Aligning text with Word’s “Click and Type” feature

April 4, 2010 at 4:39 pm

In all recent versions of Word (since at least Word 2003), there is a handy little feature called “Click and Type.”

Similar to WordPerfect’s Shadow Cursor, Click and Type allows you to start typing anywhere in a blank document screen — i.e., not necessarily at the top left side — simply by double-clicking somewhere on the page.  And depending on where you double-click, the text will be left-aligned, center-aligned, or right-aligned.

You read that correctly. If you position the cursor at the horizontal center of a line and double-click, any text you type there will be centered.  If you position the cursor at the right margin and double-click, any text you type will be right-aligned.

You can preview how text will be aligned at any given point in the document by observing the mouse pointer, which turns into an I-beam pointer “shadowed” by several lines.  When the lines are centered below the I-beam pointer (resembling the Center Justification icon), text will be center-justified.  When the lines fly out to the left from the I-beam pointer (resembling the Right-Justification icon), text will be right-justified.  And when the lines fly out to the right from the I-beam pointer (resembling the Left Justification Icon) — well, you get the idea.

After you have double-clicked within the document, you might notice (if you happen to glance at the horizontal Ruler) that Word has inserted left, center, and/or right tabs (depending on where you double-clicked).  In effect, you have changed the tab settings of the paragraph that your cursor is in.  

Keep in mind that paragraph formatting codes, including tab settings, are stored in the paragraph symbol (pilcrow) at the end of a particular paragraph and get copied to the next paragraph when you press the Enter key.  Thus, when you finish typing and press Enter, the following paragraph will inherit the same tab settings, including any center and right tabs you inserted in the first paragraph. If in fact you set a center tab and a right tab in the first paragraph, you’ll be able to type text at the left margin in the new paragraph, then simply press the Tab key once to move the cursor to the center of the line and type some centered text, and then press Tab again to move the cursor to the right margin and type some right-aligned text.

If the Click and Type feature doesn’t seem to be working on your machine, it’s possible that it has been disabled in the Word Options.  (It’s enabled by default.)  In Word 2003, you can enable or disable the feature by clicking the Tools menu, Options, Edit tab, then navigating to the bottom of the tab and checking or unchecking the “Enable click and type” box. In Word 2007, click the Office button, Word Options, Advanced; the “Enable click and type” checkbox is at the very bottom of the “Editing options.”  In Word 2010, click the File Tab, Options, Advanced, and look toward the bottom of the “Editing options” section.  Remember to click “OK” in order to save your settings.

According to Microsoft, Click and Type works in most blank areas of a document, but isn’t available from within a bulleted or numbered list, multiple columns, indents, or graphics that use top or bottom text wrapping.  In my tests, the feature seems to function within headers and footers (once you have gone into a header or footer editing screen).

Note that Click and Type is available only in Print Layout and Web Layout views, not in Normal / Draft, Outline, or Full Reading view.

For more information, see this Microsoft Help article. Although it was written about Word 2003, the general principles apply to Word 2007 and Word 2010, as well.

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