By default, Word doesn’t allow you to quickly select sentences using the keyboard. However, you can add keyboard shortcuts for some “hidden” commands available in Word that allow you to select entire sentences and jump through a document a sentence at a time.

To add keyboard shortcuts that allow you to select entire sentences or move through your document a sentence at a time, right-click on the ribbon and select “Customize the Ribbon…” from the popup menu.

The “Customize Ribbon” page displays on the “Word Options” dialog box. Click “Customize” under the list of commands next to “Keyboard shortcuts.”

The “Customize Keyboard” dialog box displays. In this example, we will set up a keyboard shortcut for selecting the entire sentence to the right of the insertion point. In the “Categories” list, select “All Commands.” Select “SentRightExtend” from the “Commands” list. Put the cursor in the “Press new shortcut key” edit box and press the shortcut you want to use to select a sentence to the right of the insertion point. For our example, we chose Alt + Shift + Right. Click “Assign” to assign the shortcut to this action.

NOTE: You may notice that the keyboard shortcut you select may already be assigned to another action. If it is, this action is listed next to “Currently assigned to” below the “Current keys” list box. In our case, the shortcut we selected is already assigned to “OutlineDemote.” However, if the action already assigned is not one you use much, you can replace it with the SentRightExtend command.

The keyboard shortcut is added to the “Current keys” list box. Click “Close” to close the “Customize Keyboard” dialog box.

You are returned to the “Word Options” dialog box. Click “OK” to close it.

Now, you can select an entire sentence to the right of the insertion point, simply by pressing Alt + Shift + Right Arrow. To add shortcuts for selecting an entire sentence to the left of the insertion point and for stepping through your document a sentence at a time in either direction, follow the steps above again selecting the following commands from the “Commands” list and specifying a shortcut key for each. The following shortcut keys are suggestions, but you can choose your own.

Action Commands Shortcut Key
Step right a sentence at a time SentRight Alt+Right Arrow
Select the sentence to the left of the insertion point SentLeftExtend Shift+Alt+Left Arrow
Select the sentence to the right of the insertion point SentRightExtend Shift+Alt+Right Arrow

There is a another way to select chunks of text in Word. When you press “F8” once, you turn on “Extend” mode. Pressing “F8” a second time selects the current word. When you press “F8” a third time, the current sentence is selected. Pressing “F8” a fourth time selects the current paragraph, and a fifth time selects the whole document. Note that “F8” selects the text as you move through your document.

Lori Kaufman Lori Kaufman
Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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