How To Highlight Using Keyboard

Highlighting Text in Microsoft Word

It's a lot easier to show you what highlighting is, rather than explaining it. So examine the image below, which is what your letter should look like so far:

The two lines with the blue background have been h

The two lines with the blue background have been highlighted (the blue highlight will be grey in some versions of Word). When you highlight some text you can do things with it. You can change the size of the font, underline it, make it bold, delete it altogether, and many other things. But only the text that you have highlighted will change. The rest of your document will remain unchanged. So if we were to change the size of the font in the document above, only the two lines that have been highlighted will change size. Highlighting is very important in word processing.

So how do you highlight some text?

There are quite a few different ways to highlight text. We'll go through a few now. Practice them as you go along.

How to highlight an entire document

You can highlight your entire document from the Home tab at the top of Word. On the right hand side, you should see an Editing section:

Click on the Select item to see a menu appear:

Click on the Select item to see a menu appear:

In Word 2010 to 2016 you'll see an extra item

In Word 2010 to 2016 you'll see an extra item on the menu, right at the bottom:

Click Select All from the menu to highlight an ent

Click Select All from the menu to highlight an entire document. To get rid of highlighted text, click anywhere in your document with your left mouse button.

An easier way to highlight all the text in your document is via a keyboard shortcut. Hold down the CTRL key on your keyboard. Keep it held down and press the letter A. This is will select all text. (This shortcut works in other software, not just Microsoft Word.)

How to highlight an entire line

Most of the time, though, you won't want to highlight the entire document, but just sections of it. You can highlight an entire line with just one mouse click.

To highlight a single line, move your mouse over to the left margin of your document. As in the image below:

If you can't see a ruler at the top of the pag

If you can't see a ruler at the top of the page and the left of the page, click the tiny icon in the top right of Microsoft Word, for 2007 users:

Another way to display rulers is from the View tab

Another way to display rulers is from the View tab in the Ribbon at the top of Word. Locate the Show/Hide panel, and the click the Ruler item:

When you move your mouse pointer to the margins, i

When you move your mouse pointer to the margins, it will turn into an arrow. When it does, click your left hand mouse button once, then let go. A single line will be highlighted.

You can use the same technique to highlight more t

You can use the same technique to highlight more than one line at a time. Instead of letting go of the left mouse button, keep it held down. Then move your mouse upwards or downwards in a straight line.

Let go of the mouse button when you are satisfied.

Let go of the mouse button when you are satisfied.

Highlighting blocks of text

This one is a little trickier, but not too tricky. To highlight a block of text, do the following:

  • Click at the start of the block of text you want to highlight. (For practice purposes, click just before the letter "I" of "It has come …" on the first line.)
  • Hold down the Shift key on your keyboard (The Shift keys are the ones with the block arrows on them, pointing upwards. You hold down a shift key if you want a capital letter.)
  • With the Shift key held down, click your left mouse button at the end of the block of text you want to highlight. (Click after the question mark of " … premature?")
  • A block of text will be highlighted

 

Highlight by dragging

This is another tricky one, when you're starting out. A bit of practice, though, and you'll soon master it. To highlight some text by dragging, do the following:

  • Click with your left mouse button at the start of the text you want to highlight
  • Keep your left mouse button held down
  • Drag your mouse pointer across the screen (Your mouse pointer will change shape. It will be the shape of a capital letter I.)
  • You can drag in any direction you like
  • When you've reached the end of the text you want to highlight, let go of the mouse button
  • Your text is highlighted

Highlighting a single word

Highlighting a single word is easy. All you have to do is to double click on the word with your left mouse button. That's it!

Highlighting with the keyboard (no mouse needed)

For more precise highlighting, nothing beats the keyboard.

Line Highlighting

  • To highlight a single line, move your cursor to the start of the line you want to highlight. (You can move the cursor about with the arrow keys on your keyboard. Play about with them and see what happens.)
  • Hold down a Shift key on your keyboard
  • With the Shift key held down, press the End key on your keyboard
  • A single line is highlighted
  • To go the other way, from the end of a line to the beginning, move your cursor to the end of the line (or somewhere in the middle will do for. It works just as well.)
  • Hold down a Shift key on your keyboard
  • With the Shift key held down, press the Home key on your keyboard
  • Your text is highlighted

Paragraph Highlighting

To highlight a paragraph with the keyboard alone, do the following

  • Move your cursor to the start or end of the paragraph you want to highlight
  • Hold down a Shift key AND a Ctrl key (bottom left of your keyboard)
  • With the Shift key AND a Ctrl key held down, press the Up or DOWN arrows
  • A paragraph will be highlighted

Highlighting one word at a time

  • For practice purposes, move your cursor to the middle of a line of text
  • Hold down a Shift key AND a Ctrl key
  • With the Shift key AND a Ctrl key held down, press the Left arrow or the Right arrow key on your keyboard

Highlighting one letter at a time

  • For practice purposes, move your cursor to the middle of a line of text
  • Hold down a Shift key
  • With the Shift key, press the Left arrow or the Right arrow on your keyboard
  • A single letter is highlighted for every tap of an arrow key

And that ends the highlighting section. Practice the techniques outlined above using your library letter. It takes quite a while to master them all, so just pick a couple of highlighting techniques. The ones you find the easiest to do.

We'll now see how to open a file that you have previously saved.

Opening Word Documents >

<–Back to the Microsoft Word Contents Page

Video

Frequently asked questions

Review these frequently asked questions (FAQs) to find answers to common questions about keyboard shortcuts.

How do I change or disable a key?

You can use additional software to change the behavior of keyboard keys in Windows. There are several free software apps for changing the behavior of keys, such as Sharpkeys, MapKeyboard, KeyTweak, Keyboard Layout Creator by Microsoft, and others. Search the internet for the name of one of these software applications or “keyboard mapping software” to learn more. CAUTION: It is important to create a System Restore point before remapping keys in case you need to return to your original keyboard layout. Note: The fn key is a special key controlled by hardware. It cannot be remapped using software.

What do the function keys do?

Function keys allow you to perform an action by pressing a key instead of typing a character. The action that happens for a function key depends on the software that is active when the key is pressed. Some software or apps might have functions for the keys, while others might not. If you press a function key while using an app and nothing happens, the app might not have a function programmed for that key. Some function keys have a symbol printed on the key in addition to the function number. To activate the function that corresponds to the symbol, press and hold the fn key while pressing the function key. See Keys with icons or symbols for more information. See the software help menu or support site to find out which keys are supported and the associated functions for those keys. Function key actions Function key Common functions for popular software f1 Open a help or tips window about the software or app that is open. For help with Windows, press f1 while on the Windows desktop. f2 Windows desktop: Highlight the file name of a selected item for renaming. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Press ctrl + f2 to show print options. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Press ctrl + alt + f2 to show the Open window. f3 Windows, File Explorer: Open search or a search-related feature. Microsoft Edge: Open and highlight the find on page field. Word, PowerPoint: Press shift + f3 to make selected text all uppercase or lowercase. Excel: Press shift + f3 to insert a function into the selected cell. f4 Microsoft Edge: Highlight the address/URL field and open the recently visited menu. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Repeat the last action if possible. Windows desktop: Press alt + f4 to forcibly close a window. f5 Windows desktop: Refresh the current view. Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Refresh the current page. Press ctrl + f5 to delete the page’s temporary files and refresh the page. Excel: Open a Go to window. Word: Open the Find and Replace window with Go to selected. PowerPoint: Start a slideshow in presentation mode. f6 Windows/File Explorer: Cycle through and highlight areas in the current view, similar to using the tab key. Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Highlights the site name and URL field. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Cycle through and highlights menus. f7 Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Turn on caret browsing. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Check spelling and grammar. f8 Word: Extend a selection of text. Excel: Toggle the Extend Selection feature that allows the arrow keys to be used to select a range of cells. f9 Word: Press alt + f9 to show or hide hyperlink markup text from view. f10 File Explorer: Open the menu bar or highlight the menu keys on the menu bar. Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Highlights the Settings menu. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Display key tips or highlight the menu bar. f11 Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Enter or exit full screen view. Excel: Insert a new chart from the current selection. f12 Windows desktop: Highlight the file name of a selected item so that it can be renamed. Microsoft Edge/web browsers: Open a developer console. Word, Excel, PowerPoint: Open the Save as window.

How do I turn the fn key on or off?

You can change a setting in the BIOS to change the Action Key mode setting. Normally, you must first press the fn key to perform the secondary action of a function key, which is the action of the printed symbol on the key. Some notebook computers use a feature called Action Key mode that allows you to perform the secondary action without needing to press and hold the fn key first. For more information, see HP Notebook PCs – Disable The Fn + Function Key Combination on Certain Models.

How do I type an at sign (@)?

On most keyboards the at sign (@) is created by pressing shift + 2 . If your keyboard has more than one symbol on the number 2 key, press ctrl + shift + 2 to type the at sign. If the at sign is found on the letter Q key, press and hold the altgr key, and then press q to type the at sign.

Can I use my keyboard as a mouse?

Yes. You can use keyboard shortcuts to perform normal Windows tasks in place of actions that would normally be done through a mouse. Or, you can enable mouse keys to use the numeric keyboard in place of a mouse. You can use the following keyboard shortcuts to perform normal Windows tasks that would normally be done by using a mouse. Keyboard shortcuts for mouse functions Action Keyboard action Open an app from the Start menu Press the Windows key to open the Start menu (or screen) and then use the arrow keys to move through the menu. Press enter to select an item from the menu or open an app. Open something on the Windows desktop Press the Windows key + d to go to the Windows desktop, press the arrow keys to move and highlight icons on the desktop, and then press the enter key to open the highlighted icon. Browse through files and folders on your computer Press Windows key + e to open File Explorer or Windows Explorer, press the arrow keys to move and highlight items, and then press the enter key to open the highlighted file or folder. Left-click With the object highlighted, press enter to open or activate it. Press space to make selections, such as placing a checkmark in a check box. Right-click With the object highlighted, press shift + f10 (function key f10). Press the arrow keys to move through the menu. Switch to another open Window or app Press and hold the alt key while repeatedly pressing the tab key until the window or app is highlighted. Release the alt key to display the window or app. Select a menu item from a window If the menu is not visible from a window, press and release the alt key. To open a menu or an item from a menu, press and hold the alt key, and then press the letter key that matches the underlined character in the menu. Close a window or app With the window selected, press alt + f4 (function key f4). Use mouse keys (numeric keypad required) Move the mouse pointer and click items in Windows by using the keys on the numeric keypad. Press the Windows key + u to open the Ease of Access Settings screen. Open the Ease of Access options for using a mouse. Using the keyboard: Use the arrow keys and the tab key to highlight the Mouse option from the Ease of Access menu on the left side of the window, and then press enter . Using the mouse: Click the Mouse option from the Ease of Access menu on the left side of the window. Turn on mouse keys. Using the keyboard: Use the arrow keys and the tab key (if needed) to highlight Use numeric keypad to move mouse around the screen , and then press space to make the selection. Using the mouse: Click the slider for Use numeric keypad to move mouse around the screen . If Num Lock is not enabled, press the num lock key to enable the numpad and Mouse Keys . The Mouse Keys feature is only on when Num Lock is enabled. Press the following keys to perform mouse actions from the numeric keypad: To move the pointer, press a number other than 5 in a direction that corresponds to the number’s placement on the keypad. For example, press 8 to move the pointer up or press 1 to move the pointer down and to the left. To left-click, press forward slash ( / ) and then press 5 . To right-click, press the minus sign ( – ) and then press 5 . To double-click (the left mouse button), press forward slash ( / ) and then press + . To drag (hold the left mouse button), press zero ( ). To drop (release the left mouse button), press period or decimal point ( . ). Note: The speed of the mouse pointer might be slow after first enabling this feature. Increase the speed of the mouse pointer from the pointer options tab in mouse settings.

What do I do when some keys type the wrong characters?

Make sure that Num Lock is off by pressing the num lock key. If the problem persists, make sure that your keyboard input method in Windows matches your keyboard’s country/region type. For example, if a QWERTY input method is used with a QWERTZ keyboard, some letters, such as Y and Z, do not produce the key press as labeled on the keys.

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