tech, simplified.

The Best Microsoft Word Trick You've Never Known

…how to move paragraphs and outline entries with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Keyboard shortcuts are awesome, but only if you know them. The text editing keyboard shortcuts in OS X are one of the best things about it, and formatting shortcuts in Word saved me hours of trying to find the center text option over the years. But what's frustrating is when there's an option to do something that you would have love to have found sooner, only to discover that it'd been there all along years later.

I've been using Microsoft Word for well over a decade, going from typing up essays in high school in Office '97 (which was, admittedly, old at the time) to using Office 2007 and then 2010 in college daily. One of the things I used to fuss about the most was writing outlines in Word. OneNote made it simpler, as did moving to the Mac since Word for Mac has an outlining mode, and in both of those you can drag-and-drop outline entries into the place you want. But in Word, it was a frustration all that time.

This week, I found that there's a very, very simple way to move a paragraph — or outline entry — around in Word: just press alt+shift+up/down, and the line will move up or down. Press the left or right arrows while holding down alt+shift when editing an outline, and you can move an entry deeper into or further out of an outline's levels. I discovered it while trying out Word 2013, and thought it was a great new feature. Nope. It's been in there for quite some time. I found it works in Word 2007, 2010, and 2013 for Windows, and Word 2011 for Mac, and likely works in older versions, though I don't have any around these days to try out. It sadly doesn't work in the Word Web App, though.

It's simple, works very nicely, and is something I'd be sure to use often if I used Word more these days. If you happen to use Byword for Mac, there's a similar feature in it, using ctrl+cmd+up/down. And, there's a geekier move text option in Vim. Otherwise, you'll have to stick to cutting-and-pasting paragraphs and outline entries to the place you want.

Or, you know, fire up Word and move text around with alt+shift+up/down. Now if only Word handled plain text and HTML nicely… (hey, one can wish).

Note for Mac Users: Mission Control uses the ctrl+shift+up/down shortcuts in Lion/Mountain Lion, so you'll need to change those first before you'll be able to move text with this trick in Word for Mac.

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