Tech Tip for Writers

Several people recently have told me that they are writing a novel — or a book of some kind: Both of my brothers, the 10-year-old son of some friends, my uncle, and everyone in a novel-writing class I took a while back (okay, that was last one was gratuitous). So here is a quick tip for all of you working on novels – or any long piece of writing that’s a challenge to organize: The Document Map in Microsoft Word.

I worked in Word for years before I discovered this great feature. It gives you a top-down overview of your entire document using your own chapter headings – at the tick of a box. I’m illustrating how to find it in Word 2007 but it’s been in every version I’ve used for years so I’m sure it’s there in whatever version you’re using.

All you have to do is format your chapter headings the same way. (All in bold or as “Heading 1”, for example.) Then click, View:

And tick Document Map:

Word will quickly create a list in the left window of all your chapter headings – and subheadings if you use those. Want to go quickly to Chapter Five? Click on Chapter Five in the map and you will jump right there in the document, too.


This is great if you decide – after you’ve finished a draft — to reorganize a piece. You can’t drag the chapters in the Document Map into the order you want. (That would be sweet.) But you can quickly renumber – or rename — them once you are done cutting and pasting in the document. Batteries for Every  Reason