make your equilibrium sign longer

If you type 21CC then Alt>x the Unicode changes to the equilibrium arrow. This arrow is fine in lots of situations:

But sometimes you need a longer equilibrium arrow:

To get the longer equilibrium arrow, select a normal one then Home>Font>Advanced>Scale and change 100% to 300%:

You can make it longer than 300% but it then becomes too thick and bold, though changing the font colour to grey helps.

copy text from a diagram or picture

The method here can be used to convert a pdf to Word. What if you have a diagram or picture or screen dump or paste from the snipping tool which you want to copy the text from and use in Word? This can be done in OneNote. Copy the picture to a page in OneNote and right-click on it. Select the Copy Text from Picture option:

Paste into your Word document with Ctrl+V – this will give a box with all the words in the picture in Word. They will not be very accurate but it’s a better starting point than typing from scratch.

copy 24 items to the clipboard

If I’m writing a resource about magnesium sulfate I don’t want to have to type ‘magnesium sulfate’ every time I need it – I just type it once then thereafter when I need it I select it earlier in the document, Ctrl+C it then Ctrl+V where I need it. But I also want to do that for sodium carbonate. I used to keep moving around in the document doing Ctrl+C it then Ctrl+V to different phrases. Then I realised that the clipboard can hold 24 items at the same time. If I click on the clipboard icon in word I get this display:

Everything I select and Ctrl+C goes to the clipboard until it is full (24 items). The clipboard window on the left lists all the words or phrases I have copied. All I have to do is click on one and it appears at the cursor in the document.

If you go to Options at the bottom of the window you can tick the ‘Show Office Clipboard When Ctrl+C pressed Twice’ option:

This means that when you are writing a Word document and select a word or phrase then Ctrl+CC you will have the Clipboard window immediately open on the left.

select a random name from a class list

This is not a Word top tip but an Excel top tip. If you want to select a name at random from a class list in Excel, for example to ensure that you are randomising questions or asking students to read out loud, type this formula into a cell near the list:


Every time you click on F9 (or Fn+F9) the cell will be populated by a name at random from the list.

back up the normal template

I put all my Building Blocks and macros on the normal template. Next time the IT Dept issues new laptops I would lose all my hard work and have to start again if I hadn’t backed up my normal template so that I could save that to the new laptop.

By default the normal template is stored at:

C:\Users\ user name \AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Templates

Every so often I save the normal template on OneDrive so that I can instal it on any other computer I use.

Charles Kenyon has a macro which will automatically save the normal template:

run a macro using a keyboard shortcut

My most-used macros are on the Quick Access Toolbar so they can be run with one click. But the Quick Access Toolbar can only accommodate a certain number of macros and after that you have to scroll to find the one you want. Another way of running macro is to assign a keyboard shortcut: in the same way that Ctrl+C will copy the selection, Ctrl+SS for me will lower all the subscripts by 2 points and raise all the superscripts by 2 points as described here. All single letters are already used as shortcuts so, instead of reassigning them, I use two letters.

To assign the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+MB to the macro to replace the Cambria Math font in equations with Arial font as described here, follow these steps:

Select File>Options>Customise Ribbon to bring up this:

Under Choose commands from select Macros then at the bottom of the page find Keyboard shortcuts and click Customise:

Under Specify a command in the left-hand table select Macros and in the right-hand table select the macro to which you want to assign a keyboard shortcut. Under Press new shortcut key enter the shortcut you want:

Then press assign and close. The macro then runs when Ctrl+MB is pressed.

list all the keyboard shortcuts

Using keyboard shortcuts saves a lot of time when making Word resources – it’s a lot quicker to subscript a number by pressing Ctrl and = than it is to go to the Home page then click on the subscript button. To get a list of all the keyboard shortcuts on your computer do the following:

1.    Press Alt+F8 (or Alt+Fn+F8). Word displays the Macros dialog box listing all your macros.

2.    Using the Macros In drop-down list, choose Word Commands.

3.    In the list of commands at the top of the dialog box, choose ListCommands.

4.    Click Run. You’ll see the List Commands dialog box.

5.    Select the first option to see which keyboard shortcuts are set up on your computer. A new document is created which contains a table of all your shortcuts.

use Building Blocks to quickly add diagrams, text or tables

If you select any part of a Word document (diagram, text, table or any combination thereof) then press Alt+F3 (or Alt+Fn+F3) the selected area is copied to Building Blocks and you can name that selection in the table brought up. Then in any future document you only need to write the name and, with the cursor after the name, press F3 (or Fn+F3) to call up that diagram, text or table. This saves a huge amount of time when producing resources.

When you are typing the name of the Building Block for insertion, a ghostly-grey box appears above the writing – click on it before you have even finished writing the name and the Building Block appears.

Some possible uses are:

1. Instantly calling up a table rather then having to make it from scratch, as detailed here.

2. When I type ethylbenzene followed by F3 the word ethylbenzene is replaced by

3. When I type nucleophilic substitution followed by F3 the words nucleophilic substitution are replaced by

4. When I type heat under reflux followed by F3 the words heat under reflux are replaced by

5. Every Departmental meeting has the same format which I used to copy from last week’s Departmental meeting. Now I just type Chem Dept Meeting followed by F3 and the words Chem Dept Meeting are replaced by

6. Our end-of-topic tests have a text-box and the school logo at the top of the first page. I used to copy both of these from a different test but now I type test heading followed by F3 and the words test heading are replaced by

use a non-breaking space

When you are producing a resource you don’t want a number at the end of a line with its unit on the next line or, even worse, the unit being split over two lines as in these examples:

To avoid this, don’t use a normal space between 0.25 and mol and dm–3. Instead use a non-breaking space by pressing Ctrl+Shift+spacebar. It looks exactly the same but the whole thing will not be spread over two lines so will look like this: