You’ve probably come across AutoCorrect many times before when writing your essay, dissertation or thesis in Microsoft Word. If you type in a misspelling such as ‘teh’ [the], ‘yuo’ [you] or ‘don;t’ [don’t] then AutoCorrect will automatically turn it into the correct spelling – a very useful feature.
For academic writing, AutoCorrect can offer much more than simply correct misspellings. You can add your own AutoCorrect entries for particular words or phrases, saving you time in the process. It’s useful for typing author names that are at risk of being misspelled when typed quickly – e.g. if you’re writing about Friedrich Nietzsche a lot then an AutoCorrect entry would come in handy.
Probably the most useful AutoCorrect feature from the perspective of academic writing is the ability to set shortcuts for phrases that you write frequently in your work. Instead of having to type ‘phenomenological approaches’ over and over again, why not simplify it to ‘pha’ and let Word do the hard work for you? Or you could type ‘ind’ instead of ‘inferential and descriptive statistics’. The main advantage is that you can save so much time when you write if you carefully target the phrases you use the most frequently.
The AutoCorrect menu is quite well hidden in Word 2010 and isn’t on the main ribbon. To access it, first click on the File tab and then select Options.
In the Word Options menu that comes up, select Proofing on the left-hand side and then select AutoCorrect Options…
In the AutoCorrect menu, you can view all the entries that are already stored in Word, modify them and add your own entries. To add your own entry, go to Replace text as you type: and type in the abbreviation that you want to use and type the full word/phrase in the With: box. Then click ‘Add’ to store your entry in Word’s list of AutoCorrect entries.
I’ve included an example below of ‘sociolinguistic variation and change’ – a phrase I typed many times during my academic work. Abbreviating this to ‘svc’ instead saved me a lot of time.
Each time I wanted ‘sociolinguistic variation and change’ to appear in a document, I just had to type ‘svc’ and press the space bar, and then the whole phrase would appear.
If you don’t want what you type to be AutoCorrected then simply press Ctrl+Z.
Hope this blog post has helped you, and that you go on to use AutoCorrect when writing up your academic work.