You can speed up your formatting tasks in Word in a lot of ways. First, if you don't use keyboard shortcuts, learn! The more time you have to waste reaching for that mouse, the less time you have to go do something more enjoyable than sitting at your computer formatting a document. Touch typists should pay particular attention, since you already know the benefits of not wasting time taking your fingers off those keys!
You can learn the shortcut keys for any program by choosing Help|About and typing shortcuts into the help dialog to get a list of any available shortcuts. Word is no different. It has a ton of built-in shortcuts. Sure, you can't remember them all, but learn the ones that will save you the most time and plaster post-its to your monitor to help you remember the others. I've written a Computor Companion article on the subject that you might want to read to get started: Nothin' Up My Sleeves! (http://www.computorcompanion.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=31)
Before I go any further, here are a few of my favorite shortcuts that you can use to move around a document more quickly and select what you want to select.
- Jumping from paragraph to paragraph
Use the Ctrl+Up or Down arrows to quickly jump to the top of the next or previous paragraph.
- Select a paragraph
You can quickly select the current paragraph by using Ctrl+Shift and hitting either the up or down arrow to select up or down from your current location, a paragraph at a time.
- Moving a paragraph
Once the paragraph is selected, you can quickly move it with the keyboard by hitting Shift+Alt and tapping on the up or down arrows to move it up or down, one paragraph location at a time.
- Jumping from field to field
Hit F11 to quickly jump down to the next field code and use Shift+F11 to jump up to previous fields.
- Go back
Hit Shift+F5 to jump back to the last location you were just editing in a document. Note that if you get used to hitting Shift+F5 when you immediately open a working document, you'll jump to the last location you were at before you closed the document.
- Repeat Key
Use that Repeat key, F4, to redo whatever you just did or reapply the formatting you just applied, to another part of a document or table.
- A word
To select a word, just double-click it.
- A sentence
To select a sentence, hold down Ctrl and click to capture the entire sentence.
- A paragraph
Triple-click any paragraph to select it.
- Move text
Once you have a word, sentence or paragraph selected, you can save the time it takes to hit Ctrl+X to cut and Ctrl+V to paste it from the clipboard by simply moving your mouse to the location where you want the text to be move and hold down Ctrl as you right click in that location and the selected text will be moved there!
- Copy text
You can use the same feature above to copy text. Just hold down Shift+Ctrl when you right click to copy the text to the newly clicked location.
Invisible Selection Bar
You may not have known what it was called, but many Word users know that if you move your mouse outside of the left margin, between the margin and the left edge of the page, your cursor changes to a different pointer.
By clicking in this area you can quickly select rows in tables, as shown below. It works just as well for selecting text.
The list below shows how to select various chunks of text using the Invisible Selection Bar. Move your mouse into the Invisible Selection Bar area. To select
- A line: click 1 time.
- A paragraph: click 2 times.
- A document: click 3 times to select all the text in the document. (Alternatively, Ctrl+A selects all the text in a document -- use whichever technique is faster at the time, depending on whether your hands are on the keyboard or the mouse.)
You can quickly change the line spacing by hitting Ctrl+1 for single-spaced, Ctrl+2 for double-spaced or Ctrl+5 for 1.5 spacing. These commands affect the paragraph where your cursor is currently located. To spread the change wider, select several paragraphs or the entire document.
Get Rid of It
One of the most important things to know in Word is how to remove formatting. Every paragraph has a style applied to it. By default text is set to the Normal style. So if you don't know how some text is formatted, going to Normal is a safe bet. So if you want to remove the current style and revert back to Normal, press Ctrl+Shift+N.
Local formatting is formatting you apply using the formatting commands (outside of styles). You can quickly remove all formatting from a selection by hitting Ctrl+Spacebar.
Using the Ruler
The ruler has several hot spots. Click the Tab Selector to choose a Tab Marker and place it wherever you want on your ruler to instantly add a tab. The new Tab is added to whatever area is currently selected, so be sure you have properly selected the area you want or the Tab will only work in the current paragraph.
It can also be switched to quickly modify the First Line and Hanging Paragraph indent levels.
If a tab marker is selected in the location Rocky is pointing out in the image above and you double click the bottom of the ruler, the Tab dialog box opens.
If an indent marker is selected in the location and you double click the bottom of the ruler, the Paragraph dialog box opens. You also can double click the top of the ruler, or anywhere on the side ruler, to open the Page Setup dialog box.
If you position your cursor between the light and dark margin area of the ruler until the cursor turns into a double arrow, as shown below, you can click and drag the margins on either the top or side ruler to quickly adjust the margins.
If you hold down the Alt key as you drag you'll also be able to see the current measurements. This trick works on the top or the side rulers.
Click and Type
Just the mention of this feature in a Word support forum and you'll have Word purists jumping out of the rafters! Many support professionals lost it when Microsoft added the Click and Type feature to Word. When I first saw this feature demonstrated at Microsoft, as a designer, I could see how it could save me time. But as a support person, I saw it as a headache waiting to happen. I was right on both counts.
As an advanced Word user, with Click and Type you can quickly format a document just the way they want and get someone out of your office, so you can get back to real work. Just make sure you won't be called upon to make future modifications to that document. Ever.
The reason Click and Type is dangerous is because when you use this feature, Word dumps a pile of hidden tabs and returns all over your document to allow you to click anywhere on a page and start typing.
You also don't want to tell your boss about Click and Type, because then he'll think he knows how to format documents. If you are ultimately responsible for that document, you'll have a lot of cleaning up to do to fix the mess. The clean-up nightmare is also why support professionals hate Click and Type.
Novices come to us all the time asking why they can't fix their document and align things the way they want. Support people then have to spend hours explaining how you should create a document with styles and proper formatting, so you can adjust those settings, such as tab stops and indents later. With the Click and Type mess, revising a document means erasing 40 dozen tab markers or half a page of paragraph markers. Yuck.
Take it from me. If you tell someone they need to delete 35 tab markers to get their document to look the way they want, they'll tell you what a stupid program Word is! <sigh>
Curious? Give it a try. Try it. Make sure the feature is turned on by choosing Tools|Options. In the Edit tab, click to add a check mark next to Enable click and type.
Just click anywhere your heart desires and start adding gibberish to your page. The final product doesn't look too bad.
But show the formatting marks to look under the hood and you can appreciate what it would take to rebuild this document properly!
So use it if you must, just don't tell the boss about it!