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Operating Systems

Keyboard shortcuts speed Word, Excel work

Adding some key combinations to your shortcuts list lets you keep your hands on the keyboard and off your mouse.

If you're familiar with keyboard shortcuts, you probably know that you can cycle through your open windows by pressing Alt-Tab. But you may not know that pressing Alt-Esc moves between your open windows in the order they were opened.

There are simply too many useful key combinations to remember, which is why I described how to create a keyboard-shortcut cheat sheet last April. Then a couple of months later I added key combinations for moving and resizing windows.

My shortcuts.txt file is getting overloaded, but it doesn't include any of the handy keystroke combos available in Word and Excel. That's why I created separate text files I refer to when I'm working in one of those two programs.

Start by browsing Microsoft's list of keyboard shortcuts for Word. Select the shortcuts, press Ctrl-C to copy the text, open Notepad or any text editor, press Ctrl-V to paste the list into a new file, and save the file with the .txt extension. (I call mine wordshortcuts.txt.)

To create a similar shortcut-reference list for Excel, go to Microsoft's compilation of Excel shortcut and function keys. Follow the instructions above to select, copy, and paste the shortcuts into a new file you save with the .txt extension.

Now get into the habit of opening your shortcut file each time you start working in Word or Excel. I keep my shortcut list in a small window I can Alt-Tab (or Alt-Esc) to when I want to refresh my memory. These shortcuts have really come in handy with the 2007 versions of Word and Excel. It's usually faster to scroll through my shortcut list to find the operation I need than it is to search through the tabs on the Office 2007 ribbon.

Microsoft Word 2007 alongside the list of Word keyboard shortcuts
Referring to the shortcuts list is often faster than navigating Office 2007's ribbon interface. Microsoft

(Note that you can view the keystroke equivalents of many ribbon and menu options by pressing and holding the Alt key. You'll also find some key-combo references in the Excel and Word help systems, but I prefer to use the straight-ahead lists available on the two Microsoft sites I link to above.)

These shortcut lists may be overkill for people whose use of keystroke combos doesn't venture much further than Ctrl-A (select all), Ctrl-C (copy), Ctrl-V (paste), and Ctrl-P (print). Here are a handful of my favorite little-known keyboard shortcuts for Word and Excel:

• Print preview: Ctrl-F2 (also Ctrl-Alt-I in Word)
• Add hyperlink: Ctrl-K
• Increase font size one point in Word: Ctrl-[
• Decrease font size one point in Word: Ctrl-]
• Open the Format dialog box with Font tab selected: Ctrl-Shift-F (also Ctrl-D in Word)
• Open the dictionary (Word 2003) or the reference pane (Word 2007): Alt-Shift-F7
• Select a row in Excel: Shift-Spacebar
• Select a column in Excel: Ctrl-Spacebar
• Add a line to the current cell in Excel: Alt-Enter