It's our job as IT professionals to teach those we support to efficiently use technology. In "The importance of using AutoCorrect," I wrote that anyone who uses Word on a regular basis and doesn't use AutoCorrect is guilty of wasting precious time. I also showed you a macro you can use to document your AutoCorrect shortcut list.
In response to that column, TechRepublic member michael's posted this comment: "Where's the AutoCorrect list? We've heard a lot about it. Why not show it off? [AutoCorrect is] such a great way to get over a lot of mundane stuff. Please show us your list!"
This week, it is my pleasure to show you my list. You can download a copy of a sample AutoCorrect list here. I based this sample list on the AutoCorrect entries I use on my machine. Even if you can't use these specific shortcuts, this list should help you create AutoCorrect lists for both you and your end users.
What's in the download
When you download the sample AutoCorrect list, you can open either the Word document or the PDF file. (You'll need Acrobat Reader to view the PDF file.)
The document starts out with a detailed discussion of some special groups of shortcuts that I've copied from the main list. Appendix A lists all of the AutoCorrect entries in alphabetical order by the Replace string, which is the order in which the entries appear when you go to Tools | AutoCorrect.
It is my hope that when you scan that list, you'll see different patterns emerge and you'll come up with new ideas for AutoCorrect shortcuts that make the most sense for yourself and your end users.
Customize your list to what you type
The majority of the shortcuts in my list were aimed at helping me be a faster medical transcriptionist. As you may know, that work consists of typing medical reports dictated by doctors.
Because I specialized in oncology notes, many of my AutoCorrect shortcuts are tailored for the words and phrases most common to that medical specialty. Therefore, as you read my AutoCorrect lists, you'll find a number of shortcuts for words and phrases that neither you nor your end users will probably ever type in the course of business.
However, you should be able to borrow some of my techniques for creating easy-to-remember and easy-to-use shortcuts. Here is one example from the sample AutoCorrect list: Create shortcuts for common verbs.
For instance, when you type medical records, you frequently enter variations of the verbs evaluate, examine, and treat. To make short work of entering those rather long and oft-repeated verbs, I use the shortcuts shown in Table A.
Using the download: Tips for two-finger typists
Two-finger typists, or "hunt and peck typists," are the people who can probably benefit the most from using AutoCorrect entries. Instead of fretting over those long words and phrases that drive them crazy and seem to take forever to type, create shortcuts!
I know that many two-finger typists have their "systems" down for how they attack the keyboard. They know no home row, like a touch typist. Instead, they divide the keyboard up into vertical columns and pound away. I also know many don't worry about typographical errors, because they figure that's what the spell-check feature is for. But using AutoCorrect fits in perfectly with the hunt-and-peck typist's make-it-up-as-you-go keyboarding style. And, as long as the "With" strings are spelled correctly when the shortcuts are created, they'll never be misspelled.
Tips for fast typists of volumes
When I extol the virtues of AutoCorrect to some "power" typists, people who type 80 to 100 words per minute, many of them say they're afraid of learning a new system. "It's faster just to go ahead and type things out, because it takes longer to try to remember the shortcuts," they'll say.
If your users are hesitant to start using AutoCorrect entries because they're afraid they won't remember them, recommend that they start with a word they don't like. Ask them to pick a word they frequently misspell or a word that they just don't like entering, for no better a reason than the way it "feels" when they type it. Create a two- or three-letter AutoCorrect entry for that word, and start using it.
With that approach, your users have only one "new thing" to remember. Each time they use a shortcut, they'll get a positive feeling because they let the machine do the typing for them. Eventually, they'll focus more on the benefits they derive than on the "learning curve" associated with remembering the shortcuts.
For those who want more power
Once your users get accustomed to using AutoCorrect shortcuts, they might wish they could use those kinds of keyboard shortcuts all the time. To find out about an add-on product that provides AutoCorrect-style control of the keyboard in any and every application you use, check out this review of ActiveWords.
Share your high-speed strategies
To comment on this article, or to share your own AutoCorrect keyboard tips, post a comment or write to Jeff.