How to Select and Deselect Blocks of Text in Word 2010 - dummies

How to Select and Deselect Blocks of Text in Word 2010

By Dan Gookin

Word 2010 offers you many ways to mark text as a block in your document. After you select text in a Word document as a block, you can also deselect that block of text so that it’s no longer marked.

The secret to using the keyboard to select text is the Shift key.

Shifty Selection Wizardry
To Select This Press This
A character at a time to the right of the insertion
Shift+right arrow (→)
A character at a time to the left of the insertion pointer Shift+left arrow (←)
A block of text from the insertion pointer to the end of the
A block of text from the insertion pointer to the beginning of
the line
A block of text from the insertion pointer to a line above Shift+up arrow
A block of text from the insertion pointer to a line below Shift+down arrow

If you don’t want to use the keyboard, just look to the computer mouse: You can mark text with the mouse by selecting vast swaths of words with a wide sweep of your hand, by clicking a number of times, or by using the old click-and-drag routine.

Dragging over Word 2010 text to select it

Here’s the most common way to select text by using the computer mouse:

  1. Point the mouse at the start of the text block.

  2. Click and drag the mouse over the text you want to select.


    While you drag, text becomes highlighted, or selected.

  3. Release the mouse — stop the dragging — to mark the end of the block.

You can use these steps to select any old block size in your document.

This selection technique works best when you use the mouse to drag over only the text you can see on the screen. When you try to select text beyond what you see on the screen, you have to select and scroll — which can be unwieldy; the mouse scrolls the text up and down quickly and, well, things get out of hand.

Selecting Word 2010 text by clicking the mouse

A speedy way to select specific sizes of chunks of text is to match the power of the mouse with the dexterity of your index finger. This table explains some clicking-and-selecting techniques worth noting.

Mouse Selection Arcana
To Select This Chunk of Text Click the Mouse Thus
A single word Point at the word with your mouse and double-click.
A line Move the mouse pointer into the left margin beside the line you
want to select. The mouse pointer changes to an arrow pointing
northeastward. Click the mouse to select a line of text or drag the
mouse up or down to select several lines.
A sentence Point the mouse at the sentence and Ctrl+click. (Hold down the
Ctrl key and click the mouse.)
A paragraph Point the mouse somewhere in the paragraph’s midst and
Selecting Word text with the old poke-and-point

Here’s the best way to select a chunk of text of any size, especially when that chunk of text is larger than what you can see on the screen at one time:

  1. Click the mouse to set the insertion pointer wherever you want the block to start — the anchor point.

  2. Scroll through your document by using the scroll bar.

    You must use the scroll bar to scroll through your document. If you use the cursor-movement keys, you reposition the insertion pointer, which isn’t what you want.

  3. To mark the end of the block, hold down the Shift key and click the mouse where you want the block to end.

    The text from the insertion pointer to wherever you clicked the mouse is selected as a block.

Using the F8 key to mark a block of text in Word

If you can remember that the F8 key on the computer’s keyboard can be used to mark text, you can exploit one of the most powerful but seldom used text-marking tools that Word has to offer.

Consider these steps the next time you need to mark a block of text:

  1. Position the insertion pointer at the start of the block of text.

  2. Press the F8 key.

    The F8 key drops anchor and marks one end of the block.

  3. Use the keyboard’s cursor keys to select the block of text.

    Press a letter key to select text up to and including that letter. If you press N, you select all text up to and including the next N in your document. Nice. Nifty. Neat-o.

    Word highlights text from the point where you dropped anchor with F8 to wherever you move the insertion pointer.

  4. Do something with the selected block of text.

    Word remains in extended selection mode until you do something with the block.

To cancel the extended selection, press the Esc key. That action ends extended selection mode and keeps the block of text marked.

Blocking the whole Word document

The biggest block you can mark is an entire document. Word has a specific command to do it, to select all text in a document:

  • From the Home tab, click the Editing button, then choose Select→Select All.

  • Press Ctrl+A.

  • Press the F8 key five times.

  • Press the obscure key combo Ctrl+5 (the 5 on the numeric keypad).

Deselecting a block of Word text

When you mark a block of text and change your mind, you must unmark, or deselect, the text. Here are a few handy ways to do it:

  • Move the insertion pointer.

  • Press the Esc key and then the left-arrow (<–) key.

  • Press Shift+F5.