Ensuring Consistent References with AutoText

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 23, 2021)

There are many times when you are putting together a document that you need to make sure that certain references are consistent. For instance, you may need to refer to a particular tolerance on a piece of machinery, and it is imperative that the references be precise and accurate throughout the document.

There are several ways you can handle this situation using Word. One handy way to do it is to use the AutoText feature in Word. When you first use your value or text, assign it to an AutoText entry. (Exactly how you create AutoText entries is discussed in other issues of WordTips.) For instance, you might assign 45,000 to the AutoText name n45. Then, whenever you type n45, you can press F3 and the name is expanded to the full number. To provide even greater flexibility, you can bypass the F3 method and follow these steps:

  1. At the first instance of the reference, define the AutoText value as you normally would.
  2. At the next point where you need the same value or text, insert a field by pressing Ctrl+F9.
  3. Within the field, type AUTOTEXT [name], where [name] is the name of the AutoText entry you defined in step 1.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for each occurrence of the value or text.

This obviously is a bit more work than simply pressing F3 to expand an AutoText entry. The advantage of using AutoText in this way is that it can be easily updated. Simply change the AutoText entry, update your fields, and all instances are automatically changed throughout the document. If you use the F3 approach, your AutoText entry cannot be automatically updated.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1532) 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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