Apply Styles to Text in OneNote Using Keyboard Shortcut

Applying styles to text in OneNote is now even easier using keyboard shortcuts. Instead of using your mouse to click three buttons, you can now perform one keyboard shortcut to get the same result.

Bonus: Save yourself some time – simply place your cursor in the phrase you want to format (i.e. don’t waste time highlighting the phrase) then use the following keyboard shortcuts to apply styles:

CTRL + ALT  + [Style #]

Take a look at this example of a page where I was doing some product research where I wanted to apply Style Header 1 to some text:







I love that I don’t have to move my fingers away from the keyboard. I can format as I type, which saves me time in the long run. Some people groan when I mention keyboard shortcut. I get it. It’s a personal preference. If you’re devoted to your mouse then click away. But if you’d like to reduce the number of times you have to reach for the mouse in a given day, then keyboard shortcuts can be very helpful.

Others who like shortcuts complain that there are too many shortcuts too remember. Fair enough. I am challenging myself to learn and integrate one new keyboard shortcut into my work habits each month. It may seem daunting at first, but you’ll be surprised how many you pick up and remember – especially if you are performing a specific type of action – such as formatting headings – multiple times a day.

Your future self with thank you!

Don’t believe me?

Take a look at these screenshots to see how many clicks it takes with a mouse to reach the same result:

Option #1 for formatting text:


Option #2 for formatting text:


There you have it – three clicks. When you’re working away from the office, say, on a laptop with no mouse, and you’re at the whim of the finicky touchpad, keyboard shortcuts make life so much sweeter.

Here’s the shortcut again for those whose brains prefer to see them laid out horizontally.

Keyboard Shortcut to Apply Style Header 1:




What about all the other styles?

Just swap the number 1 key stroke for a different number – keyboard shortcuts available from heading styles 1 through 6.


What do the styles look like?



And remember: you don’t have to go to Google to lookup shortcut. Simply hover your cursor over the button for any function in OneNote and a popup will appear that tells you the shortcut.


For the complete list of keyboard shortcuts for OneNote 2013: check out Microsoft’s Keyboard shortcuts in OneNote 2013 support article.


PS – Heads up: I have printable Quick Reference Guides for OneNote Keyboard Shortcuts Basics and OneNote Keyboard Shortcuts Advanced in the works. (I’ll update this post with hyperlinks to the PDF files when they’re complete.)

2 responses to “Apply Styles to Text in OneNote Using Keyboard Shortcut

    1. That is a tough one. I was looking at the same problem recently. Basically, the “Code” style does not have a shortcut, and in recent versions of OneNote you normally can’t modify them.

      The best solution I could come up with was to add styles button to quick access toolbar (QATB). By doing this, the button gets assigned a shortcut Alt+[Some Digit], depending on the styles button position in QATB. Once invoked, the style list is opened, so you can navigate and select the Code.

      Actually, there is a bit of luck here, because when the style list is opened, current style is automatically selected. Normally, I want to change to code from the normal style, which is right next to code in the style list.

      So, for example, on my PC, to apply the code style, I need to press: Alt+4, then Up, then ENTER. Maybe not as good as Alt+Shift+[Something], but still pretty decent….

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