A Helping Hand…Shortcuts

Reviewer Cathy Speight

As well as reviewing books, I have taken on a role as an editor/proofreader. It’s something I really enjoy doing and a task from which I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It’s like renovating an old relic. I get quite a frisson from unearthing a pristine and shiny new treasure.

When an author and I discuss how best to approach the task with regard to the proofing options, I am often greeted with, “Oh, I’m not a techie, I can just about manage to switch the computer on!”

I have gone on quite a number of Microsoft courses in my working life and I had to prepare and edit countless geological reports for a slightly dyslexic geologist. I therefore know my way around Word (along with Powerpoint (many, many presentations) and Excel) quite well, so I just wondered if I might point the ‘L’ (learner) plate authors to a nifty little site that explains those rather handy shortcuts that will make your word-processing life a little easier. When I say ‘learner’ authors, I do mean in a word-processing capacity. (Phew! That was close).

Anyone who knows that CTRL C is a shortcut for Copy and has that Duh! expression can look away now!

The CTRL button is often used for very useful shortcuts, the most common of which are CTRL C, CTRL V, CTRL N, CTRL O, CTRL P. To copy a word, a paragraph etc, highlight the text you want to copy and hold down the CTRL button and click on the letter C. To ‘paste’ it somewhere else, use CTRL V. To open a new document in Word, use CTRL N. To open an existing document use CTRL O. CTRL P takes you directly to your print menu. These shortcuts save many keyboard clicks.

While typing/composing, have you wanted to go back to the previous paragraph to amend, add or delete a detail? Did you know that CTRL and Arrow Down or Arrow Up will take you immediately to that paragraph? Do you want to go back to the beginning? CTRL HOME.  To the end?  CTRL END

Did you inadvertently delete a sentence? CTRL Z will undo that action.

CTRL A selects the entire document, CTRL + SHIFT + ARROW RIGHT OR LEFT extends your selection one word to the right or left.

ALT + CTRL + C inserts a Copyright symbol.

One of my favourites is SHIFT F3. You’ve inadvertently left the CAPS LOCK button on (that really annoys me). Highlight the word or text, click SHIFT F3, and it will take you to the text format you want. Holding down the SHIFT key and clicking F3 will take you from CATHY to cathy to Cathy. Stop when you get to your choice.

Another really excellent shortcut – you must try it – is SHIFT + ALT + ARROW UP/DOWN.  You’ve decided that you want to shuffle a few paragraphs around. Your description of your evil or droolworthy hero is better placed a couple of paragraphs after your intro, rather than where you have put it. Place your cursor in the paragraph. Click SHIFT + ALT + ARROW DOWN. The paragraph highlights and by clicking the arrow down (simultaneously holding down SHIFT + ALT) you can move it easily to your chosen location. So much easier than highlighting the paragraph, cutting it, scrolling down to your chosen spot then pasting it.

There are many, many shortcuts for all aspects of your word-processing: for tables, for formatting, for proofing. You can’t be expected to learn them all, of course, but you may identify key strokes you do all the time which have a neat little shortcut. You could pick a couple every now and then to learn.

I have also discovered that many authors don’t know how to centralise text and therefore tab their chapter or book title, for instance, to an approximate central position. CTRL E will do the job for you in a jiffy.

I would also recommend switching on the non-printing character symbol from time to time.

When you click this, your text will be decorated with dots and other odd symbols. These are symbols which track your keyboard strokes like a space and paragraph returns. They do not print but help to show, for instance, why two words look slightly too far apart – you may find that you have inadvertently put two or three spaces somewhere you shouldn’t have. I would advise not having this switched on all the time because it can be quite distracting, but it’s useful when you can’t fathom why something isn’t aligning satisfactorily.

I can’t sign off without stressing the importance of CTRL S. At the moment you probably do File and Save. CTRL S is quick and convenient and very, very, important. I am guilty of not using it enough, not because I don’t know how to save, but because I forget. I have had many occasions when the air around me has been rather blue, because Word has decided, in its infinite wisdom, to crash, and I’ve lost a dozen of pages of editing. Not a tragedy, of course, but a dozen pages of carefully chosen words that have come from an author’s creative inner depths are not easily recreated…..CTRL S, CTRL S, CTRL S.

I hope you find the link useful. I have pointed you to the Word Shortcuts, but the site covers many applications in various platforms.

Good luck everyone!


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Cathy Speight is an accomplished book reviewer and Chief Consulting Reviewer at Indies Unlimited. For more information, please see the IU Bio page and her blog.



Author: Cathy Speight

Reviewer Cathy Speight is British and lives in England. The Kindle revived her passion for reading and after stumbling on a Facebook group of independent authors, she now does her best to encourage and assist indies as much as possible. Books by indie author form the majority of her collection. Cathy shares her views on the books she has read on her blog.

12 thoughts on “A Helping Hand…Shortcuts”

  1. Wow! Excellent post… for me! I'm learning more and more how to make my writing tasks easier and less thought provoking. My mind starts spilling forth what I want to get down in words, and my fingers can't keep up. Sometimes, I'll mess up my train of thought, trying to get something rearranged fast enough.

    I think this will really help me. Thanks so much for sharing these shortcuts! Catching up with the times for me has been quite the challenge.

  2. Thank you so much. How I wish you had posted this yesterday. I spent hours trying to get rid of strange bullets, ever time I did something I thought would clean up my mess, it got worse. I think your post may save my computers life, and me from becoming an alcoholic.

  3. Thanks, Cathy – I use about half of these already but some of the others will be really helpful. Other computer novices might be surprised by the help you can get if you Google your question accurately enough. eg. 'how to get rid of a line of squares across the page' (sometimes the result of typing a row of other characters as a break.) There's always somebody else out there baffled by the same problem, and a kindly expert who's offered a solution. We are not alone!

  4. Wow, thank you so much for sharing these tips. I knew about 2 of them already. That explains why things happen when I have inadvertently pressed the wrong key.I shall definitely save this page in 'my favourites'.

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