Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Using Autocorrect to Speed Up Your Work

The term "autocorrect" is most often associated with the iPhone, and it is known for producing funny messages like these…

Those are courtesy of DamnYouAutocorrect.com, which is one of my favorite sites to go to when I need a good laugh. For this post though, I'm not going to be talking about autocorrect on an iPhone. I'm going to refer to the autocorrect on Microsoft Word, which I encourage every freelance writer to get familiar with. It can greatly speed up your writing time, which will improve your freelance writing pay rates and reduce the amount of work you have to do in a day. Here are some tips to help you use autocorrect effectively in your work.

What Is Autocorrect?

Autocorrect is a program in Microsoft Word that will automatically correct a word that you type incorrectly into a document. When I type the word "dificult" into a Word document, it is autocorrected to say "difficult" when I put a space after it. A lot of words are already built into the autocorrect system, but you will have to input others as you go. In time, you can customize your autocorrect to fix most of your typos for you.

How to Add Words to Autocorrect

Every person has a different set of typos that he or she makes on a regular basis. I tend to type the word "the" as "teh" or "hte," so I have my autocorrects set to fix those mistakes as I type. You are going to have to add words to your autocorrect database so your MS Word will correct your specific typos. Here are two ways to add words to autocorrect:

  • Right-click mistyped words: One of the easiest ways to add words to autocorrect is to click on them as you type. If you see a word underlined in red, you can right click on it and go to "Autocorrect." Then you can click on the word that you want to replace it with in the future. I do this all the time, and I rarely have mistyped words now.
  • Manually add words: The right click option doesn't always work if MS Word doesn't have a word suggested for your typo. In that case, you will have to manually add the word to the database. Click the "File" tab and go down to "Options." Then go to the "Proofing" section and select "Autocorrect Options." That will display a bar that you can enter the typo and correction into. Save your changes, and you won't have to worry about that specific typo in the future. You can also find this in the right click option at the bottom of the list of suggested words, if a list comes up.

Try to add as many words to your autocorrect system as possible, even if you think you will never come across them again. You never know when you may get a new client that needs you to write about the same information in the future.

Be Careful about What You Add

Think about an autocorrect word before you set it up because there may be two different autocorrect options that you would use on a regular basis. For instance, the autocorrect suggestions for "situatin" are "situation" and "situating." If you use both options on a regular basis, you need to make sure you avoid autocorrecting a word incorrectly. Just watch what you type and you should be able to get a custom autocorrect dictionary that is perfect to your style of typing.

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