Using AutoCorrect in Office - Part 2

In this article we look at the AutoText, AutoFormat, and SmartTags tabs in the AutoCorrect Options dialog box.


By Kara Monroe

In the last edition of Office for Mere Mortals we looked at the first two tabs of the AutoCorrect Options dialog box in Microsoft Word.

Recall that the AutoCorrect Options dialog box is located under Tools in most Microsoft Office and other Microsoft productivity applications (such as Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Project).

In this edition, we’ll look at each of the remaining tabs – AutoText, AutoFormat, and SmartTags.


The features contained on the AutoText tab (or from the AutoText toolbar) have the most capacity to save you time.

  • inserting graphics
  • inserting formatted paragraphs
  • inserting frequently used text

The AutoText entries which are shipped with Microsoft Word are designed specifically for letter writing applications, however you can add your own entries to speed your entry of frequently used blocks of text. We’ll look at several examples to see how you can create new entries, change an existing entry, and rename entries. But let’s just begin by looking around the AutoText tab of the AutoCorrect options dialog box. To get to the tab, go to Tools > AutoCorrect options. Click the AutoText tab. This tab has one option checkbox, a list of existing entries, and a preview window to see what will be inserted if you Insert an entry you have selected. Along the right hand side of the dialog box are Add, Insert, and Delete buttons along with a Show Toolbar button. Each of these buttons is relatively self explanatory. The Add button adds a new entry to the list, the insert button inserts a selected item into the current document and the delete button deletes an entry from the list of entries. The Show Toolbar button turns on the AutoText toolbar.

The single option checkbox on the tab is an important part of this tab. To know whether you want this feature turned on or not, you need to understand what AutoText does for you. Any word or phrase that you enter into AutoText will appear in a tool tip as you’re typing the first few letters of that word or a word with the same beginning. If you want the suggested word (the AutoText entry) to be placed in your document, you can simply click the tab key or the enter key and the word will be entered into your document. You can also enter an AutoText entry using the AutoText toolbar. To turn on the AutoText toolbar either use the Show Toolbar button on the AutoText tab or go to View > Toolbars > AutoText. To enter a word or phrase using the AutoText toolbar click the All Entries button and select the category and then the entry you want.


The true power of AutoText comes from creating your own AutoText entries for those words, phrases, and paragraphs you type on a regular basis. Your job title may be something you enter into documents on a regular basis. Let’s use the title Vice President for Financial Affairs. Enter that into your word document. Select the text you just typed. Open the AutoCorrect Options dialog box and select the AutoText tab. You’ll see a preview of what you have selected in the preview window at the bottom and a shorter version of this entry in the “Enter AutoText entries here:” box. What is entered in the AutoText entry box is what you will need to type in order to have this entry suggested for you. You’ll notice that the suggested name for this AutoText entry is not much shorter than the actual text you entered. I suggest modifying this to something you can enter more quickly such as title. Click OK and then try it out. Type title (or whatever you entered as the autotext entry) and you should now see a tool tip that shows your entry and tells you to press Enter to insert. You can either press enter or the tab key – both work just fine.

You can also create an AutoText entry using the AutoText toolbar. To do so, type the text you wish to use as AutoText. Select the text with your mouse and click the New… button on the AutoText toolbar. You’ll be asked to enter the name of the AutoText entry – remember this is the shortened version you will enter to have this text appear (such as our use of title above).


Renaming an AutoText entry is one of those Word features which I have to look up how to do every single time I need to do it because it isn’t something I do often and the method for doing it isn’t all that easy to remember. I’d prefer that Microsoft place a Rename button on the dialog box. Instead, if you’ve misspelled name of your entry or simply want to change the name, you’ll need to follow the following steps:

  1. Click Tools > Templates and Add-Ins.
  2. Click the Organizer button at the bottom of this dialog box.
  3. Select the AutoText tab.
  4. From the box on left, select the entry to be renamed and then click the rename button in the center.
  5. In the Rename dialog box enter the new name for the entry.
  6. Click OK and then click Close.

You can now begin using the new AutoText name for this item.


Let’s say you’ve just been promoted from Vice President for Financial Affairs to President of the Acme Corporation. Being the efficient soul you are, you want to continue typing the word title in order to place your title in documents. Changing the entry is as simple as entering the new text, and then in the New entry dialog box, give it the name of the existing entry. For example, in the case of the example I’ve been using, I would do the following:

  1. Type President of the Acme Corporation and highlight it.
  2. Select New… from the AutoText toolbar or on the Insert menu select AutoText > New…
  3. In the name dialog box, enter title.

Note that if you read the Office instructions for changing an entry, they tell you that you must first enter the existing entry, edit it, and then follow the steps above. If you’re making only minor changes to the entry that may be fastest, but in the case where we changed the entire entry that just adds an extra step you don’t need to do. Perhaps we should also have an Edit or Change button on the AutoText tab – after all there is plenty of room on the tab for these additional buttons.


AutoText is useful for entering all sorts of things you type on a regular basis. You can enter formatting, including tables and you can enter graphics. Let’s say for example that you have a standard letterhead that includes your company’s logo and then text identifying the company name, address, and other appropriate contact information. There are many ways you could use this same information in every document such as creating a Microsoft Word template or printing on to prepared stock. But let’s assume you want to use AutoText. Create the enter mast of the letter head, including the graphic of your company logo. Add a line of return after the mast. Now select the entire mast. Add a New AutoText entry following the same steps as above. This time, give it a name like letterhead or mast. Each time you type that now it will enter all elements of the mast.


As we discussed in the previous edition of OfMM, the options on the AutoFormat as you Type tab allows Word to apply formats for you as you’re entering your document. The two options – AutoFormat as you Type and AutoFormat allow you to select the style of applying formatting that is right for you. If you prefer to fix formatting options as you are typing, then you’ll want to use the AutoFormat as you Type options. If, however, you would prefer to review all AutoFormat options at one time, after you have typed a document, then uncheck the options on the AutoFormat as you Type tab. Once you have typed your document and you’re ready to apply formats, then go to the Format menu and select AutoFormat. On the AutoFormat options dialog, you can select either to AutoFormat now – which will apply all selected AutoFormats to the document instantly – or you can select to review each change which will give you the option to accept or reject each change as you work through the documen t. If you are not sure of which options you have selected to AutoFormat, you can click the Options button on the dialog box under Format > AutoFormat to see the AutoCorrect Options dialog and the AutoFormat tab.


We round out our look at the AutoCorrect Options dialog box with the SmartTags tab. Smart Tags are a tool that allows you to save time by using Microsoft Word to perform actions you would ordinarily perform with other Microsoft Office applications. The most common application is Microsoft Outlook. If SmartTags are turned on, then common elements of a document such a names, phone numbers, and addresses will be underlined by a purple dotted line. The purple dotted line indicates that there are SmartTag options available for that item.

Once you see an item in a document with the purple dotted line, hover over that document to bring up the SmartTag Options menu. Click the menu to see the options available for that Smart Tag. A person’s name will allow you to Open that Contact (assuming you have that contact already saved in Microsoft Outlook), Schedule a Meeting, Add to Contacts, or Insert Address. A date will allow you to Show your Calendar or Schedule a Meeting.

On the SmartTag tab under the AutoCorrect Options dialog box you can also check for additional smart tags. Microsoft offers some additional Smart Tags as do third parties. Information technology staff within an organization may also create Smart Tags which allow you to link out to other documents or databases in order to access important corporate information.