More Word Tips: Keyboard Shortcuts, Magic Symbols, and Guru Functions

Greetings, NSDCAR Members!


Once again, my favorite publication, PC Magazine, has come out with a collection of Microsoft esoterica so useful and helpful that I couldn’t resist a little plagiarism and had to pass these tidbits on to our membership.  Some of these were items I’d forgotten through disuse, or that I have never discovered in nearly 20 years of using the products.  Somewhere there’s a computer “guru” who knows EVERYTHING there is to know about Microsoft Office… but they probably work offshore!

Keyboard Shortcuts:

For those of us “baby boomers” who remember when high schools offered a typing class, and especially for those of us who took Typing I and Typing II, and who know where the “home row” is, and what QWERTY stands for, there are some real little gems buried in Word that keep our fingers right where we want ‘em… on the home row, while still letting us do some impressive little tasks without ever reaching for the rodent.

Just about everybody knows about CTRL-C and CTRL-V to copy and paste.  Perhaps fewer know that CTRL-X will “cut” a selection out of its present position, then CTRL-V will paste it in the new spot.

Another shortcut that can save mouse-clicking in the font menu is CTRL-SHIFT-> and CTRL-SHIFT-<.  (By way of explanation, this means hold down the control key, then hold down the shift key with a second finger, then tap the “less than” or “greater than” symbol, which are above the comma and period, respectively, on the keyboard.)  By selecting an area of text, then using these key combinations, you can increase or decrease the size of your text.

For selecting text or paragraphs in your document, you can reach for the mouse, and “paint” across a selection with the left button held down.  For typists, CTRL-SHIFT-Home and CTRL-SHIFT-End will select everything from the cursor position to the beginning or end of the document.  Changing the last keystroke to the “up arrow” selects back to the beginning of the paragraph.  Similarly, substituting the left or right arrow will select to the beginning or end of the sentence.  Mouseless selection can be a real timesaver, if you’re truly a touch typist.

To quickly toggle the selected text between lowercase, initial capitals, and uppercase, use SHIFT-F3.

To repeat your last action, including searching, typing, and formatting, press F4.  Pressing SHIFT-F4 will repeat your last “FIND” command.

To jump to the last change you made in your document, press SHIFT-F5.

Magic Symbols:

Microsoft Word’s “Autotext” and “Autocorrect” features are worth careful exploration.  With them, you can automate almost any redundant text entry, storing phone numbers, signature blocks, contract clauses, or any other oft-repeated phrase.  When Word encounters a triggering event or keystroke, it quickly places these automated entries at the cursor position, or replaces an existing trigger phrase or letter with the desired text.  Already programmed in Word are some really useful ones.  Type this: (c) and you get this: ©.  Type this: (r) and you get this: ®.  Type this: (tm) and you get this: ™.  Oh, and there's more!  Type this "==>" (that's two 'equal' signs and a 'greater-than' symbol), and you get this: čCombine with a "less than" symbol to get the arrow pointing left.  Do the same, with dashes, you get a less bold arrow symbol. Very handy, yes?  But hey, what if I need to type a lowercase “c” in parentheses?  Word keeps turning it into a copyright symbol!  Easy… just type the “c” in parentheses, then immediately strike a backspace.  The copyright symbol reverts to the actual text you typed.  If there are other symbols you need regularly, you can enter custom autotext replacements, too.  Here at your Association, our Word will replace any instance of the word “realtor" with this: REALTOR®.  We took N.A.R.’s REALTOR® marks very seriously… nice that the courts do, too.

Guru Functions:

Okay, now for something really cool, and that almost nobody I’ve asked was aware of… rearranging paragraphs with just two keystrokes.  No mouse.  No squinting, selecting, dragging.  Just click in the paragraph you want to move, hold down the SHIFT and ALT keys, then use the arrow keys to move the paragraph up and down in the document.  The coolest thing is that it works for numbered or bulleted lists, and rearranges paragraphs without screwing up the numbering!

Here’s another one… if you’re typing a bulleted list, and you wish to insert a non-bulleted item, you’ve got a problem, unless you’ve read and employed my advice in earlier columns about not using the ENTER key to end every sentence.  Every time you press ENTER in a bulleted or numbered list, you’re telling word to end that paragraph, and you’ll find yourself on a new, numbered or bulleted line.  How can you place a new, blank line in there without a number, or without screwing up the number sequence?  Simply use SHIFT-ENTER, which places a “carriage return” in the document (old typing references, again!).  This means the cursor returns to the left margin, moves down one line, but does not start a new paragraph, trigger a new line number, or insert a new bullet.


Until next time, when I ferret out a few more tips to make Microsoft Office your friend, not your frustrator!