Writers in the Storm

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May 23, 2011

Keyboard Shortcuts and Other Amazing Productivity Tips


by Jenny Hansen

As you might have guessed from some earlier blogs, I work with accountants. Accountants’ fingers tap a keyboard, particularly over on the 10-key side, like nothing you’ve ever seen. Seeing the mountains of paperwork that go in and out is nothing short of astonishing during tax season.

Yet, with all that finger-tapping, I just taught a class today with the list of shortcuts below and they fell on it like starving scavengers. It occurred to me as I watched them coo and ooooh over these shortcuts that perhaps they’d be helpful to all of my fellow WRITERS. (You know we live to give to writers here at WITS. :-))

Keyboard Shortcuts in Word
(Please note you don't type the "+".  Also, most of these work on the Mac if you use Command instead of CTRL.)

Ctrl + A       Selects all the text in your document
Ctrl + B        Bolds your selected text
Ctrl + C        Copy selected text to the Clipboard
Ctrl + D       Opens the font dialog box
Ctrl + E        Center Align text
Ctrl + F        Find…
Ctrl + G       Go To…
Ctrl + H       Replace… (Find is available here so I usually just go to Replace…)
Ctrl + I         Italicize currently selected text
Ctrl + J        Fully Justify text
Ctrl + K        Insert Hyperlink
Ctrl + L        Left Alight text
Ctrl + M      ½” Indent a paragraph
Ctrl + N       New blank file
Ctrl + O       Open… (an existing document)
Ctrl + P        Print… (the current document)
Ctrl + Q       Removes Paragraph Formatting (this one is AMAZING!)
Ctrl + R        Right Align text
Ctrl + S        Save changes to the current document
Ctrl + T        ½” Hanging Indent (this is where the 1st line is on the margin and the rest of the paragraph indents…think party invitations)

Ctrl + U       Underline currently selected text
Ctrl + V       Paste text from the Clipboard
Ctrl + W      Close Document currently open
Ctrl + X        Cut currently selected text
Ctrl + Y        Redo
Ctrl + Z        Undo (last change)

Function Keys and Shortcuts in Word
(and Excel, in case you’re tracking something like submissions!)

Microsoft Word
F1                     Help
F4                     Repeats Last Action
F5                     Go To…
F7                     Starts SpellChecker
Shift + F7       Opens Thesaurus
F12                   Save As…(This is the single most important key in all of Microsoft Office for the writer…save your work!)

Ctrl + 1            Changes current selection to single-spaced
Ctrl + 2            Changes current selection to double-spaced
Ctrl + 3            Changes current selection to 1 ½ spaced

Microsoft Excel
F1                       Help
F2                       Activates Edit mode; places cursor at end of cell contents
Shift + F2         Activates Cell Comment dialog
Ctrl + F2           Opens Info Window
F4                       Repeats Last Action
F5                       Go To…
F7                       Starts SpellChecker
F9                       Calc Now -- Allows Formula Bar to Calculate
F11                     Creates Default Chart Sheet from selected data
F12                     Save As… 

What about having a cheer squad while you write? Who is going to hold you accountable and make sure that you keep that Butt in the Chair, those Hands on the Keyboard, Typing Away Madly at your masterpiece?

Your cheering section contributes directly to your productivity. (At least it does for me.)

I used to belong to a group called BIW (Book in a Week) and their motto is the above: BIC-HOK-TAM! This amazing group posts goals and follows through. Even if you don’t make your goal, you’ve made something.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is another godsend for the writer who’s trying to learn how to spit the words out. Every November, Chris Baty and his crew gather hundreds of thousands of writers all around the world online and try to write FIFTY THOUSAND words in a month. (If you go crazy this year and join, I’m “jennyhansen” – come buddy up with me.)

There are write-ins, costume parties, online forums, prizes, pep talks, and even a conference halfway through the month. It’s crazy, it’s frenzied…it’s amazing. I’ve never won, but I love it just the same. They run ScriptFrenzy during the month of April if that’s more to your liking.

For those of you that pine for NaNo from December through the end of October, why not try ROW80 with Kait Nolan? I have several writing friends who are doing it and they LOVE it. It’s all about goals and making a community of writers.

There are groups on Facebook and LinkedIn – too numerous to name; today’s writer doesn’t have to write alone unless they choose to. We can all build a writing team.

I’ll be doing some posts from my writing bookshelves (yes, there’s several) over the coming months so hopefully some of my writing friends like Natalie Goldberg, Stephen King and Anne Lamott are your writing friends too. We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, I hope the writing goes smoothly this week. I send you this wish:

May the words flow smoothly from your mind to your fingertips, retaining all the beauty and the magic they possessed when they swam into your imagination.

Who is a part of your team? What do they do that is so special to you as a writer? What Productivity Tips and shortcuts work best for you?

0 comments on “Keyboard Shortcuts and Other Amazing Productivity Tips”

    1. Thanks, Edie! We always appreciate when you pass on our links. I really enjoy all these tech blogs, and I'm glad so many of you do too.

  1. Very beautiful quote - "May the words flow smoothly from your mind to your fingertips, retaining all the beauty and the magic they possessed when they swam into your imagination." I absolutely LOVE that. Thank you. It made my day!

    1. Patti,

      I'm so glad. That's my summary from a talk I heard Linda Howard give many years ago. She said, "The beauty and the magic of the images in your mind will never be equalled by the words on the page. Do it anyway."

      She made me cry! I'm so glad, I could put a quote out there that makes your day.

  2. I knew many of the shortcuts, but wow! I didn't realize there was an alphabet full. Thank you.

    I've done NaNo every year and I never win either. But it's fun and encouraging and no one yells at you if you don't hit that 50K mark and that's a good thing.

    1. There is an entire alphabet and more of lovely shortcuts. As a writer I love the Ctrl + 2 to get double-spaced text...very helpful in the mss formatting. I'm glad you like the tips. 🙂

  3. I love my keyboard shortcuts. Another one I love that didn't make your list is . No matter where you are, on a windows machine it lets you toggle between windows. A quick one pops back and forth between the two most recent windows, or holding down the key and pressing tab will let you cycle through all your open windows until you hit the one you want. Great for popping back and forth between an email and your manuscript, or a reference file and the manuscript. Now if only there were a quick shortcut to do that between worksheets in an excel file....

    1. Hi Kathryn!

      Thanks for your comment - you're talking about Alt+Tab for scrolling through open programs and it is a great one. I probably should have included all the movement keys like Ctrl + Home, Ctrl + End and Alt Tab...I'm glad you're bringing them up here in the comments.

      I'll go find the Excel keys you want. I know they exist so I'll come back and report once I've found out.


  4. This is great! Thank you so much for sharing these tips! I'm printing and posting them over my computer station.

    1. Marilag,

      The majority of these work for the Mac but you need to use the Command or "apple" key with the letter. The big exception is Command + Q which will eject a disk, rather than remove all paragraph formatting, as it would on a PC.

      Thanks for asking!

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