Most text selection in Word involves selecting horizontally – selecting a line or a paragraph of text. Sometimes, though, you need to select a vertical slab of text. To do that, hold down the Alt key while you click and drag your mouse over the text.

Column selection

Hold down the Alt key to select columns of text

This comes in handy when someone sends you an email or other document with the lines indented. When you copy the email into Word, you end up with empty space at the beginning of each line. To instantly eliminate the spaces and shift the whole block of text over, hold down the Alt key, click immediately to the left of the first character in the top line, then drag down and to the left to highlight the spaces. Press Delete to erase them. You can use the same technique to eliminate unwanted characters when you copy an email into Word in which each line has been preceded with a quote character, such as >.

You can also use this technique to select a vertical column within a slab of text, although this works best when you’re dealing with monospaced fonts where each character is the same width.