Keyboard shortcut primer

Gather around, my children, and you will hear something that will delight your geeky hearts, shorten your work day, and lengthen the functional use of your wrists. I’m talking about keyboard shortcuts.

What are keyboard shortcuts?

Instead of dragging your cursor to the next paragraph with a mouse, thus interrupting the flow of your fingers on the keyboard, you can press control and the down arrow (for a PC) and shazam! there your cursor is at the beginning of the next paragraph. Certain former professors of mine swore that keyboard shortcuts will save you from carpal tunnel.

Why do we need ’em?

Ergonomics. Speed. Efficiency. World domination.

Tell me!

These keyboard shortucts are for PCs because that’s what I have. However, you can replicate most of these on a Mac as well, using the open apple key instead of control. There are a ton of others and you can also make your own, but here’s a place to start. They are so useful, I have a hard time making fun of them.

Moving through a paper:

Ctrl + up or down arrow: Moves cursor from paragraph to paragraph

Ctrl + left or right arrow: Moves cursor from word to word

Add shift to any of these and you can highlight the paragraph/word.

Shift + Home: Highlights text from cursor to beginning of line

Shift + End: Highlights text from cursor to end of line

Ctrl + A: Highlights whole document

Ctrl + Home: Moves cursor to top of document

Ctrl + End: Moves cursor to bottom of document


Shift + Ctrl + E: Turn on/off track changes

Ctrl + Del: Deletes word to the right of the cursor

Ctrl + Back Space: Deletes word to the left of the cursor

Ctrl + C: Copy text

Shift + Ctrl + C: Copy style

Ctrl + X: Cut

Ctrl + V: Paste text

Shift + Ctrl + V: Paste style

Ctrl + Z: Undo


Ctrl + I: italics (if you have the cursor in the middle of the word, the whole thing will italicize)

Ctrl + B: bold

Ctrl + U: underline

Shift + Ctrl + A: All caps

Shift + F3: Toggles between all caps, all lc, and headline style (minus lc prepositions, etc.)

Ctrl + 1: Single space

Ctrl + 2 Double space

Create your own:

This is where the true power comes in. I have shortcuts for en dashes, em dashes, degree signs, letters with accents, and a lot of other things I use a lot in Word that other people might not use. (Note: I have Word 2003 and a penchant for mathematical operators.)

Go to Tools and click on Customize. At the bottom of the box, click on the Keyboard button. Choose your category, click your new shortcut (and write it down), and don’t forget to press the Assign button, otherwise all will be lost! Not that I know this from experience.

Go forth and dominate the world.

One response to “Keyboard shortcut primer

  1. Pingback: Keyboard Shortcuts | Fangs and Clause

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