Tech Tip: Speed up typing with Word's AutoText/Quickly copy Excel chart formats/Use an input mask to simplify Access data entry

Find out how to take advantage of Word's AutoText feature, see how to copy Excel chart formats without reformatting individual charts, and learn how to enter phone numbers without typing the hyphens and parentheses in Access.

Speed up typing with AutoText

Do you often find yourself typing the same phrase over and over again? For example, let's say you work for the Southern Chesterfield Regional High School District Board of Education. Just entering the name of your employer can become quite time-consuming.

But you don't have to manually type the entire name of your organization each time you use it in a document. Instead, you can add it to Word's list of AutoText entries, and you'll never have to type the entire name again.

Follow these steps:

  1. Type the name of your organization as you normally would.
  2. Select the text, and press [Alt][F3].
  3. Click OK in the Create AutoText dialog box.

The next time you begin typing the name, the rest of the name will appear in a screen tip above the word you're typing. Press [Enter], and Word will fill in the rest.

If the screen tip doesn't appear, make sure you've enabled AutoComplete. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Tools | AutoCorrect Options.
  2. On the AutoText Tab, select the Show AutoComplete Suggestions check box, and click OK.

Quickly copy chart formats

Sometimes, the most time-consuming chores have more to do with appearance than the actual information you're working with. For example, let's say you've just created a chart that details your organization's first quarter sales for 2004, and you spent a lot of time formatting it for your presentation.

You like the format, so you decide to make the other charts in your presentation look like it. However, you don't have the time to reformat all 10 charts.

Instead of reformatting each chart individually, you can copy the format to the other charts. Follow these steps:

  1. Select the chart whose formats you want to copy.
  2. Go to Edit | Copy.
  3. Select one of the charts that you want to reformat.
  4. Go to Edit | Paste Special.
  5. Select Formats, and click OK.

Repeat this procedure for each chart you want to reformat.

Use an input mask to simplify data entry

It's much easier to enter phone numbers if you don't have to type the hyphens and parentheses. Did you know that you can configure Access to enter those special characters for you? You just need to tweak the field's Input Mask property.

To create an input mask for a phone number field, follow these steps:

  1. Open the table in Design View, and select the Phone field.
  2. In the Field Properties window, click the Input Mask text box.
  3. Click the builder button to the right of the text box.
  4. Click Next to select the suggested phone number mask.
  5. Click Next to select the suggested placeholder, and click Finish.

Now, to enter a phone number, just move to the field, and type the numbers. The special characters will appear automatically.

If the suggested mask isn't appropriate, you can add your own mask to the list provided. For example, suppose you want Access to format phone numbers as 206-555-0000.

In the first Input Mask Wizard window, click the Edit List button. Delete the parentheses, and add a hyphen to the existing input mask. Retype the sample data, and click Close. Go through the rest of the wizard to enter the new mask into the field's properties.

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