7 Advanced Keyboard Shortcuts for Editing and Formatting in Microsoft Word


Take your Word workflow to the next level with seven of our favorite advanced keyboard shortcuts.

I despise tedious tasks when I’m writing, editing, and formatting documents. Microsoft Word has tons of advanced features, but most of them are buried beneath menus that take lots of redundant clicking to access. This clusterclick steals my time, and repeated visits to the same deep menus drives me up the wall. Fortunately, Word has some advanced keyboard shortcuts to save the day.

  1. Toggle Track Changes on and off.
  2. Clear Formatting.
  3. Copy and paste Track Changes without formatting.
  4. Remove content from table cells without deleting cells.
  5. Go straight to Advanced Find and Replace.
  6. Format as superscript.
  7. Format as hidden text.

Word surfaces basic features to the Home ribbon to help novice users find the functions they use most. But what if you’re a pro? Our clients’ projects need more tools than just Bold and Font Size. Technical documents use complex chapter numbering. Professional organizations cite their sources. Everyone wants to see our proofreading changes. These features, and a thousand others, give documents professional polish. The cost, however, is time.

Keyboard shortcuts let us jump between features quickly and efficiently. The following list includes just a few of our favorite advanced keyboard shortcuts. There’s a short explanation of when and why to use each one. These keyboard shortcuts work for the latest version of Word for both PC and Mac. Happy time saving!

1. Toggle Track Changes On and Off

PC: Ctrl + Shift + E

Mac: command + shift + E

Clicks saved: up to four

What It Does

Track Changes is like a record button for editing in Word. (Almost) every change you make is stored away for later reference. Reviewers can choose to accept proposed changes or reject them.

When to Use It

Most of the time, editors can get away with turning on Track Changes and leaving it there. However, formatting changes can be superfluous. They quickly fill up the Markup panel, making it hard to see comments and changes that matter. Moreover, recording too many changes can slow down your computer. If your workflow switches back and forth between editing and formatting, avoid some tedium by using the keyboard shortcut.

2. Clear Formatting

PC: Ctrl + Shift + N

Mac: control + spacebar

Clicks saved: up to three

What It Does

Remove formatting and apply the Normal style.

When to Use It

Formatting workflows that restyle existing text in the original document sometimes get a little buggy. Clear Formatting can save some headaches getting erratic text to behave.

3. Copy and Paste Tracked Changes Without Formatting

Setup: Turn off tracked changes in both the edited donor document and the receiving template document.

PC: Ctrl + Shift + V

Mac: command + option + shift + V

Clicks saved: up to two

What It Does

Paste unformatted text that retains Track Changes.

When to Use It

A typical workflow starts with editing a client’s document with Track Changes and then copying the content into a fresh, clean template for formatting. Building a good template using Styles is often easier when you start with unformatted text. However, typical copy-and-paste methods lose the Track Changes, carry over the original formatting, or both. Occasionally, other methods can even introduce hidden formatting bugs into the template. Instead, this keyboard shortcut efficiently allows users to move raw, unformatted text (Normal style) into a fresh document without losing the ability to review and revert proofreading and editing changes.

4. Remove Content from Table Cells Without Deleting Cells

PC: Delete

Mac: fn + delete

Clicks saved: depends on the size of the table

What It Does

Efficiently empty the text from a table while keeping the cells and table formatting intact.

When to Use It

When documents that have a few tables formatted the same way, it can sometimes be faster to copy and paste from one table rather than define a battery of table styles and create new ones from scratch. In these cases, removing the unwanted text efficiently can be a little tricky. With this method, just highlight all the text you don’t want, and tap the keyboard shortcut once to give yourself a pristine table to populate.

5. Go straight to Advanced Find and Replace

One-Time PC Setup:

  1. File
  2. Options
  3. Customize Ribbon
  4. Customize…
  5. Categories: “All commands”
  6. Commands: “EditFindDialog”
  7. Press new shortcut key: “Ctrl+F”
  8. Assign
  9. OK

PC: Ctrl + F

One-Time Mac Setup:

  1. Tools
  2. Customize Keyboard
  3. Categories: “All Commands”
  4. Commands: “EditFindDialog”
  5. Press new keyboard shortcut: “Command+F”
  6. Assign
  7. OK

Mac: command + F

Clicks saved: two or more

What It Does

Immediately open the classic Advanced Find and Replace dialogue box.

When to Use It

Advanced editing often requires searching for formats and special characters. Unfortunately, in some versions of Microsoft Word, such as Office 365 for Mac, the same Find shortcut opens a side panel rather than the traditional Find and Replace dialogue box. Remapping the custom keyboard shortcut gets you finding text faster.

6. Format As Superscript

PC: Ctrl + =

Mac: command + shift + =

Clicks saved: up to two

What It Does

Apply superscript formatting to highlighted text.

When to Use It

Some client documents use equations, trademarks, or copyright symbols extensively. And sometimes automated footnote numbers need commas or en dashes to denote multiple sources. In these scenarios, saving clicks comes in handy.

7. Format As Hidden Text

PC: Ctrl + Shift + H

Mac: control + shift + H

Clicks saved: four

What It Does

Hide content from view when printed or exported to PDF.

When to Use It

In most style guides that use footnotes, multiple consecutive footnote numbers ought to be expressed as a range with the middle digits replaced with an en dash. However, footnotes are dynamic, and they must be present in the document to ensure proper numbering. Formatting the middle digits as hidden solves the problem. This is a niche situation that doesn’t come up a lot, but when it does, this keyboard shortcut saves a ton of clicks.

more shortcuts


Leave a Reply