The Curious Case of Strikethrough in Word and Excel

By David Ringstrom, CPA
I often find myself using the strikethrough feature in both Word and Excel to mark items as completed. This feature is fairly straightforward in Word, as a strikethrough icon appears prominently on the Home tab in Word 2007 and later. Conversely, in Excel this feature doesn't have its own icon, but it does have a keyboard shortcut, Ctrl-5. Yet there's no built-in shortcut for strikethrough in Word. In this article, I'll describe a couple of ways that you can streamline access to this  and pretty much any feature  in both Word and Excel.
As shown in Figure 1, the strikethrough feature is a font setting that allows you to draw a line through text. In Word 2007 and later, you can select a block of text and then toggle strikethrough on or off with a mouse click. You can also access this feature from the Effects section of the Fonts dialog box shown in Figure 1. The traditional way to apply strikethrough in Excel involves carrying out steps A through C by way of the Format Cells dialog box.
Figure 1: Two different ways to apply strikethrough in Microsoft Word.
As noted previously, in Microsoft Excel you can bypass the Format Cells dialog box by pressing Ctrl-5. Yet, if you press Ctrl-5 in Word you'll change the line spacing of your paragraph to 1.5 instead of toggling strikethrough on or off. Fortunately, there are two easy ways to force both Word and Excel to use the same shortcut for strikethrough. Further, you can use either of these techniques to unify keyboard shortcuts for any feature that appears in both programs.
Create a Custom Keyboard Shortcut in Word
Microsoft Word offers the useful ability create custom keyboard shortcuts for any of its features. Thus, you can easily reassign Ctrl-5 in Word to the strikethrough feature so that you have a consistent shortcut in both Word and Excel, as shown in Figure 2. 
Figure 2: You can create a custom keyboard shortcut for any feature in Word.
If you later change your mind about a custom keyboard shortcut in Word, repeat steps 1 and 2 and then click the Remove button. The Remove button is disabled in Figure 2 because no keyboard shortcut has been assigned to the strikethrough feature. You can use the technique shown in Figure 2 with virtually any Word feature, even those that appear within a dialog box. Press Ctrl-Alt-+ anywhere in Word, click a command or feature, and then assign the keyboard shortcut of your choice.
Quick Access Toolbar
Although Excel doesn't allow you to remap keyboard shortcuts in the same fashion as Word, you can use the Quick Access Toolbar in Office 2007 and later to create your own keyboard shortcuts. In Word, you can simply right-click on a command and then choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar, as shown in Figure 3. Once a command appears on your Quick Access Toolbar, press the Alt key to reveal its keyboard shortcut. If a feature isn't present in the Ribbon, as with the strikethrough feature in Excel, you can still add the command to your Quick Access Toolbar, as shown in Figure 4.
Figure 3: Right-click on any ribbon icon in Office 2007 and later to add it to the Quick Access Toolbar.
Figure 4: There are many hidden commands you can add to the Quick Access Toolbar in Office 2007 and later.
Use these same steps in Microsoft Word to reposition the strikethrough command on your Quick Access toolbar to have the same shortcut in both applications. As an added bonus, you can use this same technique in any Office 2007, 2010, or 2013 application, which includes Outlook, PowerPoint, and Access. 
Read more articles by David Ringstrom. 
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA, heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link.


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