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Function Keys in Word 97-2016

General Discussion of Function Keys

In the early days of word processing on computers, the function or F- keys were often the primary way of telling the computer what you wanted done. (An exception was WordStar which predated DOS.) There were originally ten function keys and they were grouped on the left side of the keyboard. Their current assignments spring from this history.

86-key keyboard with 10 function keys

Early programs would come with a template that would fit around them to describe their functions or with stickers that would go on top of the keys. These are still available for many programs. Because the original keyboard came with ten rather than twelve function keys the functions assigned to the F11 and F12 keys are also assigned to (more complex) variations on other keys. Some modern computers have a special Fn key to allow the function keys to be used or to give them additional functions. See below if this is your situation.

The function keys, in some cases, predate the existence of menus.

With this history in mind, let's take a look at the function keys for Word. Each function key can be modified (as can ordinary keys) with the Shift, Ctrl & Alt keys (and combinations of these). Many function keys have keyboard equivalents with the ordinary letter keys in combination with the Ctrl key.

Macintosh

Generally on the Mac the Option key fills the function of the Alt key; the Cmd key fills the function of the Ctrl key.

 

F1

(modifiers)

Get Help or visit Office.com

F2

(modifiers)

Move text or graphics
Shift Reveal Formatting (or context-sensitive help) Shift Copy text (Ctrl+C)
Ctrl 2007-2013 - Collapse/Expand Ribbon

97-2003 - Hide/show helper pane

Ctrl Print Preview
Ctrl+Shift   Ctrl+Shift  
Alt Go to Next Field Alt  
Alt+Shift Go to Previous Field Alt+Shift Save document (Ctrl+S) (Shift+F12)
Ctrl+Alt Display Microsoft System Information Ctrl+Alt Open document (Ctrl+O) (Ctrl+F12)

 

F3

(modifiers)

Insert Building Block / AutoText

F4

(modifiers)

Repeat the last action (Ctrl+Y)
Shift Change text Case (cycles through choices) Shift Repeat last Find or GoTo action (similar to arrows on browse object)
Ctrl Cut to the Spike Ctrl Close the window (document) (Ctrl+W)
Ctrl+Shift Insert Contents of Spike Ctrl+Shift  
Alt Create an AutoText entry / Building Block Alt Quit Microsoft Word (Quit application)
Ctrl+Alt   Ctrl+Alt  

 

F5

(modifiers)

Go To (page, table, line, bookmark, section, comment, footnote, endnote, field, graphic, equation, object, heading)

F6

(modifiers)

Next open frame or pane
Shift Move to last change in document Shift Previous open frame or pane
Ctrl Restore document window size (i.e. after resizing it) Ctrl Go to next document window
Ctrl+Shift Edit a bookmark Ctrl+Shift Go to previous document window
Alt   Alt Go to next document window
Alt+Shift   Alt+Shift Go to previous document window
Ctrl+Alt   Ctrl+Alt  

 

F7

(modifiers)

Check Spelling and Grammar

F8

(modifiers)

Extend a selection - Select Column
Shift Thesaurus Shift Reduce size of a selection
Ctrl Choose the Move window command (title bar shortcut menu) Ctrl Choose the Size window command (title bar shortcut menu)
Ctrl+Shift Update linked information in a Microsoft Word source document. Ctrl+Shift Extend a selection or block (then press an arrow key)
Alt Next questioned spelling Alt  
Alt+Shift Translation Pane Alt+Shift  
Ctrl+Alt   Ctrl+Alt  

 

F9

(modifiers)

Update Field (Ctrl+Shift+U)

F10

(modifiers)

Show Key Tips - Word 97-2003 menu bar
Shift Reveal Field Code (one level) Shift Display a Shortcut Menu
Ctrl Insert new Empty Field braces { } Ctrl Maximize document window
Ctrl+Shift Unlink a Field (change to text) (Ctrl+6) Ctrl+Shift  
Alt Toggle Field Code Display (all) this is for all fields in all documents and stays like this until toggled again Alt Maximize the program window.
Alt+Shift Do Field Click - Run GOTOBUTTON or MACROBUTTON from the field that displays the field results. (same as double-click?) Alt+Shift Display the menu or message for a smart tag. If more than one smart tag is present, switch to the next smart tag and display its menu or message.
Ctrl+Alt   Ctrl+Alt  

 

F11

(modifiers)

Go to Next Field

F12

(modifiers)

Save As
Shift Go to Previous Field Shift Save (Ctrl+S)
Ctrl Lock Field (Ctrl+3) Ctrl Open (Ctrl+O)
Ctrl+Shift Unlock Field (Ctrl+4) Ctrl+Shift Print Preview (Ctrl+P)
Alt Display Visual Basic Editor - show macro code Alt  
Alt+Shift Start the Microsoft Script Editor Alt+Shift  
Ctrl+Alt   Ctrl+Alt  

Some of these keys (like Alt+F4 to close an application) are intended to be universal among Windows programs. Others are peculiar to Word and its functions. These keys are powerful tools.

Troubleshooting Function Keys

Some computers (especially laptops) assign their own functions to the function keys in their BIOS. If the function keys on your keyboard have little symbols on them in addition to the number, chances are good this is the case with your computer. The computer this is being typed on is an HP Envy which does this. It also has an additional special shift key (fn) which lets the user use the original assignments. So, for instance where the Word function key is Ctrl+F9 to insert a field, it would be, instead, Fn+Ctrl+F9 or Fn, followed by Ctrl+F9. It may also be possible to edit the BIOS so that the fn key is used for the special functions assigned by the computer manufacturer, and the ones showing above work without pressing this extra key.

Also, many Windows utilities hijack (appropriate) certain function keys for their own use. One I use is SnagIt, a screen capture utility. SnagIt lets the user control this. I don't know that all such programs do.

More Keyboard Shortcuts than Function Keys

There are far more shortcut keys built into Word than the function keys. You can find them in help, but it is a long list. You can make a written list if you want. See this article for directions. Here is one such list in a web format.

A number of key combinations have no assigned function and could be easily assigned to call macros, AutoText or other Word functions. This is not difficult to do. No function key has the combination of Ctrl+Alt+Shift assigned. The Ctrl+Alt combination is not assigned for the any of the function keys other than F1 and F2.

Adding / Changing Keyboard Shortcuts in Word

You want to get to the customize keyboard shortcuts dialog.

 

There are a number of ways to get there. They differ depending on whether you have Word 97-2003 or Word 2007-2013.

Word 97-2003

You can reach this by choosing Customize under the Tools menu (or by right clicking on any toolbar). Then Options > Keyboard.

See How to assign a macro or command to a hot-key

Word 2007

You can reach the Customize Keyboard dialog by right-clicking on the Ribbon and selecting "Customize the Quick Action Toolbar." Then click on the keyboard button at the bottom of the dialog that pops up.

Word 2010-2016

You can reach the Customize Keyboard dialog by right-clicking on the Ribbon and selecting "Customize the Ribbon." Then click on the keyboard button at the bottom of the dialog that pops up.

 

Function Key Toolbar in Word 2000-2003

You can get the function keys to display in a special toolbar at the bottom of the screen if you want (something like pressing F3 twice in WP 5.1). The following macro will do this.

Sub ShowMeFunctionKeys()
    Commandbars("Function Key Display").Visible = True
End Sub

The following macro would toggle this display:

Sub ToggleFunctionKeysDisplay()
    With Commandbars("Function Key Display")
        .Visible = Not .Visible
    End With
End Sub

See Macros and VBA for instructions on inserting this macro into your Normal.dot or other template.

In versions 2007 and later there is no equivalent display, but the help system will show function key use, as will a web search: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 - I think these give the same information but am posting all four here because they may be taken down after a time. These show up in a Google search for "keyboard shortcuts Microsoft Word" or "function keys Microsoft Word."

Last updated 14 Mar 2017

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Copyright 2000-2017 Charles Kyle Kenyon

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