Using the Go To dialog in Word

March 20, 2011 at 1:51 pm

If you are not using the Go To dialog in Word — and it is a surprisingly under-documented feature — you’re missing out. It’s a very quick and easy way to move to specific locations, and to specific objects, in your documents.

The easiest way to invoke the Go To dialog (in all versions of Word as far back as I can remember, and I’ve been using Word regularly since version 6) is to press either Ctrl G or F5. There are a few additional ways to open the dialog: (1) In Word 2003 and earlier, click the Edit menu, then click the Go To command; (2) in both Word 2007 and Word 2010, navigate to the Editing group at the right-hand side of the Home tab, click the Find drop-down, then click Go To; and (3) in Word 2010, if you have the Navigation Pane open (it opens at the left side of the screen when you press Ctrl F or click Home, Editing, Find, Find), locate the search box at the top and click the drop-down (to the right of the magnifying glass icon), then click Go To.

Note as well that Go To is integrated into the Find and Replace dialog, so if you invoke that dialog with keyboard shortcuts or otherwise — Ctrl H opens the dialog with the Replace tab at the forefront in both recent and legacy versions of Word — you have access to Go To (simply by clicking the Go To tab).

The Various Go To Options

The Go To dialog offers numerous options for moving to a certain location in your document. You can jump quickly to a specific page, section, line, bookmark, comment, footnote, endnote, field, table, graphic, equation, object, or heading. First, you choose the type of object that will be your end point; then, you enter information about how you want to get there; and then you simply press the “Go To” button within the dialog or press the Enter key.

When you open the dialog, click a particular object type in the “Go to what” list on the left side. Next, enter the appropriate information on the right side. Depending on the object type, you’ll type a number that represents a specific page, section, line, footnote, endnote, table, graphic, or heading; use a drop-down list to select a specific bookmark, field, or object; or use a drop-down list to select a specific reviewer (i.e., a person who inserted one or more comments into the document).[1]

A Couple of Examples

So, for example, to move to page 8 in a 14-page document, you would press Ctrl G, ensure that “Page” is showing in the “Go to what” list at the left side of the dialog (and, if not, click to select it), type the number 8 in the “Enter … number” box on the right side, and then either click “Go To” or press Enter. Voilà! Word takes you to the top of page 8.

Or if you want to see the comments that a particular lawyer in your firm inserted in the document, you would open the dialog, navigate to the left side of the dialog and click to select “Comment,” then use the drop-down at the right side of the dialog to select the lawyer’s name from a list of reviewers, and click “Next” or “Previous” to move to one of the lawyer’s comments.

These two examples are just intended to give you a very quick idea of the uses of this feature. They barely scratch the surface, but I don’t have time at the moment to go into more detail.

Two Ways to Move Forward or Backwards

There are a couple of different methods to move to various objects in your document, one of which is fairly straightforward. For most object types, you can click a “Next” button or a “Previous” button to move to the next or previous item (i.e., page, bookmark, footnote, heading, etc.) in sequence. So, for instance, let’s assume that you’ve selected the Page object type. If your cursor is on page 3 of a 12-page document, clicking “Next” will move the cursor to the top of page 4, whereas clicking “Previous” will move the cursor to the top of page 2.

For all of the object types except bookmarks, you also have the option of moving a relative distance from the current cursor position. To do so, simply insert a plus sign (+) or a minus sign (-) along with a number that signifies how many objects you want to jump forward or backwards. As an example, again let’s assume you’ve selected the Page object type and that your cursor is on page 3 of a long document. If you type a plus sign and the number 4 (+4), then click the “Go To” button or press the Enter key, the cursor will jump from page 3 to the top of page 7. (Essentially, you’ve instructed the program to move the cursor forward four pages from where it was.) Similarly, if you use a minus sign and the number 2 (-2), then click “Go To” or press Enter, the cursor will jump from page 3 to the top of page 1. (You’ve instructed the program to move the cursor backwards two pages.)

Moving Between Instances of a Specific Object Versus Moving to “Any Object”

Note that with respect to the Field object type, you can move from one instance of a particular field, such as SEQ codes, to another instance of the same field or you can leave the drop-down set to “Any Field,” and then move from any type of field code — whether a SEQ code, a DATE code, a TC code, a PAGE code, an XE code, or what have you — to another field code of any type.

In addition, you can move from field code to field code using “Next” or “Previous,” or you can choose to move to another field code that is a relative distance from the cursor position, such as the third field code forward (+3).[2]

The Object object type works the same way. That is, you can move among instances of a particular object (such as a Microsoft graph chart, an Adobe Photoshop image, a .WAV sound file, or an Excel worksheet), or you can move from any object to any other one.

Miscellaneous Details

As mentioned earlier, when you use Go To to move from page to page, Word deposits you at the top of the destination page. The same is true when you move from section to section; that is, Word puts the cursor at the beginning of the destination section.

I found the “Line Number” object type somewhat less predictable. In fact, it seems rather quirky. In most of my tests, Word appeared to count only lines on which text appears (i.e., it ignored blank lines). As a result, it was difficult to determine which line was which, particularly when I used double spacing or mixed line spacing.

If you plan to use Go To to move from line to line, you might want to add a Line Number indicator to the Status Bar. In Word 2007 and Word 2010, just right-click the Status Bar, click to put a check next to Line Number, then press the Esc key or click somewhere outside the pop-up menu to close the menu.

A quick note about the Footnote and Endnotes object types: Go To takes you to the footnote or endnote number in the text, rather than to the note itself. Of course, once you arrive at a certain note, you can close the Go To dialog and double-click the note number to move quickly into the editing screen for that note.

“Sticky” Settings

The choices you make when utilizing the Go To dialog appear to be “sticky,” at least for the current Word session (by which I mean that they persist until you exit from Word). So if you use the dialog to move to a specific line, then close the dialog and make some modifications to your document, the Line object will remain selected when you invoke the dialog again. In fact, that’s true even if you switch to a different document screen and then reopen the dialog.

Closing the Dialog

It’s easy to close the dialog. You can click the “Close” button, click the red “X” in the upper right-hand corner, or press the Esc key — methods that work to close most dialogs in Windows.[3]

Conclusion

This feature can be very useful for moving through your document. If you haven’t experimented with it, be sure to take a look when you get a chance. In particular, the ability to move rapidly to a specific page is a tremendous time-saver, but once you begin testing the feature, you’ll discover several other options that make your work easier — and you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

______________________________________________________________________________________
[1] Where drop-down (aka “pick”) lists exist, it’s better to choose an item from the list than to type it yourself.

[2] CAUTION: In my tests with Word 2010, using “Go To” to find field codes in a document worked just fine within main document, but did not work in headers and footers. As a matter of fact, when I pressed Ctrl G while in a footer, Word kicked me out of the footer editing screen altogether and opened the Go To dialog in the main document.

[3] Unfortunately, the Esc key doesn’t close the Go To dialog — which is similar to the one in Word — in recent versions of WordPerfect. That represents a change from the way the dialog worked in older versions of WordPerfect and has been a (minor but persistent) source of frustration to some people, like me, who rely heavily on keystrokes to accomplish word processing tasks.

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