One of the best ways to increase your productivity is to take advantage of shortcut keys in Microsoft Word. Word includes shortcuts for most common functions right out of the box, though you can also declare your own shortcuts. In this article, we will take a look at some of the most commonly used shortcuts in Word, how to use ALT key shortcuts, and how to create your own shortcuts.
For more power-user tips on Word, check out this course on advanced functions in Microsoft Word 2013.
Common Shortcuts in Microsoft Word
Let’s take a look at the shortcut keys you’ll turn to most often in your everyday tasks:
CTRL + B
Makes the text bold
CTRL + I
Italicizes the text
CTRL + U
Underlines the text
Increase Font Size
CTRL + SHIFT + >
Increases the font size by one factor. Same as pressing the button. After 12pt, font size increases by two points with each press.
Decrease Font Size
CTRL + SHIFT + <
Decreases the font size one facto. Same as pressing the button. After 12pt, font size decreases by two points with each press.
CTRL + L
Aligns the selected text to the left
CTRL + E
Aligns the text to the center
CTRL + R
Aligns the text to the right
CTRL + J
Justifies the selected paragraph
CTRL + D
Opens the font format window where you can select the font size, family, color, etc.
CTRL + M
Indents the selected paragraph. Equivalent to pressing TAB once.
Show/Hide Formatting Symbols
CTRL + * (i.e. CTRL + SHIFT + 8)
Shows all the formatting symbols on page. Same as pressing the button.
CTRL + SHIFT + F
Opens the font format window with the font highlighted. A faster way to change font than pressing CTRL + D
Increase Font Size by One Pt.
CTRL + ]
Increases font size by only one point, regardless of current size.
Decrease Font Size by One Pt.
CTRL + [
Decreases font size by only one point, regardless of current size.
CTRL + Y
Repeats the last action
CTRL + Z
Undo the last action
CTRL + F
Find specific text/characters in the document
CTRL + H
Replace specific text/characters in the document
CTRL + A
Selects all text on the page. Useful for copy-pasting entire documents
CTRL + C
Standard keyboard shortcut for copying anything. Applicable across Windows
CTRL + X
Instead of making a copy, removes the text from the current location and copies it to the clipboard, from where it can be pasted into another location
CTRL + V
Pastes anything from the clipboard into your current location
CTRL + S
Saves the current document in your specified location
CTRL + O
Opens an existing document
CTRL + N
Creates a new document
Move Cursor One Word to the Left
Moves the cursor one word to the left
Move Cursor One Word to the Right
Moves the cursor one word to the right
Move Cursor to Line Start
CTRL + Up-arrow
Moves cursor to the beginning of the current paragraph
Move Cursor to Line End
CTRL + Down-arrow
Moves cursor to the end of current paragraph
Delete Word to the Left
CTRL + Backspace
Deletes any element to the left of the current cursor position
Delete Word to the Right
CTRL + Delete
Deletes any element to the right of the current cursor position
Move to Document End
CTRL + End
Moves cursor to the end of the document
Move to Document Start
CTRL + Home
Moves cursor to the beginning of the document
Single Line Spacing
CTRL + 1
Changes line-spacing to single space
Double Line Spacing
CTRL + 2
Changes to double line spacing
Opens the ‘Save As’ dialog box
CTRL + P
Opens the Print dialog box
Opens the find/replace/go-to dialog box
Opens the spell check
CTRL + K
Inserts a link at the current location
To learn how to use all the functions listed above, check out this guide to MS Word for intermediate users.
How to Use the ALT Key Shortcuts
You’ll notice that the above list leaves out several functions such as inserting images, tables, etc. This is because Word doesn’t have built-in shortcuts for these functions. However, instead of creating your own specific shortcuts (see below), you can use Word’s powerful ALT key shortcuts to trigger these functions.
Let’s see how this works:
1. Press the ALT key on your keyboard. You’ll see a bunch of letters floating above different tabs.
2. Pressing any of the keys will show you shortcuts for different functions in that particular tab.
For example, if I want to change the font, I can press ALT, then H (to highlight the Home tab), then quickly press F twice (since the shortcut for changing font is ‘FF’ as seen above). This will highlight the font selection menu.
Once you get the hang of this, it’ll boost your productivity twofold. Inserting an image, for instance, becomes as easy as pressing ALT, then N (for ‘Insert tab’), then P (for ‘Picture’). Inserting a table, on the other hand, requires pressing ALT, then N, then T. You can insert SmartArt by pressing ALT, N, M; bookmarks by pressing ALT, N, I, and an equation with ALT, N, and E.
You can learn about more advanced Word features in this course.
How to Create Your Own Shortcuts
Sometimes, Microsoft’s built-in shortcut keys won’t suffice. In such a situation, you’ll need to create your own shortcuts. Thankfully, Microsoft Word makes this pretty easy to do – just follow the instructions below to get started.
1. Go to File -> Options
2. Click on ‘Customize Ribbon’, then click on ‘Customize…’ next to Keyboard shortcuts
3. In the window that pops up, you can declare your own shortcut keys for individual functions on different tabs. To create a new shortcut, you just need to highlight the appropriate function, press the desired shortcut in the ‘Press new shortcut key’ field, click ‘Assign’, and press okay.
For example, to change the shortcut for ‘Increase Indent’ (the button), we’ll click on the Home Tab under categories, highlight the IncreaseIndent field, and press our new shortcut (in this case, CTRL + SHIFT + I), as can be seen below:
That’s it! After clicking ‘Assign’, you can start using the shortcut right away!
Want to use more advanced Word features? Take this course to discover how to best use Microsoft Word 2013.
What are your personal favorite Word shortcuts? Let us know in the comments below!