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Digital training and support

Word skills for essay writing

Learn about the tools in Microsoft Word that can help you to format your essays.

Some links from this page will require a York St John Office 365 login. Email Digital Training if you are unable to access them:

How you format your work in Microsoft Word will depend on the length of the essay or assignment.

Find guidance on:

Short written pieces

Writing a basic essay using Word is straightforward but understanding a few tools can make your life much easier.

Basic essay writing tips include:

  • Showing hidden formatting
  • Using page breaks
  • Adding page numbers
  • Using the Format painter
  • Changing line spacing
  • Changing margins
  • Adding comments
  • Saving in OneDrive

For guidance on using these tools, watch our 4 minute video introduction to basic formatting in Word.

For more information and videos on individual skills for Essay writing in word see Word basic essay skills and Induction activity.

Basic formatting in Word

Longer writing and dissertations

As soon as you want to include a table of contents in your writing then you need to use heading styles to automate its production. It is a good habit to get into as it makes your work more accessible to screen readers as well.

See our help on Word essay skills (for Dissertation or other long documents) for all of the key skills to present your dissertation.

Accessibility in Word

To add accessibility to Word documents use the heading styles and table of contents. Our video guide contains a couple more tips to make documents more accessible.

You can also book onto one of our Making accessible documents courses.

Quick accessibility tips in Word (YouTube, 1'33")

See more information about Making Word Documents Accessible.

PhD writing skills

Even a long document such as a PhD starts with the basic principles outlined above.

Other useful skills include handling tables of figures, cross references, and making sure all of your page numbers update automatically.

The Digital Training team can also help with using track changes and all of the other advanced features in Word.