Using Office AutoCorrect to Save Typing


AutoCorrect is the magical Office feature that corrects your spelling or transforms character-based symbols into upper ascii characters.  If you perpetually type “teh” instead of “the” because of a lazy index finger, AutoCorrect will transform “teh” into “the”.  If you type (c) in place of the copyright notice AutoCorrect will transform it to ascii character 0169, like this ©.  Pretty cool.  AutoCorrect can also be used to save you the trouble of typing long, complicated phrases by typing a simple abbreviation and leaving the rest to AutoCorrect. Here’s how.

Let’s say you are working on a PowerPoint presentation where you have to type “Palomar Community College District” numerous times—or, more likely, numerous times across multiple presentations.  To set up an AutoCorrect abbreviation for this phrase—so that you type the abbreviation and it will immediately be replaced by the phrase—click on the File tab > Options > Proofing > and then click the AutoCorrect Options… button.

autocorrect options button

In the AutoCorrect dialog box be sure “Replace text as you type” is checked.

Replace Text As You Type

In the “Replace” field type an abbreviation, something like “.pccd” and in the “With” field type out the entire phrase, without quotation marks, of course.

Replace With Add

Now click the Add button.  Note that the abbreviation begins with a period.  If you get into the habit of using a period before your abbreviations (or some other special character like the percent sign or carat sign) you will minimize the chances that AutoCorrect will transform unintentionally your abbreviation into its full text equivalent.  The period is easiest to use since it is a simple keystroke, where other signs require holding shift and pressing a key.  Further, except for file extensions in technical papers, characters rarely follow a period.

Now when you type “.pccd” and press the space bar the application you are using (Word, Outlook, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) will replace your abbreviation with the full text.  Your abbreviation will persist between Office applications and over time.  If you ever want to get rid of an AutoCorrect abbreviation, simply scan down the list of AutoCorrect fields until you find the one you want to get rid of, click on it, and click the Delete button.  (Adding a period in front of your abbreviation will also help in finding them, because they will sort to the top of the list).

Delete Abbreviation

In the unlikely event that AutoCorrect changes something that you don’t want changed, hover your cursor over the text and you will see a small blue line appear under the first letter of the transformed text.  Hover your mouse over this line and you will see a little lightning bolt icon.  Click its drop-down an you will be given these three options.

Change Back Choice

Select the one you want.

If you want to use formatted text in your AutoCorrect substitution, it must be copied from your document in its formatted state before creating the shortcut.

That’s it.  It seems like an easy thing, but comes in marvelous handy when you have to use the same phrase repeatedly.

Happy typing.