MS Word Keyboard Shortcuts

Whether you’re working today, grillin’, or hanging poolside, Happy Memorial Day! For those outside the U.S. a belated but heartfelt Happy Remembrance Day!

I hope the following shortcuts will help save you productivity time when you return to the keyboard. I’ve broken the keystrokes into two sections — Windows and Mac — to act as a quick and easy reference guide.

Please note: Today is all about MS Word. For other shortcuts, such as inserting advanced symbols/characters, WordPress, or YouTube, see Writing Hacks: Keyboard Shortcuts. Please ignore my wonky columns. 😉

COMPOSING & EDITING                          WINDOWS                MAC


Create a new document                              Ctrl-N                          ⌘-N

Open document                                          Ctrl-O                         ⌘-O

Save document                                           Ctrl-S                         ⌘-S

Open “Save As”                                           F12                            ⌘-Shift-S

Close document                                          Ctrl-W                        ⌘-W

Print document                                            Ctrl-P                         ⌘-P

Select All                                                     Ctrl-A                         ⌘-A

Copy to clipboard                                        Ctrl-C                         ⌘-C or F3

Paste from clipboard                                    Ctrl-V                          ⌘-V or F4

Delete selection & copy to clipboard             Ctrl-X                          ⌘-X or F2

Undo last action                                           Ctrl-Z                         ⌘-Z or F1

Redo last action                                           Ctrl-Y                         ⌘-Y

Add comment                                             Ctrl-Alt-M                    ⌘-Option-A

Turn revision tracking on/off                          Ctrl-Shift-E                  ⌘-Shift-E

Run spelling/grammar check                        F7                              ⌘-Option-L or F7




Bold                                                         Ctrl-B                         ⌘-B

Italics                                                        Ctrl-I                           ⌘-I

Underline                                                  Ctrl-U                         ⌘-U

Double underline                                       Ctrl-Shift-D                 ⌘-Shift-D

Underline words, not spaces                     Ctrl-Shift-W                ⌘-Shift-W

Strikethrough text                                       Alt-H, 4                     ⌘-Shift-X

All caps                                                     Ctrl-Shift-A                ⌘-Shift-A

Superscript text                                         Ctrl-Shift-+                 ⌘-Shift-+

Subscript text                                             Ctrl-=                        ⌘-=

Increase font size                                        Ctrl-Shift->                ⌘-Shift->

Decrease font size                                      Ctrl-Shift-<                ⌘-Shift-<

Insert hyperlink                                           Ctrl-K                        ⌘-K

Open font dialog box                                  Ctrl-D                        ⌘-D

or Ctrl-Shift-F


Left-align text                                              Ctrl-L                          ⌘-L

Right-align text                                            Ctrl-R                         ⌘-R

Center-align text                                         Ctrl-E                          ⌘-E

Justify text                                                  Ctrl-J                          ⌘-J

Indent paragraph                                        Ctrl-M                         Ctrl-Shift-M

Remove indentation                                   Ctrl-Shift-M                 ⌘-Shift-M

Change to single spaced                           Ctrl-1                          ⌘-1

Change to double spaced                          Ctrl-2                          ⌘-2

Change to 1.5 spaced                               Ctrl-5                          ⌘-5

Remove paragraph formatting                     Ctrl-Q

Open Apply Styles task pane                     Ctrl-Shift-S

Open Styles pane                                     Ctrl-Alt-Shift-S              ⌘-Option-Shift-S


Move up one paragraph                           Ctrl-Up arrow            ⌘-Up arrow

Move down one paragraph                       Ctrl-Down arrow       ⌘-Down arrow

Move right one word                                 Ctrl-Right arrow        ⌘-Right arrow

Move left one word                                   Ctrl-Left arrow          ⌘-Left arrow

Move to top of document                          Ctrl-Home                ⌘-Home or ⌘-Fn-Left arrow

Move to bottom of document                    Ctrl-End                    ⌘-End or ⌘-Fn-Right arrow

Go to dialog box                                       Ctrl-G or F5              ⌘-Option-G or F5

Switch among last four places in doc        Ctrl-Alt-Z

Switch to Print Layout                               Ctrl-Alt-P

Switch to Outline View                              Ctrl-Alt-O

Switch to Draft View                                  Ctrl-Alt-N

Switch to Read Mode View                        Alt-W,F

Split document window/remove split          Ctrl-Alt-S

Display Help                                                 F1


Find                                                           Ctrl-F                          ⌘-F

Find and Replace                                       Ctrl-H or Alt-H-R          ⌘-H-R

Find tab (inside Find and Replace)              Alt-D



Type these special characters into the Find box to search document:

  • Em dash
  • En dash
  • Em space
  • En space
  • Copyright symbol
  • Registered symbol
  • Trademark
  • Section symbol
  • Paragraph symbol
  • Ellipsis
  • Double opening quote
  • Double closing quote


Within the Find and Replace dialog box, choose one of the following special characters:

  • Em dash
  • En dash
  • Nonbreaking hyphen
  • Optional hyphen
  • Nonbreaking space
  • Section symbol
  • Paragraph symbol

I find it easier to create my own shortcuts for special characters and symbols I use on a regular basis. For example, if you want to create a shortcut for the em dash, go to Insert > Advanced Symbol > Special Characters. At the bottom of the dialog box click Keyboard Shortcut and a new dialog pops up. In the Press New Keyboard Shortcut box, type Ctrl-E or whatever is easy to remember. Click OK and you’re done. Easy peasy. The same applies to symbols, only you’ll choose Symbols instead of Special Characters.


Click Replace, then More to expand dialog box

Click Format and a list of different formatting types appear. Search by font, paragraph, tab, language, frame, style, or highlight.

Select the type of formatting you want replaced. A dialog box opens, showing all the formatting options available to search for in that category.

For example, the Find Font dialog box is a copy of the Font Formatting dialog box, with all the same formatting options.

Specify formatting type. Then click OK

Repeat these steps to find additional types of formatting. You can even search for text with both specific font formatting and paragraph formatting at the same time.

Click Replace With

Click Format

Select formatting type (font, paragraph, tabs, language, frame, style, highlight)

This is especially helpful if you need to highlight italicized words for the publisher. In my career, I’ve worked with five different publishers and every house required it be done during final edits.

Click OK

Select replacement option: Replace, Replace All, Replace Next

Click OK

Click Close


I’m curious if highlighting italics is an industry standard.

Where are my Indie authors who do their own formatting? Do you highlight italics? What program do you use for formatting? Is highlighting italics a requirement for that program?

Traditional authors, does your publisher ask you to highlight italics during final edits?


This entry was posted in #amwriting, #writers, #writetip, #writing, #WritingCommunity and tagged , , , , , , by Sue Coletta. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sue Coletta

Sue Coletta is an award-winning crime writer and an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. Feedspot and named her Murder Blog as “Best 100 Crime Blogs on the Net.” She also blogs at the Kill Zone, Story Empire, and Writers Helping Writers. Sue lives with her husband in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Her backlist includes psychological thrillers, the Mayhem Series (books 1-3) and Grafton County Series, and true crime/narrative nonfiction. Now, she exclusively writes eco-thrillers, Mayhem Series (books 4-9 and continuing). Sue's appeared on the Emmy award-winning true crime series, Storm of Suspicion, and three episodes of A Time to Kill on Investigation Discovery. Learn more about Sue and her books at

30 thoughts on “MS Word Keyboard Shortcuts

  1. Nice list, Sue, and I’m sure it will be helpful to others.

    I use Word from Office 365 and all those commands are on my menu bar/ribbon/whatever it’s called for the document, and the paragraph menus show some of the slightly ‘fancier’ ones. I remember a few of the keystrokes from the ‘old’ days, but nowadays, I rely on the menu/ribbon/whatever.

    The ones I use most are cut, copy, and paste, and I have buttons on my mouse that handle those commands.

    Word also has a nice way of remembering what you’ve used recently in symbols, so I’ve never made a shortcut. Saves my aging brain.

    Today, we remember those who gave their lives–although even though it’s passive voice, I prefer ‘those who had their lives taken’ because I don’t think most of those who died in battle did so willingly.

    • I use Word from Office 365, too. The shortcuts are useful for those who don’t want to use their mouse. Thus, keeping their hands on the keyboard at all times. Hope you have a great day, Terry!

      • I do remember hating to take my hands from the keyboard, but I guess with so much available as a click now, and my inability to remember things the way I used to, I’ve changed my ways.

  2. Thanks so much, Sue. This is gold. Maybe at some point you could add the shortcuts created when a cat walks across the keyboard when one is in mid-sentence or the combinations that come into existence when the side of a fist strikes multiple keys at random.

    Have a wonderful Memorial Day, Sue!

  3. Sue, I use a majority of those shortcuts, learned by hunting them down over the years. Good to review a list.

    I write in Scrivener, beta and edit in Word, format in Vellum.

    Query: What is the point of highlighting italics? I was never asked to do that when writing for the Forbidden City. I have no idea why I would want to do that now.

    • Honestly, Jim, I have no idea why they ask me to highlight italics. The only response I’ve ever gotten was, “so the formatter doesn’t miss italicized words.” But since all five houses required it (including Rowman & Littlefield), I thought it was a standard thing. But if you never had to do it, then I’m baffled.

      • I can remember when you had to underline to show italics. Are these publishers using the current meaning of “highlight” or do they want you to do something else to call attention to it?

  4. Wow, Sue. Thanks! This is great. I’m printing this one.

    I do my final editing in Word, then upload to Atticus. There was no instruction in the tutorials for Atticus that recommended/required highlighting. And, before using Atticus, when I uploaded my Word document to Kindle, I never highlighted italics. You have me curious now. I’ll be using Atticus again in the next few days. I’ll check to make sure the italics in the word document show up in the ePub and PDF.

    Thanks! And have a memorable Memorial Day!

    • Thrilled you found the post useful, Steve! So, Vellium and Atticus don’t require highlighted italics. Huh. Y’know, every house has their own quirks. But when all five asked me to do it, I figured this was the norm. Now, I’m stumped.

      Thanks, Steve! Wishing you a memorable Memorial Day, too!

      • Sue, I would bet that what your publisher told you–so they don’t miss italics–is really the reason they wanted you to highlight the italics. Italics could be easy to miss.

        When we format in Vellum or Atticus or Kindle, we are working directly with what goes into the “printer.” Your publisher might work with some other program that exists between your edited Word document and their printer. Just a guess.

  5. Happy Memorial Day, Sue. This is a fantastic list of short-cuts. I only have a few memorized, delete, cut, copy, past, undo. When I taught basic MS Word classes at the library, those were the ones I’d teach students.

    Some of these I’d either never run across, or had forgotten, such as the paragraph navigation. That will come in handy 🙂

    In general, I’m like Terry in that I use the ribbon and menu short cuts in MS Office 365, but it’s always helpful to have keyboard shut cuts handy.

    I’m an indie. I either draft in Pages or Word (usually the latter), edit in Word, and format in Vellum. I’d never heard about highlighting italics. Years ago, when I submitted typed manuscripts of my short stories to various magazines, of course italics were underlined, and I persisted with that habit with my first few novels (now trunked). These days, I italicize when needed. Typically to emphasize a word in the narrative (close 3rd or 1st POV) or in dialogue.

    Hope you have a wonderful day!

    • That brings back memories, Dale. My trunk novels are in Courier font with character names in all caps and underlined italics. Hahahaha!

      Thanks! Wishing you an amazing holiday, Dale!

  6. Thanks for this great list, Sue. Shortcuts save Time, and we all need more of that! I’m especially fond of Ctrl-Z to undo my last action.

    I use Scrivener to write and the final draft goes into Word. I use Vellum to format, but I don’t highlight italics. I hope you’ll ask your publisher why they request that. I assume the published book does not have italics highlighted, right?

    Enjoy your Memorial Day and have a great rest of the week.

    • Thanks, Kay. Time is a commodity these days, right? Especially for writers.

      Italics are not in the finished version. They highlight so the formatter doesn’t miss italicized words.

      Wishing you and yours a relaxing Memorial Day! It’s good day to read. 🙂

  7. Golden, Sue. Copied and printed off. Control Z is a get-out-of-jail-free card, and it works on a lot of social media and blog site comments – it’s also WordPress friendly.

    I format ebooks on Calibre which is an easy tool once it gets to know you. As for highlighting italics, I never do it. I see italics as a form of highlighting. Happy Memorial Day and we’ll talk later.

  8. Thanks for these, Sue. I’m more inclined to customize the commands ribbon (is that what it’s called?) along the top of my screen, but these are great to know.

    As for highlighting italics, I’m not even sure what that means. You mean, literally mark them with a yellow stripe? I have never been asked to do that in 26 books, all traditionally published. The closest thing to that was back in the 1990s, when WYSIWYG was brand new, and my publishers at the time wanted me to use the underline function for italics, but that ended ages ago.

    • I hoped you’d weigh in, John. Highlighting italics seemed odd to me at first, too, but I guess it’s an easy way for the formatter to spot italicized words. As long as the highlight doesn’t end up in the finished project, I just do as I’m told. 😉

      I believe it is called the ribbon, yes.

      Enjoy your day, John!

  9. I use Pages which translates just fine to Word, most ebook formats, and PDF. My personal Mac favorite shortcut is Control-Mouse Scroll which makes the monitor zoom in and out as needed. The eyes aren’t what they used to be.

  10. I wish you all a meaningful and contemplative Memorial Day, one that resonates with the full spirit of sacrifice and patriotism that Abraham Lincoln expressed in his speech at Gettysburg, November 19, 1863. I suggest we make reading this a part of today’s memorial ritual.

    When I’m not on my Chromebook, I work in LibreOffice, a 2010+ variant of OpenOffice. I design my covers and contract covers in LibreDraw. I create and edit stage and film scripts in LibreWriter, using its Styles feature, something more powerful than many of the shortcuts listed above.

  11. A great list, Sue. I use most of them in Word already, but there were a few I definitely intend to add.

    I once had a fellow programmer who would not use his mouse to navigate documents or web pages or anything else and used shortcuts instead.

    Apropos of nothing but your love of animals, today I rescued a tiny spider from my garage sink. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V’d him to a shrub outside instead of Ctrl-X.

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