AutoText Behaving Erratically

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 30, 2016)

John has been working on a set of construction contract specifications (50-75 documents printed as one package). The footer for each document needs to include the exact same project description and project title. So, John made an AutoText entry for the description and the title. However, he discovered that the AutoText action was different in different documents when he tried to use it in the footers.

Sometimes John would get the normal AutoText behavior (type the first four characters of the AutoText name, and he would get a pop-up offering to insert the AutoText entry if he hit Enter). Sometimes he could not get the pop-up, but if he pressed F3, Word would insert the AutoText entry. Other times, when he pressed F3, Word said that what he typed was not a valid AutoText name.

There are a couple of things you can check. First, you should check where you placed the AutoText entry. AutoText entries are most often stored in the Normal.dot template, but they can be stored in virtually any template. If you actually stored the entry in a template other than Normal.dot, and some of your specification documents don't use that other template, then the AutoText entry won't be there.

If you did store the AutoText entry in another template, you should check to see if there is a conflicting entry in the Normal.dot template. If there is a conflict--perhaps two entries that are very close in their spelling--then AutoText may be getting confused as to which entry it should display.

You can see what AutoText entries are in which templates by using the AutoText tab of the AutoCorrect dialog box. (Choose Insert | AutoText | AutoText.) You can also use the Organizer to manage the AutoText entries in a variety of templates.

If you still encounter problems with the AutoText entry, you may choose to give up on it entirely and use a different way to achieve consistency in your footers. You can do this by putting the text you want in the footer into a text file, and then using fields to include it in your footer. Follow these general steps:

  1. Outside of Word, create a text file (using Notepad or another text editor) that contains the text you want included in the footer.
  2. Inside Word, display your footer and position the insertion point where you want the text to appear.
  3. Choose Field from the Insert menu. Word displays the Field dialog box.
  4. Make sure the Categories control is set to All so that all of the fields are listed in the dialog box.
  5. In the list of fields, choose IncludeText. The options at the right side of the dialog box change based on your selection.
  6. In the Filename or URL field, enter the full path and file name for the text file you created in step 1.
  7. Click OK.

That's it. You've now included the text in the footer. You can change the text in all your documents by just changing it in the text file. If Word is configured to update whenever you print, the field in the footer is updated (the text file is loaded anew) every time you print.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (367) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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