Writing Hacks: Keyboard Shortcuts

Picture this. You’re in the zone rockin’ the WIP, the words flowing from your fingertips faster than you can type. And then . . . splat. You’ve hit a brick wall. That special character or symbol isn’t on your keyboard.

Sound familiar?

So now, you need to stop, go to Insert, then to Advanced Symbols and scroll through the list to find that pain-in-the-butt character. You could leave yourself a note in the manuscript to deal with it later and continue on, but wouldn’t a keyboard shortcut make life easier?

With that in mind, I offer the following . . .

SYMBOLS & SPECIAL CHARACTERS 

Please note: these shortcuts can be used on the web or in Word by using the numbers on the top row of your keyboard. If you use your numbers keypad, you may get different results.

ALT + 1 = ¡

ALT + 2 = ™

ALT + 3 = £

ALT + 4 = ¢

ALT + 5 = ∞

ALT + 6 = §

ALT + 7 = ¶

ALT + 8 = •

ALT + 9 = ª

ALT + q = œ

ALT + SHFT + Q = Œ

ALT + w = ∑

ALT + SHFT + W = „

ALT + e = ´

ALT + r = ®

ALT + SHFT + R = ‰

ALT + t = †

ALT + SHFT + T = ˇ

ALT + y = ¥

ALT + SHFT + Y = Á

ALT + u = ¨

ALT + i = ˆ

ALT + o = ø

ALT + SHFT + O = Ø

ALT + p = π

ALT + SHFT + P = ∏

ALT + a = å

ALT + SHFT + A = Å

ALT + s = ß

ALT + SHFT + S = Í

ALT + d = ∂

ALT + SHFT + D = Î

ALT + f = ƒ

ALT + SHFT + F = Ï

ALT + g = ©

ALT + SHFT + G = ˝

ALT + h = ˙

ALT + SHFT + H = Ó

ALT + j = ∆

ALT + SHFT + J = Ô

ALT + k = ˚ (degree)

ALT + SHFT + K = Ó

ALT + l = ¬

ALT + SHFT + L = Ò

ALT + ; = … (to create ellipsis you can also press CTRL + ALT + .)

ALT + SHFT + : = Ú

ALT + “ = Æ

ALT + ‘ = æ

ALT + z = Ω

ALT + SHFT + Z = ¸

ALT + x = ≈

ALT + SHFT + X = ˛

ALT + c = ç

ALT + SHFT + C = Ç

ALT + v = √ (square root)

ALT + SHFT + V = ◊

ALT + b = ∫

ALT + SHFT + B = ı

ALT + n = ˜

ALT + m = µ

ALT + SHFT + M = Â

ALT + , = ≤

ALT + SHFT + < = ¯

ALT + . = ≥

ALT + SHFT + > = ˘

ALT + / = ÷

ALT + SHFT + ? = ¿

COMMON SHORTCUTS

On my keyboard “Command” equals the “WIN” key—I use a Windows keyboard on a Mac—but yours might be CTRL or COMMAND (Mac users) depending on the keyboard type.

<Command> + C = Copy

<Command> + X = Cut

<Command> + V = Paste

<Command> + Q = Quit

<Command> + W = Close File or Window

<Command> + N = Open New file

<Command> + O = Open Existing file

<Command> + S = Save

<Command> + P = Print

<Command> + F = Find a word or phrase­­­ on web pages or in Word. If the word or phrase appears more than once, press ENTER to move to the next instance.

<Command> + Z = Undo Action (To redo the action, press <Command> + Y)

<Command> + A = Select All

<Command> + B = Bold (To stop bold, repeat command)

<Command> + I = Italics (To stop italics, repeat command)

<Command> + U = Underline (To stop underline, repeat command)

<Command> + T = Open New Browser

<Command> + D = Bookmark Page

<Command> + B = View Bookmarks

WORDPRESS SHORTCUTS

Most of the above commands also work on WordPress. Here’s a few extras exclusive to WordPress …

<Command> + 1 = Heading 1

<Command> + 2 = Heading 2

<Command> + 3 = Heading 3

<Command> + 4 = Heading 4

<Command> + 5 = Heading 5

<Command> + 6 = Heading 6

<Command> + 9 = Address

ALT + SHFT + n = Check Spelling

ALT + SHFT + j = Justify Text

ALT + SHFT + d = Strikethrough

ALT + SHFT + u = Bullet List

ALT + SHFT + o = Numbered List

ALT + SHFT + q = Quote

ALT + SHFT + w = Distraction Free Writing Mode

ALT + SHFT + p = Insert Page Break Tag

ALT + SHFT + l = Align Left

ALT + SHFT + c = Align Center

ALT + SHFT + r = Align Right

ALT + SHFT + a = Insert Link

ALT + SHFT + s = Remove Link

ALT + SHFT + m = Insert Image

ALT + SHFT + t = Insert More Tag

ALT + SHFT + h = Help

Most social media sites offer their own shortcuts in the help menu. YouTube, however, offers several cool hacks to save time.  

YOUTUBE SHORTCUTS

Press 1 = jump ahead 10% through the video.

Press 3 = jump ahead 30%

Press 4 = jump ahead 40%

Press 5 = jump ahead 50%

And so on.

Press 0 = restarts the video

Spacebar = pause/un-pause video

← Go back 5 seconds

→ Go forward 5 seconds

↑ Raise volume

↓ Decrease volume

F = Fullscreen

ESC = Exit Fullscreen

MISC.

CTRL+ALT+DEL = Quit Frozen Application. This command opens the Task Manager. Select the application that stopped working and press END TASK.

Do you have a favorite shortcut that you use regularly? Please share!

Want to have a little fun? Include a special character in your comment. ♠♣♥♦ If it’s not listed above, be sure to tell us how you created it. 

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36 thoughts on “Writing Hacks: Keyboard Shortcuts

  1. Great list, Sue. I’ll save this post for sure. One thing I ‘insist’ on is a mouse with programmable buttons so I have copy, cut, and paste at my fingertips.

  2. Thank you! A great reference. And timely, as I was just wondering this weekend how to re-create the greater than/equal to sign. Plus I keep forgetting how to do the degree sign. I don’t use special characters often, but it’s nice to know how to create them when I do. Thanks again.

    • My pleasure, Brenda! I don’t use them often, either, but the subject arose in my WIP with a foreign word title that requires accented letters. Every time I had to stop to search for that dang letter I thought, there must be an easier way.

  3. Wonderful, comprehensive collection, Sue! Will print out and slip under my laptop for fast reference.

    There are Spanish-speaking characters in my books. I don’t use many foreign words unless they are familiar or easily figured out, like “señor.” For a tilde, put the cursor over the “n” and hit ALT 164.

    I’m not going to participate in the fun, Sue, b/c I get in trouble pushing buttons. Yesterday I accidentally turned off the internet connection and spent an hour in the control panel and testing other computers for connections before I realized what I’d done. What’s the emoji for slapping forehead?

  4. Wow! Thank you, Sue, for posting this ultimate list of keyboard short cuts, it will come in very handy.

    I knew some of these, mainly Word short cuts, a few of which I shared with my computer classes back when I taught them at the library. CTRL+A, CTRL+ C, and CTRL+V were always my favorites.

    My youngest niece, now thirteen, showed me a few of the YouTube short cuts. No surprise, since like many of our youngest generation, it’s one of her favorite sites on the web 🙂

    But the WordPress short cuts and many of the others were completely unknown to me. Bookmarking this to use going forward ❤️

    (Created on a MacBook Air using Ctrl+CMD+SPACE to bring up character viewer/emoji list to insert from 😀

    • I recently learned YouTube has the best SEO for exposure/visibility. We should all be on that site, but there’s only so much time in the day. *sigh*

      Cool emoji shortcut, Dale. Thank you!

  5. Sue, I love this list. I’m going to find a way to include a math formula in my WIP just so I can use the symbols!

    fyi: I typed my husband’s 100-page Physics PhD thesis on an IBM Selectric typewriter. Remember those? There were complicated equations using Greek letters and math symbols on every page, and I had to keep changing the little selectric ball. (I’ll never let him forget it!)

    • Haha. Go for it, Kay!

      My very first typewriter was an IBM Selectric (after I learned to type on a piece of cardboard with the keyboard drawn on it). Loved the sound of the keys striking the carriage. Wow. Sounds like your husband owed you big time. 😉

    • After I wrote my first three novels by hand, I typed each for rewriting and then for submission on an IBM Selectric. A wonderful machine, particularly since I’d learned on a manual typewriter with my tiny hands, but nothing stopped my poor typing. I kept the White Out company in business with the gallons of the stuff I used.

      Anyone who talks about the good old writing days and the joy of typewriters needs a brisk application of a Nerf Noodle on their head for a good ten minutes.

  6. Excellent list, Sue. One I use a lot is to reverse a quote mark. After an em-dash, the normal quote mark is the wrong direction. In Word for Mac, you use SHFT + OPTION + [

    For a reverse apostrophe for a word like ’cause, it’s SHFT + OPTION + ]

    • Thanks, Jim! Turning those quote marks around is a pain. Cool shortcut. I could’ve used it years ago instead of setting up my own through Advanced Symbols. Did the same for em-dash. But it’s time-consuming to set up your own shortcuts–time better spent writing!

      • I just grab an apostrophe, copy it, and paste it where it’s needed. I’m low tech. (I learned to type on an Underwood manual)

  7. Great post! I write in Google Docs, and one thing I have to do occasionally is Select All to End. Which is: COMMAND + SHIFT + DOWN ARROW.

    Good for copying long docs and getting rid of stuff.

  8. I use a Mac and Pages. Look under “Edit” and click on Emojis and Symbols to insert things like the copyright symbol. To type a diacritical or accent letter, hold down the letter on the keyboard until choices are offered.

    Pages is becoming increasingly frustrating for those of us who want to just write, not create a webpage or an Apple Book. The last update destroyed the Search and the Search & Replace feature which is really making me bonkers when I deal with documents of more than a few pages. I need to find a way to fuss at Apple for the problem.

    Many years ago, I was one of the first users of Apple’s original document program, and, apparently, none of their programmers or beta users had ever created anything over a few pages to test. For a short time, I was on a first-name basis with one of Apple programmers in Cupertino. Good times.

    • Thank you for being Apple’s guinea pig, Marilynn! I’m sure your beta-testing helped pave the way for future writers who prefer Apple products. I haven’t ventured into Pages yet, though it sounds like I’m not missing much. Editing without Search and Search & Replace must be a nightmare.

  9. In Word you can create a shortcut to a special character. So, if Señor Dave is going to be throughout your book, you can make the accented N ALT+9 and speed along your way.

    I love Notepad. It opens in seconds. I frequently have snippets I need or might need on a note in Notepad. Very good for names and such. Copy and paste And I have spelled HMS Milanese Spree correctly all twelve times it is in chapter 12.

    • Great idea, Alan. In my WIP I need to keep using Shicheii (maternal grandfather in Diné) and I’ve had to scroll back to find it each time. Never thought of Notepad for some reason. Thank you! Adding it now.

  10. Such a handy list, Sue! A group of my college friends just discovered TKZ., and they sent around emails raving about your post, plus the one about doing an effective elevator Pitch, and others.

  11. ¿What?

    My o/s is Linux Mint, so I will have to do some experimenting to see what–if anything from the list–works.

    But I can at least use the list characters to copy and paste.

    Arriba!

  12. This is REALLY helpful, Sue. I’ve C&P to a Word.doc. Thank you!

    eg. I spent 15-20 minutes yesterday on a WIP where I wanted to use the word “rose” as in the wine, not the flower. I know that it has that right-side angry eyebrow thing, but I had no idea what it’s called. I went through the Word symbols and there’s a squiggle or blap for everything from quantum physics to Swahili shortcuts – but no mark for the rose could I find. So, I phoned a friend… my wife who is French and she told me it’s called an “accenture guerre”. I Googled it and immediately found the little mark. Apparently, it’s one of the most common ticks in the French language.

    BTW, Control + Z is a lifesaver!

    • right-side angry eyebrow thing

      Hahaha. Nailed it!

      I feel your pain, Garry. I’ve used the accenture guerre (who knew?) so many times lately I set up a shortcut that I’ll remember in Word.

  13. Sue, I love this! I can’t use it on my Chromebook but I’ll try it on my Windows computer tomorrow. This must have taken you DAYS to put together! Thank you!

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