Microsoft’s AutoCorrect feature is a powerful editing tool
The power that Microsoft harnesses with its AutoCorrect feature goes ignored much of the time. How often have you misspelled a word only to realize Word has already corrected it for you? This feature has a set of rules that assist users with frequent typos and common improper sentence structures, such as a new sentence being started with a lower-case letter.
AutoCorrect also identifies common ways to misspell words. An example of a common misspelled word is the. Quick typists often mis-key teh instead.
The AutoCorrect tool can aid users by correcting common misspelled words automatically and capitalizing first letters in sentences. It will even adjust text with accidental usage of caps locks, while being smart enough to recognize common acronyms. The Microsoft tool makes assumptions about your text and automatically changes the text to what it thinks you are attempting to type.
Start with the basics of AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word
- In a new document, type the word teh and hit the space bar.
- You’ll notice teh has been changed to the and has been capitalized since it was the first word in a sentence.
- Type a lower case i and press the space bar.
- In English, we capitalize this personal pronoun. AutoCorrect automatically applies this rule.
- What about symbols? AutoCorrect recognizes several symbols as common smiley faces/emoticons or arrows.
- Type = =>, then press the space bar. AutoCorrect believes you are attempting to make an arrow and will turn into this block arrow: è.
What happens when you really want teh typed instead of the? Maybe teh represents a term in your industry. How do you stop Autocorrect from changing your text? This can be a cyclical process if users do not understand how to work with AutoCorrect instead of against it. Most users fight this process by backspacing and retyping repeatedly until the program stops doing what it is supposed to do by keeping changed text and no longer correcting.
But fighting the program isn’t necessary. While Microsoft’s Autocorrect function occasionally makes incorrect assumptions, the typist always has a means to revert it back to the intended text. Simply hover over the changed item. You will see a blue line under the text that Autocorrect altered, along with a lightning bolt icon. This is the AutoCorrect smart tag, which allows users to revert to the text originally entered.
Replace text as you type
One of the main advantages of AutoCorrect is the Replace Text as You Type feature. Every industry has acronyms that can become time consuming to write out, but it is important for readers to understand information. With Replace Text as You Type, users can choose two or more letters to assign to any term. As with the case of AutoCorrect, once Word encounters those letters and the spacebar is pressed, it will replace the acronym with the full term.
In this scenario, I no longer want to type out NetGain Technologies in my Word documents. I will use AutoCorrect to recognize every instance I key of “ngt + spacebar” and have NetGain Technologies inserted instead.
- From the File tab, select Options.
- Select the Proofing category in the left menu, then select AutoCorrect Options.
- Within the AutoCorrect dialog box are these features:
- At the top (marked section 1 in the image below) are the default rules for AutoCorrect.
- Section 2 is the Replace Text as you Type
- The left column of section 3 shows existing symbols and words that are commonly mis-keyed or misspelled, while the right column displays the corrected text or symbol.
- To use the Replace Text as you Type, type in the letters you would like to assign to your acronym into the Replace: field (section 2) and type the full unabbreviated term in the With: field
- As you key in the letters to assign to the term in the Replace: field, you will notice that the program is searching to see if any existing words are already assigned to that letter combination.
- At this point, I can see that there are no entries assigned to ngt so I’m ready to save the new text.
- Select Add to save the new letter combination into the default list of AutoCorrect entries.
- You may remove letter combinations if no longer needed by selecting the entry and clicking the Delete
Inserting AutoText in Word: 2007, 2010, and 2013
Another popular AutoCorrect feature is AutoText. Most users of Word are familiar with the feature, which gives users the option to insert familiar or common text automatically.
In previous versions of Microsoft Office, the AutoText feature was set up by default. When users keyed the first four letters of common text (such as Thank you, Attention, Sincerely, Best regards, and Respectfully), a tag would appear at the bottom. Pressing Enter would cause Word to insert the remainder of the word into the document. AutoText in newer versions of Word recognizes only days of the week and months. Users entering the same text in newer Word documents (i.e., Word 2007 to Word 2013) do not see this feature by default.
AutoText still exists, however, and is found under the Insert tab by selecting the Quick Parts submenu and then AutoText. You will notice that only a few items currently exist by default. The good news is you can create your own based on any selected text. Quick Parts are simply template blocks of content that you want to reuse.
How to Add AutoText Entries
- Open a new Word document. The objective will be to save Thank you, as a closing greeting so I will no longer need to type out fully.
- Type Thank you, in the new document, being sure to include proper capitalization and a comma.
- Select the full text that you wish to save in the Quick Parts
- From the Insert tab, select Quick Parts.
- Select Save Selection to the Quick Part Gallery.
- A new dialog box appears with several fields to name and organize the AutoText entry and tell Word how to insert this content each instance.
- Name: A default name appears, based on the text selected. For our example I will leave the name unaltered.
- Gallery: For any AutoText entry, ensure that this field is labeled as AutoText; this will allow the option for automatic insertion.
- Description: This optional field is useful to distinguish from other, similar content as you build more reusable content.
- Save In: This field describes in which template the item will be usable. Every document is created based on a template. By default, your AutoText will be set to the normal.dotm template.
- Options: This field determines how the contents will be inserted into the document.
- Press OK.
Now let’s test the AutoText entries using the process described above.
- In a new document begin to type Thank. After you’ve keyed in the first four letters a tag should appear that will instruct you to Press Enter to Insert.
- Type in a paragraph of text that you will reuse. I have created a welcome letter for this example that is intended to be sent to each new employee as they join my department.
- Select the full text (as indicated by the grey in the image above).
- From the Insert tab, select Quick Parts, then Save Selection to the AutoText Gallery.
- Complete the fields to name and organize your content.
- Press OK.
- Test it to make sure the new command is working.
Remember: The point of the AutoText tool is to be able to type just the first four letters of the text and press Enter for automatic insertion of text. If you do not select AutoText from the Gallery field during the setup phase, this option will not work. You may modify the AutoText rule as needed.
We previously discussed email signatures in Outlook. AutoText for the Office suite has several similarities to Outlook’s signatures. Recall that you can use the signatures for more than just your name and title. What frequently typed text would you like to replace with a shorter text? A short setup process will save you time and effort when preparing future documents.