Microsoft Word Trick Helps Users Move Content

My assistant was working on a document, and I happened to walk past her desk as she was fine-tuning the list of topics. When you're working on technical documentation, much of the fine-tuning involves reorganizing topics to make sure you're introducing information in a logical order (for instance, it's not good technical writing to tell readers how to print a database report before you tell them how to enter data in the database).

The document was several pages long, and the topic list was a series of single-spaced paragraphs. Moving a listing meant selecting the paragraph, cutting it, finding the appropriate location for the paragraph, creating a blank line to make room, and pasting the paragraph.

Because I'm extremely lazy, I'd found a better way many years ago. I can move a list item (or any paragraph) to a new place in a Microsoft Office Word document without selecting, cutting, making room in the new location, and pasting.

I put my cursor anywhere in the paragraph I want to move and then I press and hold the Alt + Shift keys (in that order; press the Alt key first and hold it, then press and hold the Shift key). While holding these keys, I use the Up or Down Arrow keys to move the entire paragraph to any location in the document. As I move through the document with the arrow keys, Word makes space between existing paragraphs, and closes that space if I keep moving. When I land where I want to, I haven't interfered with the layout of paragraphs.

This works with bulleted lists, of course, and it also works with numbered lists (using the Word numbering function), because the numbers automatically reset so you don't end up with listing number 5 coming before listing number 3 after you've rearranged the list. I've used this shortcut successfully in Microsoft Word 2007, 2003, 2002, and 2000.

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