In this article we will learn about assigning shortcut keys or keyboard shortcuts or short-cuts in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016 for PC. Please note that these instructions are for these versions of Word and might not work in the same way on a Mac or in an older version of Word.
What is a keyboard shortcut or shortcut key?
A keyboard shortcut allows you to use the keys on your keyboard to do tasks that you might normally need to use your mouse for, or which are buried deep in layers of menus. Click a couple of buttons and you have done what you wanted to do.
What is the purpose of assigning shortcut keys?
The clue is in the word “shortcut”. Assigning a keystroke or two to carry out common tasks will save time and is also used by people who need to use the mouse less, for example if they suffer from or are prone to RSI.
Are some actions in Word covered by shortcut keys anyway?
Yes, some actions in Word are already doable by using keyboard shortcuts. For example, you can copy text by pressing Control and C at the same time, or paste it somewhere using Control and V. You can also look for text pretty well anywhere there’s text by using Control and F together.
What we’re talking about here is assigning a new shortcut key to an activity that doesn’t already have one – or assigning a new key to a different shortcut.
How do I assign or change keyboard shortcuts?
To assign or change keyboard shortcuts or shortcut keys, you need to access the Customize Ribbon menu.
In brief, you can use one of these two paths:
- File – Word Options – Customize Ribbon
- Right-click on the tabs in the Ribbon – select Customize Ribbon
See this article for screenshots and more detail.
Once you’ve followed the trail to the Customize Ribbon dialogue box, you should be here:
Now click on Keyboard shortcuts: Customize.
The Customize Keyboard menu
This looks a bit weird at first. Basically, in the left-hand box you will find all of the tabs (and a few more) that you see in your Word ribbon. In the right-hand box, you will find all of the commands or actions associated with that tab. So when you first go into this menu, you’ll see the File Tab and a load of things you probably don’t normally do:
However, if you move to the Home Tab (by clicking on it) you will see some more familiar items – and note that they’re in alphabetical order.
Here you can see under Current keys that Bold has the shortcut keys Ctrl+B and Ctrl+Shift+B, which means that you can hold down Control and the b key at the same time, or Control and Shift and the b at the same time to make the text that’s highlighted or the next text you type bold. You might have known how to do that already: here is where that shortcut can be set, removed or changed.
If you scroll down the list of tabs, headed Categories, you will find one called Commands Not in the Ribbon which is a useful list.
Let’s say I wanted to change the shortcut for AllCaps (i.e. to change the highlighted text or next text I type to be ALL IN CAPITALS).
I click on the AllCaps Command and then press the new shortcut key I want to assign to that – in this case I’ve chosen Ctrl+C – so I hit those keys and Ctrl+C gets added into the box under Press new shortcut key:
What if the shortcut key I want to use has already been assigned?
Here we can see that Ctrl+C is already assigned to EditCopy. If I assign Ctrl+C to AllCaps, it will then move over from EditCopy to AllCaps and will no longer be available for EditCopy.
Of course, this might not matter, if the other command is one you don’t use anyway. If you want to assign this shortcut, go ahead and press Assign. The shortcut will move into the Current keys section.
How do I remove or cancel a keyboard shortcut?
If you want to remove the keyboard shortcut you’ve just created, or one that you keep hitting by accident, highlight the one you want to remove and press the Remove button beneath it. Note: if you’ve reassigned a shortcut key and want to put it back to how it was, you will need to find its original command and add it back in there.
How do I save my keyboard shortcuts?
When you’ve assigned your shortcuts, press the Close button on the Customize Keyboard menu and the OK button on the Customize Ribbon menu.
Note: you can save changes in a new template, if you want to keep your standard Word template as it is. Drop down the Save changes in: list to do that.
In this article I’ve explained how to assign and remove keyboard shortcuts or shortcut keys to give a short cut that will save your mouse hand. If you’ve enjoyed this article and found it useful, please share using the sharing buttons below, or comment if you’ve searched for it and used it and I’ve helped you. Thank you!
Related articles on this blog
How to customise the Quick Access Toolbar
How do I customise the Word Ribbon?