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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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… 🙂