Understanding AutoCorrect, AutoText and AutoComplete: MS Word

Dennis Faas's picture

It's very easy to confuse the three powerful "Autos" in Word. It is very helpful to be able to distinguish between these three distinct features.

When you find yourself inserting the same text over and over again, you can create an AutoText entry. When you begin to type, Word suggests the completion. You can press Enter or F to accept the suggestion or just ignore it.

Similar to AutoCorrect, where you can type an abbreviation which Word automatically expands, AutoText allows you to control whether the abbreviation expands.

AutoText is one of Word's most powerful timesavers. AutoText entries are frequently used text, graphics, fields, and other items which can be recalled quickly into any document. Because AutoText works with AutoComplete, you need only type the first few letters of an AutoText Entry in order to insert it.

While you get the most out of AutoText if you create your own entries, Word comes with many useful AutoText entries already created and categorized for you.

AutoCorrect differs from AutoText in that it really is automatic. In other words, you don't choose to make a substitution as you do with AutoText -- Word goes right ahead and makes it for you. AutoCorrect is used primarily to make automatic corrections to what you type. Using AutoCorrect, you essentially indicate one word (the misspelled word) to be replaced with another word (the correct word).

AutoComplete is a feature that allows you to see AutoText mnemonics that may be applicable based on what you are typing. When AutoComplete is turned on and you type the first four unique letters of an AutoText mnemonic, Word displays a ToolTip next to what you are typing, to inform you that an AutoText entry is available for what you are starting to type.

Notice that AutoComplete works hand-in-hand with AutoText. AutoComplete is not associated with AutoCorrect, other than being controlled through a setting on the AutoText tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box.

Creating an AutoText Entry

AutoText entries you create are, by default, stored in Normal.dot. While it's possible to store AutoText entries in other templates, those stored in Normal.dot remain available to you in all documents you work on at your PC.

To create an AutoText entry:

  1. Select the text you want to become an AutoText entry.
  2. Click Insert | AutoText | New (or ALT + F3). The Create AutoText dialog box displays.
  3. Type a memorable, one-word name for the entry.
  4. Click OK.

You can also use a mnemonic for your AutoText entry such as COS for a Certificate Of Service. When you type the mnemonic for an AutoText entry, you must then press F3 to replace that mnemonic with it's associated block of text. On a Mac, Command | Option | v.)

To insert the AutoText into a document, begin to type its name. When the AutoComplete appears, suggesting the AutoText entry, press Enter to insert it in the document. To delete or modify it, choose Tools | AutoCorrect and click the AutoText tab.

Many of the default AutoText entries that Word provides are short items commonly used in business letters. You can see a list on the submenu when you choose Insert | AutoText.

Another quick way of creating and using AutoText entries is to enable the AutoText toolbar. To do this, simply, right-click anywhere on an empty spot next to your toolbars and select the AutoText toolbar or Click on View | Toolbars and select it there.

Think of all the possibilities that you have available to you now and think of all the time you are going to save using these great Autos that Word has provided to you!

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