Put Office's AutoCorrect feature to work for you

Customize the AutoCorrect option in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to make short work of long, common words.

If I had a nickel for every time I've typed the word "Microsoft," and another two cents for each occasion I've had to enter "Windows," I just might own the dang company by now.

I'll bet you've got your own list of terms you've typed so often you can barely see the letters on their keys anymore. But there's no need for you to spell them out each time you need to use them. Just enter them once in the AutoCorrect dialog box in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other Office apps along with the abbreviations of your choice. Then simply type the abbreviation to have the entire word (or words) displayed when you press the space bar.

Start by making a list of the longish terms you type repeatedly. (I'll use the 50 states as an example.) Then in Office 2003 apps, click Tools > AutoCorrect > AutoCorrect Options (or press Alt, T, A in succession). In Office 2007 programs, click the Office button, choose the options button on the bottom-right of the window, select Proofing, and choose the AutoCorrect Options button (or press Alt, F, I, press the down arrow to select Proofing, press Tab to select AutoCorrect Options, and press Enter).

In the Replace field near the middle of the window, enter the full term you want to create a shortcut for. In the With field, type the first two or three letters of the word or term (make sure it isn't itself a word you're likely to type, such as "to" or "of"). For example, I entered each state name in the Replace field, and its two-letter abbreviation in the With field, but I changed "me" to "mai" for "Maine" and "or" to "orn" for "Oregon."

Microsoft Word 2007 AutoCorrect Options dialog box
Add the long words and phrases you type most often, along with a two- or three-letter abbreviation, in Office's AutoCorrect Options dialog box. Microsoft

After your custom list of terms and shortcuts have been added to those built into Office, simply type the shortcut and press the spacebar to enter the full term.

Tomorrow: Transfer your custom AutoCorrect list to another PC.

About the author

    Dennis O'Reilly began writing about workplace technology as an editor for Ziff-Davis' Computer Select, back when CDs were new-fangled, and IBM's PC XT was wowing the crowds at Comdex. He spent more than seven years running PC World's award-winning Here's How section, beginning in 2000. O'Reilly has written about everything from web search to PC security to Microsoft Excel customizations. Along with designing, building, and managing several different web sites, Dennis created the Travel Reference Library, a database of travel guidebook reviews that was converted to the web in 1996 and operated through 2000.


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