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7 Tips to Get the Most Out of MS Word

Many of us writerly types spend a lot of time in Microsoft Word, and I even know a few Web designers who like to use it and Microsoft Excel for doing simple site prototyping work. Whether you’re sentenced to use Word all day by a dictatorial IT department, or it’s simply your word processor of choice, you can save time and have more options by mastering a few easy shortcuts.

The seven tips I’ll list here are very easy to learn. They work in most versions of Word, and under Windows or on a Mac:

Where Was I? I get up and walk around frequently when I’m writing—gets the blood flowing. Sometimes I close a document I am editing, and when I come back to it and open it up, I just hit Shift + F5 to return to the exact place in the document where I was editing.

Serial Saves. If you’re like me, you often have many documents open at once. For safety’s sake, I like to frequently save all of them at once. To do this, hold down the Shift key when you go to the File menu. This changes Save to Save All.

Paragraph Hopping. You can circumvent the multi-step process of cutting, pasting and deleting to move paragraphs with an easy paragraph hopping feature. Often when I’m writing, I decide that a given paragraph would work better above or below another one. Do this: Go into a document with several paragraphs and put your cursor at the beginning of one of the middle paragraphs. Hold down the Shift and Alt keys in unison, then use the up and down arrow keys to “hop” the paragraph to new positions in the document.

One Fell Swoop Word Deletion. You can delete entire words with your keyboard. Just put your cursor at the beginning of the word and press Ctrl and Del together. This is very useful when editing.

Customize Line Spacing and Alignment. The Ctrl key is your best buddy when you want to experiment with line spacing and alignment variations. Ctrl + 1 provides single spacing, Ctrl + 2 provides double spacing and Ctrl + 5 provides 1-1/2 line spacing. Ctrl + R right aligns a paragraph, Ctrl + L left aligns one, and Ctrl + E centers one.

Quick Selecting. You can select all text between the current location of your cursor and the end of the current paragraph by hitting Ctrl + Shift and the down arrow.

Serial Undo. Many Word users are familiar with using Ctrl + Z to undo the last change that was made to a document, but did you know you can serially undo the last several changes you made? Just keep hitting Ctrl + Z to do so.

Do you have any Word shortcuts to share?

57 Responses to “7 Tips to Get the Most Out of MS Word”

  1. Finding help about microsoft word is very annoying now adays. though there are plenty of websites are out there but most of the sites are publishing some information with a little difference. I found your blog helpful because your writing style is good because it’s easy to understand.

  2. Concepts and ideas of Word were brought from Bravo, the original GUI writing word processor developed at Xerox PARC.[4][5] on February 1, 1983. With this, development on what was originally named Multi-Tool Word began.

  3. Whenever I am reading a Word doc, and have to minimize it to work on something else, when I go back to the Word document it is always back on page 1. Is there a setting in Word to prevent this?

  4. Hi Megan,

    It is probably too late, but just in case it is not (for you or someone else) – save as a different file name, then use compare with the old document name to see what has been changed, copy what you want and your good to go.

    Good luck.

  5. Right I accidently deleted a portion of text I needed to keep, I pressed a delete column button or something and control + z is not working at all, help? How do I go back if I can not press the undo button to get it back?

  6. Keyboard shortcuts can be useful, however, just trying to memorize them is the downside of them. Anyway, I really liked Word until this 2007 version. They took a great word program and really screwed it up. Unless you deal in equations and writing books and long ofice correspondence, it can be really complicated to find the old commands.

  7. Suresh Ponnusamy

    The given tips are handy and I had known all of them except Shift + F5 (Jumping to the location).

    One more tip from me!

    Press Control + Shift + C to copy the formatting and styles.

    Select the location of the text where the formatting and style needs to be applied, and then
    Press Control + Shift + V to paste the style and formatting (including Colors, Fonts, Font sizes, Paragraph styles, Headings and everything else).

    This comes in handy while editing / applying formatting to a large selection of text.

  8. Thanks for the tips! The paragraph hopping trick is really useful for editing.

    Does anyone know how to send a paragraph/highlighted text to the beginning or end of a page or document?

  9. One tip I found useful is to use Ctrl + Del, which deletes the word to the right of the cursor, in combination with Ctrl + Backspace, which deletes the word to the left of the cursor. Sometimes if I’m working within a paragraph and want to make multiple edits inside, I combine those two commands with Ctrl + -> and Ctrl + <- to navigate my cursor without having to use my mouse.

  10. Balachander

    Thanks for tips. I like the shift+F5 one. The other ones are familiar. My favourites are 1. Shift+F3 which lets you change the case of a word from all all small to sentence to all caps to small again!
    2. ctrl+shift+k which lets you format a word or set of words to small sized caps.
    3. ctrl+shift+> for increasing font and ctrl+shift+< to reduce font.
    btw, i use MS Office 2000.

  11. Regarding Ctrl Z to serial undo, if you go to far, you can step back your changes by using Ctrl Y.

    Sometimes you might realise that you deleted some text that you still need, but have made changes since then. Simply Ctrl Z to before you deleted the text, highlight it and use Ctrl C to copy the text. Then you can use Ctrl Y repeatedly to get back to where you were and then user Ctrl V to paste the text back in again.

  12. Some of these need to be adapted for Macs, or at least mine. To delete a whole word when your cursor is before the word, Mac users can use Function+Cmd+Del. As for juggling paragraphs, it’s Ctrl+Shift+Up or Down Arrow. That one is a gem–I didn’t know about it, and I’m sure I’ll use it all the time now. Thanks!

  13. Nice tips. However great these tips may be the point is Microsoft is just not suited for our trust. Anyways thumbs up for these tips which will help people understand Microsoft product more easily.