Books The writing process

Word Tip 3: That’s Not What I Wrote

Microsoft Word Tips for AuthorsWelcome to the next in a series of tips on using Microsoft Word, geared towards authors.
Most Word advice is rather complicated and full of things you’ll never need to know.
I shall do my best to keep it simple, because you’re not stupid… just busy.
Please note: 
– Not all versions of Word are the same, but most are near enough.
– There are different ways of doing the same thing. I shall demonstrate just one (or two).

Sometimes the text in your Word document doesn’t look the same as what you typed.

I’m not talking about typos. We all make those occasionally. I’m talking about words that Word changes off its own bat. Microsoft calls this AutoCorrect. The idea is that it can change some of your typos and spelling mistakes automatically, because it knows better than you what you meant to write, or it thinks it does.

What if it doesn’t? What if you wanted to make up a word in your novel? What if your character talks funny and you wanna show some of her peculiar jargon, ini’? You don’t want Word to automatically change any of your carefully-chosen quirks, do you?

Personally, I know of very few words that I want Word to change automatically. I don’t mind seeing squiggly lines around my novel, but I think, apart from rare cases, making automatic changes is a step too far.

How do you stop Word making automatic changes?

Choose the following sequence of options:

File –> Options –> Proofing –> AutoCorrect Options… –> AutoCorrect

There’s a box called Replace text as you type. You can untick (uncheck) it. Then Word won’t change anything automatically. But what if certain automatic changes might be useful?

I decided to keep that box ticked (checked) and delete most of the strings it was changing. These are the ones I kept:

MS Word AutoCorrect Items

Questions and suggestions for future topics are welcome in the comments below.

Links to Previous Word Tips

  • Tip 1: A Matter of Style
    About heading styles.
  • Tip 2: Make Your Novel a Trampoline
    How to jump swiftly and gracefully between chapters.