Granted, Word 2007, or most all of
Office 2007 for that matter, has quite a different look than previous versions
of Office thanks to the new Ribbon format versus the old menu bar format in
more familiar versions of Office. This causes a fair amount of trepidation to
users when they start working with the new 2007 interface. There are many
things that take a bit of practice to get used to doing a new way and there are
also commands that have been moved, so they can be hard to locate.
First of all, if you’re new to
2007 and want some tips about how to learn it faster, be sure to hit the
TechTrax Archives and search for “2007” (without quotes). You’ll find articles
that will help you get rolling.
One item that I’ve seen a lot of
questions about is the new AutoText format in 2007. In previous versions, you
could select content, save it to autotext and then easily retrieve that portion
of text in other documents…such as a special paragraph that needs to go in all
letters, or your formatted signature block.
With 2007, Microsoft decided it
was time to totally rewrite the coding for Office. This gave them the
opportunity to make changes that weren’t possible with the old, much modified
over the years code. One of the major changes was with the AutoText feature…now
called Building Blocks.
Well, that’s actually not completely
accurate. Building Blocks is the overall name of many items that can be used to build your documents…AutoText being just one part of the various blocks. This large assembly of items in the Building Blocks dialog box can be
intimidating to new 2007 users. But if you take a moment to check out how it
works, you’ll find that you can still use it pretty much as you did in previous
In previous versions of Word, if
you wanted to save something to AutoText (and knew how to use the hotkeys to do
it) you needed to only do the following:
- Select the content you want to
save as AutoText.
- Hit Alt + F3, which
displays the AutoText dialog box. Here is where you give this text block a
name under which it will be saved to AutoText.
The text block you selected is now
saved to your Normal.dot template and can be displayed from the Tools >
AutoCorrect Options > AutoText dialog box, as shown below.
In the future, if you wanted to
insert this item in a document, you could again click Tools > AutoCorrect
Options > AutoText, locate the block of text you need to insert, select
it and click the Insert button in the above dialog box.
However, an easier method to
insert a known AutoText block would be to just type the name you saved it as
and hit the F3 key. That would automatically insert that item into the
current cursor location of your current document. And since I know I don’t have
any other AutoText items that begin with “Dians,” I wouldn’t need to type out
the entire saved name. I could just type out Dians and hit F3 to have my
signature inserted whenever needed. A great time saver!
The big problem that many 2007
users are finding is that they became accustomed to using the previous feature
that automatically prompted users for AutoText. In previous versions, if you
started to type out characters that were part of a named autotext item, Word
could be setup to prompt you so that you need only press the Enter key to have
that autotext item inserted.
As you can see below, as soon as I
start typing Dians in Word 2003, Word prompts me with a clue showing me
that I can just press Enter at this point and my autotext block that has those
same characters in the saved name will be inserted.
But, in 2007, Microsoft removed
that feature from Word. Why? Well, you’d need to be a programmer to understand,
but I’m sure it was because it would have been more difficult…with the new
coding methodology…to keep that feature alive. Granted, it still is alive for
dates in 2007, but only for date prompts. Personally saved autotext will no
longer prompt you in 2007.
So, of course, lots of folks freaked
out because they could no longer hit Enter to retrieve their autotext and
since there was no longer any AutoText menu to locate (because AutoText
was now hidden under the new Building Blocks menu, which is also hidden under
the new Quick Parts icon)…they were totally lost!
But if they were used to hitting
F3 to retrieve their autotext, they were in luck…because most all the old
shortcut keys still work just fine in 2007. Mousers were now at a
disadvantage when learning 2007…keyboardists who knew the shortcuts were
able to move right along.
In Word 2007, you can still select
your text and hit Alt + F3 to display the dialog box. However, now it is the
Building Blocks dialog displayed and you have many more options regarding how
you want to save this content.
But retrieving it can be just as
easy as it was in previous versions…if you use the keyboard.
As you can see below, when I start
typing dians in Word 2007, no prompt displays.
However, knowing that I did save
this as an autotext item under that name, I need only hit F3 after typing dians and my text block will be inserted.
Granted, I need to know the saved
autotext name in order to use the F3 shortcut. Otherwise I’d have to move to
the Building Blocks dialog box, locate the needed item and insert it that way.
Alternatively, Word 2007 did give
me an additional, shortcut option for retrieving my more commonly used blocks by
using the Quick Parts category. If I changed from AutoText to Quick
Parts when saving this item (Quick Parts does happen to be the default saving
category when the dialog box appears), then I could use the Ribbon icon to
retrieve this item with a few less clicks.
Once saved under Quick Parts, I
can now use the Quick Parts icon to display these items faster.
On the Insert tab of the
Ribbon, within the Text group, there’s a Quick Parts icon. When I
click it, I can see any Quick Parts items I’ve added…one now being My
signature. I can, therefore, just click the picture of the item I want to
have it easily inserted.
If you don’t save items to Quick
Parts, then you’ll either need to know the name to start typing in order to use
the F3 shortcut key or go into the Building Blocks dialog box (Insert >
Quick Parts > Building Blocks) to locate and insert that item.
Although, I’d suggest you use the
Quick Parts sparingly, so you don’t end up with so many items in there that the
list becomes difficult to use!
And remember, when using 2007, if
there’s a command you need to use often, such as Quick Parts or Building Blocks
in this case, you can always right click a command and have it added to
your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). (Which some folks pronounce as quat…but
I and others prefer to say cat.)
The new Building Blocks feature can be intimidating at first, but work with it and you’ll soon discover that it
can be a powerful, time-saving feature!