The magical CTRL key in Microsoft Word

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Microsoft Word does so much more than any of us can imagine. I could probably create a whole blog just on MS Word tips and tricks. Today, I’ll show you some of the cool things you can do in Word by using the CTRL key in combination with some other keys.

CTRL key in MS Word


The Control key (usually abbreviated on the keyboard as “Ctrl”) does a lot of things that most people aren’t aware of. If you use these shortcuts, it can definitely save you some time. If you’re using a Mac keyboard, I believe the key you would use for these functions is the Apple key (also known as the Command key or cmd key).

Note: for this list, I did not include the commonly-known Ctrl key functions such as Ctrl+C for copying or Ctrl+P for printing.

Action: [Ctrl] + [k]
Effect: make selected text a clickable link
If you’re writing in word and you have the phrase “my website” in there, you might want to just make that phrase clickable – without having to type out the entire URL. So you can highlight the phrase, then Ctrl + K and in the new window enter your website address in the “Address” field.

Action: [Ctrl] + [m]
Effect: indent the entire paragraph
Put your cursor anywhere in a paragraph and Ctrl + M, and that paragraph alone is indented. In the example below, I did this with the second paragraph:

Control key shortcuts

Action: [Ctrl] + [click]
Effect: select (highlight) a whole sentence
When you need to highlight an entire sentence, this is so much easier than dragging the cursor across every letter. Just hold down Ctrl and click anywhere in a sentence, and the whole sentence is highlighted.

Action: [Ctrl] + [backspace]
Effect: delete the preceding word
Just put the cursor at the end of the word you don’t want (if you just typed that word, you’re already in the right spot). Hold down Ctrl and hit the Backspace key. That word is gone. (Technically, the computer is just deleting from wherever the cursor is back to the first “space” entry. So if your cursor is in the middle of a word at the start, the letters to the right side of the cursor will remain afterward.)

Action: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [>]
Effect: increase font size of selected text
This is another time saver in a specific situation. You have a single sentence and you want to change the font size. First you have to highlight that sentence (Ctrl + click, remember?). The old way would be to go up to the toolbar, click the font size drop-down list, and choose a number. If that doesn’t look right, go through the same thing again. This Ctrl shortcut is much easier – just hold down Ctrl and Shift, and tap the “>” key until it looks big enough.

Action: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [<]
Effect: decrease font size of selected text
Same as above, but if the text gets too big and you need to reduce it you just use the “<” key.

Action: [Ctrl] + [=]
Effect: makes selected text subscript
Useful in certain situations, such as some mathematical equations. In the example below, the second sentence is subscript.

Ctrl key shortcuts

Action: [Ctrl] + [Shift] + [=]
Effect: makes selected text superscript
Same as above, but the selected text is superscript. Second sentence below is superscript.

Ctrl key shortcuts

Action: [Ctrl] + [a]
Effect: select the entire contents of a document
This is one I use all the time. If you need to take some action on the entire contents of a document – such as copying to paste it, or changing the font size, or the font itself, etc. this is the best way to do it. Don’t drag your cursor over multiple pages. Just hit Ctrl + A, and the whole document is highlighted.

Action: [Ctrl] + [z]
Effect: undo last action
Everyone makes mistakes. The key is recognizing a mistake quickly enough. Ctrl + Z fixes whatever you just did – it only affects your most recent action. So if you accidentally highlight and delete an entire paragraph, you can immediately Ctrl + Z and get it back. But if you delete the entire paragraph and then do just one other thing (like typing a single letter), this “undo” shortcut won’t help.

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Simon Quill
January 18th, 2016

Hi Scott.
Very useful thanks.
My favourite is Ctrl + y, repeat last formatting.

Richard Burgess
January 19th, 2016

Dear Scott,

On the function Ctrl + click which button is “click.” Thank you.


Scott Johnson
January 19th, 2016

The word “click” always means left click.