This self-paced module takes you through some key features of Microsoft Word, and how you can use it for your university assignments. Work through step-by-step, or skip to the relevant section using the tabs above. Where possible, the instructions provided are general so they can apply to whatever version of the software you have; however, these instructions and screenshots specifically apply to Word 2016 on a Windows 10 operating system. If you find that the instructions differ from your version of Word, you can use the Help box in Word to search for the option you need. For detailed instructions on any of the topics covered (or anything else not covered), remember Google is your friend and other guides can usually be found online.

What you will learn

In this module you will learn how to:

  • Create templates in Microsoft Word

  • Save as a Word document or PDF

  • Add and format page numbers

  • Edit and create font styles

  • Format paragraphs (hanging indent or first line indented, and line spacing)

  • Change the margins of your document

  • Add content (including lists, tables, images, and hyperlinks)

  • Add section breaks.

As a Curtin Australia student, you can download the Microsoft Office suite of programs for free. Instructions on how to do this are available on the Current students site.

The Microsoft Office software is also available on any Curtin computer at the Curtin Perth (Bentley) campus.

The PDF below is a printable version of this guide, which you can download and refer to later.


When you first open Microsoft Word you can choose to create a blank document or you can use a template. There are a whole range of templates available, from résumés and cover letters, to flyers, cards and many more. You can also search the wide range of online templates to hopefully find what you’re looking for.

For this tutorial, choose the Blank document to open Word’s default Normal template.

You’ll be able to make changes to the document setup and save it as your own template, so that you can use it again and again for your assignments, without needing to change your formatting and layout each time. In the following sections we’ll show you how to change your document margins, heading styles, paragraph formatting and more. You can then save these changes to a template, ready to use for your next assignment.

To save your template:

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Name your file
  3. Where it says Save as type select “Word Template (*.dotx)”.

If you are working on your own PC, your template will be saved to a folder called “Custom Office Templates”. If you are working on a public computer (such as the Curtin campus computers), make sure to save your template somewhere where you will be able to find it easily, such as a USB or into cloud storage (OneDrive, iCloud, Dropbox, etc.).

Next time you open a new document in Word, you can select the template you have created and begin typing your assignment straight away, without needing to worry about your document setup.

Saving your document

Although Microsoft Word has an in-built auto-save function, you should still continually save your document, and keep multiple copies as a backup (such as one on your personal computer, another on a removable storage device, and one in cloud storage.

Saving as a document

In the section above, we demonstrated how to save your work as a template. Saving as a document is exactly the same, except you will save your work as a document file (.docx) instead of a template file (.dotx).

  1. Go to File > Save As
  2. Select Browse to choose the location you want to save your file (document) to (such as a USB)
  3. Name your file
  4. Ensure the file type is “Word Document (*.docx)”.
  5. Click Save.

Saving as a PDF

In some cases, you may wish to save your document as a PDF. This ‘locks down’ your formatting, and makes your document more secure/less likely to be inadvertently edited by others who view it.

  1. Go to File > Save As Adobe PDF (you may be prompted to save as a Word document first)
  2. Choose the location you want to save your PDF to (such as a USB)
  3. Name your file
  4. Ensure the file type is “PDF files (*.pdf)”.
  5. Click Save.