Keyboard Shortcuts for Windows and Word for Translators
There are two important reasons why anybody should use keyboard shortcuts instead of the mouse.
Both the above reasons apply a
fortiori in the case of people who make intense use of the computer, especially those who do a lot of word-processing. Obviously, translators fall in this category.
- The use of mouse is one of the main triggers of Repetitive Strain Injury, tendinitis and other similar musculosceletal disorders. Sufferers of these disorders report that they feel less pain when typing compared to when mousing. Thus, the desire arises to avoid the use of a mouse as much as possible.
- Once keyboard shortcuts have been mastered, one can work much faster and be more productive.
Personally I hardly ever touch the mouse when I use Microsoft Word and I am sure that my output must have increased manyfold since the times I performed most of the tasks through the mouse. It must be noted however that mice have improved a lot and an optical mouse with a scroll wheel is definitely more ergonomic (if used correctly that is).
Below I will mention the shortcuts I use more often and I will elaborate on my methodology. At the end of this article you will find extensive lists of keyboard shortcuts grouped in tables for Windows and Word.
Keyboard shortcuts for Windows
Accessing Windows with keyboard shortcuts only is not that hard. The first thing one needs to know is that the Start menu opens by pressing the Win key (the one on the left of Alt which has the Windows icon) or by pressing Ctrl+Esc in older keyboards. Moreover you can explore desktop items by using Tab ot Shift+Tab and launch your favourite application by pressing Enter.
If what we want is to open a document that we had been working on then we can go directly to it by pressing Start->Documents, and using the arrow keys to reach the one we want and then press Enter to open it (Windows stores shortcuts to a number of recently opened documents from different applications).
There is an easy way to launch applications by assigning a keyboard shortctut to a desktop or menu item. For example if you have a shortcut for Word on you desktop you right-click on it an then select Properties. Then you click in the Shortcut field and type a shortcut, ie Ctrl+Shift+K or one of the Function keys, F11/F10/F9 would be a fairly safe options. Then you click OK and you are done.
There is an extra trick you can use in this context, you can run the application
with parameters. For example when you right click on the Word shortcut
and click Properties you will see a Target field which contains
the following string or a similar one "C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\WINWORD.EXE".
If you add to this field the /mFile1 parameter so that it reads "C:\Program
Files\Microsoft Office\Office10\WINWORD.EXE" /mFile1, then every time
you click this shortcut the last edited document will open automatically.
Hence you can have one simple shortcut for Word and another
one (perhaps you could rename it to Word - Last by pressing F2
when the item is highlighted and then typing the new name) which will open
the last edited document.
If we have more than one windows open then we need a way to switch from
one to another. This can be done with Alt+Tab. Alt+Tab is my most
used windows shortcut. Press Alt with your left-hand thumb, and then
quickly press Tab (without lifting Alt!) and then you will see a square
moving from one icon to the next. Keep pressing Tab until you find the desired
application and then lift both fingers. If you want to close one of the
open windows you can use my third most used windows shortcut: Alt+F4.
When there are no active windows it brings up the "Windows Shut Down"
dialogue box. In this case it is a quick way to shut down your computer
as all you do is press Alt+F4 and then Enter (provided the
Shut Down option is selected). In Windows XP you also have to press
the right arrow once before pressing Enter in order to move
to the Shut Down option. Hence in order to quickly shut down your
computer if you have Windows XP you press Alt+F4 ->Right Arrow->Enter.
Last but not least I should mention that my second most used shortcut
is Alt+Shift - a quick way to change languages (a very common task
for a translator). If you do this and it does not seem to work you should
check your Settings at Start->Settings-> Control Panel->Keyboard->Language->Switch
Keyboard Shortcuts for Word
Moving, selecting and formatting are three of the commonest tasks in Word. Thankfully the programmers have provided all the appropriate keyboard shortcuts that make life easier.
First of all though a life-saver: once you've messed up things (and you quite don't know how you did it) simply press Ctrl+Z (if needs must more than once). It will undo your latest actions and hopefully you will retrieve your lost text! (It will not work however if what you see is a blank New Document which you created accidentally by clicking Ctrl+N by mistake. In this case simply close the blank document(s) pressing Ctrl+W and hopefully your "lost" text will reappear.)
As far as moving is concerned the key players are Ctrl, the arrow
keys and the Home, End, Page Up, Page Down keys. By using any combination of the above one can achieve almost anything. One thing we need to know is that Ctrl adds an extra boost to whatever we do. For example, if we simply press the right arrow key we move one character right; if we hold Ctrl whilst pressing the right arrow key
we move one word right. On the same vein if we press the down
arrow key we move one line down; if we hold Ctrl whilst
pressing the down arrow key we move one paragraph down. You
want to know more? Click for a listing
of all the navigation keyboard shortcuts.
Once you've mastered moving selecting is a piece of cake. To whatever action
you used to move you add the Shift button and it will select instead
of moving. For example, if we simply press the right arrow key we
move one character left; if we hold Shift and then press the
right arrow key we select one character right; Click
for a listing
of all the selecting keyboard shortcuts.
When it comes to selecting text Word XP has a very helpful new feature
which is called multiple selection, ie you can select one chunk of
text and then go on to select another one in a different paragraph for example.
This is done with the aid of the mouse. First we select the desired text
by clicking and dragging the mouse. Then we hold down the Ctrl key
and keep selecting any other bits of text we want with the mouse. This technique
can be useful when, for instance, we want to italicize many different words
or phrases in the same document and we don't want to repeat the selection
process for each and every one of them.
Now since you've mastered how to move through the document and select text
all you need to know is how to quickly copy it, paste it, cut it, format
it. By using the Ctrl key and adding X, C, V you cut, copy
and paste respectively. By using the Ctrl key and adding B,
I, U you make the text bold, italics and underlined
respectively. Do you want to justify your paragraph? No problem. Just press
Ctrl+J. As you see Ctrl is the key to remember! More formatting
shortcuts? Click here.
My working methodology could be succinctly described with the following
four shortcuts. Alt+Tab, Ctrl+C/V, Shift+F5. First
of all I use Alt+Tab in order to move from one program to another
(in my case from one dictionary to another and then back to Word). Then
I use Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V in order to copy text from the dictionaries
and paste it in word. Moreover, the above too are used quite often whilst
working in the document. For example if a phrase has been repeated a few lines or paragraphs up I will locate it by using Page Up, or Ctrl+F (Find), select it by using Ctrl+Shift+right arrow, copy it by using Ctrl+C, then I will click Shift+F5 in order to return to the same point in the document and then click Ctrl+V in order to paste it. If you work with more than one document open at the same time then you can use the Ctrl+F6 shortcut to navigate from one to another. Its difference from Alt+Tab is that you can only move from one Word document to another, whereas with Alt+Tab you can move through all your open Applications/documents.
My all time favourite shortcut in Word (as well as a number of other programs) is Ctrl+H. Now most people who are involved with editing texts know the Ctrl+F (Find) shortcut (which I already mentioned in the previous paragraph). However, Ctrl+H goes a step further displaying the Replace field as well (saving you an extra click on the Replace button). Thus we can quickly perform a Find and Replace action. An extra shortcut that comes in handy in case you' ve jumped a word or accidentally replaced one you shouldn't replace is Shift+F5. What it does is move you to the previous part of your document.
I would not want to do lip service to the many helpful options of the Find/Replace function, of which you can get an idea by clicking on the More button on the bottom left of the Find / Replace dialogue box. This will be the subject of a different article.
In case some of the above shortcuts do not appear to work in your computer don't worry. There are some reasons why this could be happening:
To ascertain which shortcuts work in your system just run a macro which will list all of them. How do you do that? Simple: Press Alt+F8. The Macros window appears. The second field should read Macros in: Select Word Commands. Now, scroll down within the first field (Macro name) until you locate ListCommands macro. When you do, select it and click on the Run button. A dialog box appears asking you if you want to see the current commands only or all of them. Choose any.
- Sometimes Word does not appear to support the Ctrl+ Z, Y, X, C, V shortcuts because it is using as default a set of slightly different ones (Alt+Backspace=Undo, Alt+Enter=Redo, Ctrl+Delete=cut,Ctrl+Insert=copy, Shift+Insert=Paste etc).
- Another user might have assigned different shortcuts to these keys.
Moreover, if you want to assign a custom shortcut click on Tools-> Customize -> Commands -> Keyboard. In the Categories box, click the category that contains the command or other item. In the box to the right, click the name of the command or other item. Any shortcut keys that are currently assigned appear in the Current keys box. In the Press new shortcut key box, press the shortcut key combination you want to assign. For example, press Alt+ the desired key. Look at Currently assigned to to see if the shortcut key combination is already assigned to a command or other item. If so, select another combination. Click Assign.Done!