5 Keyboard Shortcuts to Help You Write and Edit with Ease

"Keep your fingers vigorously working away at your craft without interruption." – Stefanie Flaxman

We’re all guilty of it at some point. I know I certainly am.

Glamorizing writing is an easy trap to fall into …

You forget about the countless hours of drafting and imagine a cushy writing life where the right words flow effortlessly from your finger tips as you sit in your ideal setting and sip on your favorite beverage.

Those moments do come along, so it’s important to savor them when they do — and then continue working to strengthen your ability to write with such ease. 🙂

Just for fun, the five keyboard shortcuts I’m going to share with you today will indulge that writing life fantasy a bit … by helping keep your fingers vigorously working away at your craft without interruption.

1. Select text

When I’m reviewing a draft, I often see what I want the text to look like faster than I can rearrange it to fit my vision.

So, to edit as quickly as possible, I can use keyboard commands instead of moving my hand over to the trackpad on my laptop.

Once I’ve selected a portion of text, I can copy or cut it, and then paste it somewhere else in the draft. We’ll get to those actions next.

For all the keyboard shortcuts below, a plus symbol (+) will be used to show that you press one key first and then another to get your desired result.

To select text on a Mac

Place your cursor on either side of the text that you want to select, then you can choose from the key combinations below to highlight the proper section:

  • Shift key + Left Arrow key (+ Up Arrow key or Down Arrow key to select a larger portion of text)
  • Shift + Right Arrow key (+ Up Arrow key or Down Arrow key to select a larger portion of text)

You press down the Shift key and then tap on the appropriate Arrow keys until you have your selection. You can also keep the Arrow keys pressed down, but tapping gives you more precise control over which text you highlight.

When you release your fingers from the Shift and Arrow keys, the text will remain highlighted, awaiting your next action for what you want to do with the selection.

To select text on a PC

It’s the same!

2. Copy text

Once you’ve selected text, you might want to copy it so you can paste it and put the exact same word or phrase elsewhere.

To copy text on a Mac

Command (⌘) + C

To copy text on a PC

Ctrl + C

3. Cut text

Sometimes you’ll want to delete or cut a selection of text.

Delete or Backspace keys do the trick if you just want to delete, but cutting text allows you to paste it in a different part of your draft.

To cut text on a Mac

Command (⌘) + X

To cut text on a PC

Ctrl + X

4. Paste text

If you’ve selected text, then copied or cut it and now want to paste it, here’s how you accomplish that.

To paste text on a Mac

Command (⌘) + V

To paste text on a PC

Ctrl + V

5. Find a word or phrase

When you read your text aloud or proofread from the end of your document to the beginning, you often notice words you overuse.

You might also spot misspellings or style errors you’ve made multiple times.

To locate specific words or phrases in your draft, you can use the “find” function that makes a search box appear on your screen. It will list the number of instances of the words or phrases that you type in the box and direct you to each.

To find a word or phrase on a Mac

Command (⌘) + F

To find a word or phrase on a PC

Ctrl + F

What’s your favorite keyboard shortcut?

With practice, these shortcuts become second nature and you don’t even realize you use them.

Is there a keyboard command that keeps you in the flow of writing and editing? Perhaps one that saves you time or helps you improve your content?

Share with us in the comments below.

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