Utilising keyboard shortcuts

by Katharine Mears

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the workshop ‘Advanced Word course for Translators’ run by Galician translator, writer and broadcaster Xosé Castro Roig. This formed part of an ITI Spanish Network training event, which incidentally also proved to be an extremely fruitful day of networking and a great opportunity to put my spoken Spanish into practice!

The Advanced Word session immediately appealed to me as I am the first to admit that I have never progressed far beyond the essential skills required to operate Word as a working translator. It goes without saying that Microsoft Word is an indispensable item (for Windows users) in a translator’s toolkit so it was a no-brainer to take up the chance to master it further.

It will not be possible to cover all the material from the workshop here, so for the purposes of this post I will focus on keyboard shortcuts. Prior to the workshop, I was only making use of five of the most basic shortcuts at the most. As soon as I returned home, armed with many, many more, I decided to make a concerted effort to memorise those I considered most useful. This has proved invaluable to me for two reasons. Firstly, I have recently started to suffer with a painful hand when working a lot with the mouse (despite using an ergonomic vertical model) so I hope that by limiting the use of the mouse as much as possible, by getting to grips with these shortcuts, I will start to see a noticeable difference. Secondly, and something I hadn’t fully taken on board until Xosé pointed it out, is the huge amount of time spent on word processing (rather than translating!) that these shortcuts save. Obviously, the more that can be memorised, the greater these benefits will be.

I have highlighted my top 10 keyboard shortcuts from the session below:

Key combination Action
F4 Repeats the last action taken
Shift + F5 Returns the cursor to its last three positions
Ctrl + Alt + S (Alt + Shift + C to remove split) Splits the document into two windows (so you can view another page immediately above/below)
SHIFT + left arrow/right arrow Selects a character to the right or left of cursor (continue to press arrow key to highlight additional characters)
Ctrl + Shift + left arrow/right arrow Selects a word to the right or left of cursor
Ctrl + Shift + up arrow/down arrow Selects a paragraph
F8 Selects a word (when pressed once)Selects a sentence (when pressed twice)Selects a paragraph (when pressed three times)
Ctrl + K (after highlighting text) Inserts hyperlink
Shift + F3 (after highlighting text) All upper case (when pressed once)All lower case (when pressed twice)Initial letter capitalised (when pressed three times)
Ctrl + Alt + M Inserts a comment

Memorising the shortcuts was far easier than I expected as once I had made the decision to use a certain number on a regular basis and started putting them into practice, I found that I no longer needed a prompt after the third or fourth attempt.

And how about you? Do you make use of keyboard shortcuts and do you have any favourites to add? Let us know in the comments below!

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