34 timesaving mouse tricks for Word users

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Keyboard shortcuts are a mainstay for most Word users who are trying to streamline their work. Even brand-new users start slinging around Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V soon after mastering the intricacies of scrolling. But keyboard shortcuts are often nonintuitive and hard to remember. (What mnemonic would you use to recall that Ctrl+E centers document text or that Ctrl+T produces a hanging indent?)

That's where mouse shortcuts — the unsung hero of built-in functionality — can take up the slack. Users probably know the basic moves: Right-click on an item to display a shortcut menu, double-click to select a word, triple-click to select a paragraph. But Word has quite a few additional mouse tricks up its sleeve. This overview will help you (and your users) learn some easily remembered techniques to gain quick access to a host of Word options.


Action Result
Double-click an indent marker on the horizontal ruler Opens the Paragraph dialog box
Double-click the vertical ruler (in Print Preview) or the gray area of the horizontal ruler Opens the Page Setup dialog box
Double-click a tab marker on the horizontal ruler Opens the Tabs dialog box
Double-click the style area Opens the Style dialog box. (To display the style area, make sure you're in Normal view, choose Tools | Options | View, and enter a value in the Style Area Width text box.) This is a particularly neat trick for those who prefer setting style options in a dialog box instead of in the task pane.
Double-click a section break mark (visible in Normal view) Opens the Page Setup dialog box with This Section selected in the Apply To drop-down list. "This" refers to the section above the section break mark you clicked on.
Double-click a paragraph properties mark Opens the Line And Page Breaks tab in the Paragraph dialog box. The mark is a small black square that appears to the left of a paragraph that has the Keep Lines Together, Page Break Before, or Keep With Next option enabled. (The display of Formatting Marks must be turned on to see these marks; you may need to click Show/Hide ¶ on the Standard toolbar to turn on the display.)
Double-click a number in a numbered list Opens the Numbered tab in the Bullets And Numbering dialog box
Double-click a bullet in a bulleted list Opens the Bulleted tab in the Bullets And Numbering dialog box

Objects and pictures

Action Result
Double-click the frame of a text box Opens the Format Text Box dialog box
Double-click an AutoShape Opens the Format AutoShape dialog box
Double-click a WordArt object Opens the Edit WordArt dialog box
Double-click an embedded object, such as an Excel worksheet or PowerPoint slide Opens the object for editing
Double-click a picture Opens the Format Picture dialog box
Double-click a control (check box, command button, etc.) Launches the VB Editor and open the properties and code window for that item

Miscellaneous tasks

Action Result
Hold down Ctrl and click within a sentence Selects sentence
Hold down Ctrl and drag selected text or an object Creates a copy of the text or object
Double-click the split bar at the top of the horizontal scroll bar Splits the window into two panes; double-click the top border of the lower pane to remove the split
Double-click in the header or footer area (in Print Layout view) Activates the header or footer; double-click in the main text area to return to it
In Print Layout view, click between pages Shows or hides the white space between them
Double-click an unused area beside any toolbar Displays the Customize dialog box
Right-click on any toolbar Displays the toolbars list
Double-click a footnote/endnote marker Jumps to the corresponding footnote/endnote (and vice versa)
Double-click the top border of the Reviewing Pane Closes the pane and returns you to the main text area
Double-click the right border of the Document Map or Thumbnails pane Closes the pane
Double-click the document title bar Toggles between maximized and restored window size. (Little-known related trick: The same thing happens if you double-click the gray square at the intersection of the horizontal and vertical scroll bars.)
Double-click a Move Table Column marker (those little dotted squares you see on the horizontal ruler when you're in a table) or the Table Move Handle (the four-headed arrow that appears at the top-left corner of a table in Print Layout view) Opens the Table Properties dialog box
Click the Table Move Handle Selects the table
Double-click the plus symbol next to a heading in Outline view Expands or collapses the heading's subordinate text

Status bar tools

Action Result
Double-click the status bar anywhere to the left of the REC item Opens the Go To dialog box
Double-click REC on the status bar Opens the Record Macro dialog box
Double-click TRK on the status bar Turns track changes on and off. (Right-clicking on TRK will bring up a shortcut menu of additional options.)
Double-click EXT on the status bar Turns extend selection mode on and off
Double-click OVR on the status bar Turns overtype mode on and off
Double-click the Spelling And Grammar Status icon on the status bar Checks document spelling and grammar. (Right-clicking will bring up a shortcut menu of additional options.)

By Jody Gilbert

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 features editor for Tech Pro Research.