Software

A list of the 10 most useful Word shortcuts

How many Word shortcuts do you remember and use on a regular basis? Fifty? Twenty? How about just 10 solid go-to shortcuts like these?

When you go looking for a shortcut -- one you can't quite remember or one you know must surely be out there somewhere -- you've got plenty of resources: Help files, Google hits, and even comprehensive lists like those you'll find in the TechRepublic downloads library. Comprehensive is great, but sometimes selective is more practical.

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 10 Word shortcuts would you like to have with you? Here are mine.

Keystroke Function Notes
Shift + F3 Toggles through capitalization options. This one isn't perfect -- for instance, it insists on capitalizing articles and prepositions in Title Case mode -- but it's still a big timesaver.
Ctrl + Shift + N Applies the Normal style. If you work with documents that are riddled with obscure and specialized styles (typically other people's), it's handy to turn them into Normal paragraphs on the fly.
Ctrl + Shift + C Copies the formatting of selected text. Once you've copied the format, you can press Ctrl + Shift + V to paste the formatting onto a new selection. Yeah, I know -- Format Painter does this, too. But Format Painter forgets the formatting as soon as you're finished with it. This shortcut remembers what you copied until you close out of Word.
Alt + F9 Toggles the display of field codes on and off. Unless you work with field shading turned on -- and I don't know many users who do -- you can't necessarily tell what's literal text and what's being generated by an underlying field code. A quick peek using this shortcut can prevent the headache of inexplicable changes and unwanted editing consequences.
F4 Repeats your most recent action. This might be the all-time best shortcut (except for Undo, which I'm not including in this list because for me, at least, it's like breathing and requires no conscious thought). The F4 shortcut will repeat nearly all the actions you take on document text: typing: formatting, deleting.It will also let you repeat the action of adding or removing table rows, but it isn't well implemented with tables overall. For instance, changing table properties is not replicable via this shortcut.
Ctrl + H Opens the Find And Replace dialog box with the Replace tab selected. Replace functionality is my constant companion, so this one is essential for me. Ctrl + F opens to the Find tab if you just want to locate something in a document (or make sure something isn't in there).
Ctrl + drag text or an object Creates a copy of the text or object. Apologies to the keyboard purists, but this useful trick does require mouse action. It's handy when you need to copy an object and control where that copy ends up. For example, a picture or other object that has certain positioning attributes may land in some unpredictable location if you use the standard copy and paste functions. This shortcut lets you drag it exactly where you want it.Just make sure you drop the text or object before you release the Ctrl key or Word will move the original instead of copying it.BONUS: If you hold down Shift along with Ctrl as you drag, Word will keep the copy aligned with the original.
Ctrl + Q Removes paragraph formatting that isn't part of the style assigned to a selected paragraph. When you want to strip out manually applied formats and return to only those characteristics defined by a paragraph style, this is the quickest way to get there. Ctrl + Spacebar works the same way for character formatting.
Ctrl + 0 (zero) Applies or removes 12 points of space above the current paragraph. This sounds a little lame, but you can improve readability of selected text in about two seconds using this trick. For instance, table text is often jammed up against top borders. Select the table and hit Ctrl + 0 and you'll get an instant improvement.
Alt + drag the mouse vertically Make a vertical text selection. Another keyboard/mouse hybrid, this one is obscure but useful. Some users have trouble making it work, but the problem is usually sequence. Just make sure you press Alt before you press the mouse button and drag. Then, release Alt before you release the mouse button.

About

Jody Gilbert has been writing and editing technical articles for the past 25 years. She was part of the team that launched TechRepublic and is now senior editor for Tech Pro Research.

20 comments
Transaction7
Transaction7

Good. Please expand list and give us as many as possible, indexed. There were some in Office & Word 2003 that we lost, and need, including Underline Words Only, etc. that I have not been able to find in 2007.

SArmst2547
SArmst2547

so why not list the undo function?

Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

Is there or isn't there an extra space there? Is that an empty paragraph? or just added leading? Did I insert a tab there? or several spaces? Do I have some hidden text somewhere? How about optional hyphens? Ctrl+Shift+8, markers on; Ctrl+Shift+8, markers off.

stapleb
stapleb

Thanks Jody for the reminder. I use all of the above constantly. I would add Ctrl + Spacebar to remove all character formatting. I have used Ctrl + A to select a document, set the style to Normal and then Ctrl + Q and Ctrl + Spacebar to remove ALL formatting, and I can then fix a document from scratch. Another useful one is Ctrl + PageDown to reuse a Find you have done, and then closed the dialogue (I know, Aussie spelling) box so you don't have to open it again to do the next Find.

NexS
NexS

Ha! Nice one! Dont' think I'd ever use it, but it's interesting nonetheless.

lynnkauppi2
lynnkauppi2

Shift + F5 Returns you to your most recent editing location.

EliSc
EliSc

I mapped my own shortcut "ctrl" + "+" to "zoom to page width" - very helpful as many documents open in a way uncomfortable to read.

mmsteen
mmsteen

My favorite Word shortcut is ALT+SHIFT+Up Arrow or Down Arrow. I use this to move rows in a Word table without having to do cut and paste.

DittoHeadStL
DittoHeadStL

Never knew about it, and think it will come in handy.

WordEasy
WordEasy

Wonderful...it makes my day effective!

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

The old standbys are good enough for me: Ctrl-O, Ctrl-N, Ctrl-S, Ctrl-P, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-V, and, of course, Alt-F4. :D

john3347
john3347

I am not printing this in Word 2010, so I cannot demonstrate but I have the degree symbol, 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 fractions from the character map programmed to f1, f2, f3, and f4 respectively. I believe this is a new feature just offered in Word 2010. This shortcut does not know what font you are using for the current document, it only inserts in the font originally assigned to this shortcut.

stapleb
stapleb

Hi Transaction7 - Ctrl + Shift + W will underline words only in 2007. Need anymore, ask away, I may know them.

SirWizard
SirWizard

Besides being able to cut or copy a vertical selection of text, you can paste it. If you paste (just after a tab) into an area containing vertically aligned tabs, the text pastes vertically in line with the correct material after each tab. Very neat.

lynnkauppi2
lynnkauppi2

Anyone who is a professional editor or copyeditor can benefit from this shortcut and every other one listed. Lynn Lynn Allan Kauppi, PhD Codex Editorial Services Phoenix

curtis.gregson
curtis.gregson

Why not just use Ctrl-Y... that's universal for repeat last action

suzannebraun
suzannebraun

Dear Microsoft Word, What happened to the good old Microsoft Word of yesteryear. It was an easy to use, straight-forward word processor. Now it has become so advanced that you have to read the manual just to type a simple letter. It adds bullets where I don't want them, it corrects my spelling when I don't want it to -- if I want help, I'll ask for it. I don't need you, Microsoft word, so I've found someone else. His name is Wordpad.

SirWizard
SirWizard

CTRL+Y requires two somewhat distant keys to be pressed in a subtle sequence, nearly simultaneously, with CTRL slightly earlier. F4 is a single key, which is a lot simpler to press, and extremely easier for users with limited mobility. There's also the mnemonic of CTRL+Z and CTRL+Y as the Undo/Redo pair. And after undo, F4 also acts as redo, and if pressed repeatedly, is a single key to toggle between the undone and redone conditions, sometimes visually illuminating.

stapleb
stapleb

Hi Suzanne. Thank you for saying it! I searched and found out how to stop Word "helping" me - no more bullets, numbers etc. The only one I'm almost happy to accept is it correcting my mistyping. I cannot understand why it is being dumbed down at the stage where most users know what they are doing. Just keep your friend Wordpad.

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