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Sharing AutoText Entries in a Network

One of the nifty features of Word is the ability to define AutoText entries for common phrases, names, and other small pieces of "boilerplate" text. It is not uncommon to develop many different AutoText entries that may be applicable to an entire organization. If you are using a network in your organization, the next logical step is to wonder how you can share those AutoText entries among all the users on your network.

AutoText entries are stored in templates. By default, AutoText entries created while editing documents will be stored in the Normal.Dot template. However, they can actually be stored in any template (you can specify the location when defining the AutoText entry). Creating or opening a document based on some other template than Normal.Dot makes available any AutoText entries stored in that document's underlying template—but only for use in that document; they could not be accessed from other documents based on other templates.

There is a caveat here, however. Any template loaded as a Global Template (or Global Addin), like Normal.Dot, makes any AutoText entries stored within that template available to any document. To load a document as a Global Addin, the template file (e.g. "MyTemplate.Dot") should be placed in either the default Office startup folder (typically \Microsoft Office\Office\Startup\) or in a user-defined startup folder. To set the user-defined Startup folder, you can use the File Locations tab of the Options dialog box within Word. Simply set the Startup item in the dialog box.

To make a long story short, all the shared AutoText entries could be stored in a master template and that template shared amongst the users by loading it as a Global Template. Sharing it could be perhaps by putting it in the Office startup folder on each person's computer, or perhaps by pointing all the Startup settings (in the Options dialog box) at a single shared folder on the network server.

You should be aware that there are editing and management issues to consider for both sharing approaches. For example, if a user adds a new AutoText entry to the copy of ShareAutotext.Dot on their own computer, how does that get circulated to all other users? If a user adds a new AutoText entry to a single master ShareAutotext.Dot located on the server, then other users trying to add new AutoText entries will hit document-sharing problems when trying to save their changes. Clearly a careful policy would need to be worked out, but that is more a management issue than a technological issue.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1392) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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