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Using Autotext to deal with repetitive text

Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Office for Windows.

If you’ve ever typed a really long set of discovery answers/objections, you’ve seen language like this:

“[Party] objects to this request on the grounds that it is vague, ambiguous, immaterial, irrelevant, not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence …”

In fact, every attorney I know has his/her own boilerplate discovery objections — full paragraphs containing every possible objection one can make to a discovery request.

You don’t want to type that over and over and over again for 37 different discovery requests, do you?

Good.  I don’t want you to, either.  So I’m going to show you how to get out of it.  Without quitting your job.

There’s this nifty little feature in Word called AutoText that works sort of like an autofiller like you’d see on a web page — you know, you start typing your name, and somehow the form offers to fill in the rest?

What’s helpful about Word’s AutoText feature is that you can define your own entries.  So if there’s a long phrase you don’t want to have to type repeatedly (like the one above), you can just type the first few letters and wait for Word to “suggest” the remainder of it.  Hit Enter and — voila! — the entire phrase pops in.

Let’s check this out in action:

(Note: to view this full-screen, click the button in the lower-right-hand corner of the video player.)

So, what phrases or sentences do you see repeated in the documents you prepare?

Note: As noted in the video above, if you’re working with Word 2007, pressing the Enter key doesn’t trigger AutoText to insert the phrase. You have to use F3 (my apologies, I keep saying “F5” in the video). Microsoft returned to its senses in version 2010 and let users press the Enter key at the prompt.

Want to assemble documents faster? If you’re not already signed up for my email list (see “Wow, You Read That Whole Post!” below), you’ll miss the announcement of my next course teaching you how to … well, assemble documents faster. Just give me your email address in the form below, and you’ll get the special offer when the course launches.

(photo: petesimon @ Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/petesimon/3365916944/)

by Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

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