Using the Thesaurus in Microsoft Word

Thesaurus
Figure 1

Most people will only use 10% of what a program has to offer; the problem is that my 10% and your 10% are completely different. One of the goals for this blog is to share some of the other 90% that you might find useful if you just knew it was there. I’ll be posting a series of articles on some of the most under-utilized Microsoft Office features.

One underused feature in Microsoft Word is the thesaurus. Like that Roget’s Thesaurus you keep on the shelf next to your desk and never pick up, Microsoft Word will help you find just the right word for your project.

The easiest way to start the Thesaurus is to put the cursor somewhere in the word you want to look up and press Shift+F7 (hold down the Shift key and press the F7 key at the very top of your keyboard). The Thesaurus will appear in a panel on the right. (Figure 1)

 

The starting word will appear at the top. In my example you see the word “look” in the top square, and several synonyms underneath it. If you click on one of the synonyms, that word will move to the top and the word list will change to match your newly-chosen word..

Figure 2

When a word can be used to mean different things you’ll see them grouped by meaning. In the example, “look” can be used different ways. The separate meanings are grouped under “appearance”, “gaze,” and “observe”. Clicking the triangles next to the category words will show or hide the different variations of those words. In Figure 2 you’ll see I’ve clicked on the triangle to collapse the words under “appearance (n.)”

Hover your mouse over the word you’d like to use. A dropdown box will contain three commands (Figure 3):

  • Insert will replace your original word with the word you’ve chosen..
  • Copy will put chosen word into your clipboard to be pasted somewhere else.
  • Lookup will open the Dictionary. (More on the Dictionary in a later post.)

 

Thesaurus
Figure 3

 

 

There are other ways to access the Thesaurus. If you’re using Word 2007 or later:

  • Make sure the cursor is in the word you want to look up.
  • Click on the Review tab at the top of the work area.
  • The Thesaurus button will be near the left of the screen.

If you’re using an earlier version:

  • Make sure the cursor is in the word you want to look up.
  • Click on the Tools menu
  • Click on (or hover over) the Language command.
  • Choose Thesaurus in the flyout menu.
  • The thesaurus will look a little different than the example but has most of the same features.

Did you try to use this feature and get stuck? Leave me a comment below.

 

 

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