Selecting Text in Microsoft Word

 Jul 13, 2015

Before we do anything to the text we’ve written in Microsoft Word, such as formatting or copy and paste, we first have to select the text, or as some people say, highlight the text.

Do you know the many ways you can select text in Microsoft Word?

With the keyboard:

Shift Arrows   Selects characters to the left or right, or lines up and down. Shift is basically like holding down the button on the mouse. This is very useful when you only want to choose a letter or two or need to be precise about whether you want to select a space character or not.
Ctrl Arrows   Moves to the next word to the left or right. Using Ctrl Up or Down moves you to the next paragraph above or below.
Ctrl Shift Arrows   Selects the word to the left or right, or paragraphs up and down. This is very useful when you want to do a quick bold, italic, or underline of a word without letting go of the keyboard.
Ctrl Home   Moves to the top of the document.
Ctrl End   Moves to the bottom of the document.
Ctrl Shift Home   Selects from where the cursor (the flashing line) is to the top of the document.
Ctrl Shift End   Selects from where the cursor (the flashing line) is to the bottom of the document.
Ctrl A   Selects the entire document.

With the mouse:

Double click   Selects a word, this is both quick and handy.
Triple Click   Selects a paragraph.

Note: In Word a paragraph is all the text up to a Paragraph mark (some people call it an Enter mark). Paragraph marks look like this:


When you have the invisible marks showing using the Show/Hide button to hide them.

Clicking in the left margin.

The mouse pointer needs to be a single headed arrow pointing up and slightly to the right.

Single click   Select the line of text.
Click and drag   Selects multiple lines of text.
Double click in the left margin   Selects the paragraph.
Triple click   Selects the entire document.

Keyboard and mouse

Shift and click   Selects from where the cursor is to where you are clicking (while holding down shift). This selects text line by line, in the same way that text gets typed in.
Ctrl Click   This selects a sentence, from the capital letter at the start to the full stop at the end.
Alt Click and Drag   This selects from where the cursor is to where you let go of the mouse, but it selects only the left or right side of a piece of text, not line by line. Great if you have text in tabbed columns and you only want the bit on the left.


Stop Selecting

Getting rid of a selection is just as important as being able to select text, because if you type a character with text selected, what you type overrides (deletes) the selection. To stop selecting text, simply single click somewhere else in the text or tap any arrow key.

How do your Excel skills stack up?   

Test Now  

About the Author:

Matthew Goodall  

Matthew is a qualified Microsoft Office Specialist, Microsoft Certified Applications Specialist and a Microsoft Certified Trainer with over 11 years of hands-on experience in a training facilitation role. He is one of New Horizons most dynamic instructors who consistently receives high feedback scores from students. Matt enjoys helping students achieve real professional and personal growth through the courses he delivers. He is best known for creating “fans” of students, who regularly request him as an instructor for any future courses they undertake at New Horizons.

Read full bio
Back to top