Work fast with Microsoft Word Quick Parts


Microsoft Word Quick Parts makes some of the AutoText and Building Blocks features easily available on the Insert tab of the ribbon. Quick Parts helps you store and quickly insert content into your documents easier.



If you have blocks of text that you need typed out frequently in your documents, you can use the AutoText feature in Word to insert them by typing a short code instead. The following discusses utilizing AutoText in Word, storing entries efficiently, and more. Once you understand AutoText, inserting blocks of text into your document will be very easy.

AutoText allows you assign text or graphics to a keyword and then replace the keyword with the text or graphics whenever you want. If you have been using Word for some time now, chances are pretty good that you have developed quite a few AutoText entries for things like signature blocks in letters, boilerplate text, and long, hard-to-spell words.

Backing Up Your AutoText Entries

Do you have a number of AutoText entries defined already? You'll undoubtedly want to back them up at some time.

Assuming you have quite a few AutoText entries, you may be wondering how you can back up those entries so they can be moved to a different computer. It is quite easy to do, really. All you need to do is back up your template files. This is where the AutoText entries are stored.

It is likely most of your commonly used AutoText entries are in the Normal template file, so backing up this file will help you retain the majority of your information. Many Word users, however, also store AutoText entries in other template files. For example, you may only have your AutoText entry for your signature block stored in the template you use to create letters.

Changing Fonts for AutoText Entries

If you use AutoText entries a lot, you may wonder if you can change the formatting stored with your existing entries. The answer lies with Word's inability to allow any editing of AutoText entries. Let's say you have a number of AutoText entries that are formatted using 11-pt Calibri font. You want to change these to 10-pt Arial, so she is wondering if there is a way to change the font specification on these AutoText entries without having to recreate all of them.

The short answer is that you cannot edit AutoText entries, you can only replace them. However it is not that challenging to do the replacing--just insert the entry, make the changes, select the entry, and save it using the same name as it previously had. Word asks you if you want to replace the entry; you should answer yes.

There is one caveat that has to do with where AutoText entries are stored. By default they are stored in the Normal template file. You should note where the AutoText entry you are replacing is originally stored and make sure that you store the replacement in the same template. It is fairly easy to tell if you stored the replacement AutoText entry in the wrong place. If Word doesn't ask if you want to replace the existing entry when you save the replacement, you then know that you saved the entry in a different template where there is no identically named AutoText entry to be replaced.

Correctly Repeated Words

There are times when you need to repeat a word in a document, but doing so triggers an "error reaction" from Word's spelling checker. Here's some ways that you can force Word to accept your intentional repetitions.

Word has a spell checker that tries to helpfully point out potential errors in your documents. For most people, the potential errors are marked with a red underline. As detailed in other issues of WordTips, you can modify how the spell checker does its work by adding words to a custom dictionary, or by creating an exclusion file. One of the spelling errors that Word always marks, however, is double words. Type in "the the," and Word underlines the second "the" as being incorrect.

A problem crops up when words really should be duplicated. For instance, if you type in the name "Maker Maker", the second "Maker" is marked as a spelling error because the word is repeated. There is no way to turn off this spelling check function, and there is no way to add the double word (Maker Maker) to the dictionary as a correct word. Even if you open the custom dictionary and add "Maker Maker" to it, the word is still marked as incorrect by the spell checker.

The only solution is to fool Word into thinking that Maker Maker is a single word. You can accomplish this by using a non-breaking space between the first "Maker" and the second. A non-breaking space is created by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Space. The word is not marked as incorrect by the spell checker after this is done. The setback is that the two words are now treated as a single word, which will affect how line breaks are determined--if a line break would normally occur between the first "Maker" and the second, the entire phrase will now be shifted to the second line.

Creating an AutoText List

The AUTOTEXTLIST field is one of those esoteric fields that you may know nothing about. The cool thing it does is it allows you to define a drop-down list that automatically displays options based on AutoText entries in your document.

The AutoText feature of Word is very powerful. It allows you to assign common blocks of text to shorter placeholder names that you define. If you use AutoText quite a bit, you should create a drop-down list of AutoText entries in your document. This is done most easily through the use of the AUTOTEXTLIST field. For example, lets say you have an area of your document where you want the reader to select from several different AutoText entries that can be inserted in a particular spot. You can follow these steps:

Position the insertion point where you want the drop-down list to appear.

Press Ctrl+F9 to insert a pair of field braces. The insertion point should be between the braces.

Enter your field so that it appears as shown here: { AUTOTEXTLIST "[Pick an Entry]" }

With the insertion point still within the field (between the braces), press F9. Word collapses the field, and you see the text [Pick an Entry].

Now, anyone that right-clicks on the text ([Pick an Entry]) will see a listing of all the AutoText entries that have been defined, provided they use the same style as the paragraph in which the field is located. If the paragraph where you entered the AUTOTEXTLIST field is in a paragraph formatted as Body Text, only those AutoText entries that utilize the Body Text style will be listed. If there are none that use the style, then all of the AutoText entries appear in the listing.

If the user picks an AutoText entry from the listing then that entry replaces the field.

Building Blocks

The Building Blocks feature, which includes AutoText, is a useful tool to insert blocks of text or data in Word. You can even make building blocks available on the Quick Parts menu in the Insert tab of the ribbon for easy access. We will explore Building Blocks in the next blog.

AUTHOR: Arnold Villenueve

Related Training:
Microsoft Office

Written by Arnold Villeneuve