Adrienne is an editing instructor and certified copyeditor with 20+ years experience editing technical materials that inform and educate. She created the Right Angels and Polo Bears podcast in 2013 and has published books on science, editing, and freelancing.
Keeping your hands on the keyboard is a prime way to speed up work. The less you are hunting around ribbons and menus for the tool you need, the more efficient (and less frustrated) you’ll be. Learning existing shortcuts for navigating a document, cutting and pasting, etc. is an obvious way to keep your hands away from the mouse. Adding shortcuts for the things you do most is the productivity hack.
You can add a
keyboard shortcut for almost any command, without creating a macro. Below
you’ll find instructions for Windows users and Mac users. The core of the
method is customizing the keyboard, and finding the command you want within the
huge list of commands that are available.
Create a Keyboard Shortcut
Open the keyboard dialog:
On a Windows computer, right-click on a blank grey area of Word’s ribbon, then select Customize The Ribbon… from the context menu that pops up. Then, click the Customize… button beside Keyboard Shortcuts: at the bottom of the left-hand list.
On a Mac, select the Customize Keyboard… option at the bottom of the Tools menu.
In the keyboard dialog box that opens, scroll down the left-hand list of Categories: and click a category to look in. Figure 1 shows the Mac and Figure 2 shows Windows.
Next, scroll until you find the desired command in the right-hand list of commands, then select it.
Click in the Press new keyboard shortcut field, then press the combination of keys you want to assign to this command.*
When you find a suitable key combination, click the Assign button, then OK.
*Note the text beneath the Press new keyboard shortcut field; it shows whether that key combination is already assigned. There are several dozen existing shortcuts and no online list seems to be thorough. You just have to try one. You can overwrite an existing shortcut just by doing the last two steps above. You might decide to “reassign” the shortcut for Close File since you always use Close Window, for example.
List Your Shortcuts
Remembering shortcuts can be challenging. If you go back into that keyboard dialog (Step 1 above), you can always look up a command (Step 2 and 3) and see what shortcut you assigned to it. It will be listed in the Current Shortcut field. Even better, keep a list in your work area. Periodically print out a list:
In any document, click Print to open the Print dialog. Select Word settings, and in the Print What drop-down, select Key assignments (Fig. 3 shows the Mac interface, Fig. 4 shows Windows, though these dialog boxes vary slightly on any computer, depending on your OS and your printer).
This only prints a list of the shortcuts you created, not those built into the system, such as those for Select All or Save.
Not only does Outline view in Word let you assess the structure of a document, it lets you move chunks of content with a click. On the View ribbon, click Outline in the Views group on the far left. Or at the far right of the document frame, click the icon on the bottom that looks like a bullet list (Figure 1). This displays the document as chunks of content, each marked by a square, minus or plus sign as shown in Figure 2. A plus sign means that there is content “within” that level. In the example, the Shortcut heading has no content “within” it but the List heading does.
Tired eyes, tiny type? Bump up the font size in the Reviewing Pane to read Comments and tracked changes in MS Word with less strain.
The easiest fix is to change the zoom setting in the Reviewing Pane. This doesn’t change the actual font size, but it makes it easier to read! Scroll down for video demos using Word 365 for Mac and for Windows.(Instructions on increasing font size in Comment balloons are here, but they don’t work in the 2019 version of Word because Comments are now set to “normal” style.)
These fast and accurate ways to select text
can revolutionize the way you work. Keyboard shortcuts are especially good when
precision is required to cut, copy, or style content, or when a very large chunk
is concerned. These shortcuts won’t jump unexpectedly like a mouse can.
Not only do these methods work in Word,
they work in most other software including WordPress, Adobe Acrobat, and other
content management systems. (Instructions for Windows users appear in brackets
if they’re different from the Mac instructions.)
Select the word the cursor is in, then the sentence, paragraph, or the whole document using this toggle repeatedly: fn + F8. To quit this mode, press escape.*
Select an entire sentence with cmd + click anywhere in the sentence. (In Windows: ctrl + click)
Select one word forward or back of the cursor’s position with shift + opt + right/left arrow. (In Windows: shift + ctrl + right/left arrow)
Select one paragraph forward or back with shift + opt + up or down arrow. (In Windows: shift + ctrl + down/up arrow)
Select a word with a double-click and the whole paragraph with three clicks.
*The fn key lets you access the root functions of the F keys that are now usually mapped to shortcuts like screen brightness and volume controls. If your F keys don’t operate computer functions, you may not have to press the fn key.
This excellent book on Microsoft Word that’s written specifically for editors. It includes step-by-step video tutorials that illustrate the skills the book goes over. I learned much more practical information about using Word effectively and efficiently as an editor in this book than in the copyediting certificate I just finished. It’s already paid for itself many times over in saved time. Highly recommend.
You read, you see, you learn, and then you do. There’s no better way to ensure it’s all sunk in. …This course is rammed with useful and actionable tips on how to get stuff done and in ways that respect your preferences. …Montgomerie takes the stress away via accessible walkthroughs that even the most tech-nervous of nellies will be able to follow.
I can highly recommend this self-study workbook from Adrienne Montgomerie. I’ve been editing in Word for more than five years and I picked up new tips and ways of working every time I opened this guide for a session. Still refer back to it now (my brain is the non-tech-retention type!). The beauty of this as a Word resource is that it’s written with editorial professionals in mind, so all the content was relevant to my working life.
I consider myself a pretty advanced user of Word, but reading this book helped me pinpoint the areas where I could speed up my current editing workflow.
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