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How to Select All in Word and Highlight the Entire Document

Sometimes you need to make big, sweeping changes in a MS Word document. Luckily there are several ways to select an entire document quickly so you can update formatting or content as required.

Generally speaking, you need to select text (or objects like tables or graphics) before you make changes. We cover basic editing techniques in our introductory Word course.

In this article, I’ll suggest several ways you can select all text in Microsoft Word documents.

4 Ways to Select Entire Microsoft Word Documents

Want to know how to “select all” in Word? You’re in the right place.

Read on and you’ll be selecting text and other objects in no time!

1) Use a Keyboard Shortcut to Quickly Select an Entire Document

Let’s talk about the most popular shortcut first. Everyone loves a keyboard shortcut – and this one is incredibly useful.

Press Ctrl + A to select the whole document in Microsoft Word.

2) Use the Select Button on the Ribbon in the Editing Group

The Select button on the Home tab in the Editing group on the ribbon in Microsoft Word lets you “select all” in a several nuanced ways.

Several options are available in the Select drop-down menu. Here’s an overview of what each one does.

Select button in the Home > Editing group

Select All – Selects all content in your current document (or use the Ctrl + A keyboard shortcut).

Select Objects – Lets you select objects like shapes, icons, pictures, SmartArt, WordArt, and charts.

Select Text with Similar Formatting – Selects text with similar formatting attributes (including styles and individual formatting attributes).

Selection Pane – Toggles the Selection Pane on or off to work with objects (grouping, bring forward, send back, etc.).

3) Ctrl + Click the Selection Bar in Microsoft Word

The selection bar is an invisible area in Microsoft Word in the left margin, next to any text or other objects. If you hold the Ctrl button as you left-click with your mouse, the entire document is selected.

The Ctrl + click method will work in all views in Microsoft Word, including print layout view.

4) Select Everything from the Insertion Point to the End of the Document

To select everything from your insertion point to the end of your Word document, click to position your cursor then press Ctrl + Shift + End.

To select everything from your insertion point to the beginning of your Word document, click to position your cursor then press Ctrl + Shift + Home.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if your cursor is at the beginning of your Word document when you press Ctrl + Shift + End, the entire document is selected, as if you had used the shortcut keys Ctrl + A.

If you click to position your cursor in front of the third paragraph in your document then press Ctrl + Shift + End, only text appearing after the insertion point will be selected.

Select All: An Easy Way to Select the Entire Word Document

Now that you know how to “select all” in Word, you’ll be able make changes quickly and efficiently.

While Ctrl + A might be the best known keyboard shortcut, other techniques in this article are going to be useful in specific situations.

By Michael Belfry

Working as a full-time training consultant, Michael provides Microsoft Office courses to government and private sector clients across Canada.