Save mouse clicks with Word's highlight shortcut

There's a quick keyboard shortcut in the ribbon version of Word for highlighting text. If you're still using 2003, you can add your own.

Word's highlighting feature lets you display color behind text. (Don't confuse the term highlight with select-they're not the same, although many people use the terms interchangeably.) In Word 2007/2010, the highlighting option's in the Font group on the Home tab.

Similar to most formatting options, this one's easy to use. Select a color from the dropdown and select your text, which makes this option just a bit different than others because you select the color before you select the text. A second click disables the tool. To remove existing highlight, select the text and choose No Color from the Text Highlight dropdown.

Most of you already know about this tool; what you might not know about is 2007/2010's new keyboard shortcut for this tool. Simply select the text and press [Ctrl]+[Alt]+H to highlight the current selection. It acts as a toggle, so repeat those steps to remove the highlight. Since you're not selecting a color, this method applies the currently selected color, but if you don't change the color often, you can probably live with it.

It's a great addition to the ribbon version, but, if you're using Word 2003, there's no keyboard shortcut for this feature. You can add one of your own as follows:

  1. From the Tools menu, choose Customize.
  2. In the resulting Customize dialog box, click Keyboard (it's all three tabs).
  3. Choose All Commands from the Categories list.
  4. In the Commands list, choose Highlight.
  5. Click inside the Press New Shortcut Key control.
  6. Press the keys you want to assign to this shortcut-perhaps, [Alt]+H.
  7. Click Assign.
  8. Click Close twice.

Now, in Word 2003, you can select text, press [Alt]+H and apply (and remove) a highlight.

About Susan Harkins

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.

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