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.

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.
Shortcuts work no matter what keyboard you are using and no matter what software you are using. Photo Source: Unsplash

Shortcut Keys on Mac

Mac users may or may not be aware that their computers offer many of the same functions as a Windows device, but with slightly different symbols or combinations of keys.

For instance, if you have a Macintosh keyboard, you'll notice that there are some completely different images on the keys - it can be like another language!

There is no use in us trying to describe what these keys look like, take a look at the image below which clarifies which symbol corresponds to which command or instruction when using Mac OS Snow Leopard or Lion.

These are the function keys you'll need when working on a Mac device.
If using a Mac, look out for these features. Image sourced from

Now for the interesting bit - how to use them when processing words! provides an extensive list of commands and shortcuts for Mac users, and below are just a few of the more commonly used ones.

Command+A Selects all items in the active window (icon view), all items in the column (column view), or all items in the list (cover flow view)
Command+C Copies selected items
Command+D Duplicates the selected item(s)
Command+F Displays the Find dialog
Command+M Minimizes the active window
Command+N Opens a new Finder window
Command+O Opens (or launches) the selected item
Command+V Pastes items from the Clipboard
Command+W Closes the active window
Command+X Cuts the selected items
Command+Z Undoes the last action (if possible)
Command+Del Moves selected items to the Trash
Command+Shift+Q Logs you out
Command+Shift+Del Deletes the contents of the Trash

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 in the leader of the Windows market - Microsoft Word. 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

Where To Find IT Lessons For Novices

If you find anything to do with computers a bit overwhelming, then don't be scared to do a class to help you on your way.

There's no shame in not being up to speed with technology because the field is advancing at such a rate that most of us are always learning something new as we go along!

With millennials being so familiar with tech and having grown up with the Internet, PCs and smart technology, there are so many teachers out there able to help. If you have a child or grandchild, the chances are that they can show you some of the basics, but if you don't want to burden anyone with this new challenge you have set yourself, then you'll be pleased to know that there are various courses for all levels, including IT lessons for beginners.

Home and Learn

Home and Learn is a company offering free Information Technology tutorials on various IT programs (they also offer a general introduction to computers to people who've never sat at a desk before!). Their Microsoft Word training is made up of twelve modules, which you can work your way through at your own pace. Alternatively, you can pick and choose the sections that are relevant to you.

Note that you may need to do a bit working backwards before you can move forward, as some functions require you to know how to do other basic functions.

Here is the course outline:

Section One - Get Started with Microsoft Word

1.1 How to Open Microsoft Word

1.2 Finding Your Way Around

1.3 Typing Your First Letter

1.4 How to Save Your Work

1.5 Highlighting Techniques

1.6 Opening Word Documents

1.7 Add an Address To A Letter

1.8 Spelling and Grammar Checking

Section Two - Document Formatting

2.1 Crime Statistics Document

2.2 Bold Text

2.3 Italics and Underline

2.4 Setting Tab Stop Positions

2.5 Creating Bulleted Lists

2.6 Working With Fonts

2.7 Setting Up Page Margins

Section Three - Copy and Paste

3.1 Techniques for Cutting Text

3.2 Cut and Paste Techniques

3.3 Copy and Paste Techniques

Section Four - Clip Art

4.1 Inserting Clip art

4.2 How to Resize and Move Clip Art

Section Five - Multi-Page Documents

5.1 Downloading a Text File

5.2 Setting Up Page Margings and Tab Stops

5.3 How to Insert a Text File

5.4 Setting Up Headers and Footers

5.5 Print Preview in Word 2007 and Word 2010

Section Six - How to Create a Booklet

6.1 Downloading the Stories

6.2 Creating Your Own Word Style

6.3 Page Breaks And Section Breaks

6.4 Adding a Cover Page

6.5 Adding a Contents Page

6.6 Working With Section Breaks

6.7 Headers And Section Breaks

Section Seven - Microsoft Word Shapes

7.1 Word Shapes - Create a Logo

7.2 Logo Continued

7.3 Word Art

7.4 Completing The Logo

Section Eight - Letterheads and Templates in Microsoft Word

8.1 Create a Letterhead

8.2 Adding Columns to a Page

8.3 Saving Word Documents as a Template

Section Nine - Mail Merge

9.1 Create a Mail Merge Data Source

9.2 Create a Mail Merge Letter

Section Ten - Microsoft Word Tables

10.1 Tables in Microsoft Word

10.2 Table Styles

Section Eleven - Document Collaboration

11.1 Document Collaboration

11.2 Accepting and Rejecting Changes

Section Twelve - Word Options

12.1 Displaying The Word Options

12.2 Changing The Language Settings

12.3 Proofing Options

12.4 Advanced Options

12.5 The Quick Access Toolbar

12.6 Keyboard Shortcuts

IT College Courses

If you want to complete training in the field and gain a recognised qualification, whether for your CV or for your own personal achievement, you can sign up for a course with a training centre like Pitman. Contact your local Pitman to find out which courses are on offer and where to go to complete your tuition.

Pitman Training

About the Microsoft Office IT Diploma

"The computer skills employers are seeking

To stand out in today’s demanding business world, you’ll need to demonstrate that your computer skills are superior to those around you. So our Office IT Diploma is designed to equip you with the essential IT skills you’ll need to be a highly valued member of any team. You’ll learn how to master the most widely used computer software programs and gain excellent keyboard skills to ensure you can keep up with the fast pace of a thriving office environment.

Progress your career with our diploma

Our Office IT Diploma will give you a great foundation to take your career in any direction. You’ll be able to demonstrate that you have a sound understanding of the widely used Microsoft packages and that you can communicate effectively in a professional business environment. The diploma will teach you excellent computer keyboard skills and speed development – ensuring you can type quickly and accurately using the correct technique. You’ll also learn how to master Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint and Excel. In fact, with your completed diploma, you’ll have invaluable skills which will help you get a rewarding job with good career prospects.

What will you get in return?

Businesses throughout Ireland and the UK recognise the Pitman Training name as a sign that you have been trained to the very highest level. So with your Office IT Diploma, you’ll have world-class skills to get a highly valued, well paid job in any office."

IT Lessons With Superprof

With over 1.5 million highly motivated and passionate tutors, Superprof is the largest tutoring community in the UK.

Every search of the Superprof website is tailored to the student’s situation. The platform takes your geographical location into account and displays the tutors closest to your place of residence first.

So if you’re looking for an IT tutor in London, we can assure you that your search results for face-to-face lessons will not feature any tutors from elsewhere in the UK.

We believe that pupils should have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the methodology of each tutor, so that they can make a decision based on their strengths and weaknesses and whether they will be tutored according to their learning style.

Finding a tutor with Superprof gives you a great idea of the teaching methods of an educator as you can read about their qualifications, experience and areas of expertise. Plus, you get one hour of free tuition to test the waters with your chosen tutor first. This will involve meeting your tutor, asking questions relevant to their teaching methods and give you the chance to work out if they are the right person for you.

Of course, not everyone uses Microsoft Word, there are naturally many alternative word processors and many of our IT-savvy tutors are familiar with the range. When searching for a course or tutor, be sure to specify which software you are using so that you can get the right training for you.

Need an Information Technology teacher?

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