Set Up Custom Shortcut Keys in MS Word & Make a Cheat Sheet

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Evolution gave us two hands, but hopefully it will continue on and give us a few more. Just two hands are hardly fitting for the digital age.

If we could total up the seconds lost in flitting between the keyboard and the mouse, I am sure it will add up to a nice round figure. That’s why keyboard shortcuts are important to learn and master. It’s not a difficult skill, we have to just key in patience and practice.

The Office Ribbon still has its naysayers but I feel that when it comes to keyboard shortcuts, it gives us the easiest way to learn them. Press the Alt key and you have them displayed on the Ribbon. It’s just a matter of following the letters. These keyboard shortcuts make Microsoft Office operations smooth, but it’s just the first level. There are a few dozen more below the surface.


Keyboard shortcuts are not only about productivity and speed but they also help to minimize occupational ailments like tendonitis from constant computer use. So, if I am succeeding in making you fall in love with the gal called QWERTY, then you should know that you can create your own keyboard shortcuts and change the default ones in MS Word too.

By the way, Microsoft Office Online has a short but great training course on Word shortcut keys.

3 Steps To Configuring Your Own Word Shortcut Keys

The thing about customizing keyboard shortcuts is that there are some key combinations that you instinctively remember. Also there are some commands or combination of commands for which there are no default shortcut keys. For example, you can set up custom shortcut keys for macros, specific fonts, styles, and special symbols that you frequently use.

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So here’s how we go about bringing them all within the touch of a key.

  • To start, follow this sequence of clicks: Office Button – Word Options – Customize.

  • Close to the bottom, click on the Customize button for Keyboard shortcuts to bring up the Customize Keyboard dialog box.

  • In the Customize Keyboard dialog box, commands are listed for specific categories. Check the Description for what each key does. Each command has its corresponding shortcut listed in the Current Keys field. You can easily assign a different set of keys by pressing CTRL (with or without SHIFT/ALT) and a letter. MS Word lets you know if your shortcut combo is assigned to any other command or not. Choose the template to assign the key to – Normal (for all documents or the presently open document). Click on Assign and your new shortcut key is set.

Setting Up A Brand New Word Shortcut Key

There are also some commands for which no Word shortcut keys are assigned by default. Take this for instance – Sending an open Word document via email.

Let’s see how to configure a keyboard shortcut for that ““

In the Customize Keyboard dialog box, check out All Commands listed under Categories. In the listings on the right, scroll down to a command called FileSendMail.

Select that and press the new shortcut keys you want to have for this task in the Press new shortcut key field. Save the changes across all documents (the Normal template) or just the open one. Click on Assign to complete the process.

Custom Word shortcut keys can also be set up for Macros, Styles, Fonts, Autotext, and Common Symbols.

Explore the commands given for them under categories. There are probably some which you use very frequently. For example, a repeated activity like inserting your name or address as an autotext could benefit from a shortcut key.

Remembering Them All

You have just set up a dozen fresh shortcut keys and are on the threshold of boosted productivity. It will take a bit of time before you are silky smooth with them. With a single step, we can print out the list and keep it close. Here’s how to have a cheat sheet for our personalized shortcut keys.

Click on CTRL+P for the Print dialog box. You can also go from the menu, but we are talking about shortcuts aren’t we?

From the dropdown for Print What, select Key assignments. Click on OK to print out your keyboard shortcuts list.

Note: Only those key assignments that have been reassigned from their defaults will be printed.

For a person who uses MS Word a lot, shortcut use comes from practice or purpose. For both, we have some readymade cheat sheets for download.

If you like all that’s workmanlike about Microsoft Word, also check out our How To Create Professional Reports and Documents free guide.

Life isn’t meant for shortcuts but Microsoft Office productivity certainly is. Are you up to speed with shortcuts or do your love your mouse more?

Image Credit: Sielarts informàtica

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