June 2, 2021
You’re a pro at Word. But every pro has their blind spots. Like me (your run-of-the-mill copywriter who, up until last year, was still oh-so-naively moving my mouse over to the point size and manually typing it in), you might be missing out on some great Microsoft Word hacks and not know it.
We’ve put together a list of our top game-changing keyboard shortcuts to help save your wrist-energy and your time. These are written for Mac, but swap Cmd with Ctrl, and you’re good to go on PC.
Master these moves to master your copy deck:
1. The hyperlink hack:
Highlight some words and hit Cmd-K to open the hyperlink box. Cmd-V your URL in there and whatever word(s) you’ve highlighted will now be hyperlinked.
2. The account-person fake out:
Cmd-H will hide your doc from prying eyes. Instantly.
Don’t worry, it’s still hidden in the folds of your desktop background like some kind of black magic. All you need to do to make it reappear is click on the Word app on your screen.
3. The select you thought impossible:
When every line in a list begins with a word you want to remove (like “the”), you don’t have to repeat the arduous task of highlighting one “the” at a time and deleting. You can make them all disappear in one fell swoop.
Hold Opt with one hand, then use your mouse to click and drag vertically with the other, selecting all the “the”s you want. Hit delete, and voilà. You now have a “the”-free list.
4. The page turner:
Stop hitting Enter eight bajillion times. Cmd-Shift-Return will start you on the next page.
5. The art director infuriator:
If you’re like me, you can’t resist demonstrating that a headline is a headline by increasing the font size – much to the probable headshaking of your art director. The good news is that Word has made it easier for you to do:
Hit Cmd-Shift > to size up and Cmd-Shift < to size down.
6. The dash dash:
Add dashes in a hurry. Whether your brand requires en dashes or em dashes, your faithful keyboard has you covered.
Hit Opt – for en dash and Opt Shift – for em dash.
7. The grudging legal insertion:
Let’s face it, it’s a blow to have to include legal in your beautiful copy – without the annoying effort it takes to format it. But this shortcut will make that task easier, removing any proverbial salt from the wound.
Hit Cmd-Shift + to superscript numbers in your text. Hit it again to go back to regular text.
8. The last-minute-client-request word swap:
Cmd-F will open a tiny search bar in the top corner of your doc. Type in the word you want, and it will highlight all instances of it.
You can also hit the little arrow in your search bar to replace every instance of this word with another throughout your doc – especially useful for last-minute offer changes.
9. The daring second-deck maker:
When you need to cut and paste all the words from one doc to another, Cmd-A will select everything in your document.
Just be sure not to save and close this document until you know your words are safe in the other. That’s playing with fire.
A safer way is to Save As to create a new version of this document.
10. The neat freak’s dream:
This one goes out to those who get anxiety when some of your formatting doesn’t match the rest. When colour, font, weight, size, angle, or any other mismatchable category is off, this tool basically copies and pastes formats. Yep. You read that right.
Click the word that has the formatting you want. Then hit the little paintbrush icon (top left in your Home tab) and highlight the text that has the offending formatting.
11. The ugly-formatting wipe:
When it’s hard to stare at a blank page, it helps to copy and paste words from the brief – or the client’s website – as a starting point, but sometimes the formatting is (to put it lightly) off. In that case, there’s a nifty button on your Home tab that will remove all the formatting for you: it’s the icon of an A with an eraser in front of it.
When the A-eraser just isn’t cutting it, Crl-Cmd-V (or right click to select “paste special”) will let you remove all nasty formatting as you paste
12. The DIYs:
Did you know you can create your own keyboard shortcuts? It’s semi easy and fully worth it. Just follow these steps:
Tools > Customize Keyboard > Search and select the function you want > Press New Keyboard Shortcut > Type your desired shortcut command
This is particularly wonderful, as I have discovered, for creating a shortcut to highlight text, but you can use it for almost any function in Word.
Appendix – The common corner cutters:
Here are some everyday moves that you probably already know. These should come with a caution about their addictive qualities – so if they’re new to you, consider yourself warned:
Cmd-Shift-S: save as
There you have it: some of the top keyboard shortcuts for writers. This is by no means a complete list. The possibilities are endless, but these shortcuts help us every day and we hope they help you type faster and format lazier too.