In this article, I’m going to show you how to avoid embarrassing e-mail faux pas using Microsoft Office’s AutoCorrect feature. You can also download a short WMV video, that illustrates the process I describe in this article, from TechRepublic’s download section.

Sonja Thompson, TechRepublic News Editor and a co-worker, spells her first name S O N J A. Unfortunately; I have a tendency when typing e-mails to spell her name S O N Y A and hit the send button before realizing my mistake. Try as I might to correctly spell Sonja’s name 100 percent of the time, occasionally I still slip up. So I turned to Outlook, my e-mail client, for help.

I need Outlook to alert me, or better yet automatically correct, when I spell Sonja with a Y instead of a J. I first thought Outlook’s spellcheck could solve my problem. Yet, adding Sonja, S O N J A, to Office’s custom dictionary only resulted in Outlook accepting both spellings. And, because Sonja, S O N Y A, is part of Office’s built-in dictionary, I could not eliminate that spelling. I needed another solution.

Luckily, another co-worker provided the perfect fix-Office’s AutoCorrect feature. Microsoft Word users commonly save time and eliminate mistakes by using AutoCorrect to automatically expand abbreviated text. The same is true for Outlook and other Office programs that use AutoCorrect. And you can use this trick even if you don’t use Word as your Outlook mail editor.

To create a new AutoCorrect entry, open Outlook, and from the Toolbar, click Tools | Options | Spelling and then click the AutoCorrect Options button. First ensure that the option to Replace text as you type is checked. Then enter the text you want to replace in the Replace box and the substitute text in the With box, as shown in Figure A. Click the Add button; then click OK twice to close the AutoCorrect and Spelling menus.

Figure A:

AutoCorrect helps you cut down on typing time and mistakes.

Now, whenever I type Sonja S O N Y A followed by a space, a hard return, or any punctuation, Outlook automatically substitutes S O N J A.