Use F8 in Microsoft Word to select text quickly

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 11, 2019
Microsoft Office, Tutorials

Most Microsoft Word users use the mouse when it comes to text selection, probably. It is easy enough to make fine-grained text selections or quick selections using the mouse only.

A double-click on any word selects it right away, and a triple-click selects an entire paragraph instead. Another option that Word users have is to use the keyboard to select text.

Just hold down the Shift-key on the keyboard and use the arrow keys to start selecting text. You may also use Ctrl-A to select all at once.

Extend Mode in Word

f8 microsoft word copy

What many users of Microsoft Word don't know is that it is also possible to use the F8 key on the keyboard for text selection.

The F8 key is mapped to what Microsoft's Office team calls Extend Mode.

The entire process works similarly to using mouse clicks to select text. Double-tap on the F8-key on the keyboard to select a word, triple-tap on the F8-key to select a sentence, activate the F8-key four times to select the paragraph, and a fifth time to select the entire document.

  • F8: enter Extend Mode
  • 2x F8: highlight word
  • 3x F8: highlight sentence
  • 4x F8: highlight paragraph
  • 5x F8: highlight entire document
  • Esc: exit Extend Mode
  • Adding Shift: reverses the operation

One difference to using the mouse to highlight text in Microsoft Word is that Word remembers how many times you tapped on F8. It is no longer necessary to perform the operation in a limited period for it to register with the program.

You can tap three times first, and five seconds later once more to select an entire paragraph.

Other Extend Mode features

Extend Mode supports additional text related shortcuts that you may find useful. Take the following example:

  • With the cursor positioned somewhere in a document, press F8 to enter Extend Mode.
  • Now press another character or multiple characters quickly to extend the text selection to the first matching instance.

Another option that you have is to combine Extend Mode with mouse clicks. Enter Extend Mode and click anywhere to highlight anything between the initial cursor position and the mouse selection.

Last but not least, use Ctrl-Shift-F8 and mouse or keyboard to select text blocks.

Remember the press the Esc-key to exit Extend Mode once you are done.

Now You: Which Office applications do you use?

Use F8 in Microsoft Word to select text quickly
Article Name
Use F8 in Microsoft Word to select text quickly
Find out how to use Microsoft Word's Extended Mode feature, triggered with the F8 key, to use text highlighting and selection alternatives.
Ghacks Technology News

Previous Post: «
Next Post: «


  1. sarab said on March 5, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    thank u

  2. jenna said on March 5, 2021 at 12:42 pm


  3. Tim said on November 27, 2020 at 12:32 am

    In Word 2003 we had a “select all” option on what I will call the ribbon, at the top.

    Now, with Word 2010, I can no longer find a way to access “select all”, and this is the important thing, WITH MY MOUSE! Not having to touch my keyboard for anything just like I did before.

    Why is there no longer a “Tab” for this or how can I add one ??

  4. Behealthis said on March 8, 2020 at 12:05 am

    Microsoft Word has loads of great keyboard shortcuts, and its support for the function keys on your keyboard is no exception.

  5. Ramona said on December 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Hello. I am trying to use the Selection Mode like this in Word 2019 to select in between words, but it does not work:
    1. Do your find for first word and close the dialog
    2. F8
    3. Do your find for second word

  6. Yoav said on February 13, 2019 at 8:51 am

    Thanks, Martin! I didn’t know this trick and I think it will be very useful for me.

  7. Robert Palmar said on February 11, 2019 at 4:37 pm

    I was unaware of the F8 selection option.
    Office may be the king of hidden features.

    Shift plus the arrow keys will select letter by
    letter or many letters holding down the arrow key.
    To select word by word use Shift + Control + arrow key.

  8. Paul(us) said on February 11, 2019 at 4:21 pm

    Thanks, Martin, Another ferry useful article with nice user tricks, for me at least.
    Hopefully, I will be even possible for you to do the almost impossible with increasing this kind of nifty articles. With that said I also like to mention that all your articles so far are really great.
    I know their high praises but they’re well deserved!

  9. pat said on February 11, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Hey, thanks Martin for the tip, I just tried it on linux/firefox and by combining the ctrl and shift keys or not + the arrows, you can select text, paragraphs in all directions, it’s great!

Leave a Reply

Check the box to consent to your data being stored in line with the guidelines set out in our privacy policy

We love comments and welcome thoughtful and civilized discussion. Rudeness and personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please stay on-topic.
Please note that your comment may not appear immediately after you post it.