You can save pre-defined pieces of text for re-use in different Word documents

Word 2019 iconIn my last blog post, I described how you can use “autocorrect” in Word to correct your oft-repeated spelling mistakes automatically, and also to replace several words with just a few keystrokes.

There is a similar option called “Quick Parts” for more sophisticated situations.

The differences between “Quick Parts” and “Autocorrect” are:

  • Quick parts can have more than 255 characters
  • Quick parts can include formatting (such as a change of font)
  • Quick parts can include images
  • Autocorrect entries are stored in Word Options, whereas “Quick Parts” are stored in your document template

Note that I found that I could not “copy” an image from one program and then create a Quick Part (piece of auto-text) from it directly in Word. Instead, I found that it works if you “copy” from the first location, “paste” that into a Word document, and then create the “Quick Part” from the version that was pasted into the Word document.

Quick Parts

So, how do you create a chunk of text for re-use (this is also sometimes called a “boilerplate”)?

  • Create the text in a Word document (or paste it into a Word document if it has been copied from elsewhere)
  • Select the text in the usual way (eg by dragging your mouse over the text to be selected)
  • Go to the “Insert” menu
  • Click on the “Quick Parts” option (it is in the “Text” group towards the right of the menu)
  • Click on AutoText
  • Click on “Save Selection to AutoText Gallery”
  • Create a new name for this piece of boilerplate text or leave it as the default
  • Click on OK

You can, of course, explore the other options in the dialog box, but you’ve now done all you need to create a “building block” for re-use in any Word document. The more advanced options are for making life easier when you have lots of pieces of boilerplate in the Quick Parts gallery and might need some more organisation in order to find them quicker than it would have been to just type them again!

How do you insert a piece of “boilerplate text” into your document?

  • Make sure the cursor in your Word document is where you need it to be before inserting the boilerplate (or “building block”) at that place
  • Go to the “Insert” menu and click on the “Quick Parts” option (in the “text” group towards the right of the menu)
  • Click on AutoText
  • Scroll through your list of pieces of boilerplate text to find the relevant one
  • Highlight the desired piece of boilerplate by moving your cursor over it
  • Left-click the mouse or hit the Enter key

That’s it. You can use boilerplate text for addresses, clauses in contracts, terms and conditions, and so on.

PS: You might notice some changes in how this blog is delivered to you this week. Until now, I have always used a Google service to pick up new blog posts on my website and send them to you if you are a subscriber. Google will shortly be “retiring” that service, so I have had to find an alternative. Let me know if you like (or don’t like) any differences you notice. If you would like to become a subscriber, just complete the details in the “Susbcribe to fortnightly blog” box at the righthand side of any web page on this site).

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.

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Computer Support in London
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