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Microsoft Word:
15+ Ways to Select Text in a Document

Besides entering text, selecting text is probably the most common task for most Word documents. Almost every editing and formatting task begins by selecting something. word tips, selecting text, selecting objects, shortcuts, highlight text in wordThe most common way to select or highlight text is to click and drag your mouse across the text. But what other shortcuts and techniques can you use in Word to select text, graphics, tables, and other parts of a Word document?

[Shift] + Direction Keys

  • To select one character or line at a time, hold down the [Shift] key while pressing the [Right], [Left], [Down], or [Up] keys.
  • To move by a screen down or up at a time, hold down the [Shift] key while pressing the [Page Down], [Page Up] keys.
  • Hold down [Shift] + [Home] to select everything from the insertion point to the beginning of the current line.
  • Or, hold down [Shift] + [End] to highlight everything from the current position to the last character on the line.
  • With your mouse, click at the beginning of the text you want to select and then press and hold down [Shift] and click at the end of the text.

Mouse Click Tricks

  • To select the current word, double-click it.
  • To select the current paragraph, triple-click it.
  • To select a sentence (not just a line), hold down [Ctrl] and click once in any place within the sentence.
  • To select a vertical block of text, click at the start of the block. Then, hold down the [Shift] key and click a second time at the opposite end of the block. Hint: This is a handy trick when you only want to copy one column of a tabular list.

Easy Keyboard Selection Secret

Even better than the [Shift] key is a little known selection trick with the [F8] function key which “turns on” a selection mode so you don’t have to press and hold down the [Shift] key while highlighting in a Word document.

To use this selection technique, simply:

  1. Move to beginning of the area you want to select.
  2. Press [F8] once.
  3. Look in the bottom left corner of the Word status bar (across the bottom of the Word window) for Extend Selection; don't expect anything to flash or pop up.
  4. Take your time moving to the end of the selection area with your keyboard and/or the mouse. No need to hold down the [Shift] key.
  5. Perform the action you want to apply to the selected area such as formatting, cut, copy, etc. The Extend Selection mode turns off as soon as you do an action. Just move anywhere to clear the highlight. What if you change your mind and you want to turn off the Extend Selection without continuing? Just press [Esc] to cancel. Move anywhere to clear the highlight.

Selecting Tricks in Word With the Selection Bar

Have you ever used the selection bar? Just think of this as the left margin of your Word document. To locate the selection bar area, move your mouse to the left of text until it changes from an upper case "I" to a white arrow. Selection tricks to try with the selection bar:

  • Click once to highlight entire line.
  • Click and drag to select multiple lines.
  • Double-click to select the whole paragraph.
  • Triple-click (can you do it?) to highlight the entire document (great for overall changes such as font formatting).

Selecting Multiple Items

To select more than one item such as 2 different non-contiguous (unrelated) items use [Ctrl]:

  1. Select the first piece of text.
  2. Press and hold [Ctrl] and select each of the other items you want to highlight (use any of the techniques mentioned above).
  3. Perform the action to finish working with the highlighted area.

Easy Select All

To make changes to an entire document or file, press [Ctrl] + A to Select All.

Select and Move

Try [Alt] + [Shift] + [Up] or [Alt] + [Shift] + [Down] to select and move the current paragraph (or table row). Impressive and useful!

>>Download a handout of shortcuts to select text in a Word document.

© Dawn Bjork Buzbee, MCT, The Software Pro®

Dawn Bjork Buzbee is The Software Pro® and a Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) as well as a certified Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) Master Instructor, certified Microsoft Applications Specialist (MCAS) Instructor, and a certified Microsoft Office expert. Dawn shares smart and easy ways to effectively use software through her work as a software speaker, trainer, consultant, and author of 8 books.

This article and more can be reprinted at no charge in your publications and website with copyright and attribution.
>>Learn more about how easy it is to share these valuable tips, tricks, and techniques.

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Press [Ctrl] + A to select the entire document.
 
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To select an entire sentence, hold down [Ctrl] and click once anywhere in the sentence.
 
 
 
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