Tips and tricks: keyboard shortcuts in Word (December 2018)

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by Margie Beilharz

Keeping your fingers on the keyboard can be more efficient than moving your hand from keyboard to mouse and back. Also, I find repetitive mouse movements to be more tiring for my hand than typing on a keyboard. For people with impaired vision, keyboard shortcuts are easier to use than selecting on-screen options. So knowing handy keyboard equivalents for menu options is very useful.

Keyboard shortcuts can be assigned to many (maybe all?) of the tasks you otherwise do in Microsoft Word using menus and your mouse. Some keyboard shortcuts even let you do things I don’t know how to do through menus. (You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to macros, giving you powerful actions at a keystroke, but I’ll not look at macros here.)

You'll be familiar with built-in shortcuts such as Ctrl+S to save, Ctrl+B to bold and Ctrl+X to cut. But there are also shortcuts to format text, manage styles, move around the document and make or undo changes.

In Word (both PC and Mac), you can run a macro that will produce a list of the Word commands that have been assigned keyboard shortcuts:

  1. Make sure your Developer tab is showing on your ribbon. There are instructions here if you need them.
  2. On the Developer tab, click Macros.
  3. In the Macros dialogue box, select 'Word commands' in the 'Macros in:' drop-down menu below the list of commands.
  4. From the list of Word commands, select 'ListCommands'.

MacroListCommands PC

  1. Click 'Run'.
  2. In the dialogue box, select 'Current keyboard settings'.

ListCommands PC

  1. Click 'OK'.
  2. The macro will create a new Word document with a table of your current commands.

Have a look through your list; mine has 250 or so commands, only a few of which I have assigned. You'll see that some commands have more than one keyboard shortcut.

You might find some that will be very useful, or you may be inspired to create some more to speed up repetitive or slow tasks. For example, rather than using your mouse and the paintbrush to copy formatting from one paragraph to another, you can use Copy format (Ctrl+Shift+C) and Paste format (Ctrl+Shift+V).

Some of my favourites

These are default keyboard shortcuts.

Action Windows shortcut MacOS shortcut

 

Go back
– puts your cursor back to its previous position, which is great if you've moved somewhere else to cut and want to return to paste.

 

 

Ctrl+Alt+Z

(also Shift+F5)

 

Cmd+Opt+Z

 

Redo or repeat the previous command
– I find this so useful, I disabled an otherwise useful Word plug-in that had overridden this F4 function

 

F4

(also Ctrl+Y, but that's harder to reach)

 

Cmd+Y

 

Cycles text through case formats
– sentence case, lower case, upper case, upper case each word, toggle case [may not cover all cases]

 

 

Shift+F3

 

Shift+F3

 

Type an en dash

 

Ctrl+minus

(the minus on the number pad, with Num Lock on)

 

 

Opt+hyphen key

 

Type an em dash

 

Ctrl+Alt+minus

(the minus on the number pad, with Num Lock on)

 

Opt+Shift+hyphen key

 

These I've set up myself in Word in Windows, where I do most of my editing.

Action Windows shortcut

 

Heading 1 style, Heading 2 style etc.

 

Ctrl+1, Ctrl+2 etc.
– I find these easy to do with one hand, unlike the default Ctrl+Alt+1 and Ctrl+Alt+2 etc. for heading styles

 

 

Body text style

 

Alt+1

 

 

List bullet style

 

Alt+2

 

 

Margie Beilharz is Editors Victoria's communication officer and newsletter editor. She's a freelance editor, writer and science communicator at The Open Desk.