Software

How to work around an annoying editing setting


One editing feature that seems to drive some people nuts is the way Word (and many Office applications) automatically selects an entire word when you highlight a partial word. For example, enter a simple line of text, such as When you highlight a partial word, Word sometimes selects the entire word. Next, insert the cursor between any two letters -- say, between the l and e in selects. Then, highlight the next six characters to the right, up to and including the t in the. As soon as you select the t, Word expands the selection to include all of the word selects, even though you highlighted only the last four letters. At this point, the string selects t is selected. What if you really meant to select only ects t? There are two ways to work around this setting: You can disable it or you can cancel it for the current selection.

To disable the setting, choose Options from the Tools menu, click the Edit tab, and uncheck the When Selecting, Automatically Select The Entire Word setting in the Editing Options section. Once you disable the feature, Word selects only what you actually highlight. Of course, that means you must select entire words yourself -- Word won't do it for you anymore.

The other solution cancels the expanded selection. Simply move the highlight back to the space character that follows the word in question. Following the current example of ects t, move one character to the left. When the cursor encounters the space between ects and t, Word unselects sel. At that point, you can highlight as many characters to the right as you like, without Word's interference.

It's worth nothing that the double-click selection isn't part of this scenario. Double-click selects the entire word, regardless of this editing setting's status.

About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

2 comments
Marshwiggle
Marshwiggle

This works, but if you use the keyboard (i.e., Shift plus arrow keys) Word doesn't automatically select whole words. Generally speaking, the keyboard is a more-accurate, and faster, tool for text selection, unless you're in a browser, or your hand is already on the mouse.

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