16 MS Word Shortcuts That Take Productivity to the Next Level

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Unless you made the decision thirty years ago to become a hermit and reside in a cave, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve used Microsoft Word for your word-processing needs at some point in your life.

One of the cool things about Microsoft programs is the built in shortcuts to save you time. Excel has them. And so does Word.

You may even remember the first time that someone clued you in on some of the MS Word shortcuts that have become more commonplace now – “Wait, what!? I can use ‘Ctrl+c’ to copy and ‘Ctrl+v’ to paste? No way!”

Sure, if you’re still using just those basic shortcuts, you’re saving yourself some time. But there are other shortcuts you may have not yet explored.

And once you get the hang of these, they feel just as familiar and habitual as any of the other keys on the keyboard.

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Knowing the more useful MS Word shortcuts will save you time and increase your productivity.

As you’ll see, some of them are a little more advanced than others. But none of them requires a degree in computer science to perform.

1. The basic shortcuts for quick text formatting.

Ctrl + B to make bold.

Ctrl + I to make italic.

Ctrl + U to underline.

Ctrl + L to left-justify text.

Ctrl + E to center text.

Ctrl + J  to justify text.

Ctrl + R to right-justify text.

2. Change the case of any selected text.

Shift + F3 is a shortcut that’s useful when you want to toggle through the capitalization options. So when you have a few lines of text that are in all uppercase and you want them to be lowercase – or vice versa – then this shortcut is going to save you some serious time.

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3. Insert a hyperlink.

Ctrl + K is what you use when you’re writing a piece and you need to insert a link to a word to connect with another site or page. You simply highlight the word to which you want to link, then use this shortcut to add the link.

4. Set line spacing.

Ctrl + 1 will set the text to single line spacing.

Ctrl + 2 will set the text to double line spacing.

Ctrl + 5 will set the text to 1.5-line spacing.

5. Underline words, but not spaces.

Alt + Shift + W is the MS Word shortcut to use when you want to underline selected words in a highlighted selection, but not the spaces included in that selection.

6. Undoing and redoing actions.

Ctrl + Z will undo any action that you did, because we all have regrets sometimes.

Ctrl + Y will then redo any action that you may have undone.

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7. Use the keyboard to access the ribbon.

Alt or F10 is an MS Word shortcut that allows you to access menu items using just your keyboard. Once you press them, letters will appear next to each visible menu item. Press the corresponding letter to activate a particular menu option. Then to get rid of the labels, you need only press Esc.

8. Return to the last edit point.

Shift + F5 comes in handy when you need to copy text from other parts of the document and you want to return to where you were so that you can paste it. Especially when you have one of those rogue cursors that leads you astray.

9. Applying the normal style.

Ctrl + Shift + N will remove the formatting of the selected text. This is useful when you’re copying material from the internet with different formatting than what you have in yours. This MS Word shortcut gets rid of all of that formatting and makes it consistent with yours.

10. Copying the formatting of selected text.

Ctrl + Shift + C is the opposite action of the MS Word shortcut above. This is very useful when you want to copy only the formatting of the text and not the actual text.

Ctrl + Shift + V is then used on a selected text to apply the formatting you just copied.

10. Selecting a word, paragraph or sentence.

If you want to select a word to highlight, you just double-click on it. If you want to select the whole paragraph it’s in, then triple-click it.

Ctrl+Click is used to select a sentence.

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11. Selecting text character by character.

Shift + Left/Right Arrow keys is a shortcut you can use when you have selected some text using your mouse or touch pad, but you missed a few characters. With this shortcut, you won’t have to deselect and reselect again – which is a royal waste of time.

12. Inserting an automatic page break.

Ctrl + Enter is way easier than doing a manual page break where you repeatedly press the enter key to bring a chapter or line to the next page. Then what’s next is an editing nightmare.

Using this shortcut page break will save you from that particular nightmare.

13. Cycling through all open Word documents.

Ctrl + F6 is great when you have multiple Word documents open at any given time – which is most of the time for many of us. This shortcut allows you to cycle through them.

Ctrl + Shift + F6 allows you to cycle back.

14. Repeating your most recent command.

F4 is helpful when you need to repeat an action you just took. This shortcut is great when you have to apply some action repeatedly.

15. Applying or removing 12 points of space above the current paragraph.

Ctrl + 0 is the quick way to improve readability by adding some space above a line.

16. Closing the document and program.

Ctrl + W will close you out of your current document.

Alt + F4 will bid farewell to the program.

Of course, there are many more MS Words shortcuts than just these listed here. In fact, there are nearly 250 of them. Many of them are shortcuts you’ll only use once in a while, at best.

But just in case you’re looking for the ultimate in productivity, or perhaps you’re interested for the sake of sheer curiosity, there is a way to generate a list of ALL of the MS Word shortcuts for your keyboard.

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Here are the steps for generating that list.

1. Navigate to the View tab in Word.

2. Click Macros > View Macros.

3. Change the dropdown for the macros location to “Word commands.”

4. Type “ListCommands” in the Macro name field.

5. Click Run.

6. Click OK. Leave the selection “Current keyboard settings,” since the “All Word commands” option generates commands that don’t have keyboard shortcuts.

And you’re good to go.

(Please note that the steps listed above use Word 2016 as the example.)

Good luck on staying productive this year. If you have any additional MS Word shortcuts that you’ve found especially helpful, we’d love to hear them!

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