Click and Type in Word

One of the indispensable but esoteric features of the Word user interface is called "Click and Type."

Click and Type was a feature added to Word 2000 to help make it easier to position text at specific points on the page without needing to hit Enter and Tab a bunch of times to position the cursor manually.

Here's how it works. First, create a new blank document in Word 2000 or later.

Watch your cursor as you move it around the blank page. Depending on the part of the page you are hovering over, you will see a tiny little symbol for left-align, center, or right-align show as part of the cursor.

Whenever you see one of these special cursors, you can double-click to start typing exactly where the cursor is positioned. The miniature alignment icon indicates what kind of text alignment you will get when you start typing.

Generally, when you're near the center of the page, you get center alignment. When you're close to the right margin, you get right alignment. And pretty much everywhere else, you get left alignment.

One of the cool things about this feature is that you can use it to easily create left-aligned, centered, and right-aligned text even within the same line of the document. For example, if you're creating letterhead, you can use Click and Type to put your name in the middle, your phone number on the left side, and your e-mail address on the right side--all within the same line.

Office Online has the full write-up about Click and Type, including pictures of the other more advanced cursors.

Comments (28)

  1. Ahruman says:

    I suspect the cursor shown for right-align is wrong.

  2. aidan_walsh says:

    Ahruman suspects correctly.

  3. Mike says:

    Wow, I never knew about this feature… awsome.

  4. Ahruman says:

    I’m a good suspecter, y’know.

  5. Step says:

    How’d I never stumble upon that?  Sure enough, though…


  6. Ace says:

    Indeed, never actually known about that simple, yet useful feature! Thanks for showing us the light.


  7. Chris says:

    [shrug] I always turn it off.

    The ease of use is outweighed for me by the problems I’ve had with it.

    A document just looks wrong if you have more than one item on the right hand side and 1 is at 4.48" and the others are at 4.5".  It looks ‘wrong’ printed, but you cannot always figure out why.  (Is it the font? No, not the font. Font size? Nope they’re the size…)  

    The human eye is an amazing thing.

    Of course it’s great for beginners, or if you aren’t trying to line up multiple items.

  8. Brad Corbin says:

    One important factor Jensen didn’t mention:

    This only works in Page Layout mode (later called Print Layout mode), and not in Normal mode.

    Not that anyone uses Normal mode anyway, right? 🙂

  9. Paolo says:

    If it’s so "indispensible" how is it that the vast majority of Word users probably never heard of it, let alone use it?

    Answer: it’s lost among the other zillions of Word features a/k/a bloatware!

  10. steveg says:

    There’s another cursor (at least) not mentioned. Enter a left-aligned line of text such as "My line says nothing" and hover under the li"ne". You’ll see an "insert para with indent" cursor (doesn’t happen on the RHS).

    Paolo, there’s always Notepad.

  11. Philip J. Rayment says:

    I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed that, but probably would have discovered it if it truly was "click and type".  But instead it is the non-intuitive "double-click and type".

    As for being able to left-align, centre, and right-align on the same line, I prefer the Wordperfect 5.1 way of doing this that actually aligns according to margins, not tab stops that don’t move if you change the page size, margins, or orientation.

  12. Fredrik says:

    Since onone uses the Normal mode, and most people seem to use the Page/Print Layout Mode, perhaps that should be renamed to be the Normal mode?

  13. Ilya Birman says:

    I agree with aidan_walsh, Ahruman indeed is correct 🙂

    By the way, I use web document mode. I will switch to print layout only in (rare) case I want to actually print something.

  14. Centaur says:

    Let’s do an experiment.

    Suppose I want a title page. A title page shall include: the document title, centered horizontally and vertically in the page; the author name just below the title, left-aligned at the center; and the city name and year, centered horizontally and aligned at the bottom. Okay, since Word cannot position objects relative to each other, let’s loosen the requirements: the title and author name shall be vertically centered in the page, as a whole.

    Normally, I would create a frame, center horizontally, center vertically, write the title inside it, and apply the Title style. Modify Title style, Centered, Arial Bold 36pt. Add another paragraph, write my name, apply Author style. Modify Author style, align left, left margin 10 cm. Create another frame, center horizontally, align bottom, write city and year, apply CityAndYear style. Now, my title page is robust to most page size changes (except alignment of author name).

    Now let’s do the same with Click-and-type. Double-click somewhere roughly in the middle of the page. Word adds a bunch of empty paragraphs (this immediately raises the “Fragile formatting” red flag in my head, but I will bear with it for a while) and formats the last one as Normal + Centered (this raises a second red flag “Presentational markup”). Write title. Now double-click somewhere below, making sure that Left align cursor is displayed. Word adds another bunch of empty paragraph, and in the last paragraph, sets up a left-aligned tab stop, without changing the left margin. Write author name. Double-click somewhere near the bottom center. Word adds yet another bunch of empty paragraphs. Now, if we change the page size, or page margins, or pretty much anything else, the city/year will overflow onto the second page. The title will be almost, but not quite, vertically centered. I’ve had enough fragile documents. Now I know where they come from.

  15. Meatgrinder says:

    I must agree with Centaur. This feature falls under the "Cute… now how do I turn it off?" category. Tools – Options – Edit, remove the check next to "Enable click and type". (In Word 2007, you’ll find this somewhere else. Currently, Word Options – Advanced – Edit. Once beta 2 is released, this might change.)

  16. Giga says:

    I think that many "cute" features of office are for users who don’t know how to use office 😉

    Many users don’t know what is "tabulator", "frame", "page break" or even "styles". They don’t see any difference between "end of line" and "end of paragraph". Options like "Click and Type" helps them creating documents.

  17. Guess Who says:

    I’ve known about this feature ever since Office 2000 came out. However I just never have figured out what good it will serve me. Usally I just open a blank document and double click in random places to see where I can get the cursor to go. Wow, that made me sound like I need a life. But I really do do that, sorry for the misdata on your tapes Jensen, I wasn’t really using it for anything useful.

  18. Centaur says:


    > Many users don’t know what is "tabulator",

    > "frame", "page break" or even "styles". They don’t

    > see any difference between "end of line" and "end of

    > paragraph". Options like "Click and Type" helps

    > them creating documents.

    Yes. Click and Type, Bold/Italic/Underline buttons, font selector, size selector, they all help them *create* documents. However, they do not help them *maintain* those documents. And that’s the problem. For, once the documents need any modifications, they fall apart.

    I prefer to spend a little more time creating my documents, to have a guarantee that if I ever want to change anything, I will be able to do it quickly and correctly.

  19. bonney says:

    Hmmmm.  My office creates presentations and we only use the Normal view.

  20. Matt Lee says:

    I use this all the time when doing footers.  I put the file name on the left, "Page X of Y" in the center and the Saved Date on the right.  That’s about the only place i use it but i wouldn’t want to be without it.

  21. Tobek says:

    Gotta agree with Centaur, Meatgrinder, and Giga. This needs to be conpletely disabled. It’s just another way to generate competely unmaintainable documents. One of the key disciplines for document maintainability is ‘no empty paragraphs’.*

    *Unfortunately, tables (and some other objects) have no "space after" property, so this needs to be kludged with an empty paragraph.

    So, here’s my suggestion: either make this "feature" implement layout in a maintainable fashion, or chuck it out completely and give us the space after property for tables instead.

  22. Markus says:

    I have never heard of this feature, and in my office (about a dozen people, many of which having used word for years) no-one did either.

    As i see it, the feature is un-discoverable except by mistake, in which case most uses will ask themselves "what the heck happend now?", attributing it to the well-known flaky-ness of Word 😉

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