The Hermit Hermit's Free Library  MS-Word

This article presents the most efficient ways of selecting text in MS-Word. Methods using the mouse and the keyboard are included.

Effective Text Selection

Selecting text efficiently is a basic skill for editing and formatting. Dragging the mouse over text to select it not only wastes time, it's more likely to generate copy and paste errors.

The keyboard and mouse text selection techniques described below are easy, fast, and accurate. Using them taps into the true power of modern desktop software.

Using the Keyboard to select text

The mouse offers some great techniques to select text, but the keyboard is frequently faster and more accurate, and may reduce risk of injury due to repetitive motion. We only have two hands with which to use the mouse, but ten fingers to bash on keys!

The following keyboard text selection techniques work in nearly 100% of software programs, including MS-Word.

Ctrl-AEntire document
Shift-Ctrl-EndFrom cursor location to end of document
Shift-Ctrl-HomeFrom cursor location to beginning of document
Shift-Ctrl-Down ArrowFrom cursor to beginning of next paragraph
Shift-EndFrom cursor to end of line
Shift-HomeFrom cursor to beginning of line
Shift-Left/Right-ArrowOne character at a time left/right
Shift-Ctrl Left/Right ArrowOne word at a time left/right

F8 - Extend the selection

Extend Selection (F8) is the keyboard technique of selecting discrete words (F8 x 2), sentences (F8 x 3), or paragraphs (F8 x 4).

After a selection is made using F8, use Ctrl-C (copy) or Ctrl-X (cut) and then Ctrl-V (paste).

Extend Selection ends when you press Ctrl-C or Ctrl-X, but you can cancel it at any time by hitting Esc and then the left or right arrow key.

Using the mouse to select text

Combined with Drag and Drop, the mouse is a powerhouse in "close-quarters" editing. However, it depends upon how well it's used.

Many users select text by dragging the mouse over it. In most situations that's the slowest and least efficient way to select text with a mouse.

Our rodent friends can be used much more effectively! Like the keyboard, they too can select words, sentences, and paragraphs easily and without the strain of dragging over the text.

Find that "Selection Bar"

In MS-Word (and nearly all other desktop software), the selection bar is the white space that appears between the screen edge and the left margin of text, or fields. The following table shows how to use the Selection Bar to select text the easy and accurate way:

Mouse ActionSelection
Single-click in Selection BarSelect line
Double-click in Selection BarSelect paragraph
Double-click on a wordSelect word
Triple-click in a paragraphSelect paragraph
Triple-click in the Selection BarSelect entire document
Ctrl-Click in sentenceSelect sentence
And remember! Holding down Ctrl enables these techniques to select multiple items!