How to speed up your writing with AutoCorrect

The act of writing, as in the physical process of getting your work on to the screen, can be a tiresome business at times. Thankfully, there are plenty of really rather helpful writing software packages available to help you make things as painless as possible. These tailored writing programmes are fairly newfangled though, and I suspect that most of us still use more traditional word processors, like good old Microsoft Word. And that's fine, because they have some rather nifty features too, like the quite awesome AutoCorrect.

What is AutoCorrect?

I've included the official definition below, but basically, you know how when you type and you get the odd character back to front, then something happens and it magically rectifies itself?

Well, that's AutoCorrect. Here's the definition:

Its principal purpose is to correct common spelling or typing errors, saving time for the user. It is also used to automatically format text or insert special characters by recognising particular character usage, saving the user from having to use more tedious functions.

What does AutoCorrect do for writers?

AutoCorrect is great because it contains all those pre-defined misspellings and typos, tracks what you're doing and puts them right for you.

What's even more smashing is that you can add to this pre-defined list. This is great for writers, because it allows you to create shortcuts for all those made-up words that you use again and again.

You know, like your novel's pesky characters and settings. Or that unwieldy technical term that pops all the time on your blog.

Give us an example

In practice, it means that you can replace words with shortcuts. One of the examples I use in the tutorial is 'Papua New Guinea', which is fine to write in full once or twice, but if that's where your book is set, you'll soon get fed up.

Using AutoCorrect, you cn create the shortcode 'png'. This means that whenever you type 'png' and press space (or full stop etc) from then on, Word knows to replace the shortcode with the full term, Papua New Guinea.

Watch the tutorial and you'll see how much quicker you can write otherwise time-consuming and awkward sentences.

Is this just a Microsoft Word thing?

Absolutely not! I don't claim to know every word processing package out there, but I believe the AutoCorrect function is built into most of them. Even if it goes by a different name.

It's definitely there in the free OpenOffice package and from this thread in the Apple forums, it seems you can also use AutoCorrect with Pages on a Mac.

Watch this episode on Vimeo