#MildlyUsefulInfo – a collection of tips

This blog is really about slightly more technical stuff than the collection below covers. Probably relatively few of these would warrant a whole explanatory post, so instead I tweeted them and included the hashtag where possible, then collected them together in a Storify story. I’m hoping it will embed nicely below, but it might depend on your browser – the original can be seen here. Hope you find something useful among them, it’s a bit potluck as I tweet them as they occur to me so they’re not organised in any logical way.

Word: use AutoCorrect to save time typing the same long words

This is one of those things I’ve always assumed lots of people know how to do already. But I was wrong about Ctrl+F so I’d better not take any chances 😉

When I worked in science I had cause to write long words, like phosphatidylcholine or arachidonic acid, fairly regularly and repetitively in Word documents. This was 15 years ago and I’m sure lots of scientists are using LaTeX to write, and shortcuts are fairly easy to set up there – but this post is for people using Word.

Mac instructions
Let’s pretend you have to write phosphatidylcholine or Phosphatidylcholine many more times than your fingers would wish to. You can easily set Word’s AutoCorrect function to turn a short text string into the full-length word.

Note that this feature on Word doesn’t distinguish the phosph- from the Phosph- form so if you want to be able to quickly bring up either the lower or capitalised word you’ll need to add two different instructions. I use the caret (^) symbol to differentiate the two but you can use any combination of letters you like.

a) Select Tools / AutoCorrect

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.46.50

b) Type your short phrase into the ‘Replace:’ text box and the longer text that you wish to replace it with in the ‘With:’ one, then click Add. Every time you type something found in the ‘Replace’ column Word will automatically change it to whatever’s in the ‘With’ column.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.47.43

c) Assuming you want the option to quickly bring up a capitalised version add a second example for that – you can’t have pch and Pch going to two different options as Word treats them the same. I’ve used ^pch but cpch (Capital phosph…) or any variation is fine.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.48.25

d) Try it out – type your mini-text and then the spacebar and your word should automatically appear, with a single space after it so you can start typing your next word, or backspace to add punctuation.

Screen Shot 2016-03-12 at 12.49.52

You can also just forgo this, type pch or Pch whenever you want the relevant words to appear and then, once you’ve finished editing the document use the Find and Replace option to convert all instances of pch to phosphatidylcholine and Pch to the Phosphatidylcholine one.

PC instructions
Will have to wait (or send me your screenshots) as I’ve not been in the office for a while and am working at home… 🙂