The 50 Most Useful Microsoft Word Keyboard Shortcuts

These shortcuts are sure to make your life a lot easier the next time you're composing a Word document!

When you’re composing a Microsoft Word document, keyboard shortcuts can be a huge help to save you some time and make things more convenient. Keyboard shortcuts are the use of a series of keys to perform a specific action. There are iPhone & iPad keyboard shortcuts, Zoom keyboard shortcuts, YouTube keyboard shortcuts, and many more. But when it comes to Microsoft Word keyboard shortcuts, here are the ones you should know.

When using Microsoft Word shortcuts, keep in mind that not every shortcut will work across every device. The Word shortcut keys vary. But as a general rule, the “Control” key on a PC functions in the same way as the “Command” key on a Mac (when it comes to keyboard shortcuts). They also may not work in every version of Microsoft Word, including Word 365. Though there are ways to customize or disable certain keyboard shortcuts, keyboard shortcuts should be automatically enabled.

In addition to Microsoft keyboard shortcuts, Microsoft Word also has a Ribbon option, which allows you to see a wider range of options and tools for editing your text. On a Mac, press Command+Option+R to show or minimize the ribbon. On a PC, press the Alt key to have the ribbon display letters called “Key Tips” that group the ribbon shortcuts accordingly. You can then create “Access Keys” so that you can open certain tabs with a few keystrokes. Check out Microsoft Support for a thorough explanation of how to use the ribbon and Access Keys—click the tabs toward the top of the page to select Mac vs. PC. Plus, check out the 46 most useful Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts.

General

There are a few basic Microsoft Word commands that are pretty handy when you’re editing a Word document. These are the big, more generic shortcuts rather than the ones that allow you to make specific changes to your text.

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+SSave the document
F12 (PC)
Command+Shift+S (Mac)
Save As shortcut
Ctrl+OOpen the dialog box to open an existing document
Ctrl+NOpen a new document
Ctrl+WClose the document you have open
Ctrl+POpen the window to print the document
Ctrl+FOpen the “find” box, which lets you search within your document
Ctrl+ZUndo the most recent action
Ctrl+YRedo the most recent action

Check out our guide to what those F1 – F12 keys do.

Moving around document

There are a few different ways to move your cursor around the document, primarily with the arrow keys. You may already know that you can move the cursor around one letter at a time, by pressing the left and right arrow keys, or one row at a time, by pressing the up and down arrow keys. But there are a few Microsoft Word commands that allow you to move to specific places in the document, whether with the arrow keys or others.

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+Left arrowMove the cursor one word to the left
Ctrl+Right arrowMove the cursor word to the right
Ctrl+Up arrowMove the cursor to the beginning of the paragraph
Ctrl+Down arrowMove the cursor to the end of the paragraph
Ctrl+End (PC)
Fn + Right Arrow (Mac)
Move the cursor to the end of the document
Ctrl+Home (PC)
Fn + Left Arrow (Mac)
Move the cursor to the beginning of the document

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Selecting text

For the most part, you’ll be selecting specific text with your cursor. There are all sorts of things you can do with that text, using keyboard shortcuts, but there aren’t too many Microsoft keyboard shortcuts that specifically let you select, and/or act on, certain text.

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+ASelect all contents of the document
Ctrl+Del (PC)
Delete+Fn (Mac)
Select and delete the word directly to the right of the cursor
Ctrl+Backspace (PC)
Ctrl+Delete (Mac)
Select and delete the word directly to the left of the cursor

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Editing text

There are lots of ways you can edit selected text using Word shortcuts. You can also use a keyboard shortcut to turn on Track Changes, allowing you to see edits that you make.

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+BMake selected text bold
Ctrl+IPut selected text in italics
Ctrl+KInsert a hyperlink.
Ctrl+UUnderline selected text
Ctrl+Shift+>Increase the font one size up to size 12 and then two sizes size 12 and above
Ctrl+Shift+<Decrease the font two sizes down to size 12 and then one size size 12 and below
Ctrl+Equal sign (=)Subscript shortcut
Ctrl+Shift+Plus sign (+)Superscript shortcut
Command+Shift+X (Mac only)Word strikethrough shortcut
Ctrl+Shift+ETurn Track Changes on or off

If you rely heavily on Spell Check while using Microsoft Word, you should know these errors that Spell Check won’t catch.

Inserting

These are the Word keyboard shortcuts you might be most familiar with, including the copy shortcut, cut shortcut, and paste shortcut. They really come in handy!

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+CCopy selected text to the clipboard (it will remain where it is)
Ctrl+XCut selected text to the clipboard (it will be removed from the document)
Ctrl+VPaste the contents of the clipboard where the cursor is

Formatting

Formatting plays a big role in the overall appearance of your document. Here’s how to use Word shortcuts to edit it.

COMMANDACTION
Ctrl+1Make the document single-spaced
Ctrl+2Make the document double-spaced
Ctrl+5Make the document 1.5-spaced
Ctrl+JAligns the selected text to justify the screen (distribute the text evenly)
Ctrl+LAligns the selected text to the left of the screen
Ctrl+RAligns the selected text to the right of the screen
Ctrl+EAligns the selected text to the center of the screen

Outlines

To edit an outline in Word, you’ll first need to make sure you’re in Outline View. Click the View tab at the top of the screen, and then choose Outline. From there, you can use these Microsoft keyboard shortcuts to edit your outline.

COMMANDACTION
Alt+Shift+Left arrow key (PC)
Control+Shift+Left arrow key (Mac)
Promote paragraph
Alt+Shift+Right arrow key (PC)
Control+Shift+Right arrow key (Mac)
Demote paragraph
Ctrl+Shift+N (PC)
Command +Shift+N (Mac)
Demote paragraph to body text
Alt+Shift+Up arrow key (PC)
Control+Shift+Up arrow key (Mac)
Move selected paragraphs up
Alt+Shift+Down arrow key (PC)
Control+Shift+Down arrow key (Mac)
Move selected paragraphs down

Find out all of the useful symbols you can make using the Alt key.

Tables

Tables are another handy Microsoft Word feature, and they have their own set of keyboard shortcuts.

COMMANDACTION
Tab keyMove to next cell in row and select its content
Shift+TabMove to previous cell in row and select its content
Shift+Arrow keysExtend selection to adjacent cells (keep pressing arrow to include as many as you want)
Alt+Home (PC)
Control+Home (Mac)
Move to first cell in row
Alt+End (PC)
Control+End (Mac)
Move to last cell in row
Alt+Page up (PC)
Control+Page up (Mac)
Move to first cell in column
Alt+Page down (PC)
Control+Page down (Mac)
Move to last cell in column

Next, if you have a Mac, brush up on 41 of the most useful Mac keyboard shortcuts.

Sources:

  • Computer Hope: “Microsoft Word shortcut keys”
  • O’Reilly: “Keyboard Differences”
  • OSX Daily: “The “Home” & “End” Button Equivalents on Mac Keyboards”
  • Microsoft Support: “Shortcuts in Word”
  • Nuts & Bolts: “Strikethrough Shortcut (Mac & PC) for Word, Google Docs, Excel & PowerPoint”
  • Dummies: “How Writers Can Use Word 2019’s Outline View”

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Meghan Jones
Meghan Jones is a Staff Writer for RD.com who has been writing since before she could write. She graduated from Marist College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been writing for Reader's Digest since 2017. In spring 2017, her creative nonfiction piece "Anticipation" was published in Angles literary magazine. She is a proud Hufflepuff and member of Team Cap.