Document NavigationWhen you are working with large documents in Microsoft Word, it can sometimes be hard to keep track of where you are. Navigating your way around these documents is confusing and can be time consuming. Where you are having to constantly move back and forth between sections of a document, the document map can help you to do this easily.

So what is the document map?

The document map is quite simply what it sounds like, a map of you document, listing all of the different sections and linking to them so that you can quickly jump from one section to another. In order to do this, you need to make sure that your document is formatted correctly with style headings. This is something you should get into the habit of doing with all of your documents. It promotes consistency and avoids many of the annoying little formatting issues that you might otherwise encounter. We covered style headings in a previous article, if you’re not familiar with using them, check it out here.

Viewing document map and setting the number of outline levels

Open the document map by clicking on the ‘view‘ tab. Depending upon your version of Word, you will either see the document map here, or under the ‘show‘ group check the ‘navigation pane‘ box. Alternatively you can use the keyboard shortcut Alt+V+D and the document map will be displayed on the left of your screen.

There are three different views in this navigation pane, which you can switch easily between using the icon tabs at the top of the panel. Choose to view document by headings, pages or search the document using the search bar. You can also use the small up and down arrows to easily scroll through the headings or pages one at a time.

If you have lots of headings and sub-headings, you can choose how many headings outline levels to display. To set this, right-click on one of the headings in the Document Map, and choose “show heading levels“. You can then choose how many levels you want to display. At any time you can expand or collapse individual headings by clicking on the plus and minus signs or the small expansion triangles next to the headings.

Three useful ways to use the document map

  1. To navigate your document. Simply click on a heading in the list, and your cursor will automatically jump to that section of your document – easy, hey? In a large document, where it’s easy to get ‘lost’ this is a great feature. Which leads to the next point…
  2. To keep track of where you are in the document. If you are typing up a very large manuscript, and aren’t sure quite which section you are in, the document map will help you out. As you scroll through you will see in the map that the section you are looking at will be highlighted, so you always know just where you are and you won’t get ‘lost’!
  3. To check that your formatting is consistent and all of your headings are correct. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a main purpose of the document map, it is a good way of checking that your document is formatted right. You can alter the number of outline levels to display in document map, so for example, you can choose to just showing main headings and sub-headings. Since it will only display the headings that you want to see, this can be an easy way to check that all of your headings and subheadings are formatted correctly. If they aren’t showing in the document map, then you have not formatted them correctly somewhere along the way.