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Creating & Customising Keyboard Shortcuts in Microsoft Word

Is there no keyboard shortcut for a particular action in Word, or is the current keyboard shortcut convoluted and difficult to remember? Recent versions of Word actually allow you to assign your own keyboard shortcuts to all sorts of commands and hidden features. You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to your own Macro scripts, a very powerful way of making Word more accessible.

The following example shows how to make a keyboard shortcut that changes the font colour to red. You can currently accomplish this through the keyboard in two manners but both of these are rather long-winded:

  1. Press ALT to access the File menu
  2. Press CTRL + TAB until the formatting toolbar is highlighted
  3. Press the right arrow until the font colour dialog is highlighted
  4. Press the down arrow to open up the colour selection box
  5. Use the arrow keys to highlight red
  6. Press Enter to select


  1. Press ALT + O to open the Format menu
  2. Press Enter to open the Font dialog
  3. Press ALT + C to open up the colour selection box
  4. Use the arrow keys to highlight red
  5. Press Enter to select
  6. Press CTRL + TAB to move the focus towards the OK button
  7. Press Enter to close the dialog

Either of these routes take quite a long time so if you're going to change font to any given colour more than a few times it might be worth adding your own shortcut. You only need to do this the once and It doesn't take long and here's how to accomplish it:

Customise Dialog

Open the Customize dialog box by selecting Customize from the Tools menu


Select the Commands tab at the top of the dialog


Press the Keyboard button


Customise Keyboard Dialog

Up pops the Customize Keyboard dialog.

Using the Categories and Commands lists you can select any command available in Microsoft Word. Select the Format Category and then the 'Color:' command.

F , TAB, C (until 'Color:' is highlighted)

Now go to the Color list and select Red.

ALT + SHIFT + : , R

Now it's time to select a suitable keyboard shortcut. This can actually be a little tricky as Word has already taken most of the good ones. Fortunately Word does let you know when a keyboard shortcut is already assigned to another command . Also you can replace existing shortcuts if you feel you can live without them. In this example I want to assign CTRL+ALT+R to change the font colour to Red (it's easy enough to remember).Unfortunately this shortcut has already been taken by the Registered Trademark symbol, but I feel I can live without this shortcut.

Click inside the New shortcut key box and press CTRL+ALT+R. You'll see that this is already taken but if you don't mind replacing the current command simply click the Assign button. Click Close on both dialogs and try it out!

ALT + N , ( CTRL + ALT + R )