Some of the most useful Word shortcuts

Or how to save yourself hours by giving your mouse a rest!

Article contributed by Dave Rado

General keyboard time-savers
Moving around and selecting things

This list doesn't attempt to be comprehensive, but is a list of the shortcuts which save me the most time.

You can also get a complete list of keyboard shortcuts by selecting Tools + Macro + Macros, where it says Macros in, select Word Commands, select the command called ListCommands and press Run. Or you might find the following more useful: Word commands, and their descriptions, default shortcuts and menu assignments

General keyboard time-savers


If you look at the menus, you will see many of Word's keyboard shortcuts displayed next to the command – for instance, Ctrl+C next to Edit + Copy, Ctrl+V next to Edit + Paste, Ctrl+F next to Edit + Find, etc. Learning and using these shortcuts will save you many hours, allowing you to spend more time with your family! (And many of them work in all Windows applications).

One menu shortcut which is not displayed but which I find very useful is Ctrl+F2 for Print Preview.

One which is displayed but which is so useful and so often missed that it's worth mentioning specifically is Ctrl+Z to Undo. Keep pressing Ctrl+Z to Undo as far back as you want – if you go too far, press Ctrl+Y to redo.


To access the menus with the keyboard press Alt plus the underlined letter on the main menu. Then type the underlined letter in the drop-down menu. E.g. type Alt+ V, P to go into Page Layout View, or Alt+ V, O to go into Outline View. If you have the mouse in your hand it's quicker to use the mouse (and then the toolbars come into their own), but when touch-typing, accessing the menus with the keyboard saves a lot of time.


To apply or remove Bold, Italic or Underline press Ctrl+B, Ctrl+I, or Ctrl+U. Use Ctrl+L to left-justify text, Ctrl+E to centre it, Ctrl+J to justify it, and Ctrl+R to right-justify it.


To return to your last edit point, press Shift+F5. For instance, if you have copied and want to return to where you were in order to paste. Press Shift+F5 again to go to up to the last three edit points, or a fourth time to return to where you started.

Also use this when you first open a document, to go straight back to where you were last editing it.


To change the case of any text, select the text and press Shift+F3. Very useful, for instance, if you have accidentally LEFT YOUR CAPS LOCK ON!

Keep pressing Shift+F3 to toggle between ALL CAPS (or UPPERCASE), no caps (or lowercase), and First Letter In Caps (which Word misleadingly refers to as Title Case – a true example of Title Case would be First Letter in Caps, but to achieve this level of intelligence you need a macro).

You get more options if you use the Format + Change Case dialog, though.


You can repeat most commands and actions by pressing F4. This is much more useful than you might think.

For example, apply borders to a table. Go to your next table, select it, and press F4 to apply the same borders. (Or do the same with rows within a table).

Convert a picture from Floating to Inline, then use F4 to do the same with all other pictures.

Apply a Style somewhere, then use F4 to apply the same Style to all other paragraphs in the document which need that Style applied.

Select one table row, right-click, Insert Rows. Select the new row and F4. Select the two new rows and F4. Select the four new rows and F4 – and so on.

In Word 97, you can use F4 in combination with the Table + Cell Height and Width dialog to make each column in one table exactly the same width as the equivalent column in another table – a trick I use constantly. In Word 2000 and higher, the Table Properties dialog doesn't support F4, a serious retrograde step; but fortunately you can fix this. See: How to sidestep the problems of the Word 2000 (and higher) Table Properties dialog for details.

Before you start, make sure you can see both tables (split the window if necessary). Then select a cell in one table, select Table + Cell Height and Width, choose the Column Tab and press OK; select a column in the other table and press F4. The width you captured from the first table will now be applied to the other one. (You can even use this trick if the two tables are in separate documents.)

You can use the same principle to left or centre-align multiple tables, apply table indents, etc. Apply the formatting you want to one table, using the Cell Height and Width dialog (or if it is already applied, simply display the dialog and press OK), and just click in the other tables you want to apply the formatting to and press F4.

I also use F4 for applying bold to the first couple of words in each item in a bulleted list (easier on the fingers than Ctrl+B); for merging cells in several different rows; for making the Page Setup identical in two different sections of a document (see Working with sections), or in two different documents – the list of time-saving uses for it goes on and on!


You can repeat the last Find or Goto by pressing Shift+F4


You can cycle through all open Word documents by pressing Ctrl+F6 (or you can cycle backwards by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F6.

In Word 2000 you can also use Alt+Tab, which cycles through all open applications. Word 2000 uses SDI (Single Document Interface) which makes each Word document behave as if it were a separate instance of Word, although it isn't.


This one is more esoteric, but very useful if you customise commands a lot, and several people have emailed me with this tip.

If you have a numeric keypad, press Alt+Ctrl+Num+ (hold down Alt and Ctrl and press the + key on the numeric keyboard). If you don't have a numeric keypad, assign a shortcut key of your own to the Word command ToolsCustomizeKeyboardShortcut. Either way, when you press the shortcut, the mouse cursor will change into a 4-headed squiggle:

Now if you press another shortcut key combination, the Customize Keyboard dialog will display and show you which command or macro is currently assigned to that shortcut. (for instance, if you press Ctrl+F4 while the squiggly cursor is visible, the dialog will display the DocClose command).

Alternatively, if you invoke the squiggly cursor and then select any menu item, the Customize Keyboard dialog will display and show you which command or macro that menu button is assigned to. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for toolbar buttons, but you can temporarily Ctrl+Drag  a toolbar button onto a menu (select Tools + Customize first), and then use the squiggly cursor to find out what command or macro the button is assigned to.

And unfortunately, it works less reliably with custom menu buttons than it does with built-in ones – according to squiggly cursor, several custom buttons that I've assigned to macros are actually assigned to the ToolsMacro command!!! That's a bug.



To remove manual formatting: Press Ctrl+Spacebar to remove character formatting. Press Ctrl+Q to remove paragraph formatting. These shortcuts return the formatting to the default for the Style in use. To return the selection to the Normal style, press Ctrl+Shift+N.

If you've been emailed a document by another company and need to get it into your Corporate style, and if it contains a lot of manual formatting (as they usually do), print it, and then press Ctrl+A (Select All), Ctrl+Spacebar and Ctrl+Q. If the document uses styles, but the styles are in a mess (as they will be if the author had the default Autoformat as you Type settings on), press Ctrl+Shift+N as well. Then apply styles. Doing this can save you hours per document, literally. 


Avoid formatting text manually as much as possible – use Styles instead.

But where you need to format manually, you can use Ctrl+Shift+C to copy formatting and Ctrl+Shift+V to paste it. Having copied formatting, you can use Ctrl+Shift+V as often as you like – even across multiple documents – without having to copy again until you close Word.

If a paragraph marker is selected when you copy, this will copy and paste the paragraph formatting; otherwise it will just copy and paste the character formatting.

You can also use Ctrl+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V to copy & paste such things as drawing object lines and fills – in both Word and PowerPoint.

The Paintbrush on the Toolbar does more or less the same thing, (although it's much harder to use, and you have to double-click on it if you want to apply the same formatting multiple times); and in Excel and Visio, where unfortunately Ctrl+Shift+C and Ctrl+Shift+V don't work, the Paintbrush can be a huge time-saver for things like reapplying cell properties and shape fills.


To create Headings, hold the Alt+Shift keys down, and while keeping them held down, press the Left or Right arrow on the keyboard – Left arrow to create a main Heading, or promote an existing one, Right arrow to create a subheading or demote an existing one. No need to select anything first, just click in the paragraph which you want to apply the formatting to.

This one is very useful in any View but especially in Outline View, as it allows you to promote and demote a large number of Headings at once.

Alternatively, you can press Ctrl+Alt+1 to create a Heading 1, Ctrl+Alt+2 to create a Heading 2, etc. But unfortunately, in Europe, Ctrl+Alt+4 has been hijacked for the Euro symbol. 

Personally I much prefer the Alt+Shift method anyway; easier on the fingers, only one shortcut to remember; and you don't need to think about which Heading Level you want to apply, you only have to think about whether you want the heading to be the same level as the previous one (Left arrow), a higher level (Left arrow twice) or a sub-heading of it (right-arrow). When going through a long document applying headings, this shortcut saves me hours!

Alt+Shift+Left or Right arrow can also be used to promote and demote outline numbered or bulleted lists – not just Headings.

If the Headings don't look the way you want them to, don't format them manually! Redefine the Styles instead (Format + Style + Modify).

Incidentally, some people also like using Alt+Shift+Up and Down arrows to change the order of their Headings in Outline View, so give that a try. Personally, I prefer using drag and drop.


Never! use manual page breaks – they're a maintenance nightmare. Instead, on the Format + Paragraph + Line and Page Breaks tab:


Select Keep with next to keep paragraphs together. For example, on the top few rows of a table or the top few paragraphs of a bulleted list, or an inline picture which needs to stay with its caption – although in the latter case it would be better to build this into your Picture style definition.


Select Keep Lines together to prevent a paragraph from ever being split over two pages (but see also Widow/Orphan Control, covered below).


Select Page break before to force a page break where needed – again, build that into your style definitions where possible, e.g. for the Heading 1 style in a long document, and for the style you use for your Table of Contents title.

Widow/Orphan control prevents one line of a paragraph being orphaned at the top or bottom of a page – but this is built in to your style definitions by default anyway.

And a last point while on the subject of styles, make sure that under Format + Style + Modify, the Automatically Screw Up Update setting is turned off. Unfortunately, it is turned on by default for the List Bullet and TOC styles. Turn them off!

Moving around and selecting things


To move around a document


Use Ctrl+Left or Right arrows to move one word; use Home and End to move to the start or end of a line; Ctrl+Home or Ctrl+End to move to the beginning or end of a document, Ctrl+Up or Down Arrow to move one paragraph, and the Up or Down arrows to move one line. And of course, PgUp and PgDn to move one screen, but you knew that one!


Press F5 and in the left-hand pane of the Goto dialog, select Section to go to the next section, Table to go to the next table, etc. Or you can use the browse button near the bottom of the scroll bar, pictured on the right (although I never do!). The browse object changes when you use Find/Replace or select a different object in the Go To dialog, which I find infuriating (see the 1c for more on this).

NOTE: The object browser feature in the scroll bar is found in Word 2010 and earlier versions. Microsoft removed this useful feature from the scroll bar in Word 2013 and it will not come back as a built-in tool. However, Lene Fredborg has created a Word add-in, DocTools ObjectBrowser, that brings back the object browser feature known from Word 2010 – in an improved version. The add-in works with Word 2013 and newer versions.


By default, Ctrl+PgDn is assigned to the BrowseNext command, and Ctrl+PgUp is assigned to BrowsePrevious. If the last thing you used Goto for was to go to a table, they will go to the next or previous table.

Some people like this, because it allows them to go backwards as well as forwards, whereas Shift+F4 only goes forwards (although you can also use Shift+F5 to go back). But personally, I find it infuriating, because 90% of the time I just want to go to the next or previous page, not to a table, thank you. So I've assigned the GoToNextPage command to Ctrl+PgDn and the GoToPreviousPage command to Ctrl+PgUp (which you can do using Tools + Customize+ Keyboard). I'd be lost without these ones (as would most of my users!).


To select text:


Hold the Shift key down and use the key combinations covered in 1a. For example, to select everything from the insertion point to the end of the document in order to delete it, press Ctrl+Shift+Endmuch quicker than any other way! Similarly, Shift+Up or Down Arrow selects one line, Shift+PgUp and PgDn selects one screen, and so on.

And if you've selected too much, just keep the Shift key down while you use the same keys covered in 1a to de-select what you don't want.

This works just as well when selecting cells in Excel, incidentally, and is probably even more of a timesaver in Excel than it is in Word.


Another good way of selecting text is to click where you want the selection to start, use the scrollbars (or wheelie if you have one on your mouse) to scroll until you can see where you want your selection to end, and with the Shift key held down, click again.

As with 2a, you can de-select if you've selected too much by keeping the Shift key held down and clicking again.


A third method, which I never use but some people swear by, is to either double-click on the status bar where it says EXT, or press F8. This puts you into Extended Selection mode, which means you can use the same shortcuts as in 2a but without having to hold the Shift key down.

While in Extended Selection mode, you can also press Enter to select to the end of the paragraph; or press period (.) to select to the end of the sentence. Keep pressing Enter or period to select more paragraphs or sentences. (I got this one from Beth Melton).

And again you can de-select if you've selected too much, but this time without needing to keep the Shift key held down.

Pressing F8 twice selects a word, three times a sentence, four times a paragraph and five times the entire document.

To get out of Extended Selection mode, press Esc or double-click on the status bar again.


Double-click on a word to select it, triple-click to select the paragraph. Ctrl+Click to select a sentence.

Or click once in the left margin (which MS refers to as the Selection Bar in Help) to select one line, double-click to select a paragraph and triple-click to select the document (although I usually use Ctrl+A to select the document).


To select a block of text (for instance, to quickly remove manually typed bullets), either hold the Alt key down while you drag; or press Ctrl+Shift+F8 and then move the arrow keys on the keyboard.

The latter method works much better than the former if selecting large blocks spanning multiple pages (I picked this one up from the newsgroups).


The following tip was supplied by Klaus Linke: sometimes you may have selected some text by moving down the document, and you may suddenly realise that you want the selection to begin further up the document (or the other way round); and Word won't let you do this without deselecting and starting again!

You can get around this problem by assigning the following macro to a keyboard shortcut. Press your shortcut to change the selection direction (so that for example, if you can't currently extend the start of the selection upwards, you will be able to do so after pressing the shortcut); then press the same shortcut again to reverse the direction back to how it was:

Sub ChangeSelectionDirection()
    Selection.StartIsActive = Not (Selection.StartIsActive)
End Sub


To move and select within a table:


Alt+Mouse Click selects a column. Alt+Double-click selects the table.


Alt+PgDn goes to the bottom of a column, Alt+PgUp to the top. Press Shift as well, to select to the top or bottom of the column.


To select a row, click in the left margin of the document; drag down or up to select multiple rows.


To change the order of your rows, you can use the Alt+Shift+Up and Down arrows (no need to select anything). Or you can drag and drop.


To move paragraphs of text without resorting to cut and paste, you can use drag and drop. If you are moving paragraphs to a position that is off-screen, split the window first (Window + Split).

Alternatively, if you are in Page/Print View or Normal View, and your cursor is not in a table, you can move the current paragraph(s) up or down the document using the Alt+Shift+Up and Down arrows. Whereas in Outline View, this moves Headings and all their subsidiary text, in Page/Print View or Normal View it just moves the current paragraphs (but in a table it moves the current rows instead).


To edit text while you're in Print Preview, click on the page to zoom in, then click on the Magnifier button on the Print Preview toolbar to switch into edit mode. Click on the Magnifier again when you want to quit edit mode and zoom back out.

Word of warning: Be careful not to type unless you are in Edit mode! Word lets you do this, and because there's no visible insertion point, you will have no idea where the text you type is going to be inserted! This is a bug.

Oh, and one last thing – don't forget about your right mouse button!

Download printer-friendly version: Shortcuts.pdf