Outline View has been available since at least Word 97 and continues
in the Ribbon Versions of Word. It not only changes the view but gives
quick access to Outlining controls. These allow collapsing Outline
levels, promoting and demoting paragraphs and other helpful methods.
Leave the Master Document
In Word 97-2003, you can access it under the View Menu, in later
versions, under the View Tab. Once you click on Outline View, you are
taken to the Outlining Tab.
Outline view lets you Collapse/Expand parts of your document quickly.
You can select and copy/move entire parts of your document within
Outline view. In Word 2013 and later, you can collapse sections with
outline-level headings directly in the print view of the document as
You can print just the outline (collapsed/expanded as wished)
by using the Quick Print button (Word 97-2003). For later versions of
Word, you will need to add the button to the Quick Access Toolbar (QAT)
as outlined by Suzanne Barnhill in this
If you use the
forth so well by Shauna Kelly of linking your numbering to styles,
that works well with the Outline View. Changing levels in a paragraph will
not change that paragraph's style. To have the outline level apply to
the style, update the style to match formatting after you have applied
the level to a paragraph using the style.
Warning: The Outline View in
versions of Word after Word 97 has given access to the "Master Document
features" of Word. These are dangerous and can destroy your work. See
Master Documents before
touching these "features."
How to Save Yourself Hours by Using Outline View Properly by Dave
How Writers Can Use Word's Outline View (Ribbon versions).
Word 2013 introduced the ability to collapse text under
headings, actually under any paragraph with an outline level set in the
paragraph formatting. This works by the outline level of the heading.
If your mouse pointer over any paragraph that has an
outline level set, you will see a little triangle, either pointed to the
right or angled down. That triangle appears in the left margin next to
the paragraph. The appearance of the triangle is different in different
versions of Word. The screenshot below is from Word 2019.
Clicking on the Triangle Toggles Between Collapsed and
When you collapse a heading, Word hides the text
following the heading paragraph until the next heading paragraph of the
same or higher outline level. This will mean the rest of a document
if there are no paragraphs in the appropriate outline level to stop the
The triangle showing collapsed text will show on the
The one to collapse text shows when you hover the mouse
pointer over the paragraph. In the document shown the mouse pointer is
over Heading 1, you still see the triangle indicating collapsed text in
the first Heading 2, the second Heading 2 is not collapsed and does not
show a triangle.
The ability to collapse/expand depends on the heading
having an outline level.
Printing a Document with Collapsed Text
When you print a document that has text collapsed, the
text collapsed is not printed. The little triangle indicating collapsed
text is also not printed. The text is still there in the document. Links
and Cross-References to that text will still work and using them will
uncollapse the text.
If you convert to PDF, it will also not be printed.
The Navigation Pane and Collapsing Text in the Body are
If you collapse text in your document at level 2 and
there is text set to outline level 3 or lower in the collapsed area, it
will still show up in the Navigation Pane. Likewise, if certain levels
are collapsed in the Navigation Pane, it has no influence over what
shows up in the document.
If you click on a heading shown in the Navigation Pane
that is in a collapsed area of text, it will uncollapse the area.
Clicking on either Heading 3 or Heading 4 in the Navigation Pane will
uncollapse everything that is collapsed under that Heading 2 in the
You can collapse your view of headings in the Navigation
Pane. That has no effect on what is seen in the document, only on what
is shown in the Navigation Pane.
Options for Collapsing Text
This is a feature designed into the Word program,
itself. It is not a user option and you cannot turn it on or off.
There is an option to always uncollapse this text
when opening a document. This is a user, not a document setting.
Note: The idea of labeling of sections as "big ideas" was stolen directly
from Bill Coan's article on
numbering. The distinction between numbering levels and outline levels
developed from comments by
MVP Lisa Wilke-Thissen.