Selecting unwieldy content doesn’t have to be a snafu experience.
You know that ctrl + A will “select all” contents of a Word file, but did you know that selecting less — large amounts but not all contents — can be as easy? No need to drag the mouse, jumping unexpectedly and far; it doesn’t have to be a tedious, glitchy, or imprecise experience. Just use one of these methods:
- outline view
- ctrl + shift + up/down arrows
- F8 (4 times)
- zoom out, then select
Select a whole paragraph or table cell by triple-clicking somewhere within it. It’s also possible to triple-click and drag to select whole paragraphs in a row.
In outline view, you can select any paragraph of text, section (with subsections), subsection, full chapter, or any such whole hierarchy of content. Instructions for that are in another post. This is the best!
Ctrl + Shift + up/down
Holding shift while you press arrow keys selects text, we know. But if you press the ctrl key too (cmd for Mac users) while you press the down ⬇️ arrow, it will select everything to the end of the paragraph. Press the arrow again and it will select the next paragraph too.
Shift + Ctrl + End/Home
Hold shift and ctrl (cmd on a Mac) while you press the End key to select everything from the cursor’s position to the very end of the document.
To select “up” instead, press the Home key while holding the shift key. The key step is to place the cursor at the right starting point!
F8 + F8 +F8 + F8
Yes, you have to press the F8 key four times, but that will select an entire paragraph around wherever the cursor is sitting. Press it a fifth time and it will select all. (Three presses selects a single sentence in its entirety. Not exactly a “big chunk” of text in most cases, but still useful.)
Note that you probably have to press the FN (function) key along with the F8 as most F-keys these days are mapped to common actions such as volume control and screen brightness. Pressing the FN key at the same time gives access to the program-related F-functions.
To exit this mode, press Escape.
To select text over several pages, change to “two page” view then zoom out until there are many pages onscreen. Then use one of the other methods to select the desired text.
Text that is in a table or a text box can be selected with many of these methods, but you’ll have to get into the text box first and read these specifics for working with tables.
Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.
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Osprey photo by Paul VanDerWerf used under CC BY-2.0 license.