Select a vertical block of text in Word

When selecting text, Word thinks it knows best. When you need more control, use this quick trick for selecting a vertical block of text.

When you select text, Word assumes a lot about the text you want selected. If you drag the mouse down, Word automatically selects all of the text to the right of the cursor's current position. Similarly, if you drag the mouse up, Word selects all the text to the left of the cursor. What if you want to select text moving up or down without selecting text to the right or left or the cursor? Fortunately, you can force Word to select a vertical block of text—ignoring the text to the right or the left—if you know the key, the right keystroke that is.

To customize the selection area, position the cursor at the the beginning (or ending) of the block you want to select. Then, hold down the [Alt] key and drag your mouse up or down and right or left to select just the block you want—without Word's interfering assumptions.

For a quick a glimpse of what you can do, just click anywhere in the middle of some text, hold down the [Alt] key, and make a small circle with your mouse. By using the [Alt] key while dragging your mouse, you can customize the shape and size of the selected block of text—it's up to you, not Word!


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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