Make a vertical text selection in Word

Every once in a while, you may need to select a portion of text from top to bottom instead of from left to right. This obscure mouse shortcut will handle the job.

Here's a trick that seldom appears on the shortcut lists. Most of the time, we select text horizontally — a word, a series of words, a paragraph — from left to right or vice versa. But occasionally, the selection has to be vertical. For instance, suppose you wanted to delete the leading characters in Figure A.

Figure A

To make a vertical selection, hold down [Alt] as you drag down through the text you want to highlight. Figure B shows the column of unwanted characters selected using this technique. Hit [Delete] and bam, they're gone.

Figure B

Although we selected text at the beginning of the lines in this example, you can make vertical selections anywhere on the page.

Note: Some users have reported that the Research pane appears when they try this selection technique. Here's the secret: Release the [Alt] key before you let up on the mouse button. Word should retain the selection. If you hold down [Alt] but release the mouse button, Word may think "[Alt]-click" and open the Research pane in response.

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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.

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