Creating an AutoText Reference List

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003

AutoText entries are a great way to help speed up both data entry and data standardization in Word documents. As you create more and more AutoText entries, you may cast about for a way to print a list of those entries. This list could then be used as a "reference guide" to what entries are available on a system.

Word provides a quick way to print AutoText entries: On the Print dialog box choose AutoText Entries in the Print What drop-down list. However, the list that is printed may not be to your liking. (You may want the list formatted differently to meet your specific needs.)

One way to create the type of list you need is to change how you print it. Windows provides a generic print driver that allows you to make a plain-text file from any printout. If you look at the list of printer drivers installed on your system, you may see one called "Generic / Text Only." If you don't, go through the steps to add this printer driver. (The steps you follow depend on the version of Windows you are using; in all versions there should be a generic printer driver available called "Generic / Text Only.")

When you want to create your AutoText reference list, follow these steps:

  1. Choose File | Print to display the Print dialog box.
  2. Using the Name drop-down list at the top of the dialog box, choose the Generic / Text Only printer. (You've just changed what printer driver will be used to create the document.)
  3. Select the Print to File check box.
  4. Using the Print What drop-down list, choose AutoText Entries. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Print dialog box.

  6. Click OK. A dialog box appears, asking you for a file name for the output file.
  7. Using the controls in the dialog box, select a location for the output file. Specify a name that makes sense for what you are creating, such as "My AT Entries."
  8. Click OK and the output file is created.

The output file is saved in the location you specified, using the name you specified. The file name extension is PRN. You can load this file into Word or into any other text editor; it is plain text. You can then format it as desired, as you would with any other document. When satisfied with your formatting, you can then print the document to create your reference list.

It should be noted that if you open the PRN file in Word, and you see a bunch of gibberish in the file, you probably didn't follow step 2 in the above steps. Only the Generic / Text Only printer driver will create a plain text file. If you use a different printer driver, the output file includes the codes necessary to control the printer—what you see as gibberish.

There are, of course, ways that you can create your reference list using macros. The following is an example of a macro that will step through all the open templates and construct a document consisting of all the AutoText entries in all those templates.

Sub ListEntries()
    Dim oTemplate As Word.Template
    Dim oEntry As Word.AutoTextEntry
    Dim strReport As String

    For Each oTemplate In Application.Templates
        strReport = strReport & oTemplate.FullName & vbCr
        For Each oEntry In oTemplate.AutoTextEntries
            With oEntry
                strReport = strReport & .Name & vbTab & .Value & vbCr
            End With
        strReport = strReport & String$(3, vbCr)
    With Application.Documents.Add.StoryRanges(wdMainTextStory)
        .Text = strReport
    End With
End Sub

This macro is very simple; it could be expanded to perform more complex tasks, such as formatting the information added to the new document.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5813) 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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