Microsoft Word Tips: AutoCorrect and AutoText

Do you find yourself typing in the same familiar text into your business documents again and again? Whether it’s boilerplates, executive bios or directions to your store, two tools in Microsoft Word — AutoCorrect and AutoText – can help you to insert text into a document with minimal effort.

While the two tools look very similar – confusingly so – they are quite different. We’ll show you how you can use AutoCorrect and AutoText to speed up your day’s work.

AutoCorrect Basics
You probably already use AutoCorrect – it is the tool that automatically fixes a spelling mistake for you. So, for example, if you continually type “thier” instead of “their” you can have Word automatically correct the typing mistake every time you make it.

Spelling screen shot
Whenever you ask to AutoCorrect a common typo, Word creates a new AutoCorrect entry.
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To do this, type the word incorrectly so that Word identifies it as an error, spell check the document and, when the error is displayed, from the Suggestions list select the correctly spelled suggested word and click AutoCorrect. If you are using the Spell-check-as-you type-option, right-click on the misspelled word, choose AutoCorrect and then select the correctly spelled version.

Automatically correcting common typos is one application for AutoCorrect, but you can use it for other things too. For example, if you frequently include a disclaimer or other long piece of text in your documents, you can have AutoCorrect automatically insert the disclaimer for you when you type a predetermined string of characters.

Because AutoCorrect works automatically you need to make sure the string of characters that you type is not, in fact, a word that you’re likely to use in regular typing. So you should not, for example, use the letters “disc” as shorthand for a disclaimer since “disc” is a word that you might well use in another context. One solution to this problem is to type a digit or character such as an @ symbol before the string of characters.

Auto Correct screen shot
You can create your own AutoCorrect entries for automatic text replacement.
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To set up an AutoCorrect entry for a disclaimer, for example, first type the disclaimer text and check it carefully. Select the text and choose Tools > AutoCorrect Options > AutoCorrect tab. In the Replace box type the string that you will type whenever you need to enter the particular clause (in our case that would be @disc). Select the Plain Text or Formatted Text option and click Add. Note that there is a limit of 255 characters for Plain Text, which makes this option suitable only for small pieces of text. You can use much larger pieces of text if you select the Formatted Text option – it seems like it should work the other way around, but it doesn’t.

Once you have done this, check that the AutoCorrect option works by typing your character string and pressing the spacebar or Enter key. The string you typed should be replaced immediately by the disclaimer text. If not, check the AutoCorrect dialog by choosing Tools > AutoCorrect Options > AutoCorrect tab and make sure that the Replace Text As You Type checkbox is enabled.

Because AutoCorrect is an automatic replacement and not a discretionary one, you might need to undo it occasionally. If you do, once the replacement has happened, undo it by choosing Edit > Undo.

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