Quick keystrokes to save your life (and manuscript) in Word documents

You’re typing along and you accidentally hit the wrong key, causing something to go terribly wrong in your manuscript.


Don’t touch anything. Back away from the computer.

Emergency step No. 1:

Now, take a deep breath and hit Control Z (Ctrl + the letter Z).

That’s the undo button. It will immediately undo whatever you just did. But if you made any other keystroke after making your mistake, it’s too late.

Emergency step No. 2:

Close your manuscript without saving it. Then reopen the document. Your mistake will be gone. You’ll lose everything you did back to the last save, but you’ve been saving frequently, right?

Emergency fix No. 3 (for formatting errors).

Did you mess up your formatting? Accidentally indent or undo the indent or create some wonky formatting?  Use Format Painter to fix it.

  1. Highlight a passage in your document that is correct.
  2. Click on Format Painter (the little paint brush tool in the upper left hand corner of your tool bar). Your cursor should become a little paint brush.
  3. Highlight the bad passage.

Presto. Bad formatting is replaced by good formatting.

These three steps have saved me on numerous occasions.

Do you have other tips for quick saves?

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8 Responses to Quick keystrokes to save your life (and manuscript) in Word documents

  1. I’ve done the ‘back away from your computer’ before… Do you now if these are also the keystrokes for Mac?

  2. Diane Burton says:

    Good tips, Cara. Back away and don’t touch. Love that. Here’s hoping none of us will have to do that.

  3. I’ve used control Z many times. The others I’m making note of. Thanks for sharing, Cara!

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