Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Selecting Sentences.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 6, 2016)
Word does not provide function keys for you to step through your document one sentence at a time. If you are used to a different word processor, you may consider such a capability rather important. The following macro, StepRightSentence, provides the capability to step through a document one sentence at a time toward the right. You can assign the macro either to a shortcut key or to a toolbar button.
Sub StepRightSentence() If Selection.Type <> wdNoSelection Then Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, Extend:=wdMove End If Selection.Sentences(1).Next(Unit:=wdSentence, Count:=1).Select End Sub
If you want to use Word to step through a document toward the left (beginning of the document), you can use the following macro, StepLeftSentence:
Sub StepLeftSentence() If Selection.Type <> wdNoSelection Then Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, Extend:=wdMove End If Selection.Sentences(1).Previous(Unit:=wdSentence, Count:=1).Select End Sub
Regardless of which of these macros you use, the result is that you step through your document, one sentence at a time. After running the macro, the next sentence—left or right—is selected. If you instead want to only jump to the beginning of the sentence, without selecting it, add the following line as the final line in the macro, just before the End Sub statement:
If you prefer to not use macros, you can also move through sentences by customizing Word to take advantage of some "hidden" commands. Follow these steps:
Figure 1. The customize ribbon area of the Word Options dialog box.
Figure 2. The Customize Keyboard dialog box.
After performing this series of steps, you can step backwards through your document, one sentence at a time, simply by pressing Alt+Left Arrow. You can also repeat the steps and assign the following
|Action||Commands List||Shortcut Key|
|Step right by sentences||SentRight||Alt+Right Arrow|
|Step left and select||SentLeftExtend||Shift+Alt+Left Arrow|
|Step right and select||SentRightExtend||Shift+Alt+Right Arrow|
Most Word users will find these keyboard commands a welcome addition to the normal editing keys. You should know, however, that some of these suggested shortcut keys are already in use by Word. For instance, the Shift+Alt+Left Arrow combination is used to promote a heading level in an outline. However, if you can live without that use of the keys, then go for it. (Personally, I think this reassigned use makes much more sense.) If you would rather use a different key combination, you can do so by using any one you would like in step 7 above.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10275) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Selecting Sentences.
Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!
Want a quick way to repeat a word or phrase you just typed? Here's the shortcut you need.Discover More
Smart quotes look great in a document, but may not be right for all instances of quote marks or apostrophes. If you need ...Discover More
Need to place a bullet in the middle of a sentence? There are a couple of easy ways you can do this, as described in this ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.