Most frequent users of Microsoft Word already use it proficiently; however introducing just a few extra efficiencies can increase a users speed and accuracy. In doing so, users can save thousands of hours in time from not only increasing speed, but by also preventing errors thus spending less time correcting when done properly.

Shortcut Keys

A lot of users are familiar with shortcut keys and utilise them minimally. However by increasing your knowledge of shortcut keys, users are able to increase their speed majorly. If you think how often as a user you remove your hands from the keyboard, reach for the mouse, move the cursor to the desired spot, click on the option you require eg Bold, and finally return your hands to the keyboard. The amount of time used each time can add up. If just a few shortcut keys are added to a users repertoire, major time can be save. The following are my favourite but lesser know shortcut keys.

F4 Function Key

F4 Repeats the last action you took, thus if you created a new tab stop in a paragraph you can repeat the same action elsewhere in the document by pressing F4. This shortcut applies to almost every function you complete in word such as cut, paste, format functions, page layout functions etc.

F8 Function Key

F8 Allows the user to anchor the cursor as they would by holding down the left mouse button, using the left, right, up and down buttons on the keyboard works in the same fashion as dragging the mouse along a word or sentence after anchoring.

What some users may not be aware of is however, that by clicking on F8 twice, the cursor automatically highlights the single word the cursor is currently on, three times will highlight the paragraph and four times the entire document. The escape key will switch off the anchor function if a user changes their mind.

Control + > (Control + Shift + .), Control + < (Control + Shift + ,)

These shortcuts will increase or decrease the font size of text, increasing or decreasing in the same order as it would if the user has selected font size from the main menu.

Control + m, Control + shift + m

Control + m will indent text by one standard indentation, whilst control + shift + m will reverse the indentation by one standard indentation.

Control + Shift + n

This shortcut will return the text to the ‘Normal’ style, this can be used when formatting changes have made the text and the user wishes it to be returned to the style it originally was.

Auto Correct

Everyone already unwittingly uses Auto Correct in Word. It is mostly noticed by the user when accidently typing a lower case letter after a full stop and Word corrects the mistake on behalf of the user.

If a user has a word or sentence they frequently utilise, this can be added to the auto correct list, to enable the user to type in an almost shorthand method. For example, I recently wrote an article discussing the changes in Google+ affecting Google+ Local Pages. After two paragraphs I became tired of typing Google+ and Google+ Local Pages and added these to the auto correct function with a shortcut acronym. Now when the acronym ‘G+’ is typed, Word automatically updates the text to ‘Google+’ or if ‘gplp’ is typed ‘Google+ Local Pages’ replaces the acronym.

Find and Replace

Find and Replace allows the user to update a document in a bulk manner. If for example a user wishes to replace a single word throughout the document to a different word, eg. Changing a maiden name throughout a large document to a married name.

Find and Replace however can be used in a more in depth manner, for example it can also be used to update a word throughout a document to be formatted in a certain way eg. Change the word Google+ to be bolded each time it is used. Or if a user wished to remove over formatting such as reducing two returns at the end of a paragraph to one.

Paste Special

Often text is copied from another document or website which is formatted in a manner that does not suit the user. Instead of the user reformatting the text once it is pasted in, selecting Unformatted Text from Paste Special, will result in the text going into the document without any formatting from the source document. If tables are copied and pasted using this function, the text will be pasted without a surrounding table.

Quick Parts Fields

Quick Parts Fields allow the user to insert objects which will automatically update as the document changes. For example, the user can insert a Quick Part Field for the File Path and Name which will update as the document name or path changes. Other Quick Parts Fields that are useful can be as follows:

  • Document Author
  • Date
  • Page Numbers
  • Date of last print
  • Date of last save

By introducing and practicing these efficiencies, users will be able to reduce time spent on formatting and updating documents. Practising the skills and introducing new ones on a frequent basis will help, using these in combining of one another will also support efficiencies.