There are two features in Word that are particularly useful for checking a document’s structure: the Document Map Pane and the Outline view. Both can be accessed through the View menu.* Both will help you focus on an overview by hiding most of the content. We will look at the Document Map first and the Outline view in another post.
Document Map Pane
The Document Map appears on the left-hand pane of the Word window. This is shown in the figure above. It relies on heading level styles that are set in the document. The figure shows the structure of a large document with many headings.
Visualize Heading Structure
Heading structure is indicated by the indent distance, and by a little triangle beside a heading, which shows that there are sub-headings in that section. The headings arranged farthest left are the top-level headings. Each lesser heading is indented to represent its hierarchy.
By clicking the little triangles beside a heading in the pane, you can hide heading levels to reveal larger or more minute structure. For instance, open all heading levels to see the whole structure, or collapse them to see only the top-level structure.
By right-clicking on the left-hand pane, a context-sensitive menu (shown below) will pop up, giving you the options of selecting how many heading levels are displayed. This menu also gives you the option of expanding or collapsing all headings, so you can quickly check the depth and breadth of the headings.
Navigate Using the Document Map
The other two ways I use the Document Map are to navigate a document and to identify any missing headings or style tags. Navigation happens because you can be taken to any point in the document just by clicking the related heading in the Document Map pane.
Conversely, when working in the main document window, you will notice that the heading level where the cursor is presently located is highlighted in the Document Map Pane. This helps you tell where your cursor is in the context of the larger document.
As for checking heading levels, if you don’t see the heading in the Document Map, you know that the style has not been correctly applied.
Limitations of the Document Map
Only Word’s default heading style will be displayed in the document map, and only if they are applied to the whole paragraph (which would usually be only a heading, but includes the pilcrow code). So this won’t help you if your designer has customized styles.
*Each version of Word varies slightly, so yours may not look like what’s shown here (View > Sidebar > Document Map Pane). To find instructions specific to the version of Word you have, search the Internet for “Document Map Pane”—in quotation marks—and the version number of Word that you use.
The pane is accessible in a few ways. If you have the Find pane open, for example, you can switch to the Document Map by clicking the icon in that pane that looks like a bulleted list. That is second from the left in the top figure.