Best-Kept Secret: MS Word’s Selection Pane saves time, reduces frustration

It’s probably because I never learned to play first-person shooters, but I have a devil of a time in Word selecting the element I want out of a page full of drawing shapes. Trying to select a text box, I click on what I think is that one-pixel box border, and end up selecting the canvas behind it, or a nearby rectangle, or nothing at all. Have you experienced this frustration? I’ve even resorted to “Send to Back” to get something out of my way so that I can select the thing I want.

I stumbled onto the solution. To explain it, I have made a video demo of MS Word’s Selection Pane feature.

On the ribbon bar, select the Page Layout tab. Look within the Arrange group, towards the right, and click the Selection Pane button. That opens the pane, which lists all drawing objects that are on the current page.

From the Selection Pane, you can easily click the name of the item you want, and that will select it. From there, you can change formatting options or adjust its position with your keyboard.

It brings some extra features, too. Click the eye image next to an item to hide and show it, similar to Photoshop. Drag items to reorder them, which changes their z-index, bringing items in front of others.

I was so delighted when I found that button. It changed my day from one of grumbling at my mouse to calling my coworkers over to show ‘em. Enjoy!

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About Sharon Cichelli

I am a Headspring Senior Consultant, developing custom enterprise software for our clients and leading training classes on the latest Microsoft technologies. I blog about .NET development, best practices in agile software development, and my nerdy hobbies.
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