Repeat Key

Styles in Word 97 and 2000

Button Tricks


Alt and drag in Word

Beyond basic AutoFill

  Repeat Key

Wouldn't it be great if there were a repeat key in real life? You wash a plate, pick up another, press F4 to repeat, pick up another, press F4. You'd use it, right? Then why not start using it in your software?

F4 is the repeat key in Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and most other programs also have a repeat key. (In CorelDraw, for example, it's Ctrl + R.) How does it work? Simply, F4 repeats the last action performed. Whether you bold some text, centre a paragraph or change an object's colour, F4 will repeat the action to another selected object, if possible.

Here's a simple example for this simple concept.

Basic repeating

1. Select some text.

2. Press Ctrl + B to bold.

3. Select some more text.

4. Press F4 to bold.

5. Select some more text.

6. Press F4 to bold.

I know, in this example, pressing F4 is almost the same as pressing Ctrl + B. I just used Ctrl + B as a simple example, and because the shortcut works in all 3 programs.

Advanced repeating

A better use of repeat is to repeat several actions at once. As long as you perform the actions in one move or in a single dialogue box, programs like Word and Excel will repeat. Here's an example:

1. Select some text.

2. From the menu, choose Format, Font (or Format, Cells in Excel).

3. Select bold, italic and underline. Change the font to 24-pt. Arial Narrow. Click OK.

4. Select some more text.

5. Press F4.

6. Select some more text.

7. Press F4.

Get the idea? Now here are some other ways to use repeat:

Typing the same text

In Word you've typed a list of 50 names. You realise you forgot to indicate which individuals are members, which are non-members, which are active, which are non-active, etc. You have two choices, type 'member' after the first member, select the word member, then copy (Ctrl + C). Click after the next member, then paste (Ctrl + V). Not a bad solution if you use the shortcut keys. (If you use the Edit menu, that's a different story.) Now try the repeat key. Type 'member' after the first member, click after another member, then press F4. Press F4 after each member. Get the idea? Pretty easy, eh?

Inserting columns and rows

You're in Excel, or you're in a table in Word or PowerPoint. Select a column, right-click somewhere in the column, and then select Insert Columns. Click in another column, then press F4. Repeat for all columns you want to insert. Works for rows, too.

Applying styles

Once you've applied a style to a paragraph or a word, select another paragraph or word, and then press F4. When I have a lot of styles to apply, I run Word full screen (View/Full Screen), then press Esc when I've finished.

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