How to Work with Word Text Quickly

Typing repetitive documents is dull. Word has a few features you can use to eliminate some of the drudgery. 


When activated, AutoCorrect automatically fixes common typing mistakes, such as "teh" for "the." If you find that level of interruption alarming, you may want to turn it off. Choose Tools, AutoCorrect and deselect Replace Text as You Type.

If you like AutoCorrect, you can add more entries for your favorite boo boos. Choose Tools, AutoCorrect again. You see a big list of words with the incorrect spellings of the words on the left and the correct spellings on the right. Type the incorrect and correct spelling of a word into the Replace and With boxes. Be sure that Replace Text as You Type is enabled.

Another way to use AutoCorrect is to expand long words or abbreviations. For example, if you work for a business with a convoluted name, such as Johnson, Jackson, Jones and Jacobson, you could create an AutoCorrect entry called "jj" that magically changes this acronym into the full company name.

However, when you add AutoCorrect entries, be sure you don’t add an abbreviation that is actually a word. For example, if your company name is Beyond Entertainment, and you create an AutoCorrect entry called "be," you will find the words Beyond Entertainment in a lot more places than you expected.

You can use AutoCorrect to store both text and formatting as well. Highlight text and choose Tools, AutoCorrect. The highlighted text is inserted into the With box. This way, you can store formatted text such as fields, symbols, paragraph marks, imported graphics, or other non-text objects. Be sure to click the Formatted Text radio button to tell Word to save the entry with its original formatting.

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AutoText is the cousin to AutoCorrect. Although AutoText isn’t quite as speedy to use, it has a couple of aspects that can make it more flexible in certain situations.

The most important difference between the AutoCorrect and AutoText is that you can save AutoText entries with a templates. AutoCorrect entries are always saved into the NORMAL.DOT template, so they are available to you no matter what document you work on. With AutoText, you can save the entries to a specific template or copy them between templates.

AutoText also doesn’t replace every instance of a certain set keystrokes with a block of text. You must hit the F3 key to activate an AutoText entry. For example, if you create an AutoText entry called "be" for Beyond Entertainment, it wouldn’t be replaced every time you type the word be. You have to press F3 to change be to Beyond Entertainment.

To create an AutoText entry:

  1. Select the text or graphics you want to store as AutoText. If you want to include formatting in the entry, make sure you include the paragraph mark in your selection.
  2. Choose Edit, AutoText.
  3. In the Name box, type a name for the entry. Word suggests a (usually stupid) name, but you can type over the selection.
  4. If you want the entry to be attached to a specific template, change the Make AutoText entry Available to drop-down box to a different template. The default setting is "All documents." If you leave the drop-down with this setting, the entry is saved into the Normal template.
  5. Click the Add button.

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Very few people know about the Spike, but it can be very useful when you need to move a lot of text from one document to another. Unlike the regular Windows clipboard, with the Spike you can cut multiple items. When you add items into the Spike, it keeps the new items along with whatever you already placed in it until you clear the Spike.

The trick to the Spike is that you are removing (as opposed to copying) text and graphics from a document. Although you can put the items into another document, you have to cut them first. To avoid damaging the original document, make sure you don’t save it when you close the file. Once the items are in the Spike, you can insert them into another document or the same document.

To use the Spike:

  1. Highlight the text or graphics and press Ctrl+F3
  2. Repeat step 1 until you all the items you need are stored in the Spike.
  3. Place your cursor where you want to insert the stuff stored in the Spike. Be sure to place your cursor so it is at the beginning of a line or surrounded by spaces.
  4. Press Ctrl+Shift+F3 to insert the contents of the Spike and clear the Spike,. To insert the contents without clearing the Spike, type "spike" and pressing F3.

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Sneaky Find and Replace

You can use Find and Replace to dramatically speed up your work. The trick is to use it to find unusual things like tab characters, field codes, formatting, styles, or spaces. For example, if you tend to type two spaces instead of one after a period, you can use Replace to quickly replace two spaces with one space.

To use Find or Replace, choose Edit, Find or Edit, Replace. To search for special characters, click the Special button and select an item. Or you can type the codes directly into the Find box. For weird text or items, often you can copy text from the document (Ctrl+C) and paste it into the Find What box (Ctrl+V).

When you convert documents from another format, sometimes you end with a lot of extra stuff. One quick and easy thing you can do is remove the extra paragraph returns. First find three paragraphs (^p^p^p) and replace them with two (^p^p). Or if a file has a table embedded in it that was formatted with spaces instead of tabs, you can find and replace multiple spaces with a tab (^t). After you’ve done that, you can highlight the tabbed text and select Table, Convert Text to Table to create a regular Word table.

These are the special characters you use with Find and Replace:

  • Paragraph mark: ^p
  • Tab character: ^t
  • Annotation mark: ^a
  • ANSI or ASCII characters: ^0+3-digit character code number
  • Any character: ^?
  • Any digit: ^#
  • Any letter: ^$
  • Caret character: ^^
  • The contents of the clipboard: ^c
  • The contents of the Find What box: ^&
  • Endnote mark: ^e
  • Field: ^d
  • Footnote mark: ^f
  • Graphic: ^g
  • Column break: ^n
  • Manual line break: ^l
  • Manual page break: ^m
  • Section break: ^b
  • Em dash: ^+
  • En dash: ^=
  • Nonbreaking space: ^s
  • Nonbreaking hyphen: ^~
  • Optional hyphen: ^-
  • White space: ^w

Find and Replace also works for styles. If you formatted your document with styles, you can change the formatting of all the text formatted in one style to another using Replace All instead of going through and reapplying styles to every paragraph.
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About Susan Daffron

Susan Daffron is the author the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies and multiple award-winning nonfiction books, including several about pets and animal rescue. Check out all her books on her Amazon Author page.