Category Archives: Microsoft Word

Alt+Ctrl+S: Split the screen in Microsoft Word

This morning I was working with a long document in Microsoft Word, and I wanted to compare something I’d written on page 43 with something that written back on page 2. I was frequently jumping back and forth.
The easiest way to handle such tasks is to split the screen so that you can display page 2 on the top half, and page 43 on the bottom half, and then work with whatever half you want.

It’s not 100% keyboard only, but try this:

  1. Press Alt+Ctrl+S, and a split cursor appears.
  2. Press Up Arrow or Down Arrow until the split is where you want it, then press Enter. The screen is split.
  3. Now, scroll to wherever you want (and remember the Ctrl+G or F5 shortcut that lets you go to whatever page you want right away). You scroll in one half, while the other half of the split displays the other portion of the document.
  4. I don’t know of a keyboard method to change which part of the split you work with, so you’ll need to use the mouse to click in the top portion or bottom portion as needed if you want to make edits.
  5. When you’re all done with the split, press Alt+Shift+C, and the split is removed.

Note that a split is really just a different way of viewing the same document — you only have one copy. Any changes you make in the top portion are immediately reflected in the bottom portion, and vice versa.

Ctrl+F1: Switch off the task pane in Office

When you start up Excel or other Office programs, they often stick a “Task Pane” up on the right, usually with the “Getting Started” heading. Annoying, isn’t it?

Switch it off one time with Ctrl+F1.

Switch it off permanently by following these steps (which you have to repeat for Excel, Word, PowerPoint, etc.): Hit Alt+T to open the Tools menu, O to select the Options command, then deselect the “Startup Task Pane” checkbox using Alt plus whatever is the underlined letter (which is different in different programs — nice consistency there, Microsoft), then press Enter for OK.

Alt+4, Alt+5, Alt+6, Alt+7: Other buttons in the file dialog box

By now you may have figured out the pattern: When using Word, Excel or PowerPoint, and at the moment when you have a file dialog box open, you can use the Alt key plus a number to select the buttons along the top right.

We’ve already seen three:

  • Alt+1: Back (a folder)
  • Alt+2: Up one level (of folders)
  • Alt+3: Search the Web

But there are several more:

  • Alt+4: Delete (if you have a file or folder selected)
  • Alt+5: Create New Folder
  • Alt+6: Views
  • Alt+7: Tools (pulls down the Tools menu)

Because the buttons are in the same order, 1 through 7, it actually becomes fairly easy to remember which button to press.

Several of these, such as Alt+5, are actually useful. Whether or not you use these shortcuts depends on how often you use the buttons. Practice!

Remember, the easiest way to see this dialog box is to press F12 when using Word, Excel or PowerPoint to get the Save As dialog box, or to press Ctrl+O for the Open dialog box.

Alt+3: Search the web instead of using the file dialog (Office)

I have to admit I never use this one.

But, just suppose: You’re in Word or Excel or PowerPoint. You’ve opened up a file dialog box. It could be an Open file dialog box (by pressing Ctrl+O or using the File | Open menu, or by pressing Ctrl+F12). Or it could be a Save As file dialog box (by pressing F12, or selecting File | Save As).

And then you change your mind, and want to search the web instead. Instead of hitting Esc to cancel the file dialog box, and then pressing Ctrl+Esc to get the Start menu and then running your web browser, and then opening up a search engine, you can do all of that with one button. You could just use your mouse to hit this button, the “Search the Web” button:

[Screenshot of Save As dialog box with Search the Web button circled]

Or, you could press Alt+3. When you do so, instantly the dialog box closes (with no action taken), and your web browser comes up, with a search engine displayed.

(Note to readers: If you know how to change the search engine used here from MSN Live to something else, please let me know. The standard methods don’t seem to work.)

It’s a pity this keyboard shortcut only works in Office apps and not all apps that use a file dialog box.

Alt+1: Go back a Folder when in file dialog box (Office)

Similarly to yesterday’s tip, suppose you’ve opened the Save As dialog box and have looked at one or more different folders or drives, and you want to go back to the one you were just looking at. You could click on that little green “Back” button up in the top center, next to the “Save in” or “Look in” drop-down list. But instead of clicking a button, you can just type Alt+1.

Each time you press Alt+1 you’ll go back another folder until you return to the one you started out looking at.

Alt+2: Go up one Folder when in file dialog box (Office)

Yesterday, I mentioned you can press the Backspace key to move up a folder when you’re working with files.

For Microsoft Office apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.), you can do the same thing with Alt+2.

Try it!

Suppose, for example, you’re viewing top-secret plans in Word, and want to save a copy of them on your Desktop. You’d do the following:

  1. Hit F12 to get the Save As dialog box.
  2. Alt+2 several times, until the Desktop is displayed. (Normally you’d instead hit Shift+Tab, then Backspace several times.)
  3. Type the file name you want and press Enter.

F12: Save As (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)

When working with Excel, Word, or PowerPoint, you can save the current document with a new name, or in a different directory, or on a floppy disk (remember those?), by tapping the F12 key. The “Save As” dialog box appears. Then you can enter your filename and press Enter.

Not the right folder? Remember, you can move up a folder with the Backspace key, once you’ve moved focus to the file list pane — so press Shift+Tab then Backspace a few times to get to the Desktop quickly. We’ll have more tips on what you can do from this dialog box for the rest of the week.

Alt+Shift+F10: Open “Smart Tag” menu in Word, Excel & PowerPoint

When you’re using Excel 2003 or later, from time to time it’ll point out mistakes in your formulas or other observations by indicating a green triangle in the upper left of the cell, along with an exclamation point in a yellow diamond. The idea is you click on the diamond to see a menu with some options from Excel.

Clicking? Moi? Nope, instead of reaching for the mouse, just press Alt+Shift+F10, and the menu then opens. (Just have your cursor somewhere in the cell with the Smart Tag.) Once the menu appears, it’s just a regular menu, and you can use the Up Arrow or Down Arrow plus Enter to select an item, or press Esc to cancel.

Similarly, in Microsoft Word, sometimes you’ll be typing and Word will make a correction and show a blue double underline. Move your mouse to the underline and a yellow lightning bolt appears. Click on the lightning bolt and you’ll have some menu items to control the behavior of whatever automatic correction Word made.

Again, clicking? No need. The same Alt+Shift+F10 will open the Smart Tag menu in Word. Just have your cursor somewhere in the word with the double blue underline.

Ctrl+D: Font dialog box in Microsoft Word

We’ve covered a lot of Ctrl+D shortcuts previously (fill down in Excel, duplicate slide in PowerPoint, bookmark in IE and Firefox), so it’s understandable if you get a little confused about what Ctrl+D does in each application.

But, if you spend a lot of time in Microsoft Word, you might want to memorize this one and practice it today: Ctrl+D brings up the Font dialog box in Word, where you can change the font face, the font size, the font color, and a few other special formatting options. (Don’t forget you can press Ctrl+Tab to change the tabs in the dialog box to change character spacing and special effects.)

If you have selected text, pressing Ctrl+D will apply the font changes to whatever’s selected. Otherwise, if nothing’s selected, it’ll affect what you type next.

Ctrl+T: Create hanging indent in Word

In Word, sometimes you want to create what’s called a “hanging indent” (where the first line of a paragraph is at the usual spot on the left margin, but all the subsequent lines in that paragraph are moved in to the next tab stop).

Find a paragraph that’s more than one line long, hit Ctrl+T, and you can see how it looks for yourself. Press it several times if you want to indent the second and later lines to the next tab stop.

Shift+F3: Change Case in Word and PowerPoint

Select some text in Word or PowerPoint, then press Shift+F3. It’ll toggle between three possibilities for text capitalization:

  • Initial Letter Case
  • ALL CAPS CASE
  • lower case

So, if you have selected some text like “siX MILlion Dollar mAn” each time you press Shift+F3 you’ll see it switch between “SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN” and “six million dollar man” and “Six Million Dollar Man”.

However! If you add some punctuation (like a period) at the end of what’s selected, instead of using Initial Letter Case, it’ll only capitalize the first letter of the sentence. So “I wiN!” will toggle between “I WIN!” and “i win!” and “I win!” (and not ever show “I Win!”).

F7: Spell Check (Microsoft Office)

In most Microsoft Office apps (including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook), tap F7 to begin the spellcheck process.

In the spellecheck dialog box, don’t forget to use Alt plus an underlined letter to hit the button! Using Alt+A to Add a correct word (such as your last name) to your custom dictionary is smart because it saves time in two ways — now, by saving you from having to use your mouse to hit the button, and later, by preventing this correctly spelled word from ever wasting your time again.

Ctrl+[, Ctrl+]: Increase, decrease font size in Word, Outlook & PowerPoint

If you have selected text and want to change its point size, you can easily do so with a simple keystroke: Ctrl+[ (the square bracket key next to the letter P on most keyboards) will lower the selected text by 1 point. Tap it a few times to see the effect. Similarly, Ctrl+] increases the text size.

You can also use Ctrl+< and Ctrl+> — but while that may be easier to remember, you have to use the Shift key, so I prefer the square brackets. Also, that keystroke doesn’t work in Outlook.

(If you need to, you can review how to select text with the keyboard.)

Excel doesn’t allow any of these keystrokes. Excel is a bit of a fuddy-duddy that way, refusing to play along.

Ctrl+L: Left justify, Ctrl+R: Right justify, Ctrl+E: Center, Ctrl+J: Justify

If you’re using Word, Outlook or PowerPoint, you can change the justification of a paragraph using the following four keystrokes:

  • Ctrl+L: Left justify the current paragraph, but keep the right margin ragged
  • Ctrl+R: Right justify the current paragraph.
  • Ctrl+E: Center the current paragraph (since Ctrl+C is already taken with Copy, they had to use the second letter.)
  • Ctrl+J: Left justify the current paragraph, but keep the right margin justified

What does “justification” mean? Nothing to do with justice. I’m not sure why justification is called what it is. But that’s what it’s called; for more, check out wikipedia’s entry on justification.

This is left (Ctrl+L).

This is centered (Ctrl+E).

This is right (Ctrl+R).

This paragraph is fully justified, which means the right margin is in a straight line. The rest of this paragraph is just nonsense text. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

This paragraph is left-justified, which means the right margin is uneven, or “ragged.” The rest of this paragraph is just nonsense text. The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum

Quite a few other applications alllow the use of these four keystrokes as well. But not Excel.

Ctrl+Shift+P: Select Point Size of Font (in Microsoft Office apps)

Similar to yesterday’s tip, Ctrl+Shift+P will jump your cursor in the font size (also known as “point size,” thus the letter P for the keyboard shortcut) box on the Formatting toolbar in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint.

Once there, type in a number such as 18 and press Enter. Whatever text is selected will change to the new size; if no text is selected, whatever you type next will be at the new size.

Ctrl+Shift+F: Select Font (in Microsoft Office apps)

Using Excel, Word, or PowerPoint? Have the Formatting toolbar visible? Good, don’t spend another second moving your mouse up to that font selection area. Instead, press Ctrl+Shift+F, and all of a sudden your cursor is in the Font selection button on the Formatting toolbar. From there you can type in the first few letters of a font name (such as ver to get “Verdana”) and press Enter, or you can press the Up Arrow and Down Arrow keys to select the fonts one at a time. Press Alt+Down Arrow to see the pulldown menu.

Does this work with Microsoft Outlook? Alas, no. That would imply a consistency of design that, sadly, does not exist.

Ctrl+N: New Document

For most applications that support working with more than one document at once, Ctrl+N starts a new document, without having to answer questions about what kind of new document you want. Try it in Microsoft Word, Excel, etc.

Be careful when using Microsoft Outlook, because Ctrl+N has a different meaning depending on what section of Outlook you’re in. For example, in Calendar mode, Ctrl+N creates a new appointment, while in Mail mode, Ctrl+N creates a new e-mail message.

F5 (or Ctrl+G): In Word and Excel, Go To a location

To round out our navigation week, let’s use an application-specific keyboard shortcut.

If you use Microsoft Word, try this (when editing a long document): Press F5, and the “Go To” dialog box appears. (It may look a bit different depending on which version of Microsoft Word you’re using.) Type in a page number, like 15, and press Enter. Your cursor should now be at the top of page 15. You can then press Esc to cancel the dialog box.

If you use Microsoft Excel, try pressing F5 and in the Go To dialog box, type in a cell (such as B500), then press Enter.

There are more advanced ways of using the Go To dialog box in both applications, but we’ll save that for a future day

If you prefer, you can use Ctrl+G instead of F5.