How to Set Selection Preferences in Word 2016

Use Word's settings tool to change the default behavior

Advanced options in Microsoft Word 2013

Lifewire / James Marshall

From time to time, a new feature comes along that has the unique distinction of being both a curse and a blessing. The way Microsoft Word handles text and paragraph selection, starting with Word 2016, is one of those features. 

Instructions in this article apply to Microsoft Word 2016, 2019, and Microsoft 365 for Windows.

Changing the Word Selection Setting

By default, Word automatically selects an entire word when only part of it is highlighted. This shortcut saves you some time and prevents you from leaving part of a word when you intended to delete it entirely. However, it can become cumbersome when you wish to select only parts of words. 

To change this setting, follow these steps:

  1. Select the File file tab at the top.

  2. In the left bar, click Options.

  3. In the Word Options window, click Advanced in the left menu.

  4. In the Editing options section, check (or uncheck) the When selecting, automatically select entire word option.

    Word options
  5. Click OK.

Changing the Paragraph Selection Setting

When selecting paragraphs, Word also selects the paragraph's formatting attributes in addition to text by default. However, you may not want these additional attributes associated with the text you have selected.

Disable (or enable) this feature by following these steps:

  1. Click the File file tab at the top.

  2. In the left bar, click Options.

  3. In the Word Options window, click Advanced in the left menu.

  4. In the Editing options section, check (or uncheck) the Use smart paragraph selection option.

  5. Click OK.

Display paragraph breaks and other formatting marks in your text that would be included in a selection by selecting the Home tab, and under the Paragraph section, activate the Show/Hide symbol.

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