Getting a Bird’s-Eye View on Your Document

By Jack Lyon, the Editorium

Back in the days of editing on paper, I would sometimes spread manuscript pages out on my desk to get a bird's-eye view of the text I was working on. This could be useful for several reasons:

  • To see if long stretches of text needed to be broken down into subsections.
  • To compare points made over here with other points made over there.
  • To see if the overall organization of a chapter made sense.

On a computer screen, the default view is one page at a time, and most editors rarely deviate from that, even though it's possible (and sometimes useful) to do so. Here's how:

  1. On Microsoft Word's ribbon, click the View tab.
  2. Click the Zoom button.


  1. Click the Many pages button and select 2 × 4 Pages, which is the maximum Word allows when setting the number through the ribbon.


  1. Click the OK button.

Your document's pages should now be displayed four across, and if it has more than eight pages, they will automatically be displayed in more rows than the two you specified.


It's a bird's-eye view! After looking around, you can place your cursor anywhere on one of the pages and then click Zoom > One page to work on that page. Very convenient!

If you want to display more than four pages across, you can do so with a macro. This one will give you ten pages across:

Sub BirdsEyeView()    
    With ActiveWindow.ActivePane.View.Zoom
        .PageColumns = 10
        .PageRows = 2
    End With
End Sub

You can change the ".PageColumns = " number to anything you like, but 25 appears to be the maximum that Word will accommodate.

To return to Word's default view of one page, click Zoom > One page.

Here's how to use the BirdsEyeView macro and put in on Word's Quick Access Toolbar for easy use:

How about you? Do you have better ways of getting a bird's-eye view of your work? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

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