Editing a document can be a time consuming, laborious task. Microsoft Word has a large array of editing features which can speed up and simplify this process. A few examples of these, with tips on how to use them, are given below.

Selecting text in Word
To be able to perform many of the operations available in Microsoft Word you have to select the text you want to work with. Once the text is selected it is displayed inside a coloured bar with the text in the opposite colour. The text can be deselected by clicking anywhere in the document. The most common way to select text is to click at the beginning of the selection, hold down the mouse button and drag the cursor to the end of the selection. This method is efficient when selecting small amounts of text. However, when selecting larger amounts of text, particularly if there is more than can fit on one screen, this method can be very difficult as Word automatically scrolls very fast when you reach the bottom of the window and so stopping at the correct location can prove difficult. In this situation it is easier to use the following method:

  • Click to put the cursor at the beginning of the text you want to select.
  • Use the scroll bar to scroll to the end of the text you want to select, leaving the flashing cursor at the beginning.
  • Hold down the SHIFT key and click at the end of the text. All the text between the two clicks should now be selected.

You could also try the following options to select pieces of text, each based on holding down a key or clicking a specific number of times:

  • Select one word - double click anywhere in the word
  • Select a sentence - hold down the CONTROL key and click anywhere in the sentence
  • Select a paragraph - triple click anywhere in the paragraph
  • Select the entire document - hold down the CONTROL key and press A

Drag and drop text
Rather than using the cut and paste tools to move text from one part of your document to another you can drag and drop text, a much faster editing technique. Select the word, words, sentence or paragraph you want to move. Once selected click on the selected text again, this time holding the mouse button down. Using the mouse, drag the cursor to the position where you want to place the text. If you have done this correctly, then as you move the text you will notice a small box trailing along behind the cursor. When you have the flashing cursor in the required position release the mouse button and the selected text will move. This is essentially the same as cutting and pasting the text, but is much faster. However, be warned that it can be confusing to those who are not good at selecting text with the mouse. If you get halfway through making a selection and then click on it in an attempt to complete it, Word thinks you want to move the partial selection, which can produce some very unusual and unwanted results. If you wish, you can turn off drag and drop in the Options part of the Tools menu. Click on the Edit tab and uncheck the 'Drag-and-drop text editing' box.

Speedy text editing
The CONTROL key can be combined with other keystrokes to speed up text editing as follows:

  • CONTROL key with left or right arrow keys - moves the cursor left or right one word at a time
  • CONTROL key with delete key - deletes one word at a time from the right of the cursor
  • CONTROL key with the backspace key - deletes one word at a time from the left of the cursor
  • CONTROL key with the enter key - inserts a hard page break

Using the spell check
The spelling and grammar check is available on the standard toolbar and also under the Tools menu and is an important tool when it comes to editing documents. In Microsoft Word the spelling and grammar are checked as you type with misspelled words, which are underlined with a wavy red line, whilst grammar errors are highlighted with a wavy green underline. The main options provided within the spell check are as follows:

  • Change - by selecting this button the misspelled word will be changed to the suggestion offered by the spell checker.
  • Change All - this option will change all occurrences of the misspelled word throughout the document to the suggestion offered by the spell checker. This can be useful but care should be taken as if the misspelling you are correcting also appears within another word then this spelling will also be changed. For example, if you select to change every occurrence of 'mista' to 'mister' then if 'mistake' occurred in your document it would be changed to 'misterke'.
  • Ignore - this button ignores the misspelling of a word for a single occurrence.
  • Ignore All - this options ignores the misspelling of a word for all occurrences throughout the document.

The spell check window will also allow you to type in your own correction and ignore the change it suggests. To manually change the spelling of a word in this way, double click on the word and you will then be able to retype it correctly.

Be warned, however, that not all misspellings will be identified. If there are two spellings for a word (often with very different meanings) using the wrong one will not be picked up. For example, the spell checker will not correct 'there' for 'their', 'ewe' for 'you', or even 'for' when the correct use should be 'four', so a thorough proof reading is still essential!