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Typing and Editing Text in Word 2007

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Faithe Wempen walks through basic text entry and manipulation in Word 2007.
This chapter is from the book

In this chapter

  • Text Entry and Editing Basics 60
  • Moving Around in a Document 67
  • Selecting Text and Other Objects 70
  • Moving and Copying Text and Objects 72
  • Locating Specific Content 79
  • Inserting Dummy Text 89
  • Working with Building Blocks 90
  • Troubleshooting 93

Text Entry and Editing Basics

A blank document starts out with a flashing insertion point, which looks like a small vertical bar. In addition, if you're working in Draft or Outline view, a horizontal bar (not flashing) appears as an end-of-file marker (see Figure 3.1). Initially the two markers are together because there's nothing in the file, but the end-of-file marker moves further down on the page as you add more text to your document.

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1 The insertion point is a flashing vertical line; the end-of-file marker (appearing only in Draft or Outline view) is a horizontal, non-flashing line.

To switch between views, such as Draft and Print Layout, see "Switching Document Views," p. 20.

Text you type always appears at the insertion point. (You can move it around, as you will learn later in the chapter.) To enter text, just type as you would in any program. The following keys have specific functions:

  • Enter—Press this key to start a new paragraph.
  • Shift+Enter—Press this key combination to start a new line within the same paragraph.
  • Ctrl+Enter—Press this key combination to start a new page.
  • Tab—Press this key to move to the next tab stop (by default every 0.5").
  • Backspace—Press this key to delete a single character to the left of the insertion point.
  • Delete—Press this key to delete a single character to the right of the insertion point.

You can also delete a text selection of any size, including text and/or other objects, by pressing the Delete or Backspace key.

Switching Between Insert and Overtype Modes

When editing text, Insert mode is on by default, meaning that any text you type to the left of existing text will cause the existing text to scoot over to the right to make room for it. The alternative, Overtype mode, types over any existing text to the right of the insertion point.

To toggle between Insert and Overtype mode, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Office, Word Options.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Under Editing Options, mark or clear the Use Overtype Mode check box.
  4. Click OK.

If you find yourself frequently switching between Insert and Overtype, you might want to set up an easier method for performing the switch. There are two such methods available: remapping the Insert key, and adding an Insert/Overtype indicator to the status bar.

By default, the Insert key works as a shortcut for the Paste command on the Home tab. If you prefer, you can change its mapping so that it instead switches between Insert and Overtype modes.

To learn about using the Insert key as a pasting shortcut, see "Using Paste Options," p. 76.

To make the Insert key toggle between Insert and Overtype views, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Office, Word Options.
  2. Click Advanced.
  3. Under Editing Options, mark the Use the Insert Key to Control Overtype Mode check box.
  4. Click OK.

Now the Insert key functions as a toggle between Insert and Overtype modes. To make it more obvious which mode you are in, you might want to turn on the Insert/Overtype mode indicator on the status bar.

To add the indicator to the status bar:

  1. Right-click the status bar.
  2. Click to place a check mark next to Overtype.

Insert (or Overtype) appears in the status bar. You can then click that word to toggle between them.

Undoing, Redoing, and Repeating

Whenever you make a mistake, such as accidentally deleting or overwriting something, you can easily reverse it with Word's Undo feature. To undo, press Ctrl+Z, or click the Undo button on the Quick Access toolbar.

The Undo feature retains a list of actions you've recently taken, and you can undo any number of them. The effect is cumulative. In other words, you can undo, for example, the last five actions you took, but you can't pick-and-choose among those five; you must undo the intervening four in order to undo the fifth one. To undo multiple levels, repeat Ctrl+Z or repeatedly click the Undo button on the Quick Access toolbar, or click the down arrow to the right of the Undo button to open a menu and then select the actions to undo from that list.

After you have undone one or more actions, the Redo button becomes available on the Quick Access toolbar. It reverses undo operations, and comes in handy when you accidentally undo too much. Ctrl+Y is its keyboard shortcut. Figure 3.2 shows the Undo and Redo buttons.

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2 The Undo button undoes the last action when clicked; it also has a drop-down list from which you can choose to undo multiple actions at once.

The Repeat feature enables you to repeat an operation such as typing, formatting, inserting, and so on. The Repeat button looks like a U-turn arrow, and appears in place of the Redo button on the Quick Access toolbar, when available. Its shortcut is also Ctrl+Y; this works because Repeat and Redo are not available at the same time (see Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3

Figure 3.3 The Repeat button makes it easy to repeat the last action you took.

Inserting Symbols and Special Characters

The computer keyboard is very limited in the characters it can produce, and people often need other characters to produce typeset-quality documents. For example, the copyright (©) and trademark (™) symbols are frequently used in business documents, and an attractively typeset page uses em dashes (—) rather than two hyphens together (--) to represent dashes in sentences.

Inserting Symbols with Keyboard Shortcuts or AutoCorrect

Some of the most popular symbols have keyboard shortcuts and/or AutoCorrect shortcuts. AutoCorrect is a feature used most often for correcting common spelling errors, but it is also useful for generating certain common symbols on the fly. To use an AutoCorrect shortcut, type the text shown and press the spacebar once, and Word converts the shortcut text to the specified symbol. Table 3.1 summarizes both the keyboard shortcuts and the AutoCorrect entries for some common symbols.

Table 3.1. Keyboard and AutoCorrect Shortcuts for Symbols


Keyboard Shortcut

AutoCorrect Shortcut

— (em dash)

Ctrl+Alt+Num – (minus sign on the numeric keypad)

– (en dash)

Ctrl+Num – (minus sign on the numeric keypad)

© (copyright)



® (registered trademark)



™ (trademark)



… (ellipsis)

Ctrl+Alt+. (period)


‘ (single opening quote)

Ctrl+‘,‘ Hold down Ctrl and press the grave accent key (‘) twice. It is above the Tab key.

’ (single closing quote)

Ctrl+',' Hold down Ctrl and press the apostrophe key twice. It is to the left of the Enter key.

“ (double opening quote)

Ctrl+‘," Hold down Ctrl and press the grave accent key (‘) once, and then type a quotation mark.

” (double closing quote)

Ctrl+'," Hold down Ctrl and press the apostrophe key once, and then type a quotation mark.

← (typographical left arrow)



→ (typographical right arrow



larr.jpg (thick typographical left arrow)



rarr.jpg (thick typographical right arrow)



↔ (double-headed arrow)



Notice that in Table 3.1, there are no AutoCorrect entries for the dashes and the quotation marks. That's because they're not needed. Word automatically converts straight quotes to typographical ones (Word calls these "smart quotes") and two hyphens in a row to a dash. If you don't want that change to occur, using Undo (Ctrl+Z) immediately after Word makes the change to reverse it. Undo also reverses any of the AutoCorrect conversions as well if you catch them immediately after they occur.

To disable an AutoCorrect entry, see "Automating Corrections with AutoCorrect," p. 111.

To learn how to disable the automatic conversion of straight quotes to smart quotes, or two hyphens to a dash, see "Setting AutoFormat As You Type Options," p. 183.

Inserting Symbols with the Symbol Dialog Box

Another way to insert a symbol is with the Symbol button on the Insert tab. Click Symbol to open a drop-down list of some common symbols (see Figure 3.4). (This list has some overlap with the ones in Table 3.1, but is not the same list. There are more math symbols here, for example.)

Figure 3.4

Figure 3.4 Symbols can be inserted from the Symbol drop-down list on the Insert tab.

If the symbol you want doesn't appear, click More Symbols to open the Symbol dialog box, shown in Figure 3.5. From here you can select any character from any installed font, including some of the alternative characters that don't correspond to a keyboard key, such as letters with accent symbols over them.

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5 The Symbol dialog box can be used to insert any character from any font.

You can also find a symbol by its character code, which is a numeric identifier of a particular symbol in a particular coding system. The two main coding systems are ASCII and Unicode. ASCII is the older system, and characters can be identified using either decimal or hexadecimal numbering in it. Unicode is the Windows standard for character identification, and it uses only hex numbering. Select the desired coding system from the From drop-down list and then type the character code in the Character Code box.

On the Special Characters tab of the dialog box are some of the most common typographical characters, along with reminders of their keyboard shortcuts. If you need to insert one of these common characters, finding it on the Special Characters tab can be easier than trying to wade through all the characters in a font for it.

Automating Symbol Entry

To make it easier to insert the same symbol again later, you might want to set up an AutoCorrect entry or a shortcut key combination for it.

To create an AutoCorrect entry, follow these steps:

  1. From the Symbol dialog box, click the symbol for which you want to create the entry.
  2. Click AutoCorrect. The AutoCorrect dialog box opens with a new entry already started.
  3. Type the text that should represent the symbol. It is customary to enclose one or two characters in parentheses for AutoCorrect symbol insertion, but this is not required. For example, to create an entry for the ± sign, you might choose (+) as the text to enter (see Figure 3.6).
    Figure 3.6

    Figure 3.6 Add an AutoCorrect entry for a symbol.

  4. Press Enter. The new entry appears on the list.
  5. Click OK to return to the Symbol dialog box.

To assign a shortcut key combination to a symbol, follow these steps:

  1. From the Symbol dialog box, click the symbol for which you want to create the shortcut.
  2. Click Shortcut Key. The Customize Keyboard dialog box appears.
  3. Click in the Press New Shortcut Key text box and then type the key combination you want to use. If that key combination is currently assigned to something else, a Currently Assigned To line will appear, as in Figure 3.7. (You can overwrite a default shortcut key assignment if desired.)
    Figure 3.7

    Figure 3.7 Map a keyboard shortcut to a symbol.

  4. By default, the change will be saved to the Normal.dotm template; if you want it saved only to the open document, open the Save Changes In list and choose the document.
  5. Click the Assign button.
  6. Click Close to return to the Symbol dialog box.

To learn more about creating AutoCorrect entries, see "Automating Corrections with AutoCorrect," p. 111.

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