There are two keyboard shortcuts to highlight text in Word, for some reason Microsoft has hidden the main one and the alternative has an annoying inconsistency.
All the regular Office shortcuts should be in the tooltip label that appears when the mouse is hovered over a button. But the Highlight shortcut
Ctrl + Alt + H is missing.
For example, hover over the Home | Font | Underline button and there’s a reminder that
Ctrl + U is the keyboard shortcut. But one row down is Highlight, but the tooltip doesn’t mention
Ctrl + Alt + H.
Why is the label missing? Who knows! It could be an oversight, if so it’s a long-standing one. Maybe Microsoft has some reason, though it’s hard to fathom.
Ctrl + Alt + H will apply or remove highlighting.
The currently selected highlight color is used, as shown on the ribbon button.
NOTE: if the last / current highlight color is ‘No Color’ then
Ctrl + Alt + H won’t change the text.
Select some text then press
Ctrl + Alt + H to highlight the selection with the current color. Or, if the text is already highlighted, the highlight will be removed.
When there’s no selection, pressing
Ctrl + Alt + H starts the highlight painter (the mouse pointer changes) then select the text.
Ctrl + Alt + H might seem strange but there’s a logic to it.
Ctrl + H is the long-standing shortcut for Replace. Ctrl + Alt + shortcut combinations are used for other Word formatting, most notably the Heading styles (
Ctrl + Alt + 1 for Heading 1 etc …)
Keytip to Highlighting in Word
The Alt + keytips can also apply / remove highlighting.
Alt, H , I reaches the highlighting pull-down menu with Yellow highlight as the default.
Press Enter to apply Yellow highlighting (the default color, top left).
Use arrows to choose another color from the grid.
N – selects No Color (remove highlighting).
S – if highlighting is already enabled, this will stop it.
Alt, H, I shortcut can’t use the currently selected color (unlike
Ctrl + Alt + H). That’s because the default after pressing ‘I’ is the first color in the grid (Yellow) not the visible button showing the selected highlighting color.