You can save time and avoid mis-typing difficult words like strange and unpronounceable character and place names with a feature in Microsoft Word and OneNote called AutoCorrect. Other word processors may have a similar capability. In Word and OneNote, the icon is a little lightning bolt. It’s under the tools menu in OneNote, but harder to find in Word 2007.
I use AutoCorrect like shorthand for character names, but it works for phrases too. When I type the first letter of a character name, like M, the letter is immediately replaced with the name I’ve entered in the AutoCorrect options dictionary: Morningstar. If I have several characters or place names that start with M, I can create other abbreviations: Mb, Mx, Mfg. If I don’t have dozens, my shortcuts are not hard to remember.
The AutoCorrect feature is easy to find in OneNote. It’s on the “Tools” menu at the top of every page. It’s harder to get to in Word 2007, but you can add the icon to the top bar. More about that later.
First, OneNote. (Directions here for adding a word to AutoCorrect’s dictionary also apply to Word, and–this is neat–the two applications share the same dictionary.) From the Tools menu, select “Auto Correct Options.”
Near the bottom of the options box is a scrolling list of the current dictionary entries. Above that scrolling list is a “Replace” field and a “With” field. If I type H in the “Replace” field and Hramxtvm in the “With” field, my correction is added to the dictionary.
The AutoCorrect option is on the tools menu of older versions of Word, but in the 2007 version you locate it through the “Office Button” at the top left of the document screen. From there you go down to the bottom bar of that menu to “Word Options.” The full path is Office Button/Word Options/Proofing/Auto Correct Options. If I’m making a lot of AutoCorrect entries, that path is a pain.
But Word gives us the ability to put our favorite icon short-cuts on the toolbar. To get the AutoCorrect icon up front once and for all, follow this path: Office Button/Word Options/Customize/Choose Commands From (a drop-down menu)/Commands not on the Ribbon/Auto Correct Options. Highlight “Auto Correct Options, click on the “Add” button, and the lightning bolt symbol will pop over to the box on the right. Click OK. Your AutoCorrect symbol should now appear on the very top bar of a Word page and be available whether you’re in the Review pane, Home, Page Layout, etc.
When you’ve finished a project, you may want to remove the entries in your AutoCorrect dictionary. Just scroll through the dictionary and remove or replace them. Otherwise your old characters may show up in your new book. But wait–that might be a good thing.