Using Microsoft Word? Here’s How To Become a Time-Saving Ninja

Ryan Dube 06-12-2012

microsoft word time saversOver the years, Microsoft Word has become one of the best word processors in the world. I’m sure there are people out there that disagree – particularly Linux or Mac folks who would really rather not give Microsoft so much credit. But, lets face it, Microsoft has established a very large foothold in this area, and they’ve evolved Microsoft Word over the years to the point where it is extremely efficient and easy to use.


The problem that some people have with Microsoft Word right out of the box is that it may not be entirely effective or efficient for them. Different people have different habits when it comes to writing, and different people certainly don’t all use Word in the same way or for the same reasons.

Whether you’re writing letters, articles, a research paper or the world’s next great novel, Microsoft Word can save you a great deal of time if you take a few moments to customize the software for your particular habits and use.

What do I mean by customize? Well, here at MUO, we’ve covered a number of ways that you can customize Word for your purposes. Jim gave an overview of how to use Styles How To Use Styles In Microsoft Word To Save A Lot Of Work Read More , and not long ago, I showed you how to use Microsoft Word Mailings How To Use Microsoft Word Mailings To Automate Emails While there are a lot of things I don't like about Microsoft Word, there are many more things I love about it. In particular, I love the ability to automate many of the tasks that... Read More to automate your correspondence.  These are only two examples, but there are mountains of other Microsoft Word time savers when you’re writing documents. In this article, I’ll show you the 5 quickest ways that you can do this.

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

One of our best articles on the topic here at MUO was Dave’s article on universal keyboard shortcuts for text editing Master These Universal Keyboard Shortcuts For Text Editing After months of practicing, you have finally boosted your typing speed above that of a snail. You have finally got the hang of not looking at the keyboard for each character. You are no longer... Read More . Dave covered mostly all of the usual shortcuts that you might have already heard about – things like Control-C and Control-V to copy and paste. But there are a number of really cool keyboard shortcuts that you can use in Word that are not so well known, but that can save you a whole lot of time in Microsoft Word.

Check out Dave’s article for the whole list, but there were three that were fantastic that are really worth repeating here, especially as they apply to Word. The first is using Shift-UP or Shift-DOWN to select entire lines at a time. A lot of people use the Shift-Left or Right to select one word at a time in either direction, but selecting entire lines at once rather than trying to do each letter at a time is a huge time-saver.


microsoft word time savers

Of course, sometimes you may not want to select an entire line, but you can still save time by selecting entire words at a time, using the shortcut Shift-Cntrl-LEFT or Shift-Cntrl-RIGHT. This will jump the highlight by a word at a time – allowing you to select sentence segments in a blink.

microsoft word time saving tips

Of course, if you’re dealing with larger sections of your document and want to cut, copy or paste entire paragraphs at a time, you can do so with the ultra-cool Shift-Cntrl-UP or Shift-Cntrl-DOWN sequence.


microsoft word time saving tips

If you do a lot of writing, this can certainly save a lot of time, but if you do editing it can save even more. Once you start using these keyboard shortcuts, you’ll save so much time that you’ll wonder how you ever got along in Word without using them.

Master The F4 Key

The single coolest lesser-known function in Microsoft Word that probably also has the potential of saving the most time is the F4 key. F4 is one of those “undocumented features” you will wonder why no one told you about. Basically, just like Control-Z will undo your last action, or Control-Y will redo your last action, the magic key to redo a whole sequence of commands is F4.

Until you start using it, it’s really hard to describe how powerful this function key is in Word, but I’ll provide a couple of examples here.


Let’s say that you’ve written a document and included headers for each section, but forgot to add formatting, or maybe you pasted the text from Notepad without formatting. You want to go through your document, highlight every header, and format it the way that you want.

microsoft word time saving tips

You could take the time to do this by going through the document and performing the 3 or 4 clicks it takes to accomplish the task, or you can just perform those tasks on one header, then highlight the next header and press F4. This repeats the sequence of events you performed on the last selection, but with only one keypress. Now, all you have to do is highlight each header and tap F4.

save time microsoft word


Multiply out the time it would have taken you to navigate through the menus per header and you can see how much time you can save.

Here’s another example. You have a number of pictures in a document and want to place a border line around them. Normally, you’d have to highlight the picture, click on “Format Picture“, and select a solid line color.

save time microsoft word

Using the F4 technique, you can just perform that action on the first picture, and then click on each subsequent picture and press F4. The same formatting occurs on those pictures.

save time microsoft word

You can imagine how much faster it is to just start clicking pictures and tapping F4, rather than navigating those menus over and over per picture.

Make Templates

If you have never used templates in Word, there’s no better time than now to try. Using templates can save you a whole lot of time by letting you create the parts of documents that are the same so that you can reuse those documents and not have to recreate them from scratch.

People can really get carried away with templates. Users have created calendars, project management templates, receipt templates for business, and much more. You can even find tons of free templates online 3 Excellent Sites to Get Free Document Templates Rather than creating a new document from scratch, you'll want to start with a template that you can customize. Find free professional templates on one of these sites. Read More , but most importantly, you can save your own templates. One example of using this would be creating a letter header that you can use whenever you need to send correspondence.

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Create your template, which is basically the same as creating a Word document, but save it using the .dotx file type, and save it in the Templates folder so you’ll be able to easily find it in the future.

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If you stop to think about all of the documents you create on a daily basis, take a look at the areas of the document that are always the exact same. Consider creating a template for that document with all of the common sections. Next time, all you have to do is open Microsoft Word, load the template file and then fill in the areas that you need to fill in – and you’re done in a fraction of the time.

Customize Autocorrect

Have you ever been typing along, then you try to create a list of items that start with lower-case letters, and Microsoft Word won’t let you? That’s the magic of Autocorrect. It annoys legions of Microsoft Word users, but configured and used properly, Autocorrect can make the process of writing a whole lot less painful – fixing all of the mistakes that you commonly make while writing.

You can find the area to set up Autocorrect by clicking the Windows button and selecting “Word Options“.

Using Microsoft Word? Here's How To Become a Time-Saving Ninja shortcuts10

In the Options menu, click “Proofing” from the navigation menu, and then click on the “AutoCorrect Options” button.

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In Autocorrect, you can enable or enable all of those features that either annoy or help you. A lot of people don’t like it when Word capitalizes the first letter of sentences. Turn it off. But consider the mistakes you commonly make and enable those features, because they can really help. Also take a close look at the list of “replace text” items.

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Customize the list to autofix the sorts of symbols and words that you commonly use. This will save you a lot of time if you do it right. For example, I wrote a lot of articles about government agencies like the FBI and CIA. I know it seems insignificant, but having to hold down the shift key while I type the alphabet soup agency names gets a bit tedious. I can save type by adding an auto-replace rule so that “cia” automatically becomes “CIA”.

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There are probably lots of words or acronyms that you use in your own work or writing that you constantly have to capitalize or format a certain way. Use the text auto-replace feature so that Word will do all of the hard work for you, while you can fly along typing as fast as you can.

Customize The Ribbon & Quick Access Bar

Not long ago, Saikat wrote a great article on customizing the Word ribbon bar Customize the MS Word 2010 Ribbon by Adding Your Own Tab With Commands You Use Most Often We have seen quite a few ways to tweak MS Office 2010 for our own productive ends. Granted, the whole MS Office suite is a productivity tool to begin with, but there’s still some spanner... Read More . I highly recommend reading through that article to learn all of the ways that you can customize the Word menu.

The example shown below is one of the easiest ways to save a ton of time in Word, and that’s by adding the most frequently used commands to the Quick Links bar.

You can get there by going into Word Options again, and click the “Customize” option in the side bar. You can see the area on the left where you can add or remove commands from each of the ribbon bar items as Saikat shows in his article, but you can also use the options on the right to select specific commands that you want to add to the quick-link bar.

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The Quick Links bar shows up on every menu page, no matter which menu page is selected on the ribbon bar. That makes the Quick Links bar the fastest place to find those Word features and commands that you use most often, so load it up full, and load it up wisely.

microsoft word time savers

It always seems like there’s something new to learn about Microsoft Word. Hopefully the five tips offered in this article help you to make better and faster use of those features. Writing is a process that can take long enough as it is, there’s no reason that the word processor you use should get in the way. The only thing it should do is make your writing tasks faster and easier.

Have you found interesting Microsoft Word time savers? What sort of shortcuts and interesting tricks have you discovered to make writing easier? Share your own tips in the comments section below.

Image Credit: computer office keyboard – Shutterstock

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  1. Michelle Duran
    October 28, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I've been using Word for over 15 years and I love finding new ways to do things faster amd more effectively; trying to find ways to make computers do my work.
    I always use Ctrl+right/left arrow, but never Ctrl+up/down arrow. I use the formatting painter and the styles all the time, but it doesn't work on outlining images, so I'll try F4!
    One tip that I love that I want to share is Ctrl+space bar. If you highlight a word, sentence, paragraph, etc. and press Ctrl+space bar it will remove all formatting! Great for when you paste items in or use the wrong style.
    Great article!

  2. Elmarie
    January 14, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I have been using Microsoft Word for years to do my writing. I learn something new almost every day. Thank you for a good article.

  3. EdmarJohn SanDiego
    January 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    i thank you sir for making this, it is very helpful to us students

  4. Aubrey Raymundo
    December 11, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    this is really cool. i just learned it here. thank you makeuseof! :)

  5. zyzzyva57
    December 10, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Note unless something is unique to a particular Office product by the nature of its purpose, e.g., F4 in Excel, most of these tips can be used in Excel, PP, Access, etc

  6. Ritwick Saikia
    December 9, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    F4 makes it faster to just finish my work and do Alt-F4 :) Huge timesaver these tips. Ryan, you do come up with some of the most useful articles over here. Thanks dude.

  7. Dony Rizaldi
    December 9, 2012 at 11:24 am

    thx very useful

  8. pp potana
    December 9, 2012 at 1:42 am

    Nice it

  9. James Hudson
    December 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    how do i share stuff on here?

  10. Ron
    December 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Great information to speed up the document writing.

  11. Kaashif Haja
    December 8, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    F4 shortcut sounds good.. :)

    • Giggity Goebbels
      December 9, 2012 at 1:27 pm


  12. Vishal Srivastava
    December 8, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Thanks for this article!! I am really impressed by F4 key. One thing I want to know is that is this article compatible with Libre Office or Open Office? This is because I have to work on both Windows and Linux.

  13. Giggity Goebbels
    December 8, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Lol i always use the f4 key to actually CLOSE microsoft word.

  14. Krysia Baker
    December 8, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I also like to use F8 to increase the size of a selection. Press once to select a word, twice to select a sentence, and so on.

  15. Rigoberto Garcia
    December 7, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Great article Ryan. Thanks...

  16. Sue
    December 7, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Very useful, many thanks. Don't forget that the AutoCorrect / replace text as you type can also take whole phrases, I write a weekly update and find being able to write 'exbg' and when I press space get 'the item was secured in an exhibit bag' to really help me meet my deadline, especially as I'm not a touch typist. Type what you want, select it, then go to AutoCorrect and it will be there waiting for you to enter the 'code' Just make sure they are letters that never go together normally.

  17. Daniel Horne
    December 7, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    Excellent tip on F4! Definitely a great timesaver.

  18. Alan Burnstine
    December 7, 2012 at 9:38 am

    Wow, the f4.shortcut alone is going to save me hours every week.

  19. Anonymous
    December 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

    This f4 deal sounds good! Thanks for the head's up!

  20. André Kamara
    December 6, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    I need an article of this kind with Libreffice.