This article presents some of the finer points in using the keyboard and the mouse to scroll documents and position the insertion point.
Scrolling and Positioning the Insertion Point
In word processing, scrolling is the action of moving a document vertically or horizontally beneath the viewing area of the document window in order to see the text in different locations of the document.
Positioning is the action of moving the insertion point (also known as the cursor) to a location in a text in order to make an edit.
So, to make an edit to a portion of text which is off-screen requires the user to scroll to the location and then position the insertion point where the edit is to be made.
Scrolling and positioning can be accomplished using either the keyboard or the mouse (or touchpad).
While many users use the mouse almost exclusively for scrolling and positioning, the keyboard is actually considered more efficient because the hands stay on the keyboard.
Another keyboard advantage is that scrolling and positioning are simultaneous, i.e. wherever you navigate using the keyboard, the insertion point follows automatically. Scrolling with the mouse requires a second, separate clicking action to relocate the insertion point after scrolling to a new location.
Furthermore, scrolling and positioning using the keyboard is faster than using the mouse. For example, jumping to the beginning or end of a document with the keyboard (Ctrl-Home/Ctrl-End, respectively) is a fait accomplis before a reaching hand has even touched the mouse.
The keyboard cursor movement commands in the following table work in virtually every nook and cranny of every software program ever written.
These commands should be in every user's repertoire because they are fast, efficient, and, used properly, they can cut down on the risk of repetitive strain injury.
There are three distinct techniques for scrolling using the mouse and scroll bars.
Many users waste time and effort using the techniques inappropriately.
Technique 1: Drag the scroll boxDragging the scroll box works best for scrolling long distances in a document. This is why MS-Word displays page numbers as you scroll this way. Dragging the scroll bar is too coarse an adjustment for medium and short distance scrolling.
Technique 2: Click in the scroll bar
Clicking empty space in the scroll bar works well for mid-range moves - scrolling one screenful at a time.
This technique is the most natural way to scroll while reading through a document or Web page. It is analogous to turning pages in a book.
Scrolling this way actually moves one line less than a screenful. This helps you find your new place and confirms that you haven't missed anything.
Technique 3: Click the scroll arrowsClicking the scroll arrows is "low gear" scrolling and is designed for making fine adjustments in position. For example, use it to bring fully into view a graphic or table which is partially off-screen.
Clicking the scroll arrows is not an efficient technique for scrolling long distances.
Clicking the scroll arrows is especially poorly suited for advancing text as it is being read. Its frequent and jerky scrolling movement is a sure recipe for eye strain as eye muscles adjust constantly.
Bruce Miller, 2000, 2005, 2014
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