​Three easy ways to make Word shortcuts work for you

Hilary Cadman Update Leave a Comment

When you’re editing in Word, keyboard shortcuts are a fabulous way to speed up your work and avoid an overuse injury. It’s easy to find Word shortcuts – here are some helpful lists from Microsoft and fellow editor Louise Harnby. But shortcuts are only useful if you can easily remember them. Here are three tips to help you to do that, and here’s a little video that sums up those tips.

1 – Start small

If you haven’t used Word shortcuts before, try starting with just a few that are really useful and that you will use often. A good place to start is with these three:

  • CTRL + X for cut
  • CTRL + C for copy
  • CTRL + V for paste

(If you’re on a Mac, just replace the Control key with the Command key).

These are easy to remember because the ‘X’ looks like scissors, ‘C’ is the first letter of ‘copy’, and ‘V’ is the next key on the keyboard. Because they are in line on the keyboard and have related functions (cut, copy and paste), these three shortcuts work particularly well as a set.

Another shortcut that is super useful and easy to remember is CTRL + S, for save. So, I recommend starting with those four.

2 – Say your Word shortcuts out loud

To help you remember your shortcuts, my next tip is to try saying them out loud. So, for example, you could say ‘Control X’ to yourself as you hit those keys (if you have other people working around you, just mutter it under your breath). I find that saying a shortcut out loud, at least when I first start to use it, helps to make it stick in my brain.

3 – Print out your Word keyboard shortcuts

The third tip is to print your shortcuts out. You can just make a small table listing your shortcuts, print it out and tape it to your desk top (the physical one, not the computer desk top). Below is a table that you could start with. It lists the four shortcuts I mentioned earlier, and then gives another four: CTRL A (Select all), CTRL F (Find, which also opens the Navigation pane ), CTRL Y (Repeat) and CTRL Z (Undo). I chose these particular shortcuts because they help to speed up my work and cut down on using the mouse to move the cursor.

Command Action Command Action
CTRL X Cut CTRL A Select all
CTRL C Copy CTRL F Find (opens the Navigation pane)
CTRL V Paste CTRL Y Repeat last action
CTRL S Save CTRL Z Undo last action

It’s best to keep the list short, and once you’re happy using those shortcuts and don’t need to keep looking at the list, you can throw that list away and make a new one with new shortcuts. That way, you’ll soon build up to having a wide repertoire of shortcuts.


If you’re keen to learn more about tools to help you save time and improve the quality of your editing, you might like to take a look at my courses in PerfectIt, EndNote and a variety of editing tools. You can also book a coaching call with me to hone your skills in MS Word or EndNote.

Hilary Cadman​Three easy ways to make Word shortcuts work for you

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