Love it or hate it, the Ribbon is here to stay across the Microsoft Office 2007 applications. But as many of us still prefer to use shortcut keys to avoid hunting around the for commonly used functions, it's handy to know what those F keys do. The F keys, or function keys, are located at the top of the keyboard. There are 12 function keys, which can be used on their own or in combination with other keys, and can give you access to some of the most common functions normally accessed using the Word 2007 Ribbon. For example, the F1 key accesses Word 2007 Help and F12 is a shortcut to the Save As command. For those of us who rely on speed, function shortcut keys can help us access those common commands we need to access quickly without using our mouse.

The other F keys perform functions such as Repeat (F4) and Activate the Menu Bar (F10). In combination with the Shift, Control (CTRL), and Alternative (ALT) keys, the function keys create 84 possible shortcuts in Word 2007. However, some key combinations have no function. Many of the more useful of these functions are the Copy Text function (SHIFT+F2), the Save command (SHIFT+F12), and the Display Shortcut Menu function (SHIFT+F10) which is similar to right clicking with the mouse. In this case, however, you wouldn't have to remove your hand from the keyboard to gain access to the shortcut menu.

Similar to the SHIFT+function shortcut keys, the CTRL+function key combination gives access to additional shortcuts in Word 2007. Among the more useful shortcuts are Print Preview (CTRL+F2), Maximise The Document Window (CTRL+F10) and Insert An Empty Field (CTRL+F9).

Again, with the addition of the ALT key, the function keys can perform even more functions in Word 2007. Most Windows users will recognise that ALT+F4 will close Word 2007 but will prompt you to save your work if you haven't already. In fact, ALT+F4 serves to close any application in Windows, not just Word 2007. This particular shortcut can give Word 2007 problems if users attempt to use the Create A New Building Block (ALT+F3) or the Restore The Program Window Size (ALT+F5) shortcuts because of the close proximity of F4 to F3 and F5. It could be a case of the dreaded fat-finger syndrome, synonomous with many keyboard typo errors, so be careful to hit the correct key combination when you use these functions and that you don't accidentally close Word 2007 unexpectedly.

The following shortcut keys require a three-key combination. Some of the more useful SHIFT+CTRL+function shortcuts include Edit A Bookmark (SHIFT+CTRL+F5), Unlink A Field (SHIFT+CTRL+F9), Open The Print Window (SHIFT+CTRL+F12). Notice that you can also Open The Print Window using the CTRL+P shortcut, a key combination that does not use the function keys at all.

Again, using three key combinations, the SHIFT+ALT+function key shortcuts offer even more shortcuts for Word 2007 users. Some of the more popular include Go To Previous Field (ALT+SHIFT+F1), Display The Research Task Pane (ALT+SHIFT+F7), and Display A Menu Or Message For A Smart TAG (ALT+SHIFT+F10). These functions might be more obscure for the average Word 2007 user hence the need to use the inconvenient three-key combination to access these functions.

Finaly, the CTRL+ALT+function shortcuts, like other three-key shortcut combinations, tend to be less used. There are, however, only two. The CTRL+ALT+F1 shortcut brings up the Microsoft System Information window and the CTRL+ALT+F2 shortcut brings up Open Command window on the Microsoft Office Button.

Obviously this is not the full list of function key shortcuts, but it is a useful guide to the most used commands. The function key shortcuts found in Word 2007 can help speed up your use of Word 2007 if you are one of those people who can easily learn key combinations. Obviously, you don't need to memorise them all; only the ones you use most frequently and reserve accessing the rest of Word 2007's functions to the mouse and the Office 2007 Ribbon.