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Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows and Word for Translators

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There are two important reasons why anybody should use keyboard shortcuts instead of mouse.

  • The use of mouse is one of the main triggers of Repetitive Strain Injury, tendinitis and other similar muscolosceletal disorders. Sufferers of these disorders report that they feel less pain when typing compared to when mousing. Thus, a desire to avoid mouse as much as possible.

  • Once keyboard shortcuts have been mastered then one can work much faster and be more productive.
Both the above reasons apply a fortiori in the case of people who make intense use of the computer, especially those who do a lot of word-processing. Obviousty, translators fall on this category.

Personally I hardly ever touch the mouse when I use Microsoft Word and I am sure that my output must have increased manyfold since the times I performed most of the tasks through the mouse. It must be noted however that mice have improved a lot and an optical mouse with a scroll wheel is definitely more ergonomic (if used correctly that is).

Below I will mention the shortcuts I use more often and I will elaborate on my methodology. At the end of this article you will find extensive lists of keyboard shortcuts grouped in tables for Windows and Word.

Keyboard shortcuts for Windows

Accessing Windows with keyboard shortcuts only is not that hard. The first thing one needs to know is that the Start menu opens by pressing the Win key (the one on the left of Alt which has the Windows icon) or by pressing Ctrl+Esc in older keyboards. Moreover you can explore desktop items by using Tab ot Shift+Tab and launch your favourite application by pressing Enter.

If what we want is to open a document that we had been working on then we can go directly to it by pressing Start->Documents, and using the arrow keys to reach the one we want and then press Enter to open it (Windows stores shortcuts to a number of recently opened documents from different applications).

There is an easy way to launch applications by assigning a keyboard shortctut to a desktop or menu item. For example if you have a shortcut for Word on you desktop you right-click on it an then select Properties. Then you click in the Shortcut field and type a shortcut, ie Ctrl+Shift+K or one of the Function keys, F11/F10/F9 would be a fairly safe options. Then you click OK and you are done.

There is an extra trick you can use in this context, you can run the application with parameters. For example when you right click on the Word shortcut and click Properties you will see a Target field which contains the following string or a similar one "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\WINWORD.EXE". If you add to this field the /mFile1 parameter so that it reads "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\WINWORD.EXE" /mFile1, then every time you click this shortcut the last edited document will open automatically. Hence you can have one simple shortcut for Word and another one (perhaps you could rename it to Word - Last by pressing F2 when the item is highlighted and then typing the new name) which will open the last edited document. A useful utility for running programs with parameters (as well as printing / saving folder contents) is Magenta's Extensions for Windows.

If we have more than one windows open then we need a way to switch from one to another. This can be done with Alt+Tab. Alt+Tab is my most used windows shortcut. Press Alt with your left-hand thumb, and then quickly press Tab (without lifting Alt!) and then you will see a square moving from one icon to the next. Keep pressing Tab until you find the desired application and then lift both fingers. If you want to close one of the open windows you can use my third most used windows shortcut: Alt+F4. When there are no active windows it brings up the "Windows Shut Down" dialogue box. In this case it is a quick way to shut down your computer as all you do is press Alt+F4 and then Enter (provided the Shut Down option is selected). In Windows XP you also have to press the right arrow once before pressing Enter in order to move to the Shut Down option. Hence in order to quickly shut down your computer if you have Windows XP you press Alt+F4 ->Right Arrow->Enter.

Last but not least I should mention that my second most used shortcut is Alt+Shift - a quick way to change languages (a very common task for a translator). If you do this and it does not seem to work you should check your Settings at Start->Settings-> Control Panel->Keyboard->Language->Switch Languages.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Word

Moving, selecting and formatting are three of the commonest tasks in Word. Thankfully the programmers have provided all the appropriate keyboard shortcuts that make life easier.

First of all though a life-saver: once you've messed up things (and you quite don't know how you did it) simply press Ctrl+Z (if needs must more than once). It will undo your latest actions and hopefully you will retrieve your lost text! (It will not work however if what you see is a blank New Document which you created accidentally by clicking Ctrl+N by mistake. In this case simply close the blank document(s) pressing Ctrl+W and hopefully your "lost" text will reappear.)

As far as moving is concerned the key players are Ctrl, the arrow keys and the Home, End, Page Up, Page Down keys. By using any combination of the above one can achieve almost anything. One thing we need to know is that Ctrl adds an extra boost to whatever we do. For example, if we simply press the right arrow key we move one character right; if we hold Ctrl whilst pressing the right arrow key we move one word right. On the same vein if we press the down arrow key we move one line down; if we hold Ctrl whilst pressing the down arrow key we move one paragraph down. You want to know more? Click for a listing of all the navigation keyboard shortcuts.

Once you've mastered moving selecting is a piece of cake. To whatever action you used to move you add the Shift button and it will select instead of moving. For example, if we simply press the right arrow key we move one character left; if we hold Shift and then press the right arrow key we select one character right; Click for a listing of all the selecting keyboard shortcuts.

When it comes to selecting text Word XP has a very helpful new feature which is called multiple selection, ie you can select one chunk of text and then go on to select another one in a different paragraph for example. This is done with the aid of the mouse. First we select the desired text by clicking and dragging the mouse. Then we hold down the Ctrl key and keep selecting any other bits of text we want with the mouse. This technique can be useful when, for instance, we want to italicize many different words or phrases in the same document and we don't want to repeat the selection process for each and every one of them.

Now since you've mastered how to move through the document and select text all you need to know is how to quickly copy it, paste it, cut it, format it. By using the Ctrl key and adding X, C, V you cut, copy and paste respectively. By using the Ctrl key and adding B, I, U you make the text bold, italics and underlined respectively. Do you want to justify your paragraph? No problem. Just press Ctrl+J. As you see Ctrl is the key to remember! More formatting shortcuts? Click here.

My working methodology could be succinctly described with the following four shortcuts. Alt+Tab, Ctrl+C/V, Shift+F5. First of all I use Alt+Tab in order to move from one program to another (in my case from one dictionary to another and then back to Word). Then I use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V in order to copy text from the dictionaries and paste it in word. Moreover, the above too are used quite often whilst working in the document. For example if a phrase has been repeated a few lines or paragraphs up I will locate it by using Page Up, or Ctrl+F (Find), select it by using Ctrl+Shift+right arrow, copy it by using Ctrl+C, then I will click Shift+F5 in order to return to the same point in the document and then click Ctrl+V in order to paste it. If you work with more than one document open at the same time then you can use the Ctrl+F6 shortcut to navigate from one to another. Its difference from Alt+Tab is that you can only move from one Word document to another, whereas with Alt+Tab you can move through all your open applications/documents.

My all time favourite shortcut in Word (as well as a number of other programs) is Ctrl+H. Now most people who are involved with editing texts know the Ctrl+F (Find) shortcut (which I already mentioned in the previous paragraph). However, Ctrl+H goes a step further displaying the Replace field as well (saving you an extra click on the Replace button). Thus we can quickly perform a Find and Replace action. An extra shortcut that comes in handy in case you' ve jumped a word or accidentally replaced one you shouldn't replace is Shift+F5. What it does is move you to the previous part of your document.

I would not want to do lip service to the many helpful options of the Find/Replace function, of which you can get an idea by clicking on the More button on the bottom left of the Find / Replace dialogue box. This will be the subject of a different article.

In case some of the above shortcuts do not appear to work in your computer don't worry. There are some reasons why this could be happening: 
  • Sometimes Word does not appear to support the Ctrl+ Z, Y, X, C, V shortcuts because it is using as default a set of slightly different ones (Alt+Backspace=Undo, Alt+Enter=Redo, Ctrl+Delete=cut, Ctrl+Insert=copy, Shift+Insert=Paste etc).

  • Another user might have assigned different shortcuts to these keys.

To ascertain which shortcuts work in your system just run a macro which will list all of them. How do you do that? Simple: Press Alt+F8. The Macros window appears. The second field should read Macros in: Select Word Commands. Now, scroll down within the first field (Macro name) until you locate ListCommands macro. When you do, select it and click on the Run button. A dialog box appears asking you if you want to see the current commands only or all of them. Choose any.
Moreover, if you want to assign a custom shortcut click on Tools-> Customize -> Commands -> Keyboard. In the Categories box, click the category that contains the command or other item. In the box to the right, click the name of the command or other item. Any shortcut keys that are currently assigned appear in the Current keys box. In the Press new shortcut key box, press the shortcut key combination you want to assign. For example, press Alt+ the desired key. Look at Currently assigned to to see if the shortcut key combination is already assigned to a command or other item. If so, select another combination. Click Assign. Done!


Start Windows
Win Key / Ctrl+Esc
Close the current window or quit a program (if no windows are active it brings up the "Shut Down" dialog box). Alt+F4
Display the Close Program (task manager) dialog box Ctrl + Alt + Del (pressing these keys a second time will re-boot the computer)
Display the Find File dialog box Win + F or F3
Copy a screen-shot to the clipboard Print Screen
Show item properties Alt+Enter
Switch to the window you last used or
Switch to another window by holding down Alt while repeatedly pressing Tab
Close a My Computer window and all its parrent windows Shift (while clicking the "X", Close button)
Cancel the current task Esc
Quit a program that is not responding (in the Close Program dialog box, click the program that is not responding, and then click End Task) Ctrl+Alt+Del
Bypass Auto run when inserting a CD Shift
Right-click (make sure the desired object has the focus) Shift+F10 or application key (usually the third key on the right from the space bar with a menu and pointer icon)
Permanently delete (bypassing Recycle Bin) Shift+Delete
Click a button if the current control is a button or
Select or clear the check box if the current control is a check box or
Click the option if the current control is an option button
Click the corresponding command Alt+underlined letter
Click the selected button Enter
Move backward through options Shift+Tab
Move forward through options Tab
Move backward through tabs Ctrl+Shift+Tab
Move forward through tabs Ctrl+Tab
Open a folder one level up if a folder is selected in the Save As or Open dialog box Backspace
Help F1
Rename an item F2
Open Save In or Look In in the Save As or Open dialog box F4
Refresh or Save As or Open dialog box F5
Create a shortcut Ctrl+Shift while dragging the file
Select all items Ctrl+A
Toggle Languages Alt+Shift
Launch Windows Explorer Win+E


To move the insertion point
One character left Left arrow
One character right Right arrow
One word left Ctrl+left arrow
One word right Ctrl+right arrow
One paragraph up Ctrl+ arrow up
One paragraph down Ctrl+ arrow down
One line up arrow up
One line down arrow down
End of line End
One page up Page Up
One page down Page Down
Beginning of line Home
Previous point in the document Shift+F5
Top part of the window Ctrl+Alt+Page Up
Bottom part of the window Ctrl+Alt+Page Down
One screen up Page Up
One screen down Page Down
Beginning of next page Ctrl+Page Down
Beginning of previous page Ctrl+Page Up
Page number Ctrl+G
End of document Ctrl+End
Beginning of document Ctrl+Home
To select
One character left Shift+Left arrow
One character right Shift+Right arrow
One word left Ctrl+Shift+left arrow
To End of Line Shift+End
To Beginning of Line Shift+Home
One word right Ctrl+Shift+right arrow
One line up Shift+arrow up
One line down Shift+arrow down
One paragraph up Ctrl+Shift+arrow up
One paragraph down Ctrl+Shift+arrow down
One page up Shift+Page Up
One page down Shift+Page Down
To Bottom of document Ctrl+ Shift+End
To Top of document Ctrl+ Shift+Home
All document Ctrl+A
To select using keys or/and mouse
Select word Double click
Select sentence Ctrl+click
Select paragraph Triple click or
Double Click on the left of the paragraph
Select vertically / column Alt+click
Select line Click on the left of the line
Select All Triple click on the left of the document or
Ctrl+ double click on the left of the document.
Multiple Selection (only for XP) hold Ctrl+select all areas with the mouse one after another
To Undo/Redo
Undo Ctrl+Z or Alt+Backspace
Redo Ctrl+Y or Alt+Enter
To Find/Replace
Find Ctrl+F
Find/Replace Ctrl+H
Repeat the last Find or Goto Shift+F4 (very useful!)
To delete
One character left Backspace
One character right Del
One word left Ctrl+Backspace
One word right Ctrl+Del
To format
Bold Ctrl+B
Italic Ctrl+I
Underline Ctrl+U
Underline Words only Ctrl+Shift+W
Double Underline Ctrl+Shift+D
Convert all letters to capitals Ctrl+Shift+A
Change Font Ctrl+Shift+F
Increase Font Size Ctrl+Shift+>
Decrease Font Size Ctrl+Shift+<
Convert to Small Capitals Ctrl+Shift+K
Copy formatting Ctrl+Shift+C
Paste formatting Ctrl+Shift+V
Clear formatting Ctrl+Spacebar
Single Line Spacing Ctrl+1
Double Line Spacing Ctrl+2
1.5 Line Spacing Ctrl+5
New Page Ctrl+Enter
New Line Enter
Align Centre Ctrl+E
Align Left Ctrl+L
Align Right Ctrl+R
Align Justified Ctrl+J
Increase Indent Ctrl+M
Decrease Indent Ctrl+Shift+M
Remove Paragraph Formatting Ctrl+Q
Open Document Ctrl+O
Close Document Ctrl+W
Save Document Ctrl+S
Save all open documents Shift+click on File. You will see the option Save all
Close all open documents Shift+click on File. You will see the option Close all
New Document Ctrl+N
Print Document Ctrl+P
Next Document Ctrl+F6
Split Document Alt+Ctrl+S and then press Enter
Remove Split Alt+Shift+C
Restore Document Ctrl+F5
Maximize Document Ctril+F10
Maximize All Win+D or Win+Shift+M
Minimize All Win+D or Win+M

Links - More Shortcuts!



© 2002 Spiros Doikas.
Reproduced with permission from the author and Translatum Journal.
All rights reserved.

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