How to Get More Out of Word With the Navigation Pane

One of the features in Word that I use often is the Navigation Pane. In Word 2013, it can be found under the View menu, highlighted in the image below.


Check the box next to Navigation Pane in the Show section to reveal the Navigation Pane, which will appear as follows:


Alternatively, you can type CTRL+F to bring up the Navigation Pane.

Search for Text, Graphics, and More

As you can see, the Navigation Pane provides you with a number of options. At the top is a search box which will allow you to search your document for specific terms easily. Clicking on the magnifying glass or downward arrow to the extreme right of the search box provides additional search options, including Advanced Find and Replace (which you can also find at the extreme right of the Ribbon), as well as options to search for things like graphics, tables, and comments. Let’s see some examples:

Text Search

First, I’ll search for text.


As you can see, my search yielded several results. I can move between those results by clicking on a specific result, using the up and down arrows on my keyboard to jump to each instance of that particular term, or I can use the up and down arrows at the top of the results to navigate between them.

Graphics Search

Next, I’ll search for graphics. You’ll see that Word tells me that there are four results, but it doesn’t show me those graphics in the Navigation Pane itself—it just jumps me to each graphic in turn in the document if I use the arrows:


However, if I click on PAGES I will see thumbnails of each page where a graphic appears, and I can use the up and down arrows or click on a particular page to jump to that page and its graphic:


I can also click HEADINGS, and the Navigation Pane will display all of the document headings, highlighting those headings under which graphics appear in the document:


Easily Edit or Navigate Your Document With Headings

The feature of the Navigation Pane that I use most is Headings. This feature really comes in handy for longer documents. I use it when writing presentation materials, a long article, or a book, but it’s also useful when writing a brief, memorandum of law, longer pleading, or a contract.

In order for this feature to work, it requires you to use Word’s Styles under the Home menu to create headings and sub-headings in your document:


There are two ways that you can apply Styles to your document. First, as you are creating the document, you can click on the Style you want to apply before typing the text. Or, if you have already created the document, you can highlight the portion of the text you want to apply the Style to and click on that Style in the Ribbon to apply it to the highlighted text.

Once Styles have been applied to your document, when you click on the Navigation Pane, you’ll see an outline of your document with the headings and subheadings. This makes it easy to jump to a specific point in your document without needing to scroll endlessly. Even better, it allows you to easily cut and paste large sections of the text and move them around within the document by dragging and dropping the headings within the Navigation Pane, which will move the entire section at once, keeping it intact.


The above image shows the headings and subheadings I have applied to this article as I am writing. You can see that there are two levels of headings, and in the sections where there are subheadings, you’ll see a down arrow on an angle to the left of the heading. With this document, I can see all of the headings at once, but with a longer document, I could click through the Navigation Pane to easily see an outline of my entire document. Clicking on any heading or subheading would bring me immediately to that point in the document.

Using the Navigation Pane, I can also easily move sections around. For example, if I decided that I wanted to move the section of text, “Use Headings to Easily Edit or Navigate…” (highlighted above) to the beginning of the article—before my discussion of search—all I would need to do would be to drag that heading to the desired location, which would move not only the heading, but the entire section of text, to the new position in the document.

Feature image: ShutterStock.

About Allison Shields

Allison Shields
Allison C. Shields is President of Legal Ease Consulting, Inc. She provides practice management and business development coaching and consulting services to lawyers and law firms in the areas of practice management, productivity, client service, business development, marketing and social media. A former practicing lawyer and law firm manager, Allison knows the unique challenges faced by lawyers today. She understands the law firm environment and the daily pressures faced by lawyers trying to manage and build their business while practicing law and successfully serving their clients. Allison is the co-author of Facebook in One Hour for Lawyers and LinkedIn in One Hour for Lawyers, both published by the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association in 2012. She writes and lectures frequently for legal organizations and bar associations nationwide, and contributes to several blogs, including her own Legal Ease Blog. Her website provides resources and information for lawyers to help improve their practices. Contact her at or (631) 642-0221.

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