Using AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word

AutoCorrect is a feature in Microsoft Word that is much more useful than just correcting errors

Word 2019 iconIf, like me, you habitually make the same typing errors over and again, then you can use Word’s AutoCorrect feature to solve the problem. For instance, whenever I type the word “insurance” it always comes out as “insurnace”. If I tell AutoCorrect about this, it does what it says on the tin and automatically corrects the error every time I make it.

Microsoft Word has a lot of auto-corrections pre-configured. For instance, if you type in “accomodate”, it will automatically correct it to “accommodate”. As well as these common typing and spelling errors, there are also a number of “corrections” already built into the feature that let you quickly type “special” things that don’t appear on the keyboard. For instance, typing (c) will automatically be “corrected” (changed) to the copyright symbol, typing (e) will automatically be changed to the euro symbol. There are even a few autocorrections that replace your typing with smiley faces.

As well as adding corrections for your own and other spelling and typing errors, the AutoCorrect feature can also be used to create your own typing shortcuts. Suppose that I often need to type “The Magnificent Widget and Doobry Manufacturing Company (South London) Limited”. All I need to do is to assign a special sequence of characters (that I wouldn’t normally type) to act as a trigger (eg “mwdm” – without the quotes) and, thereafter, every time I type that sequence of characters, the desired replacement will take place. Note that the replacement does not take place until you add a space after the trigger text.

The desired replacement text can be up to 255 characters long (including spaces and punctuation). You can’t include instructions for starting a new line or paragraph within the replacement text. This means, for instance, that you can’t use the AutoCorrect feature to add your address at the top of a letter. If you want that level of sophistication (or if you want the replacement text to be more than 255 characters long), then you need the “AutoText” feature in Word instead of AutoCorrect.

Autocorrect options

To access the AutoCorrect feature in Word:

  • Click on the File command
  • Click on “Options” (bottom of the list in the lefthand sidebar)
  • Click on “Proofing”
  • Click on the “AutoCorrect Options” button

IncorrectTo create you own AutoCorrect entry, just type the trigger text in the box beneath “Replace” and the replacement text in the box beneath “With”. Make sure that the “Replace text as you type” box is ticked. Don’t worry if your replacement text is not all visible in the box at the same time. It will still work as long as it is 255 characters or less.

You can scroll through the entire list of AutoCorrect entries. If there are any that you don’t want, just highlight them and click on “Delete”.

Click on “OK” when you have finished and test to see that the replacement works as desired.

Some people (myself included) might wish to have a list of items labelled (a), (b), (c), and so on. This could be a problem as (c) is used as trigger text for the copyright symbol. If you come up against this type of problem, you can temporarily turn off AutoCorrect by unchecking the box next to “replace text as you type”. Alternatively, you can delete the pre-configured option if you don’t think you need it.

(Last updated 16/07/2021)