Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Removing Confusion When Using AutoCorrect.

Removing Confusion When Using AutoCorrect

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 27, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


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I find the ability to create AutoCorrect entries to be very useful and have added extensive words and phrases to make it easier for me to type my business letters. It is great because I can create short mnemonics that are automatically expanded to something longer.

I'm not alone in this approach to using AutoCorrect, either. This has led to some amusing situations. I have a friend whose employee was typing a newsletter for his baseball team. He used the word "bat" and "bats" multiple times. My friend's business is batteries, and he uses "bat" and "bats" as abbreviations that he set up to AutoCorrect to "battery" and "batteries." When the employee typed out the newsletter, he had no idea where all the words had come from.

In my usage of AutoCorrect, I have some other words such as "fullopt" that insert about half a page of text describing various options. Typing my initials inserts "Yours truly," three blank lines, and then my full name and title.

To avoid confusion when using AutoCorrect like my friend's employee experienced, my friend settled on a convention that uses an asterisk to the end of the AutoCorrect keyword. Thus, he uses "bat*" and "bats*" instead of "bat" and "bats." With no asterisk, no automatic correction is made. The asterisk triggers the use of the AutoCorrect feature and inserts the full text.

Obviously, this approach works for my friend, but a different approach may work for you. Another friend reports that he often uses acronyms common to electrical design, and in first usage of the acronym he has to spell out its meaning fully. This means setting up two AutoCorrect entries. For one he uses the acronym in lowercase (such as "ocpd") which automatically corrects to uppercase ("OCPD") and for the other he uses the lowercase acronym with an "x" at the beginning, as in "xocpd." This automatically corrects to "overcurrent protective device (OCPD)." The "x" as a prefix makes sense to my friend because it provides the "eXpanded" version of the acronym.

The bottom line is that you can get very creative with AutoCorrect, but you need to think through what "naming convention" you want to use for your AutoCorrect entries in order to avoid confusion.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12547) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Removing Confusion When Using AutoCorrect.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is seven minus 7?

2024-04-29 15:05:30

Timothy J. McGowan

I learned of Word's AutoCorrect far too late in life, but I'm enjoying it now.

I use a slash before most of my shortcuts, such as /bchs for Brown County Human Services; for the initials, I lead with a period: .bchs corrects to BCHS. No stabbing at a Shift key; it's all very convenient. I work in court, and so I use /f for father and .f for Father - again, no reaching for the Shift key.

If I'm working on a single-use document in which names are repeated frequently, they get a double slash: //ig for Investigator Gramentz, for instance. When I'm done with the document, I delete the entry, though lately I've learned to ignore the entry and simply update it if I want to use //ig for something else in a new document.

Note that SOMETIMES /f is different from //f, but not always; sometimes I'll get father for the first and, say, forensic for the second, but sometimes //f will instead give me /father. But there are still the semicolon and comma that can be easily hit before your shortcut, so those can greatly broaden your options.

To answer Martha's question: In your document, type out and select the text you want to appear formatted. Now when you go to the AutoCorrect dialog box, you'll see the Formatted Text option is available. Choose that radio button, and whatever styles underlie your text and whatever formatting you've selected will be applied when you use that shortcut.


2024-04-29 11:23:04

Martha Hagelin

First, I want to say how much I enjoy and how much I have learned from your tips over the years. The information you convey is invaluable!

I use AutoCorrect very often, and have transferred my AutoCorrect entries from one computer to another. I'm curious as to how I can add blank lines such as you described when typing your initials. This is genius!! I've not been able to figure out how to do this. Suggestions?

Thank you! Martha.


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