Instructions How to Format in Microsoft Word

(Click here to view this 8 page series as a simplified SlideShare presentation.)

Microsoft Word is very prevalent in the translation industry. It works closely with translation memory tools like Trados and is used by many customers of translation agencies, so it is important to know all that it can accomplish and how to work with it quickly.

Not only is it important to know how to use this software quickly and efficiently, but how to properly format the content so that it accurately reflects the source documents you are translating from.

We are paid by the word, after all (so time is money), and presentation is important and a reflection of your professionalism.

The below was written for Word 2003 or earlier, because I don’t like the set up of later versions, but the same menu items should remain (although structured differently), while the shortcut keys largely remain the same.

Customize Your Shortcut Keys

ms-word-formatting-instructions-translation-jobs-work_image001First to set up your toolbar and shortcuts. If you click on any of the file menus, the dropdown list will show you a list of commands with the shortcut key on the right, such as Edit > Paste would be ctrl+v in the example picture below. Many are set by default, although you can override them.

To create your own shortcut keys, on the menu bar, go to Tools > Customize and click on the Keyboard button.


The Categories box on the top left of the Customize Keyboard window will reflect the menu bar, while the Command box to the right of it will show the available commands for each menu item. Or you can select All Commands in the Category box to view all of them/more.

Once you find the command you want to create a shortcut key for, click with your mouse inside the Press New Shortcut Key box, press the combination of keyboard keys you want to use (such as ctrl+o for Open File), and then press the Assign button. It should appear in the Current Keys box to the left. In this manner you can override existing and already assigned shortcut keys, or create new ones.

Here is a list of what I consider the most important shortcut keys and the ones I chose to use (my own custom shortcuts marked in orange, the unmarked ones should be default and already exist).

Create new file – ctrl+n
Open existing file – ctrl+o
Save file – ctrl+s
Close file – ctrl+w
Make selected text bold or start new text bold – ctrl+b
Same but italic – ctrl+i
Same but underlined – ctrl+u
Align text left – ctrl+l
Align text centre – ctrl+e
Align text right – ctrl+r
Copy text/picture/anything – ctrl+c
Paste – ctrl+v
Copy formatting of selected text – ctrl+shift+c
Paste formatting of copied formatting – ctrl+shift+v
Paste special (I usually choose Unformatted Text from the resulting selection box, so that whatever text I am pasting is automatically the same as the format of the text I am pasting into) – ctrl+alt+v
Return formatting of selected paragraph to default (must include the backwards P) – ctrl+shift+n
Return formatting of selected text to default – ctrl+space bar
Change case of selected text (keep pressing to toggle between the three options – all caps, no caps, or one first letter capitalised of each word) – Shift+F3
Search for text – ctrl+f
Search and replace text – ctrl+h
Undo last action (in case you make a mistake – you can go back many steps) – ctrl+z
Redo last action (basically move back forward if you went back too far) – ctrl+y
Select entire table – ctrl+alt+t
Delete row of table – alt+r
Show or hide ruler – ctrl+alt+r
View document in Page Width – ctrl+alt+w
Index text to the right (according to the tab marks) – ctrl+m
Push indent back to the left – ctrl+shift+m
Push hanging indent to the right – ctrl+t
Push hanging indent back to the left – ctrl+shift+t
Select all text in document – ctrl+a
Supercript text (such as for footnotes) – ctrl+2
Subscript text – ctrl+1
View document statistics (for quick word counts etc) – alt+s
Page break (don’t press Enter until you start a new page because, not only is it not professional, but your customer can be using a different printer or paper size, in which case everything will change) – ctrl+Enter
Line break (remains within the same paragraph or bullet etc., indents with a hanging indent) – shift+Enter
Normal view – ctrl+page up
Page Layout view – ctrl+page down
Jump to other panectrl+F1

The rest of the more common commands I do not use so frequently, so I put them in the toolbars instead, explained as follows.

Next page – Customize your Toolbar

(Click here to view this 8 page series as a simplified SlideShare presentation.)

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