The top 10 keyboard shortcuts in Word and Excel that help you work faster
By JD Sartain
PCWorldOct 24, 2014 3:30 am PDT
Image: BrianAJackson / iStock
You may think you know all the Word and Excel keyboard shortcuts you need, but check this list first: These 10 will help everyone work faster.
Shortcuts have evolved into an onscreen, menu-driven template with multiple options for each command in the program, also known as Ribbon shortcuts or access keys. But don’t worry, the original simultaneous and combination shortcut keys are still available and working great! Please note that in this article, the letter ‘F’ followed by a number (1 through 12) refers to the function keys.
The 5 essentials for Excel and Word
No matter what you do, these shortcuts will serve you well.
1. Undo and Redo
Because we all make a lot of typos and errors while working, the first ones on this list have to be Undo and Redo: Ctrl+Z and Ctrl+Y. The Ribbon shortcuts are on the Quick Access Toolbar. Undo is depicted by an arrow curved to the left in both Word and Excel. However, in Word, Redo is shown as a circular arrow, and in Excel, it’s an arrow that curves to the right.
2. Find & Replace
Corrections are a nightmare without Find (Ctrl+F) and Replace (Ctrl+H). Ribbon shortcuts are Alt+H-F-D-F for Home, Find, Find in both Word and Excel.
Replace in Word is Alt+H-R for Home, Replace. In Excel, it’s Alt+H-F-D-R for Home, Find, Replace.
3. Cut, Copy, Paste
You can copy and paste a paragraph using the original shortcut keys: Ctrl+C for copy (or Ctrl+X for Cut), and then Ctrl+V for paste.
The Ribbon shortcuts are Alt+H-C for Home, Copy (or Alt+H-C-C for Home, Copy, Copy in Excel) and Alt+H-X for Home, Cut in both Word and Excel.
For Paste, it’s Alt+H-V-K for Home, Paste, Keep Source Formatting in Word, and Alt+H-V-P for Home, Paste, Paste in Excel.
Note that Excel provides 14 additional Paste options and Word offers four.
4. Select or Select All
Another shortcut that’s often used with Cut, Copy, Paste is Ctrl+A, which means Select All: That is, select the entire document, spreadsheet, or file. On the Ribbon, it’s ALT+H-S-L-A (Home, Select, All).
But you don’t have to go wild. In Word, place your cursor on any word and click twice to highlight/select that word. Click three times to select the entire paragraph. In Excel, place your cursor on any cell and click twice to edit the cell contents.
5. Print and Print Preview
Print is simple, but many users go straight to Print Preview as a final sanity check on margins and layout. For Print, it’s Ctrl+P or Ctrl+Shift-F12. Print Preview is Ctrl+F2. The Ribbon version is Alt+F-P for both File, Print and Print Preview, because when you select Print, the Preview displays as well.
The bigger your document or spreadsheet is, the harder it is to move within it. These keyboard shortcuts make it easier to get where you need to go.
The only Navigation command on the Ribbon menu is the GoTo feature, which means go to a specific cell address (formula, object, region, etc.) or go to a specific page (section, line, graphic, etc.). It’s Ctrl+G or F5, followed by a dialog box that opens for additional input—the same dialog boxes as the Ribbon shortcuts. For the Ribbon commands, it’s Alt+H-F-D-G (Home, Find, GoTo).
In Word, Home moves the cursor to the beginning of the line or row of your cursor’s current location. For example, if your cursor is on the ninth word of the third line, Home moves the cursor to the beginning of that line. Ctrl+Home moves the cursor to the Home position—that is, the beginning of the document.
In Excel, Home moves the cursor at the current cell address (e.g., K19) to the beginning of that line or row. It also moves the cursor to the beginning of a line or formula inside a cell while in Edit Mode. Ctrl+Home moves the cursor to cell A1.
In Word, Ctrl+Right Arrow moves the cursor across the document one word and/or punctuation mark at a time. Ctrl+Left Arrow does the same from right to left. Ctrl+Down Arrow moves the cursor down one carriage return/line break at a time. Ctrl+Up Arrow does the same from bottom to top. Ctrl+Page Down and Ctrl+Page Up move the cursor up and down one page at a time.
In Excel, Ctrl+Arrow key performs the same function as the End-Arrow keys. Ctrl+Page Up and Ctrl+Page Down move through the tabs (additional inserted worksheets) one at a time: Page Up for left-to-right, and Page Down for right-to-left. (Note: End-Arrow is a combination keystroke executed in sequence, not a simultaneous keystroke like Ctrl+Arrow).
In Word, Shift-End highlights from the cursor position to the end of the line, and Shift-Home highlights to the beginning of the line. Shift-End+Down Arrow extends the highlight to the next line, and you can keep pressing Down Arrow to extend the highlight line by line. Shift-Home+Up Arrow does the same in reverse, going to the beginning of the line and up.
Shift-Page Up and Shift-Page Down move the cursor up and down one screen at a time (about one third of a page).
In Excel, Shift-End+Down Arrow and Shift-End+Up Arrow highlight from the cursor position down or up to the end or beginning of the matrix/range row. Shift-End+Right Arrow and Shift-End+Left Arrow highlight from the cursor position right or left to the end or beginning of the matrix/range column. Shift-Home highlights from the cursor position to the beginning of any row (with or without data).
In Word, the End key moves the cursor to the end of a line. Ctrl+End moves the cursor to the end of a document, which includes any additional line or page breaks, tabs, spaces, etc.
In Excel, End has broader responsibilities. When you’re in Edit Mode, it moves the cursor to the end of a line only inside a text or formula cell. For the overall spreadsheet, the End key works with the cursor keys to determine direction.
End plus any arrow key moves the cursor to the last occupied cell in a column or row of data just before a blank, empty cell. For example, if the cursor is in A1 and the entire column contains empty cells, End-Down Arrow moves the cursor to the bottom of the entire workbook. The same rule applies horizontally: If an entire row is full of blank cells, your cursor is located at A1, and you select End-Right Arrow, the cursor moves to column XFD, row 1. (Note: End-Down Arrow is a combination keystroke executed in sequence, not a simultaneous keystroke like Ctrl+End).
Consider a grid of data that occupies cells A1 thru G11. Regardless of the current cursor position, when you press Ctrl+End, the cursor moves to the last, bottom, right cell of the matrix—in this case, G11. If, however, you’ve formatted your cells outside of the original matrix or have anything (even a space or a comma) in any cell outside the matrix range, Ctrl+End will move to the cell at the end of the last column and row that contains any data or formatting.
In the example above, the grid has data in cells A1 through G11, but D14 has been formatted as a date. Even though there’s no data in that cell, it’s still considered an active cell, so it changes the matrix range from A1 through G11 to A1 through G14. Therefore, Ctrl+End moves the cursor to the last row and column of the matrix that contains an active cell (or G14).
And that is the end. Did we miss anything that you couldn’t live without? Let us know in the Comments. And stay tuned for more keyboard shortcuts, moving on to ones that are more obscure but amazingly handy.