Ensuring Consistent References with AutoText

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 31, 2014)

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. ...


Closing Up Cut Rows

When you cut and paste rows using Ctrl+X and Ctrl+V, Excel leaves empty the rows where the cut information was previously ...

Discover More

Using Non-Printing Notes

Adding notes to your document in Word is a handy tool. But what if you don't want those notes to be seen on the screen or ...

Discover More

Two Printed Copies to Different Paper Trays

Many modern printers include multiple paper trays that can be used for different types or colors of paper. Word allows ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Picking Up Where You Left Off

Need a quick way to get back to a where you previously edited? Here's a shortcut that will serve you well.

Discover More

Changing Many Link Locations

Word makes it easy to establish links between documents. If you need to change the locations for a lot of links at once, ...

Discover More

Viewing Your Entire Document Width

The Zoom tool is very useful to help you see all of your document information. Here's how to make sure you can see all ...

Discover More

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.


If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is five less than 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)

This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.