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I'm creating a technical document using Microsoft Word 2010 in Windows 7. I have various pieces of long technical terminology that I regularly use, and typing this jargon manually hundreds of times would significantly increase the time I spend writing the document.

I was looking for a way to add custom autocompletion entries in Word so that whenever I typed a trigger word or abbreviation for a given technical term, Word expanded the text to the full term. I worked out how to do this, and decided it'd be worth writing up the answer to SU because of how relatively hidden away it is - for me, at least.

This is useful for any pieces of text that often need to be repeated in a document, such as the name of a company or brand in legal documentation, a historical figure in an essay, or a company or email address in professional correspondence.

How can I have Word automatically expand to a word or phrase whenever I type a trigger word or abbreviation for it?

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The easiest way to accomplish this in Microsoft Word is using the AutoCorrect feature. This feature was present in Word 2003, but was removed from Word 2007, only to be reintroduced in Word 2010. Word 2007 uses AutoText instead, which is a little more clunky to setup and is triggered by F3 instead of the spacebar, but does more or less the same thing.

Follow the guides below based on the version of Word you're working with.

For Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2010 and onwards

This is done using Word 2010's native AutoCorrect.

  1. From the Ribbon/menu, click on File, then Options.

  2. In the window that appears, select the Proofing tab.

  3. Click the AutoCorrect Options button.

  4. In the window that appears, the cursor will be focused on the Replace field. Enter the text that you'd like to use as a trigger word or abbreviation.

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  1. In the With field, enter the text that you want the trigger to expand to, and then click Add. You can add as many autocomplete expansions as you need in this way, as well as modify the default expansions. Click OK, then OK again to return to the document.

  2. Finally, type the trigger that you entered for the word, and press the spacebar to see Word expand it.

For Microsoft Word 2007

Because the AutoCorrect feature no longer exists in Word 2007, you'll need to use the AutoText feature instead. The process to do this is a little more involved, but ultimately allows for the same end result.

  1. From the Ribbon/menu, click on File, then Options.

  2. Select the Customize tab.

  3. In the Choose commands from dropdown menu, select Commands Not in the Ribbon.

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  1. Scroll down the list of commands until you find the AutoText command. Select the command, and click Add to add it to the ribbon. Click OK to save and exit out of the options window. You'll see that an AutoText button has been added to the very top of the Ribbon.

  2. To create a new AutoText entry, write out the text that you want to expand to, select it, and click the AutoText button added in the previous step.

  3. At the bottom of the dropdown window that appears, click Save Selection to AutoText Gallery. This will take you to a window called Create New Building Block. Building Blocks are the items that AutoText uses to autocomplete words.

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  1. Replace the Name field with the text that you'd like to use as a trigger for the autocomplete, then click OK to return to the document.

  2. Finally, type the trigger for your word into the document, then press F3 to expand it.

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