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Text expansion tricks for working faster in Word

(MoneyWatch) Many of us spend hours each day in front of the computer, usually typing documents in Word. As any doctor, lawyer, marketer or media relations specialist can tell you, you don't have to be a writer to write. A lot.

And often, we end up writing the same sort of thing over and over again. Consider this very blog post, for example. In virtually every post I create, I have to start the post with the preface "(MoneyWatch)." Later in the post, I usually insert a number of links to other stories I think you, my esteemed reader, might find interesting, and there's a standard template of text I need to build from so it renders correctly on the Web. And many blogs end with a photo attribution that always follows the same format. If only there were a way to automate all that, so text I have to frequently write over and over I could instead insert with a keystroke.

Actually, there are a couple of ways to do this in Word, and you can simply choose the method that works best for you.

Inserting text with AutoCorrect. Word's AutoCorrect feature makes it easy to type a very short phrase and have it automatically "expand" into a much longer block of text. Here's what you do:

  • Start by selecting a block of text in Word that you'd like to automate. In the Ribbon, click File and then Options.
  • On the Word Options dialog box, click the Proofing and then click AutoCorrect Options.
  • In Replace, enter a shorthand phrase that you'd like to type and have it automatically expand to the selected text.

I highly recommend that you start the phrase with a special symbol, so you don't expand text by accident. For example, I have to type *photo to automatically add the photo attribution text to a document.

Insert text with Quick Parts. What if you don't want to memorize all of your little phrases to add text to a document? No problem, you can set up your text visually using Quick Parts. Here's how:

  • Select the text that you want to expand.
  • In the Ribbon, choose the Insert tab. Then click Quick Parts, and choose Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.

Now, when you want to add that text to a document, click Quick Parts and click the appropriate entry from the gallery. Don't want to have to always switch to the Insert tab and find Quick Parts? No worries: Right click Quick Parts and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar. Now it's at the top of the window, just above the Ribbon, and always available with a single click.