Tag Archives: shortcuts

Q&A: Easy selecting in tables, 5 ways

Skip to the demo video.

Q Is there a sure-fire way to select just the content of a table cell, or a single cell vs the whole table? Word seems to have its own views on what I should be selecting.

A Arrow keys are the most precise way to select text or cells (even rows and columns) in a table, but double-clicks and triple clicks are great shortcuts:

  • Shift + arrow selects individual characters until it reaches the end of a cell, then it switches to selecting whole cells.
  • Double-click the mouse to select a single word.
  • Triple-click the mouse to select a whole cell.

The (table) Layout ribbon offers some selection options. Click the Select icon on the far left. This is great when your hand isn’t feeling steady enough to activate the selection arrow by hovering at the top or left side of the table column/row, or when Word is having a tantrum. Just make sure the cursor is already placed in a cell within the column/table you want to select.

Use the grab point at the top left of a table to select the whole table. Click inside the table or hover the pointer over it to reveal the grab point.


To reveal the (table) Layout ribbon, place the cursor in the table. If the ribbon does not appear, you’re not working in a true table. Reveal hidden characters and you’ll likely find that the alignment was forced (faked) with spaces and tab marks. Undo that shit.

Note this (table) Layout ribbon is different from the Layout ribbon that is always visible (I’ve crossed out that other Layout tab at the left end). This special ribbon appears only when the cursor is inside a table.

If the content you want to select is at the end of a cell, it can be nearly impossible to select just that bit rather than the entire cell. Add a character (say, a period), then select up to that point (which will no longer be the end of the cell). Remember to delete that extraneous mark afterward!

To make sure you’ve selected an entire row (and not just the cells), look for the row end marker selection. See this in action in the demo video below at about minute 1:08.

Download a free workbook for editing tables. And check out the other blog posts on Working With Tables.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Q&A: Keyboard Shortcut to Exit a Comment

Q Is there a way to get out of a Comment without using the mouse?

Esc, ←

A Yes, press Escape! Keeping your hands on the keyboard is the fastest way to work, and the perfect alternative to a mouse that’s lost its juice.


book cover cropped to banner size
For more tips for working with Comments, start on page 18 of the book. Reader updates are found on the exclusive support site.

Be sure to click an arrow key before typing! Otherwise you will overwrite the word(s) that is attached to the Comment you were just in, deleting both the word(s) and the Comment.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Esc key image by Thanapat Pirmphol from Pixabay.

Four Alternatives to Macros

Macros can do some amazing complex and lengthy tasks in just a click, but you don’t need a macro for everything! Here are four things to try before of creating a macro:

  • autocorrect
  • existing shortcuts
  • custom shortcuts
  • Clipboard

Existing Shortcuts

There are keyboard shortcuts for navigating and selecting text and shortcuts for accessing almost every ribbon function. Search for the one you want online before going to the trouble of creating your own via a macro. And check out the summary of some really handy ones in the book!


Within Word’s Preferences, you can create Autocorrect correct entries for commonly typed phrases (like your address or turning fnmi into First Nations, Metis, and Inuit), or even entire formatted passages.

Custom Shortcuts

Create your own keyboard shortcut for any function.

Mac users: look at the bottom of the Tools menu and select Customize Keyboard.

Windows users: right-click on a blank grey area of the tab on the ribbon, then select Customize The Tab on 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.


In this example, we see the Clipboard contains some standard text that I have to paste frequently.

This great tool was a constant favourite when it was available for Mac. Now it’s only found in the Windows version of Word.

Open the Clipboard by clicking the expand arrow in the Clipboard group of the Home ribbon (see figure). Every time you copy content, it will be added to the list in the clipboard. It even works for pictures and other graphics.

You can then select items from the list to paste as they are needed (just click on them) or paste them all together.


The Clipboard works only during a single session. When you close Word, the Clipboard is emptied.

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Learn more about these alternatives, starting on page 93 of the 2nd edition of the book.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Paste Options in Word 365

Not nearly as flavourful as that paste we ate in preschool, but maybe more useful, Word has several options for you to paste content with. Get at the the options from the ribbon. Just click the little down arrow beside the Paste button on the left end of the Home ribbon to see the options.

Here’s how they’re useful:

  1. The first button pastes content in the same format it was copied with. This means text from one place will keep its font, size, and style when pasted in a new location or file.
  2. The second button with the arrow changes the pasted text to match the formatting of where the cursor is currently placed. That can jettison some problematic formatting and makes sure that the pasted text won’t mess up text surrounding its new location.
  3. The button with the picture on it pastes a picture. This seems to be a Windows only option but Mac users can just cmd + V or select the Picture button on the Insert ribbon.
  4. The last button (with the A) pastes text only. This helps you jettison all formatting, fonts, XML coding, etc. and paste only the words. This is great help when pasting a citation from an online or PDF source. It can also help you strip problematic code or formatting from a section of the document that’s causing trouble. This is especially useful at times when the basic cmd + V (ctrl + V) feels like a crap shoot in which Word is making up its own mind on how to paste the content.
  5. Paste Special … that little text option at the bottom opens up another dialog that lets you tell Word what unusual format the content in the clipboard takes. This can be used to convert files to Word format, but it rarely works.

Keyboard Shortcuts

If keeping your hands on the keyboard is more efficient for you, a little finger yoga can achieve the fancier paste options:

Keep source formatting — cmd + opt + V
(ctrl + alt + V for Windows users)

Match destination formatting — cmd + opt + shift + V
(crtl + alt + shift + V for Windows users)

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Quick Trick to Remove Hyperlinks

They got rid of Clippy but not many of the other annoying automated features in MS Word. Automatic formatting is something that most editors want to turn off before they work. In fact, this is why turning off most automation is covered in the “Get Ready to Edit” section of the book.

When you get a document in which all of the URLs (web addresses) are blue and underlined, and active (hyperlinked), you’ll most likely want to remove them so they don’t cause design problems or (horrors!) end up in print. You can do this one at a time, or in one fell swoop (globally).

The advantage of removing hyperlinks one at a time is that a hyperlink found in the text can help you detect text that has not been adequately cited. If you remove all the hyperlinks at once, you won’t have this clue to aid your editing anymore.

Individual Method

screen shot of the context menu that opens when you right-click on a hyperlink in Word

To remove the single hyperlink, right click on the hyperlink, then select Hyperlink > Remove Hyperlink from the context menu that opens.

There are at least three other ways to do this. This first two ways keep your hands (mostly) on the keyboard:

1. Place the cursor within the link using the arrow keys (see troubleshooting) and then key cmd + Shift + F9 (ctrl + Shift + F9 for Windows users).*

screen shot of the hyperlink control dialog box that opens when you key cmd + K within a hyperlink in Word

2. Place the cursor in the link, then key cmd + K (that’s ctrl + K for Windows users) to open the hyperlink dialog box. Then click the Remove Link button at the bottom left.

3. If your version of Word has menus (looking at you, Mac users), open the hyperlink dialog box by clicking Hyperlink on the Insert menu.

4. For those who prefer to use Ribbons, look for the Links button on the Insert ribbon and then click the Link button to open that dialog box.

Global Method

To remove hyperlinks in the whole document at once, select all and then key cmd + Shift + F9 (ctrl + Shift + F9 for Windows users).


If the link keeps opening when you try to right-click on it, use the arrow keys instead to place the cursor within the link, then follow the alternative instructions 1 or 2 above.

Laptop users may have to add the fn to the F9 key sequence: fn + Shift + F9. The fn key tells the computer not to do whatever action the F keys are mapped to (such as volume control) but to activate their F functions instead.

If you don’t have a right mouse button, tap the touchpad with two fingers, or hold cmd (ctrl for Windows users) while you click the mouse or track pad.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition