Do you have a big project idea, do you want to write a book or create an impressive report. Maybe you just want to save time because you have a deadline and a piece of work due. Perhaps you just need to write a letter to a loved one but only have 5 minutes to do it. IT for beginners can seem like a mystery when you know that people do this every day so quickly, but for you, it seems to take forever just to type one page.

These people type millions of words on their PC's so fast that it makes your fingers hurt just thinking about it. What do they know that you don't? Sure they may type faster but what other secret skills are they hiding that allows them to be so fast and efficient when creating documents.

Microsoft Office, Libre office, Page and other amazing word processing software are used day in and day out to create the worlds most important documents and the simplest. While word processing takes time for all of us, there are some secrets that the speedy typists haven't shared, until now. Read on because I am going to share with you how you can optimise and speed up your document creation even if you are not the fastest typist. How? With shortcuts.

Shortcuts save time with file creation.
Shortcuts are effective ways for you to save time by doing certain actions on your keyboard. Photo Source: Unsplash

What Are Shortcuts?

No, I am not talking about the faster route that you take home through the park. Although this analogy does serve to describe what shortcuts are when used on your PC. Shortcuts are effective ways for you to save time by doing certain actions on your keyboard. Which helps you to get an end result within your document without having to go a long way around using the menu. It usually consists of a combination of keys that are pressed together to get the desired end result.

Why Use Shortcuts In Word Processing And Document Creation?

Shortcuts may seem like they couldn't save you much time, what's a few seconds here or there. But expert typists know that those few seconds make all the difference, especially when creating longer documents. Why? Because of the compound effect. A shortcut that saves 10 seconds each time it is used will saves a minute or more when used 6 times. With all of the formatting and effects that are used while creating a document are time-consuming. Shortcuts help you to implement them in record time.

Shortcuts help you in all circumstances, whether you are using Windows or Mac (iOS), No matter what kind of computer skills you have, no matter what keyboard you are using and no matter what software you are using. Thankfully shortcuts are somewhat universal, so you don't have to learn new shortcuts each time you change software, devices or operating systems.

If you think shortcuts aren’t useful, think about why you use wifi, remote controls, apps, emails, mobile phones, microwaves, fast food restaurants, bookmarks or the actual shortcuts that you take on your way home. All of these things shave just a bit of time off the longer version of the activity.

But saving time isn't the only reason to use short cuts, it is also because it is more comfortable. Don't you prefer to type and press send on an email, instead of getting out your note pad, writing a letter, folding the letter, putting it in the envelope, putting a stamp on it, walking to the post box, dropping it in then waiting a week for it to arrive? They call it snail mail for a reason. Isn't it also more comfortable to just push a button on the remote control rather than getting up, changing the channel, sitting down, realising the volume is too low, getting up again, just to watch the TV. Shortcuts help us with all parts of life, to make it easier and more comfortable.

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What Are The Primary Keys For Shortcuts?

Some keys on your keyboard help you to get things done within your document. They are shortcuts that you can use to speed up document creation. They are not frequently used in key combinations (although they can be). They generally serve a special purpose within your document.

  1. Tab key: The tabular key is used to change the paragraph margins by moving the cursor to the next tab stop.
  2. Space bar: Is used to create blank spaces between words, to make sense of your text,
  3. The Esc key: The escape (ESC) key is used to exit a document or full-screen mode,
  4. The Enter key: The enter or return key is used to go to the next line or to go ahead with a command.

On the windows keyboard:

  1. F keys: Function keys are at the top of many keyboards and run from F1 to F12 normally. They have a programmed function depending on the operating system or program that you are using. For example, F10 activates the menu bar of an open window, F5 refreshes a page, F2 renames the selected file, F1 opens help information.  It is important to note that F keys can be used alone or in combinations.
  2. Home key: takes you to the start of the line
  3. End key: goes to the end of the line

Some keys on your keyboard have a dual function, if you look at your keyboard, you can see some keys have more than 1 mark on them which indicates that they have a dual function when paired with primary shortcut keys. So when pressed alone they will provide you with one result, and when paired with a primary short cut key they will output another result.

Shortcuts are somewhat universal, use them anywhere.
Shortbuts work no matter what keyboard you are using and no matter what software you are using. Photo Source: Unsplash

The Rule Of Most Primary Shortcut Keys

  1. Most primary shortcut keys do nothing if pressed alone.
  2. When pressed with a letter, number, symbol and dual keys it will produce a different result than when that key is pressed alone.
  3. You can program your own shortcuts depending on which program you are using
  4. The results can change depending on which program you are using.
  5. You have to press the keys simultaneously, and the ‘+’ you see in the ‘recipe’ or combination guide is to indicate that they should be pressed simultaneously not that you have to use the + key as well.

Let’s take a look at the primary shortcut keys and learn their functions.

  1. The Alt key: this key is used to give alternative (ALT) functions to other keys on the keyboard.
  2. The Ctrl key (CMD on Mac): This key is used to control (CTRL) a special operation when pressed with another key it will give a different result.
  3. The shift key: The key is a modifier key, it changes the state of things within your text and can also be used for longer shortcut combinations.
  4. The FN key (not on all keyboards): This key is another modifier key called the function (FN) key, it activates a secondary purpose of dual keys. This is often in another colour like blue and all of the keys it controls will also be in the same colour.
  5. F Keys: function keys can also work with other keys as well as working alone.
Some keys on your keyboard help you to get things done
Shortcuts help us with all parts of life, to make it easier and more comfortable. Photo Source: Unsplash

Hopefully, you are excited to learn and practice some of the most commonly used keyboard shortcuts. Learning these combinations will help you to become a master of document creation. Here are some shortcut combinations that you can try while using your word processing software.

Common Shortcuts:

Shortcuts that you can easily use numerous times per day, which are very useful are as follows.

  1. Bold text: Ctrl + B
  2. Italic text:  Ctrl + I
  3. Underline text: Ctrl + U
  4. Cut text: Ctrl+X
  5. Cut selected item: Shift+Del
  6. Copy text: Ctrl + C
  7. Copy selected item: Ctrl+Ins (insert key)
  8. Paste text: Ctrl + V
  9. Paste: Shift+Ins
  10. New Document: Ctrl+N
  11. Open a File: Ctrl+O
  12. Save your document: Ctrl+S
  13. Insert a page break: Ctrl+Enter
  14. Redo last action: Ctrl+Y
  15. Cancel the last action or command: Ctrl+Z
  16. Insert hyperlink: Ctrl+K
  17. Searching / Finding something: Ctrl+F
  18. Print a document: Ctrl+P
  19. Select all text: Ctrl+A
  20. Open the file menu: Alt+F
  21. Open the edit options: Alt+E
  22. Switch between open programs: Alt+Tab
  23. Go to the begging on the document: Ctrl+home
  24. Go to the end of the document: Ctrl+End
  25. Highlights back to the beginning on the line: shift+home
  26. Highlights forward to end of the line: Shift+end
  27. Moves one word left at a time: Ctrl+Left arrow
  28. Moves one word right at a time: Ctrl+Right arrow
  29. Close the current program: Alt+F4
  30. Open Properties of the item: Alt+Enter

Short cut tips for the beginner computer user:

  • You can also customize all shortcuts in your settings if you are a very large user of text processing software.
  • You can see the shortcut combinations written next to the corresponding action in the menu. If you use something a lot learn its shortcut to make your typing life easier.
  • To activate special character located on number keys or on symbol keys press the Shift key+ the number or symbol key.
  • To get a capital letter, you can press the Shift key

While it can seem overwhelming at first, especially as a beginner to the PC. Once you have learnt these shortcuts, you will wonder how you ever lived without them. ALT+F4

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