used with permission from HP Technology at Work

As ubiquitous as Microsoft® Word is on our work computers, it’s amazing just how few of its powerful features most people actually use. Many of us get by using the bare minimum of options, but getting the most out of Word is not just about the features you don’t use at all or didn’t know about; it’s also about shortcuts to features you might be using all the time.

Before we dive in, keep in mind that these tips apply to Word 2010, so different versions of the application may use different commands than the ones listed here.

Taking a shortcut

  • While deleting misspelled words or creating lists is hardly difficult, it can be a little challenging if you’re using the touchpad instead of a mouse. For those incorrect spellings you—or spell-check—catch, you don’t need to highlight the word or hit the backspace button a dozen times. All you need to do to delete the incorrect word or sentence is put your cursor after the word(s) you would like to delete, hold down the CTRL key, hit the backspace button and the word before the cursor will be deleted.
  • Creating numbered lists is easy—just type a number with a period and then a space at the beginning of the sentence, press enter, and the numbering continues. But what about bulleted lists? There’s obviously the tab at the top of the toolbar, but you can also type * at the beginning of a sentence and then a space.
  • For words or sections that need to be emphasized or deemphasized, you can hit CTRL ] to enlarge text and CTRL [ to shrink highlighted text.

What you may not know

  • Some situations call for you to include placeholder text in a document. Instead of typing a bunch of jargon, or searching online for the commonly used “Greek” (it’s actually Latin) text, simply type =Lorem(), press enter, and your document will be automatically populated with a paragraph of lorem ipsum.
  • Ever wonder what every letter of a certain font looks like, but don’t feel like typing out the whole alphabet? When you type =rand.old() and press enter you’ll see the familiar “the quick brown fox…”
  • Many of us have experienced this at least once—you type a series of dashes or hyphens and then that pesky horizontal line appears across the entire width of the page. The problem isn’t the line itself, but its seeming inability to be removed. This line is actually a border that Word inserts at the bottom of a particular paragraph. To get rid of it, click inside the paragraph, then in the Home tab, click on the Borders icon at the lower right of the Paragraph group. The first item selected in the pop-up menu will be Bottom Border. Click on No Border and the line (border) will disappear.

A couple of quick fixes

  • Double-clicking selects a single word, triple-clicking selects an entire paragraph. Want to select just a single sentence? Hold down CTRL and click on any word in that sentence.
  • Need to keep your documents safe and sound from prying eyes? To password protect a Word document, all you have to do is click on File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt with Password. (Remember to keep track of your password in a safe place; Microsoft is not responsible for retrieving lost or forgotten passwords.)

Whether it’s breaking old habits or learning new ones, there are plenty of features and shortcuts available in Microsoft Word to make it easier for you to create even the most complicated document.