Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Overcoming Automatic Word Selection.

Overcoming Automatic Word Selection

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 20, 2014)

1

Word includes a feature designed to help you select text faster and easier. When you click and drag to select text, Word assumes that if you move the mouse beyond the beginning or end of the current word, you want to start selecting by words. How you turn this capability on and off has been discussed in other issues of WordTips.

Normally this editing feature is quite helpful, but at other times it may complicate exactly what you want to do. For instance, you may want to select the text from the middle to one word to the middle of another. Granted, you could turn off the automatic word selection feature, but that gets bothersome.

Fortunately, by using a little mouse know-how you can inform Word that you only want to select absolute text instead of entire words. As you are moving the mouse, take a look at the behavior of the selection. When the selection jumps out to include the portion of the word you did not want, back up a bit. This causes the selection to shrink to where your cursor is. This works whether you are selecting forwards or backwards in the text.

As an example, imagine you have a sentence "The underwater world is exciting," and want to change it to "The undersea habitat is inviting." You can try to select "water world is exc". If you start at "water", when you drag the selection across to "world" you find the selection increases to include "underwater world."

If you move your cursor backward in Word 97 to the start of "world," you'll notice that the selection shrinks back to "underwater" and you can move the mouse cursor forward to increase your selection letter by letter in the next word.

In later versions of Word the behavior is a bit different (and much more useful). If you move your cursor backward to the start of "world," the selection shrinks back to just "water." In other words, it includes only that part of the text you originally started to select. Now you can move your mouse cursor forward to select the rest of your text, as desired.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (51) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Overcoming Automatic Word Selection.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Setting Matrix Column Spacing in the Equation Editor

If you are using matrices in your equations, you may want to adjust the spacing used between columns.

Discover More

Finding a Cell Reference

Want to know what the reference address is for a particular cell in a table? Word won't tell you, but you can use a macro to ...

Discover More

Adding Up Tops and Bottoms

When you are working with sequenced values in a list, you'll often want to take some action based on the top X or bottom Y ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (menu)

Capitalizing the Word "I"

The first-person, singular pronoun "I" should always be capitalized, unless you are exercising poetic license. Word may not ...

Discover More

Meaningless Text

The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, or so the story goes. Here's how to put this type of meaningless text into a ...

Discover More

Understanding Hyphens and Dashes

Word provides you with three types of hyphens and two types of dashes that you can use in your documents. Understanding the ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 3 + 4?

2014-09-20 11:54:46

Bob

Hold down the shift key and use the arrow keys to select whatever you want - letter by letter.


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.