Keyboard shortcuts every college student should know

We humans are funny.  No matter how easy something is, we are always looking for a shortcut.  This could stem from a genuine desire to be as effective as possible… but then again, it could come from laziness.  You may have heard the saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”  But swapping the word “necessity” for “laziness” sounds more accurate.

But we’re getting off track now… the point is, we are always on the lookout for a good shortcut!  Take this common scenario for example:

Task: Print homework.

Steps to print: Move mouse and click on the print button.  Alternatively, place finger on track pad and move cursor to click on the print button. When the print window opens up, confirm action.  Done.

Human (usually in a hurry because homework is always printed at the last minute): I have to move my hand off the keyboard? There’s got to be an easier way!

Guess what?  Good news! There IS a shortcut!  Instead of moving your hand all the way over to the mouse, you can simply press Ctrl + P.  The print window will open, you confirm action by pressing the Enter key.  Done.

The truth is, that each button on your program screen can be accessed by a corresponding keyboard shortcut.  By learning a the most common ones you can really speed up your college paper writing and editing. 

Below are 10 commonly used keyboard shortcuts for Microsoft Word.

microsoft keyboard

  • Alt + Tab: Switch between open programs
  • F7 Key: Spell check
  • Ctrl + B: Bold selected text
  • Ctrl + C: Copy the selected item or text
  • Ctrl + I: Italicize selected text
  • Ctrl + O: Open a new document
  • Ctrl + P: Print a document
  • Ctrl + S: Save a document
  • Ctrl + U: Underline selected text
  • Ctrl + V: Paste copied item or text

A printable version is available for download here.

Almost every key on your keyboard has more than one function!  From the letter keys to the number pad and all the mystery keys across the top of your keyboard – combine them with your Alt, Shift, or Ctrl key, and miracles (or disasters – depending on the case) happen!

Mac users, you’ll notice you don’t have a Ctrl key on your keyboard.  Don’t despair!  You have shortcuts also!  As a general rule, on a Mac computer the Command key is the equivalent of the most Ctrl key.

The Mac shortcuts vary slightly but are very similar as you can see below.

  • Shift + Command + Tilde (~): Switch between open windows
  • Command + Semicolon (;):Spell checkmac keyboard
  • Command + B:Bold selected text
  • Command + C: Copy selected text
  • Command + I:Italicize selected text
  • Command + N: Open a new document
  • Command + P: Print current document
  • Command + S: Save current document
  • Command + U:Underline selected text
  • Command + V: Paste copied item or text

You can download a printable version here.

Familiarize yourself with these before you get neck-deep in assignments!  You will be surprised how quickly you can make tweaks and edits when you learn how to use your keyboard effectively.

These are just a tiny sample of the most common shortcuts.  If you are really interested in ditching the mouse and track pad, there are comprehensive lists available online.  A quick Google search will help you find what you need.  Or if you’re looking for a particular shortcut just type in “keyboard shortcut for {your command choice}” and you’re on your way!

Here’s to making college term papers a tiny bit easier!

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