A shortcut to technical writing success

shortcut-to-technical-authoring-success

As a busy technical writer, I like to work efficiently. This means optimising the use of my keyboard and mouse, for example by using keyboard shortcuts and right-clicks. I find it a little odd that I can remember so many shortcuts for several applications but can’t remember which password I use for which online websites! Anyway, I thought I’d share some in this blog – the keyboard shortcuts, not my passwords!

I’ve listed the shortcuts for the applications I use when technical writing: Adobe RoboHelp, Adobe FrameMaker, Madcap Flare, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Outlook.

This isn’t an exhaustive list (it just can’t be!) and I’ve avoided the most well-known ones like “Ctrl + o = Open” or “Ctrl + c = Copy” or “Ctrl + z = Undo”, and it isn’t guaranteed to be accurate for every version of every application. It’s a list I’ve compiled because I find myself using them when I am working, and I’d like to share it with all you lovely technical writers.

Adobe RoboHelp shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK
Paragraph properties
Font properties
View item (e.g. preview topic)
Toggle on/off paragraph markers
Insert hyperlink
Insert image
Increase font size by 1pt
Decrease font size by 1pt
Apply Normal style
Apply Heading 1, 2, etc.
Close topic
Close all topics

[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS
Ctrl + Shift + d
Ctrl + d
Ctrl + w
Ctrl + Shift + 8
Ctrl + k
Ctrl + g
Ctrl + ]
Ctrl + [
Ctrl + Shift + n
Alt + Ctrl + 1, 2, etc.
Ctrl + F4
Alt + Ctrl + x

[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Adobe FrameMaker shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK
Paragraph designer
Font designer
Go to start of flow
Go to end of flow
Go to start of column
Go to end of column
Go to first page
Go to last page
Zoom to 100%
Zoom in one setting
Zoom out one setting
Insert a bullet
Insert an en dash
Insert an en space
Insert non-breaking space
Insert optional hyphen
Change text to default font

[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS
Ctrl + m
Ctrl + d
Alt + Shift + Pg Up
Alt + Shift + Pg Dn
Ctrl + Pg Up
Ctrl + Pg Dn
Alt + Pg Up
Alt + Pg Dn
Esc z z
Esc z i
Esc z o
Ctrl + q %
Ctrl + q Shift + p
Ctrl + Shift + n
Ctrl + Space
Ctrl + Hyphen
CEsc o c p

[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Madcap Flare shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK

Paragraph properties
Font properties
Build primary target
Publish primary target
Insert bookmark
Insert hyperlink
Insert cross-reference
Insert image
Insert snippet
Insert non-breaking space
Open Style window
Open primary target

[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS

Alt + Ctrl + b
Ctrl + Shift + b
F6
Ctrl + F6
Ctrl + Shift + k
Ctrl + k
Ctrl + Shift + r
Ctrl + g
Ctrl + r
Shift + Space
F12
Shift + F6

[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Microsoft Word shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK
Paragraph properties
Font properties
Change the case of letters/word
Redo last command
Repeat last find
Left align a paragraph
Centre align a paragraph
Right align a paragraph
Add page number
Remove character formatting
Remove paragraph formatting
Insert non-breaking space
Insert non-breaking hyphen
Insert optional hyphen
Insert page break
Insert copyright symbol
Insert registered trademark symbol
Insert trademark symbol
Insert a tab character within a table
Apply Normal style
Apply Heading 1, 2, etc.
Lock a field, e.g. ToC
Unlock a field, e.g. ToC
Go to the start/end of document
Expand/collapse the ribbon
[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS
Alt + Ctrl + p
Alt + Ctrl + f
Shift + F3
Ctrl + y
Alt + Ctrl + y
Ctrl + l
Ctrl + e
Ctrl + r
Alt + Shift + p
Ctrl + Space
Ctrl + q
Ctrl + Shift + Space
Ctrl + Shift + Hyphen
Ctrl + Hyphen
Ctrl + Enter
Alt + Ctrl + c
Alt + Ctrl + r
Alt + Ctrl + t
Ctrl + Tab
Ctrl + Shift + n
Alt + Ctrl + 1, 2, etc.
Ctrl + F11
Ctrl + Shift + F11
Ctrl + Home/End
Ctrl + F1
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Microsoft Excel shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK
Start a new line within the same cell
Edit a cell note
Fill down (select area first)
Fill to the right (select area first)
Define a name
Insert the AutoSum formula
Enter current date
Enter current time
Edit a cell
Format cells
Insert new worksheet
Select entire column
Select entire row
Display next worksheet
Copy value from cell above
Copy formula from cell above
Next workbook window
Hide row
Unhide row
Hide column
Unhide column
Select entire row
Select entire column
[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS
Alt + Enter
Shift + F2
Ctrl + d
Ctrl + r
Ctrl + F3
Alt + =
Ctrl + ;
Ctrl + :
F2
Ctrl + 1
Shift + F11
Ctrl + Space
Shift + Space
Ctrl + Pg Dn
Ctrl + ”
Ctrl + ‘
Ctrl + F6
Ctrl + 9
Ctrl + Shift + 9
Ctrl + 0
Ctrl + Shift + 0
Shift + Space
Ctrl + Space
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Microsoft Outlook shortcuts

[bscolumns class=”one_half”]TASK
Display ‘Mail’, ‘Calendar’, ‘Contacts’
Mail List: Reply to sender
Mail List: Reply to all
Mail List: Forward an item
Mail List:Open the inbox
Editing Email: Check names
Editing Email: Open the address book
Editing Email: Send a message
Calendar: Display day view
Calendar: Display work week view
Calendar: Next week
Calendar: Previous week
Calendar: Go to date
Calendar: Select next appointment
[/bscolumns]

[bscolumns class=”one_half_last_clear”]PRESS
Ctrl + 1, 2, 3
Ctrl + r
Ctrl + Shift + r
Ctrl + f
Ctrl + Shift + i
Ctrl + k
Ctrl + Shift + b
Alt + S
Alt + Ctrl + 1
Alt + Ctrl + 2
Alt + Dn Arrow
Alt + Up Arrow
Ctrl + g
Tab
[/bscolumns][bscolumns class=”clear”][/bscolumns]

Don’t forget to add your own

Did you know that many applications (e.g. RoboHelp), allow you to add your own shortcut keys for fast access to your favourite commands? So, if you’re like me and tend to have several conditional build tags in your RoboHelp project you may want to often display the ‘multiple’ Conditional Build Tag dialog box (accessed by choosing the “Format » Apply Conditional Build Tag » New/Multiple” feature). To do so:

  1. Select View » Toolbars » Customize.
  2. Display the Keyboard tab.
  3. Locate and select the “Apply Conditional Build Tag” command in the Category drop-down, and then the “New/Multiple” option in the Commands field.
  4. Put the cursor in the Press new shortcut key field, and type the keyboard shortcut of your choice (e.g. Alt + Ctrl + c).
  5. Click on Assign.

I find adding a few shortcuts not only helps me work a little quicker but also reduces my disappointment that some commands don’t automatically have a shortcut or that the default shortcut isn’t one that is intuitive to me.

I hope these shortcuts and advice has been useful to you. Happy technical writing!

A shortcut to technical writing success

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