaying Only Selected Heading Levels

Imagine that you're reviewing a complex document with several levels of headings. You might want to start by looking at the document at a very high level?viewing only first-level headings. Choose Show Level 1 from the Show Level button on the Outlining toolbar, and Word hides all paragraphs except those formatted as first-level headings (see Figure 18.12). The gray underlining under these headings tells you they have subordinate text you aren't seeing.

Figure 18.12. A document showing only first-level headings.


After you're satisfied with the high-level organization of the document, you can drill deeper. Choose Show Level 2 from the Show Level drop-down box to view both first-level and second-level headings; choose Show Level 3 to view the first three levels of headings; and so on.


Displaying only one or two levels of headings can make it much easier to find a distant location in a large document. After you find it, you can click its heading and start editing there?in Outline view, or any other view you choose.

Controlling How Word Displays Body Text

Sometimes headings aren't enough to tell you the gist of a paragraph. You may want to view the entire document, including body text. Choose Show All Headings from the Show Level drop-down box on the Outlining toolbar. The entire document appears, appropriately indented and marked with outlining symbols.

If your document has a lot of body text, though, viewing entire paragraphs takes up so much space that you can lose track of the document's structure and context. Word also allows you to view the first line of text in every paragraph of body text.

To do so, first choose Show All Headings from the Show Level drop-down box to display all heading and body text. Next, click the Show First Line Only button. Word displays the first line of text in every paragraph in the document (see Figure 18.13), including both headings and body text. Ellipses (…) indicate where body text has been cut off.

Figure 18.13. Show First Line Only shows the first line of every paragraph, giving you a better idea of the paragraph's contents.



Show First Line Only displays the first lines of paragraphs only if they would otherwise have been displayed in full. For example, if you have chosen Show Level 3 from the Show Level drop-down box to show only the first three levels of headings, Show First Line Only won't display any body text.

Hiding Character Formatting

You've already learned that Word hides paragraph formatting while you're working in Outline view. However, it displays font (character) formatting. If your headings are especially large, or if they are formatted in display typefaces, you might find that character formatting makes working with your outline difficult.

To display text without displaying its formatting, click the Show/Hide Formatting button on the Outlining toolbar. You can see the results in Figure 18.14.

Figure 18.14. Word can display all outline headings and body text as unformatted text.



If Word displays unformatted text that is too small to read, use the Zoom control on the Standard toolbar to enlarge it.

Expanding/Collapsing Headings

Sometimes you want to focus on a specific section of your document and review it in much greater detail than the rest. You can double-click the Outline symbol next to any paragraph to alter how it displays body text subordinate to it. Double-clicking on a heading with a + symbol causes Word to display all the headings and body text subordinate to it. Word calls this expanding the heading. Notice that the symbol changes to a ? sign. Double-click it again and Word hides the subordinate contents. Word calls this collapsing the heading. Headings marked with a box cannot be expanded or collapsed.

You can use the Expand and Collapse toolbar buttons on the Outlining toolbar to precisely control the detail at which you view a section of a document so that you can better understand how that section is organized and make appropriate changes to either structure or text.

For instance, imagine that all headings and body text are currently displayed, but you want to view one paragraph at a higher level?with only its first- and second-level headings visible, not lower-level headings or body text.

Click the paragraph you want to adjust to select it. Next, click Collapse to hide all body text. Only headings remain visible. Click Collapse again to hide the lowest heading level subordinate to the paragraph with which you are working. Keep clicking Collapse to hide heading levels until you've reached the level you want.


If you have a Microsoft IntelliMouse or a compatible mouse with a wheel, you can expand or collapse selected paragraphs using the wheel between the two mouse buttons as detailed here:

  1. Click the Outline symbol you want to expand or collapse (or hover the mouse pointer over the symbol until the four-headed arrow pointer appears).

  2. Press and hold Shift. Roll the wheel forward to expand the selected text one level at a time; roll it back to collapse it one level at a time.

  3. When you're at the level you want, leave the wheel in the current position and release the Shift key.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word