Highlighting text in Word and WordPerfect

October 31, 2010 at 6:47 pm

As you probably know, it is easy to change the text color in both Word and WordPerfect (either via the Font dialog or by clicking a prominently featured toolbar button). In addition, both programs provide quick access to a virtual highlighter pen that you can use to flag the reader’s attention.

In the newer versions of Word, there is a highlighter icon in the Font group on the Home tab.[1] Using it is fairly straightforward: Select some text, then click the icon. If you wish to use a color other than the default — yellow — select the text again, but this time click the arrow to the right of the icon, which will open a drop-down that offers 14 other colors (ranging from pale gray to shocking pink and even includes black). You can apply multiple highlighter colors within the same document, although you can’t actually combine hues or create a hybrid. (In other words, applying blue on top of yellow doesn’t produce green — it just changes yellow to blue.)

You also have the option of applying highlighting without selecting the text first. Just click the icon, and the mouse pointer will turn into a highlighter pen. While the pen is active, you can highlight text in various portions of your document by dragging it across the text and then releasing the left mouse button. To turn the pen back into a regular pointer, either click the highlighter icon a second time or open the drop-down and then click “Stop Highlighting.”

Word comes with a built-in, memorable keyboard shortcut for adding (or removing) highlighting: Ctrl Alt H.

There are a couple of different ways to remove highlighting. One is to select the text, then click the icon button again (assuming you haven’t changed colors since you first highlighted the text). Alternatively, select the text, then open the highlighter drop-down and click “No color.”

One caution: The “Clear Formatting” button in the Font group does not remove highlighting.

In WordPerfect, highlighting works more or less the same way. You can select text and then click the highlighter icon or, alternatively, click the icon and drag the highlighter pen across text. WordPerfect provides a greater variety of color choices than Word. In fact, if you like, you can click the “More…” button at the bottom of the drop-down and make use of the color wheel to create your own custom hues.

There’s another way to apply highlighting in WordPerfect: Click the Tools menu, Highlight, then click “On” (which should put a checkmark next to the “On” command). Doing so will highlight selected text or, if you haven’t selected any text, will transform the mouse pointer into a highlighter pen that you can drag over text, as in Word.

In order for this method to work, the “Print/Show” command on the Highlight submenu must be checked, too. If “Print/Show” is not checked / enabled, any highlighting you apply will be hidden. (The ability to hide highlighting, rather than removing it altogether, can be very useful in some circumstances — such as when you want the shading to appear on screen but not in the printed document.)

To remove highlighting, just click anywhere within a block of highlighted text and click the icon again. (You don’t have to select the entire highlighted portion.) Also, WordPerfect has two additional options for removing highlighting that are not available in Word. One is to turn on Reveal Codes (by pressing Alt F3 or clicking the View menu, Reveal Codes), and then delete either of the two Highlight codes. The other is to click the Tools menu, Highlight, then click “Remove.”

There is no built-in keyboard shortcut for the highlight feature in WordPerfect. You can add your own, however. To do so, click the Tools menu, Settings, Customize (or right-click a toolbar, then click “Settings”), click the Keyboards tab, make sure your keyboard is selected, then click “Edit.” When the Keyboard Shortcuts dialog appears, navigate to the right-hand side and click the “Feature categories” drop-down. Select “Tools.” Below the drop-down, in the “Assign a feature to the shortcut key” box, scroll to “Highlight On/Off” and click to select it.

Next, navigate to the left-hand side of the dialog and scroll through the “Choose a shortcut key” box until you find a key combination you like — such as H Alt Ctrl (which is the same shortcut that Word uses). Click to select it, then click the “Assign feature to key” button at the right side of the dialog. Click “OK” to save your settings, then click “Close.”

[1] In Word 2002 and Word 2003, the highlighter is found on the Formatting toolbar.

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