You don't need to learn touch typing to save time using Office Word; there are plenty of other tips and tricks to try, too.

Start by learning all about AutoCorrect – this useful feature doesn't just correct mistakes, it can also be used to provide shortcuts for long words or passages of text. Open Word Options, select Proofing then AutoCorrect Options to set it up.

It's worth checking out the AutoFormat As You Type tab while you're here to discover some more time-saving tips, such as surrounding words with the asterisk (*) character to convert them into bold text.

Special characters such as © and é can be awkward to enter manually – shortcut keys are available (Ctrl and ' and E for é, for example), but where do you find out about them?

Simple, open the Insert ribbon or menu and choose Symbol ➜ More Symbols… Select the symbol to find its shortcut key, or click AutoCorrect to create something more memorable.

The best way to keep text looking consistent is to make use of Office Word's Styles. If the default choices don't meet your expectations, change them – the simplest way to do this is to style up your text, select it, then right-click the appropriate style (such as Normal or No Spacing) and choose Update {Style name} to match selection.

You may also want to create a special Body Text style to use instead of Normal or No Spacing – click the More button under the Styles section of the Home ribbon then click New Style to get started.

If you frequently select text in your document, familiarise yourself with these shortcuts: double-click a word to select it, then click again to select the entire paragraph. To select a sentence within a paragraph, hold Ctrl as you click, or hold Alt as you click and drag the mouse to select a rectangular block of text.

Creating your own ribbons

If you have Office 2010, you can now customise or create your own ribbons, enabling you to place all your favourite commands on a single ribbon and saving you the hassle of moving between them. Get started by clicking the File tab, selecting Word Options and then choosing Customize Ribbon. Existing ribbons can be customised, or click New Tab to create one from scratch. Commands are then organised into different groups, and you can mix and match commands easily.

Office 2007 users wanting this functionality should take a look at the RibbonCustomizer add-in. There's a free cutdown Starter Version available, or you can unlock all its features by purchasing the Pro version for US$29.99.

Finally, save even more time when looking for menu or ribbon options by simply placing them on the Quick Access Toolbar where they're always visible; in Word 2007 and 2010 this is in the top-left of the Word window. Click on the down arrow and choose More Commands to access options that are on the ribbon and buried elsewhere – once placed, they'll be just a click away.

Copy and paste formatting

formatting

People who use either Office Word 2007 or 2010 can copy the formatting from one block of text to another; simply select some text that contains the formatting you wish to copy elsewhere, then click on the Format Painter button. The icon changes to a paint brush – just select the text you wish to restyle to see it change.

Word shortcuts

Ctrl and left arrow/right arrow: Move to previous/next word.

Home/End: Move to beginning or end of the current line.

Ctrl and Home/End: Jump to beginning or end of document.

Ctrl and Shift and Home/End: Select all text before/after cursor point.

Ctrl and Shift and </>: Decrease or increase selected text size by 1 point.

Ctrl and [ / ]: Increase or decrease font size by 1 point.

Ctrl and L/E/R: Align current paragraph left/centre/right.

Ctrl and F/H: Open the Find or Find and Replace dialogue box.

Ctrl and Space: Remove formatting from the current text selection.

Alt: Reveal shortcut keys for menus, tabs and Quick Access Toolbar.

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First published in Windows: The Official Magazine issue 56

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