How did I not know that?! – A selection of the most useful shortcut keys

This semester I have been teaching a writing course at my university. It is a basic academic writing course and the aim is for the learners to know how to write a paragraph by the end of the semester. I encourage the class to keep a writing journal and as part of their final grade they have to submit several assessed paragraphs. These paragraphs should be typed, and as we have PCs in the classroom, they should be typed in a word document.


Over the course of the semester I have become aware that the vast majority of the class are not familiar with basic keyboard functions. In particular, it became apparent that none of them were aware of the shortcut keys. For those of you who are not familiar with the term, shortcut keys are keys which provide an easier and quicker way of navigating and carrying out commands in computer software programs. Many of them can be accessed by pressing the Ctrl key on a PC or the Command key on a Mac. I use a Mac at home but a PC at work, so for the purpose of simplicity, I will just talk about Ctrl + functions.


I therefore started to introduce some of these functions, but prior to doing this I thought I would do a little research. To my surprise, I found several really useful shortcut keys that I wasn’t aware of! I had no idea that Ctrl + K inserts a hyperlink for selected text. In other words, just highlight a word in your document, hold down the Ctrl key and hit K and you will be able to add a hyperlink. How did I not know that?! Anyway, I decided to make a note of some of the most useful and I introduced them to my learners over a series of a few classes, and I am pretty sure they have helped their productivity when writing.


Here is a list of a few of the most commonly used and most useful shortcut keys that work on a Windows PC.

Ctrl + A – This selects all the text in a document or on a webpage.

Ctrl + C – This copies any item that you have selected. If you press Ctrl + A then Ctrl + C, it will copy all the text.

Ctrl + X – This cuts a selected item. The cut command removes the selected data from its original position and keeps it in a temporary place called the clipboard.

Ctrl + V – This will paste and item that you have previously copied or cut.

Ctrl + B  – This changes the selected text to bold.

Ctrl + I   – This changes the selected text to be in italics.

Ctrl + U – This changes the selected text to be underlined.

Ctrl + F  – If you hold Ctrl and press F, it will open a find window for the current document or window.

Ctrl + S  – This will save the current document file.

Ctrl + P – This will print any document.

Ctrl + Home – This is useful if you have a document or webpage which is very long as it will take you to the beginning of document.

Ctrl + End – This takes you to the end of document.

Ctrl + Z – This will undo the previous action you have taken.

As I found out doing a little research, there are many more shortcut key functions. If there are any other useful ones that I have missed, please feel free to let me know.  Also, if you are interested, a colleague wrote an interesting article on the Snipping Tool and you can read it here.