Five tips for creating content building blocks in Word 2010

Reusing standard text and document elements stored in the Quick Parts gallery can save you tons of time. Here's a brief rundown of how to create and access these items.

Do you find yourself creating the same content over and over again in your Word documents? You can easily save and organize content you use regularly by creating Quick Parts and inserting them in your document at just the right point.

1: Automate your text entry tasks with AutoText

You'll find AutoText in the Quick Parts gallery in the Text group on the Insert tab, and luckily, the tool does just what it sounds like it might do -- it automatically inserts text you use often. If you find yourself repeatedly using certain product descriptions, mission statements, or disclaimers, for example, you can set up an AutoText entry with that text and quickly insert it in the document when you need it. To create an AutoText entry, select the text you want to add, click Quick Parts, AutoText, and then Save Selection To AutoText Gallery. In the Create New Building Block dialog box, enter a name for the AutoText, add a description if you like, and click OK.

2: Create a Quick Part

A Quick Part in Word 2010 is another kind of element you can create and save to use again later. You can create all kinds of Quick Parts -- sidebars, callouts, text boxes, watermarks, and more. Quick Parts enable you to save both content and format, so if you create a sidebar with text in a style and color you particularly like, you can save the sidebar as a Quick Part and use it again later in other documents. You'll find the Quick Parts tool in the Text group of the Insert tab. All Quick Parts in Word 2010 -- including the ones you create -- are available in the Building Blocks Organizer, which is in the Quick Parts list.

3: Save your favorite table style

If you've spent a lot of time customizing a table for a report and you really like the way it turned out, you can save it as a Quick Table so that you can use the style again in other documents like this one. Prepare the table just the way you want it and then select the entire table. Click Table in the Tables group of the insert tab, point to Quick Tables, and choose Save Selection To Quick Tables Gallery. In the Create New Building dialog box, enter a name and a description. Click OK to save the new table style.

4: Keep it together with the Building Block Organizer

Word 2010 is a bit confusing when it comes to Quick Parts, because what the program thinks of as "quick parts" it calls by all sorts of names: headers, footers, cover pages, tables, text boxes, and more. No matter how the saved content is named, you can find all the elements available to you by displaying the Building Block Organizer (Figure A). Click Quick Parts in the Text group of the Insert tab and click Building Block Organizer. Scroll through the list to find the Quick Part you want and click Insert to add it to your document.

Figure A

5: Weed your Quick Parts regularly

One thing you'll discover quickly if you're a big Quick Part enthusiast -- they accumulate quickly. If you love saving content blocks, headers and footers, quotes, etc., as you go, you'll need to remember to clean out unused items in the Building Blocks Organizer on a fairly regular basis. Do away with the Quick Parts you never use and make room for the good old standbys. It makes your list shorter and easier to navigate and lessens the margin for error if you share your creations with others.

Katherine Murray is the author of Microsoft Office 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain & Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word 2010 Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010). You can reach Katherine through her blog, BlogOffice or by emailing

By Katherine Murray

Katherine Murray is a technology writer and the author of more than 60 books on a variety of topics, ranging from small business technology to green computing to blogging to Microsoft Office 2010. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 2010 P...