KSotD (Word): Select Current Word -- Ctrl+Alt+W

[ ksotd word ]

The default Word keyboard shortcuts for cursor movement usually work pretty well for me. I realized today that one thing that’s really been bugging me is the inefficiency of selecting the word under the cursor using only the keyboard. I find that I’m often wanting to select a specific word to then, e.g., toggle its highlight with my Ctrl+Alt+Shift+H custom macro. With the mouse, a simple double-left-click is all that’s needed; with the keyboard, though, unless there’s a shortcut/command I don’t know about, I have to press at least two key combos:

  1. Jump to the start of the word with Ctrl+

  2. Select the whole word with Ctrl+Shift+

  3. If the word is followed by a space, deselect that space with Shift+

The muscle memory for this is pretty well established by now, but … there has to be a better way. So: Macro time!

I slapped together the following and assigned it to Ctrl+Alt+W, which AFAICT is unbound by default:

Sub SelectCurrentWord()

    Dim rxSpace As New RegExp

    With rxSpace
        .Global = False
        .IgnoreCase = True
        .MultiLine = False
        .Pattern = "\W"
    End With

    Selection.Expand wdWord

    Do While rxSpace.Test(Selection.Characters(Selection.Characters.Count))
        Selection.MoveEnd wdCharacter, -1

End Sub

The bulk of the work is done by the built-in Selection.Expand wdWord, which expands both the start of the selection backward to the nearest start-of-word boundary and the end of the selection forward to the nearest start-of-word boundary. This latter behavior gives an annoying outcome due to how Word structures word boundaries. If I interpret things correctly, Word treats at least the following as the start of a word:

  • (Most?) punctuation characters, including tabs
  • The first letter of a grouping of letters following whitespace

So, when executed with the cursor within a word in the middle of a sentence, Selection.Expand wdWord expands the selection to include the spaces following that word.

I pretty much never want this behavior. 😠

Thus, enter the regex and the while loop. The \W regex pattern matches a single non-word character, and I used a Do While instead of a simple If so that cases with multiple whitespace characters are handled properly.

While there are probably some edge cases I haven’t hit yet, it’s worked great so far. If this ends up joining my array of frequently-used shortcuts, I figure I’ll probably create similar macros and keyboard shortcuts to select the current sentence (pairs with the Ctrl+Click shortcut) and to select the current paragraph (Triple-Click).

Written on March 20, 2019