Microsoft Word has a feature called ‘overtype’ which annoys many of the users that I meet through my assistive technology assessments and training sessions.
Normally when you type into a document any letters that are in front of the current cursor position get pushed forward as you start typing. An example would be to add the word ‘new’ to this sentence:
My sister has bought a dress
My sister has bought a new dress
To accomplish this you would simply position the text cursor between ‘a’ and ‘dress’ and add the word ‘new’.
However, when Microsoft Word’s overtype mode is enabled any text that you add will write over any existing text that sits in front of it. So the previous sentence would become:
My sister has bought a news
Why does it happen?
Overtype mode is particularly irksome as it is very easy to inadvertently turn it on and off. In Microsoft Word this is accomplished by pressing, often accidentally, the INS (Insert) key. This key is very close to the backspace key on a standard keyboard. The current status of the Overtype mode is indicated by the letters OVR on Word’s Status Bar.
Overtype mode is off. Typing will work as expected.
Overtype mode is on. Typing will overwrite existing text.
How can I stop it?
It’s easy enough to turn the Overtype Mode on and off using the OVR key but it can still be very frustrating for people, particularly when they often press the INS key accidentally. Here’s how to disable the INS keyboard shortcut for overtype, thus removing the problem:
In Microsoft Word, select Customize from the Tools menu. [ALT , T , C]
Click on the Keyboard button. [ALT + K]
Scroll down the Categories list and select All Commands [ALT + C , A]
Now scroll down the Commands list and select Overtype. You can jump to this more quickly by clicking on any entry and pressing the ‘P’ key. [ALT + O, P , Up Arrow]
The default shortcut key for enabling Overtype mode is the INSERT key. You should be able to see this assignment. You should see this in the Current Keys list. To remove the shortcut simply click on it and press the Remove button. [ALT + U, Down Arrow, Alt + R]
Click Close to close the Options dialog box. [Esc]
3 thoughts on “Microsoft Word Overtype Mode”
I HAVE PLCED A WORD I WANT TO TAKE OUT OF THE TOP DISPLAY OF WORDS. HOW WOULD I DO THAT???? THANKS
Thank you a thousand times! My new laptop has random, undocumented shortcuts for the insert key and it feels like Microsoft tries to deliberately make newer versions of Word consistently worse and more unusable for actual touch typists and professional writers. I loathe them for it and am about ready to switch to Linux and any alternative to their continued and baffling assault on literacy and basic human decency. This helpful tip at least puts that remedy out a bit further.
Thank you! This helped a lot.
Just press the ‘insert’ key on the keyboard to turn off and on overtype (at least for windows 10).