Automated "Boilerplate"

Autotext and AutoCorrect in Microsoft Word - including Building Blocks with a little about AutoFormat as you type

by Charles Kyle Kenyon, Esq.

This page last edited Sunday 13 June 2021

Note: "Boilerplate" is a term of art used in the legal framework meaning standardized text.

There are no promises that this chapter is of the same quality and depth as the other chapters of this guide. That is because it was written by a single author not working with Microsoft. You will not find this chapter on the Microsoft site. AutoText is a one form of Building Blocks in ribbon versions of Word. Virtually everything said about AutoText here applies to all Building Blocks.

Comments are welcome.

What You Will Learn

After completing this lesson, you will be able to:
bulletUse and organize AutoText (and other Building Blocks) entries
bulletUse Built-In ShortCut Keys to Insert or Save AutoText (Building Blocks)
bulletAssign ShortCut Keys to AutoText (Building Blocks) Entries
bulletUse VBA (a macro) to insert AutoText or another Building Block from a global or document template
bulletUse AutoText fields in templates to automatically insert up-to-date information from AutoText or other Building Blocks.
bulletUse macros to update or unlink AutoText fields.
bulletCreate a custom menu to hold your AutoText and other Building Blocks entries
bulletUse the Building Blocks Gallery Content Control to insert a menu of building blocks (including AutoText) - Word 2007 and later
bulletKnow what happens when AutoText or Building Blocks in different templates have the same name
bulletKnow where Building Blocks can be stored. 
bulletUse AutoCorrect
bulletSet your AutoCorrect Options
bulletUse AutoCorrect entries to not only correct your typing but also to insert boilerplate.
bulletUse AutoCorrect to insert boilerplate
bulletUse AutoCorrect to insert fractions (instead of AutoCorrect As You Type)
bulletUse AutoCorrect to add random or dummy text to a document. (Rand and Lorem functions)
bulletSwitch AutoCorrect on and off
bulletBack-Up your AutoCorrect entries
bulletSwitch AutoFormat As You Type on and (mostly) off.
bulletUse AutoFormat as you Type to add paragraph borders between paragraphs
bulletUse AutoFormat as you Type to insert an En-dash or an Em-dash.
bulletKnow where AutoText and AutoCorrect entries are stored on your computer and move AutoText entries from template to template and AutoCorrect entries from one computer to another.
bulletBe able to print out your AutoText entries or AutoCorrect entries
bulletTroubleshoot problems with AutoText, AutoFormat as you type, and AutoCorrect

Additional Written (and Web) Resources

bullet Word for Law Firms and Lawyers
bullet Word 97 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word 2000 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word X (2002) for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word 2003 for Law Firms (also at UK)
bullet Word 2013 for Law Firms by Payne Consulting Group

The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word 2007 by Ben M. Schorr


The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word 2010 by Ben M. Schorr


Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010 for Law Professionals Unveiling the Rules and Secrets of Legal Word Processing by Patricia Gordon and KAS Training

bullet other books about using Word

bulletAutoTextList Sampler - tutorial showing Autotext use in dropdowns and menus
bullet Gender Toolbar template - download this global template for an example of AutoText used to insert fields from a complex menu.
bullet What is AutoText and How Do I Use It? by Cindy Meister, MVP, Beth Melton, MVP, and Jay Freedman, MVP - includes information on Building Blocks
bullet Have Word Complete Your Typing - Microsoft help for the Mac
bullet How to Add Pop-Up Lists to Any Word Document So You Can Click Your Way Through Changes in Seconds (or how to use the AutoTextList field) by Bill Coan, MVP.
bullet AutoTextList in the Modern Age by Greg Maxey - includes vba procedure to create
bullet AutoText Inserter Code Sampler - template with sample code to insert AutoText from a global (or document) template
bulletLetterhead Textboxes and Styles Tutorial - two-page template download that demonstrates use of  the AutoText list field restricted by styles for the salutation and closing.
bullet How can I import and export all my AutoCorrect entries, so they can be transferred to another machine? Also repesee correction by Dave Rado to AutoCorrect utility that comes with Word. This page has a downloadable utility that lets you see and edit all of you AutoCorrect entries in a Word table. You can then use the utility and table to move/copy your entries to a different computer.
bullet Exploiting AutoCorrect - Not Just for Errors! by Suzanne Barnhill, MVP
bullet AutoCorrect Utility Manager by Greg Maxey.
bullet How to Move (Copy) AutoCorrect Entries from One Computer to Another in Word 2007 (2010)
bullet Limits on the number of AutoCorrect entries - remarks by MVPs Rich Michaels and Jay Freedman
bullet Word 2007 & Later Key Data File Location by Paul Edstein and Charles Kenyon
bulletInsert a selection of documents by Graham Mayor, MVP - Add-In to insert documents - a document assembly tool versions for Word 97-2019
bullet Autocorrect in Word (Office) 2010 - Microsoft
bulletMicrosoft Knowledge Base:Turning Off Autocorrect Features (Q212339), FileName field doesn't update in Word 2002 or later. (Q832897), AutoCorrect Text Deleted or Partially Visible in Form Field (Q212394)
bullet What Just Happened? Changes Word 97/2000 Makes As You Type (Microsoft)
bulletTaming AutoFormat as you Type: Word is always making changes I don't expect. How can I get more control over my formatting? by Suzanne S. Barnhill, MVP, and Dave Rado, MVP.
bulletMapped Content Controls and Document Properties - repeating data in a Word document by Charles Kenyon
bullet AutoText backup and restore by Graham Mayor, MVP - backup and restore AutoText stored in the normal template
bullet How to Batch Add or Delete AutoText Entries using vba
bullet Create or Edit AutoText Using vba - Lene Fredborg, MVP


bulletBuilding Blocks in Word 2007 and later
(Ribbon Versions) Building Blocks & Autotext by Greg Maxey - walks you through the concept of galleries for building blocks - how to create and organize them - including ways that Microsoft may not have conceived! Includes downloadable enhancements.
bulletChapters 13-15 of Herb Tyson's Microsoft Word 2010 Bible - Building Blocks, AutoCorrect and Autoformat in Word 2010 (and 2007)
bulletWord 2007-2019 Building Blocks: Part I, Inserting and Swapping, Creating
bullet Providing Helpful Tips for Easy AutoText Entry - Autocomplete
bullet Replacing All Building Blocks
bullet Adding an AutoText Entry
bullet Deleting an AutoText Entry
bullet Working more efficiently with Word 2007's new building blocks
bullet Create and use content Building Blocks in Word documents
bullet Add AutoText in Word 2010 - Microsoft (does not mention AutoComplete feature)
bullet Create and distribute boilerplate text - Word 2007
bullet Building Document Generation Systems from Templates with Word 2010 and Word 2007
bullet Create and use content Building Blocks in Word 2007(-2019) documents by Katherine Murray, Mary Milhollin, and Beth Melton. Excerpt from Microsoft Word 2007 Inside Out.
bulletMicrosystems white paper on Building Blocks
bullet Missing Page Number / Header / Footer Commands - greyed out - Charles Kenyon
bullet Working With Building Blocks - Word Object Model - vba reference MSDN
bullet Create and Edit Building Blocks - LinkedIn Learning Word 2019 certification prep


Boilerplate Macro Package (Commercial Add Ins)

bullet BoilerPlate Add-In - Insert a Batch of Files Into a Word Document by Graham Mayor, MVP
bullet BoilerPlate Add-In for Word by Bill Coan, MVP
bullet AutoText Manager by Chris Devrell


Click to return to table of contents page of Legal Users' Guide to Microsoft Word.Click to go to Microsoft Word new users frequently asked questions site in a new browser window.
(this guide table of contents) ------- (MS Word New Users FAQ)

When I started using computer word processing the way to repeat text was with macros (even on paper tape!). I learned to write very lengthy and complex macros in Word Perfect. Macros are still useful in Word, but repeating boilerplate text is not a good use for them. Word has AutoText and AutoCorrect that do a much better job and are more easily edited.

Distinguishing Among AutoText, AutoFormat and AutoCorrect (Overview and definitions)

There are three "Auto" functions that are easily confused and work in similar ways when you are creating documents. Those are AutoText, AutoFormat, and AutoCorrect.

AutoFormat and the related AutoFormat as you type are not useful for preparing boilerplate and may be discussed in depth elsewhere. You can turn functions on and off but you can't customize them. They don't insert text but can change how it looks dramatically.

Both AutoText and AutoCorrect allow the user to pick text to be inserted. Both come with predefined replacements. They are stored in different places and are edited or transferred in different ways. Both can insert and replace text but they act and show up on your screen in different ways.

AutoCorrect does what it name implies - fixes errors. It can do much more, though. It checks each "word" as you type by looking that "word" up in a database of corrections. Points to keep in mind:

bulletBecause such errors and corrections are unique to each language, AutoCorrect is specific to each language, with different files for different languages if you are using more than one.
bulletIt will change "hte" to "the" or "additinal" to "additional."
bulletIt will also change "(c)" to the copyright symbol or ":)" to a smiley face.
bulletYou can add your own entries to this replacement table and they can be quite lengthy. "pfp" can be replaced with "Party of the First Part."
bulletTo Word a "word" is at least two characters that is followed by a space or punctuation or the Enter key. Those characters can include punctuation marks and numbers.
bullet Limits on AutoCorrect include a maximum size for an unformatted entry of 255 characters and a maximum size of the trigger "word" of 31 characters.
bulletUnformatted AutoCorrect entries (most of them) are available in (shared with) all Microsoft Office programs. Formatted AutoCorrect entries and AutoText/Building Blocks are available only in Word (to a limited extent, AutoText and Textboxes are available in Outlook).

The advantage of AutoCorrect is that it corrects errors in real time rather than coming back for correction later. A very real disadvantage is that what Microsoft considers an error may be a word you intend to use. If you use Google to search for "AutoCorrect fun" or "AutoCorrect errors" you'll likely find some entertaining examples. In Word, the most likely source of problems is checking the box at the bottom of the option to automatically use suggestions from the Spelling Checker. (You can get the following dialog to show up using the keyboard short cut of Alt+T, A. That is, hold down the Alt key, and press T, release those and press A.)

AutoCorrect Options word 2010

Those suggestions will often be right, but when they are not, Word makes the substitution without telling you!

AutoText may be more suited to your purposes than AutoCorrect

For boilerplate, AutoText is usually superior to AutoCorrect because it is more easily edited and transferred from computer to computer, and any size limitation is related to storage space. AutoText resides in templates, rather than in a special file. AutoText is one of many types of Building Blocks in ribbon versions of Word. AutoText is a way to store parts of a Word document for re-use. You can, for example, create a library of boilerplate paragraphs for business letters, or keep a handy selection of headers and footers. An AutoText entry can store anything a Word document can contain, such as formatted text, pictures, and fields. Word comes with a number of predefined AutoText entries, and you can add as many as you like. (AutoText cannot store working Content Controls, for some reason. Many other Building Blocks can hold content controls.)

AutoText tooltipIf your AutoText is stored in your Normal.dotm template in Word 2010 it gives you an AutoComplete "tooltip" previewing what the replacement text will be before it makes the replacement. (In versions earlier than Word 2007 it shows this tooltip regardless of where the AutoText is stored.) The tooltip shown here is for the AutoText entry named "ATEntry1" and the contents are "This is an AutoText entry tooltip." It is shown after the first four letters of the name: "aten." Note that this is not case-sensitive. In Word 2007 there are no tooltips for AutoText entries. In Word 2013 the full tooltip (AutoComplete) feature was restored and appears for any AutoText stored in the attached template, normal.dotm, and other global templates (but not in the building blocks files which are not treated as Add-In global templates).

With AutoText stored in these templates if you type the first four letters of your AutoText entry name you'll see a tooltip showing the entire entry (or its start). If you press Enter when the tooltip is showing, you'll get your replacement entry. Especially in Word 2007-2019, if the tooltip is not showing but you've typed the first four letters, try pressing the F3 key. Note, if the first four letters are not unique to one AutoText entry, you'll need to type enough to have a unique entry name. You can also attach a keyboard shortcut to your AutoText entries. See this Microsoft Answers thread on the appearance (or not) of the tooltip.

Either way you use AutoText you will probably find it useful. Continue using it and you will develop a whole library of boilerplate. In WordPerfect this function was filled with macros; in Word it is AutoText. (While Word uses macros, they fulfill a different purpose and are ill-suited for simple recording or creation of boilerplate.) In some early versions of Word (before Word 6), the AutoText feature was called the Glossary. In at least one current (2016) language version it is called Gjossario.

Where Are AutoText Entries and Other Building Blocks Stored?

AutoText Entries and other Building Blocks are kept in templates. AutoText is stored in the normal template by default but is often better kept in a document template or in a different global template. In Ribbon versions of Word (2007-2019) AutoText is still stored in templates, but is a part of the concept "Building Blocks." In Word 2007 AutoText entries are stored by default in a separate building blocks file but can be stored in other templates, including normal.dotm. In all other versions of Word, the default storage location for AutoText is the normal template. In Word 2007 and later the name of the default building blocks storage file is "Building Blocks.dotx." That is the default storage location for user-created Building Blocks other than AutoText. In Word 2010-2019 there is a separate file for Building Blocks that come with Word: "Built-In Building Blocks.dotx." These files are stored in a sub folder of the User's Application Data folder. The precise building blocks storage folder depends on both the version of word and the operating system. These are hidden system folders.

Note that Outlook AutoText entries are stored in the NormalEmail.dotm template. You can make them available in Word by placing a shortcut to that template in your Word Startup Folder.

Windows XP Location:
c:\Documents and Settings\{your username}\Application Data\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks\1033\

Windows Vista & 7-10 Location:
c:\Users\{your username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks\1033\

The 1033 is the English-language version. Within that folder there may be additional folders for the version of Word. Again, that is the location for the default storage location. Any template stored in the Document Building Blocks folder will share building blocks with all files. If put in a subfolder, it should share the restrictions of that subfolder. That is, if the template is placed in the 1033 folder and the user is using a non-English language proofing set, the template may not be available, while if it were in the general Building Blocks folder (one level up) it would be available.

Building blocks including AutoText (Word 2007-2019) must be stored in templates. In Ribbon versions of Word, they can be stored in either dotx or dotm templates. For the template to have macros, it must be a dotm template and should not be stored in the Building Blocks folder if you want access to the macros. Templates to hold building blocks may be stored in the Document Building Blocks folder. They need not be stored in the same language- or version-specific folder as the built-in building blocks file. They can be stored in that folder and if they are, should carry the language restrictions of that containing folder.

Building Blocks stored in the building blocks folders are not treated as global templates. This is true even though the building blocks they contain are available in any other document or template (so long as there is not a naming conflict). In Word 2013 and later AutoComplete works for building blocks that are stored in (1) normal.dotm, (2) other global templates, and (3) the attached document template. The AutoComplete feature does not work with building blocks in a template that is stored in one of the building blocks folders; the F3 key, though does work.

Saving AutoText or Other Building Blocks

In order to save anything as AutoText or another type of Building  Block (including textboxes), what you want to save must be selected. The quick way to get to the save dialog is to press Alt+F3. When you use Alt+F3 to save something as AutoText (or another type of Building Block) Word gives you a dialog box to let you assign a name to the AutoText entry. The default name is the actual text, but something else may be a better name. In Word 2007 and later that dialog gives you options for where the AutoText is to be stored, again, in the normal template by default. You can tell Word to save the selection in a different Building Blocks Gallery and assign a category. You can save a description as well.


In earlier versions (non-Ribbon) Alt+F3 does not give storage options and you will be saving in


With these non-ribbon versions of Word, with the text you want to save selected, your can save in the normal template and use the Organizer to move the AutoText to a different template. Otherwise, you can save directly in a different template. This is a bit more complex. You need to go to AutoText under the Insert Menu and pick the general AutoText at the top. This will give you the following dialog from the AutoCorrect Options for AutoText:


The options you will have for storage locations for AutoText include the default normal template, the attached document template if that is different, and loaded Add-In templates that already have AutoText. The currently open document is not an option because documents cannot hold AutoText or other Building Blocks. If you first save your document as a template, it can then hold AutoText.

See Where Can Building Blocks Be Stored for more on the options for storage.

The Macintosh version has similar dialogs for saving AutoText. It does not sort by categories but does let you pick templates.

Incorporating AutoText or other Building Blocks in Templates with AutoText Fields, AutoTextList Fields, or Building Block Content Controls
AutoText Fields

AutoText (and other Building Blocks) can also be retrieved using AutoText Fields. You can have AutoText stored in a Global Template created just for this purpose (.dot, .dotx, or .dotm file). In this way an office can have company-wide templates that show local information using AutoText fields that pull the local information into documents created from the template from one or more of the global templates. Note, if the document is going to go to a user who does not have those global templates, the AutoText field should be unlinked before being forwarded. You do this by placing the insertion point in the field and pressing the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+F9 or Ctrl+6.

The AutoText Field will also pull in other Building Blocks using the Building Block name. I do not know what will happen when different building blocks in different galleries have the same name. I have stored letterhead in Header Building Blocks and created letterhead templates that use an AutoText field to call in that header. I have used tables stored in the Tables Gallery using an AutoText field. When building blocks like headers/footers/cover pages have unique position elements, those are ignored by the AutoText Field.

AutoText fields usually need to be updated and perhaps unlinked when a new document based on the template is created. That can be done manually or by using macros. My macros for doing this automatically upon document creation are shown (far) below for anyone interested.

Menu Controls - Menus of your AutoText or other Building Blocks in your documents

Word has two easily added ways to put menus of your AutoText or other Building Blocks in your documents. These are the AutoTextList Field and the Building Blocks Gallery Content Control.

The AutoTextList Field

There are (at least) two ways to do this, neither of which involve macros or VBA. The first method requires use of styles in both the creation and implementation of the AutoText entries. Then you use the AutoTextList field to give you a drop-down menu in your document from which you can choose AutoText entries by entry name. This field works in all Windows and Mac versions of Word since Word 97. The AutoText field gives you what is in one entry named in the field. The AutoTextList field gives you choices.

To get the list, you right-click on the field. You can have pop-up help text that shows when someone hovers the mouse pointer over the field like that shown below.


Use the AutoText Entries drop down box (built-in field) in your text as a field

This method involves use of Paragraph styles in both the creation and use of the AutoText. Unless a paragraph mark is a part of the AutoText entry, the style in which the entry is created will have no effect on the formatting of the inserted text. It will, however, change the category under which the entry is classified by Word.

Creating your AutoText Entries so they will be placed in a category by Word.

To create the entries for your list, type them in a document where they would normally be used. This document should be based on a template other than Then select a potential grouping of text that you want to fit into a particular category. For this exercise, be sure that the text does not include a paragraph mark. Go to the Format menu and select Style... 

A dialog box will pop up with your current style selected. Unless you have already created a style for this kind of entry, click on the New button. This will pop up another dialog box for the creation of a new style. Give your new style a name, i.e., "z Interrogatories - AutoText." The "z" is in the name to put it at the end of most Styles lists; the "AutoText" tag is to indicate the style's function.

Warning WARNING: The AutoText categories are based on Paragraph styles - not Character styles. The type of style you are creating will show up in the top right corner of the New Style dialog box. If it says "character," change it to "paragraph."

Click on OK to close the New Style dialog box. Note that we didn't make any changes to the style, nor did we check the box about saving it to the template, we just gave it a name. That name will become the AutoText category for entries of this type. Click on the Apply button so that your current entry will be formatted using this style.

Then call up the AutoText dialog box. 

Tools menu -> AutoCorrect -> AutoText (tab)

Change the box at the bottom so that it says: Look In: your template's name. What you want here is the name of the template on which your document is based, not "All available templates," or ""

Click on the Add button to add your entry. Choose a name for your entry so that it will be clearly identifiable when you use it. (i.e., pid Expert - treating physician

Tip Tip: Use a naming convention for your AutoText entries that will group the entries together by their intended use. We have already made the major cut. Our style name tells us that this entry is for use as an interrogatory. In the suggested name above, the "pid" stands for personal injury defense and the "Expert - treating physician" gives us the subject of the interrogatory. Other names might be "pid Expert - other care provider" and "pid Expert - Accident Reconstruction." This way, all interrogatories relating to expert witnesses in personal injury cases where the firm represents the defendant will be grouped together in your category list.
Tip Tip: Make sure that the starting part of the name is not a real word (or if four or more letters, the start of a real word that you are likely to type). Otherwise, you may end up inserting your AutoText entry in unexpected places!
Tip Tip: If you need to include multiple paragraphs in an AutoText entry, you can create styles that are used only to categorize AutoText entries and use your ordinary styles to hold your content. Word picks the category from the first style in an AutoText entry. If you format your naming styles as 1 pt. white hidden text, you should be able to use a paragraph in that style at the beginning of your AutoText entry without disrupting your documents much. I would suggest putting the following text in that paragraph: THIS IS AN AUTOTEXT NAMING PARAGRAPH AND MAY BE DELETED.

Then select the other text that you want to use for entries, one word, sentence or paragraph (without the paragraph mark) at a time. Change the paragraph style of each paragraph to that of your category style and add the autotext entry, each time checking to make sure that it is being saved in your template.

At this point, close your document, without saving the changes to the document but saving changes to the attached template. You are now ready to create a drop down AutoText list based on the entries you just made.

You can include paragraph marks in your AutoText entries but if you do this, your text in that paragraph will maintain its style. If the style already exists in the document, it will use the style definition already in place. If the style does not exist, it will be imported. See the IncludeText field tutorial for examples of the sorts of result you will get.


See How to add pop-up lists to any Word document, so you can click your way through changes in seconds by Bill Coan, MVP and AutoTextList in the Modern Age by Greg Maxey.


Building Blocks Gallery Content Controls

Since Word 2007, Windows versions of Word have also included the Building Blocks Content Control. For Word 2007-2019 (365) an easier way to categorize AutoText (and other Building Blocks) may be to put it in separate custom Galleries/Categories. Under the Developer Tab you can insert a content control for any Building Blocks gallery.

The screen shot above shows a sample of such a control. It gives you a drop-down for all building blocks in a given category of a given Gallery. You can specify those in the properties for the control. It is entered into your document using the button shown below.


When you first insert one, it will look like the first sample, which is for the General Category of the Quick Parts gallery. The control will show the Gallery, but not the Category when displayed in the document.  By using the Properties button for the Content Control you can change the title, appearance (Show As) and Gallery and Category. This means you can create your own custom menus and put them in your document.


The dropdown provides much more information than the AutoTextList Field.


Here is a link to a demo template that shows some of the advantages and disadvantages of the AutoTextList Field and the Building Blocks Gallery Content Control.


The Building Blocks Gallery Content Control can be another way of creating an AutoText menu as well as a menu of other types of building blocks. For more on content controls, see Word Content Controls.

See Greg Maxey's site for more on this.



AutoCorrect is mostly kept in separate .acl files. Formatted AutoCorrect entries, though are stored in (Normal.dotm in Word 2007-2019)  More.

AutoFormat is built into Word and switched on or off with options settings. See Tame AutoFormat.

Assign Your AutoText Entries (Building Blocks) to a Key or Key Combination

The following is taken from my response to someone on a newsgroup who wanted to assign keystrokes to superscripted numbers 1-4. She had asked to replace four of the symbols over the numbers on the keyboard with these and had been told by another (knowledgeable) user that this was not a good idea.

Start Word. If you are already in Word, exit and restart it. Then, type five words in a new document. If you will only be using these in documents based upon a particular template, base your new document on that template. If you want to be able to share these with someone else or move them to a different computer, you do not want to store them in See Template Basics information on Global templates. If these are not for use with only one particular template, my recommendation would be that you save your new document as a template so it can hold the AutoText.

Then insert the four superscripted numbers as if they were footnote references (that you were manually typing in rather than inserting footnotes). Then, in turn, select each of the superscripted characters and save them as AutoText entries named spr1, spr2, spr3 and spr4. (Alt+F3) Make sure that the AutoText entries are being saved in the proper template if you are basing your documents on a special template. Then select the fifth word and assign it to autotext as spr5.

Once you have the AutoText entries, you are ready to assign them to keys. The method we will use will replace only one of your keyboard's built-in key assignments for all five of the AutoText entries. (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+NumPad+)

(Word 97-2003) Tools => Customize => Keyboard (button)

(Word 2007) Modify the QAT => Keyboard Shortcuts Customize...

(Word 2010 and later) Customize the Ribbon => Keyboard Shortcuts Customize...


  1. Make sure that you are saving in the proper template. Again, if this is for sharing or you want to be able to move it from computer to computer, you want to save these settings in a template other than It is recommended that the shortcut and AutoText (Building Block) be stored in the same template. Keyboard shortcuts can be saved in a document or template, but AutoText and Building Blocks can only be saved in a template.
  2. In the window on the left (categories), scroll down until you find AutoText.
  3. Select that and find "spr1" in the AutoText (Building Block) list on the right. 
  4. Click in the input window that says "Press new shortcut key" and holding down the Alt key press the letter S. The window will show "Alt + S." (The screenshots show "Alt+A/Ctrl+M.")
  5. Underneath, Word will show you if this has been assigned to anything else. (On my system, it comes up with [prefix] indicating that our use may not interfere with whatever other uses the key has, because we will be using it as a prefix key as well.) Next press the 1 key. The window should now show "Alt + S, 1." Underneath for currently assigned it should say [unassigned]. 
  6. Click on the Assign button. 

Next repeat this process for your other four AutoText entries, typing the appropriate number for each. Then click on the close button and close the customize dialog box as well.

Test your keys out.

First press Alt+S. Nothing will seem to happen. Then type a 1. It will be superscripted. Type something else immediately after the 1. That should not be superscripted. Test each of your numbers. Finally, test it using the number 5. We put in this last entry so that you could see that it is indeed using your AutoText, not just altering the numbers that we happened to use as trigger keys.

If you want, you can now go back into the AutoText dialog box and delete spr5. It has served its purpose.

You could assign these autotext entries to any keystroke or keystroke combination (including the keys you originally requested). You should be very careful, though, about replacing key bindings because it can be very tricky to figure out what is going on when you forget about them (or if someone else tries to use your computer). You may have noted that you could use the Customize Keyboard dialog to assign not only AutoText but macros, styles, fonts, or any Word command to a key.

You might want to copy these instructions to a text file called something like "Word key assignments.txt" and keep it, with any notes you care to make, so that you can backtrack later.

Note this works in all versions of Word. However if more than one AutoText entry or Building Block has the same name you can still do it, but Word will pick one of the entries to assign. I know of no good way to predict which entry that will be. In the screenshot above #7 shows a gallery and category for the AutoText entry. (There are multiple entries with that same name, only one is shown.) For instances with multiple entries with the same name, see below on using vba to insert building blocks. You can also assign keyboard shortcuts to macros.



AutoText (Building Blocks) Keyboard Shortcuts Built into Word

There are two built-in keyboard shortcuts: F3 and Alt+F3.

F3 looks in the AutoText available for something that matches what you just typed and inserts it. If a tooltip for the entry is showing, you can press Enter or F3 to use your AutoText. If no tooltip is showing you need to use the F3 key.

Alt+F3 tells Word that you want your selected text to be boilerplate. It will display a short dialog box allowing you to name the entry and (in Word 2007-2019) designate a storage location. Here are the dialog boxes for Word 97-2003 and Word 2007-2019 (365) respectively:

AutoText create Word 2003 

Remember that this (Alt+F3) is a shortcut method of adding an entry. You can also use the longer dialog boxes. In the earlier versions of Word this is the only way to designate a template other than as the storage container. On Mac versions, the Create dialog can be reached with Opt+F3.


Moving/Copying AutoText Entries

Using the Organizer to Copy AutoText

You can copy AutoText between templates. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the Organizer. The Organizer is a tool built into Word that allows you to quickly copy Styles, AutoText, Toolbars and Macros. In Word 97-2003, you can access the Organizer in one of three ways:

Tools => AutoCorrect => AutoText (tab) => Organizer (button)

Format => Style... => Organizer (button)

Tools => Templates and Add-Ins... => Organizer (button)

from the Format menu, choose Style and click Organizer; or from the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins and click Organizer. This gets you the following dialog box which controls AutoText, Styles, Toolbars and Macros:

AutoText Organizer Word 97-2003

In Word 2007 - Word 2019 You can use the Building Blocks Organizer found under the Quick Parts drop-down on the Insert tab.

You can also access this dialog by right-clicking on any Building Blocks gallery item and choosing the "Organize and Delete" choice from the pop-up menu.

Instead, for Word 2007 - 2019, I recommend using Greg Maxey's free Add-In that gives you the following dialog boxes for all of your building blocks. Like the original Organizer, it allows copying and manipulation of multiple entries at the same time. The Building Blocks Organizer that comes with Word lets you work on one entry at a time when trying to move entries from template to template. If you use the link above, you'll find the download at the bottom of a page explaining the features as well as exploring Building Blocks.

Buliding Blocks Organizer Greg Maxey

Greg Maxey's Add-In adds a powerful (optional) ribbon tab. The dialog above (organizer) is one of the buttons on the left side of that ribbon.

The Add-In's Ribbon tab is controlled from the dialog box shown below. It lets you change the name of any of the galleries displayed on the tab and decide whether or not to display a particular gallery on the tab at all. You can even set it to not display the tab at all!

AutoText Building Blocks Organizer Microsoft Word

The Add-In also includes a powerful Building Blocks Loader that lets you bulk load items as Building Blocks.

In my opinion, these tools should have been included in Word 2007. If MS eventually adopts them, I hope they compensate Mr. Maxey! Anyone making extensive use of building blocks should have his (free) Add-In. If they use it much, they should send him a donation. I did!

See also Autotext backup and restore by Graham Mayor - works only on AutoText stored in the normal.dotm template but works very well for that.


Practice: Copy AutoText Using the Organizer
  1. Word 97-2003 From the Tools menu, choose Templates and Add-Ins.
  2. Click Organizer.


  1. Word 2007-2019 call up Greg Maxey's Enhanced Building Blocks Organizer from the Insert tab
  2. It is under the Document Parts drop-down. (You have to download his free Add-In to use this. Otherwise the drop-down will say Quick Parts and you will be trying to use the inferior Building Blocks Organizer.)


  1. Select the appropriate tab for items that you want to copy. For example, to copy AutoText from one template to another select the AutoText tab.
  2. To copy AutoText from your current attached template to the template which makes the AutoText available each time you start Word, select the AutoText and click Copy. (Note: It is recommended that you store your AutoText entries in either an attached template or a global template other than If your current attached template is, both windows will show Close at least one of these templates!
  3. To switch to a different template click on the Close File button under the window you want to use for that template. Then click the same button again (except this time it will say Open File) and pick a template file from which (/ to which) you want to copy your AutoText.
  4. Generally, you do not want to have two AutoText entries with the same name available to your document at the same time. This means that if you are copying from to another global template, after you save that template with the changes, you will want to delete the AutoText entries from If you have an AutoText entry with the same name in your document's attached template as one in a global template, Word will use the one in the attached template.
  5. Click Close.

In Word 2010 there can be advantages to storing AutoText in normal.dotm in that you can use the tooltip feature. I like to maintain a backup copy of normal.dotm when I do this. That is a good idea anyway. (The tooltip feature is not available in Word 2007; in Word 2013 and later, it is available for any AutoText stored in the attached template or in loaded global templates, but not that stored in the Building Blocks folder.)

Where Can Building Blocks Be Stored? (Word 2007-2019)

help Microsoft Word Create Building Block dialog Alt+F3

bulletName Choice

When you create a new building block (including AutoText), you can choose a name. The default will be the beginning text in the selection, if there is text. This is seldom what you want. You do want a unique name, a descriptive name. Further, you want a name that is unique in the first few characters. (Word needs a unique series of characters before it knows what to insert.) See Category Choice below for more thoughts on names.

bulletGallery Choice

When you store a Building Block you can choose a Gallery. If you are storing text for use in the body of a document you probably want to use the AutoText Gallery. For a Header, you would use the Header Gallery; for a Footer, the Footer Gallery; for a Cover Page, the Cover Page Gallery. Some galleries will display under different controls and give different views. The AutoText gallery is notorious for showing tiny content. See Greg Maxey's Building Blocks pages for more on galleries.

When you use the choice at the end of a gallery to Save Selection to the gallery, the default gallery will be the same as the gallery you were using. If you use Alt+F3, the default gallery will be AutoText; you may want to change this!

bulletCategory Choice

Category is a heading that can be used for sorting building blocks in the building blocks organizer. When a Building Blocks Gallery is displayed (Cover Pages, Watermarks, Textboxes) the entries are sorted first by category (in alphabetical order) and then by alphabetical order. If you want your entry to appear at the top of the list, you want it in the category that is first in alphabetical order, and to have a name that will place it first. People will often use an underscore to start a custom category or building block name: _MyAT, _MyCoverPage, _Watermark3, etc.

When you use the choice at the end of a gallery to Save Selection to the gallery, the default category will be General; you may want to change this to Built-In or your own choice. If you use Alt+F3, the default category will be Built-In; you may want to change this!

bulletTemplate Choice
Building blocks must be stored in templates. When you are editing a template, the default storage location is that template; when you are editing a document, the default storage location depends on whether the entry is AutoText or another type of building block.
Anytime you save a building block there are four choices for storage location:
bulletThe Building Blocks File (default)

When you are saving from a document, by default, building blocks other than AutoText will be stored in your building blocks file. This file is "Building Blocks.dotx." In Word 2010 and later this file is stored in a version-specific, language-specific folder inside the 1033 folder. That is: 14 for 2010, 15 for 2013, 16 for 2016, and 17 for 2019. Unlike the file in Word 2007, this default file in later versions contains no built-in building blocks. Those later versions use a separate file called "Built-In Building Blocks.dotx" to hold the building blocks that come with Word. Word will not store custom building blocks in this "Built-In Building Blocks.dotx" file.

This file is not the place for building blocks that you want to share with others; you want to store these in global or document templates (see below).

In the English language version of Word these files are in the following folders:

Windows XP Location:
c:\Documents and Settings\{your username}\Application Data\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks\1033\

Windows Vista, 7 & 8 Location:
c:\Users\{your username}\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Document Building Blocks\1033\

Building Blocks.dotx is in a hidden system folder. If your Start menu has a search function searching for %APPDATA% will lead you toward the folder. The folder 1033 is for English(US).

Note that Word 2010 and Word 2013-16 come with different Cover Page building blocks. Since they are stored in separate folders there should be no confusion. However, if you want to use Word 2010 Cover Page Building blocks in Word 2013 and later, you will want to put a renamed copy of the 2010 Built-In Building Blocks template in the version folder or save it as a global template. I have done this after stripping out all of the galleries except the Cover Pages.

bulletYour Normal.dotm file

This is the place of choice for personal AutoText in Word 2010 since AutoComplete can be used for AutoText entries stored in normal.dotm in Word 2010. (Autocomplete does not work in Word 2007 at all. In Word 2013 and later it works for AT entries stored in other templates.) AutoComplete works with AutoText and other building blocks that are text.

When you are saving from a document, the Normal.dotm file is the default storage location for AutoText in all versions of Word except Word 2007.

The Normal.dotm file is not the place to store AutoText or other building blocks that you want to share with others; use a global or document template for those.

bulletA global template

Stored in either the Word Startup Folder or in the appropriate building blocks folder. If you want, you can set up QAT shortcuts to your building blocks in such a template if it is to be stored in the Startup folder. Unless the template is to hold macros or other customizations, it can be a .dotx file and in the building blocks folder. If it contains macros, in will need to be in a "trusted location;" the Word Startup Folder should be such a trusted location. If you include QAT modifications, it can still be a .dotx file but must be stored in the Word Startup Folder.

When you store building blocks from a document, the only templates, other than the attached template, the Building Blocks.dotx file, and the normal template, in which you can store building blocks are templates which already contain at least one building block and which are loaded as an add-in or in the building blocks folder.  If you want to use a custom template for storage, either as a global template or a building blocks template, it must have at least one building block in it already (created when it was the attached template or open for editing directly).

AutoText for Outlook is stored in the template NormalEmail.dotm. A shortcut to that template stored in the Word Startup Folder loads it as a global template. So it becomes available as a storage location for AutoText created in Word.

bulletA document template

If the building blocks are for use with a particular template, they might as well be stored in that template directly. Again, unless the template is to contain macros, it can be a .dotx template. Building Blocks, like AutoText, can not be stored in regular documents. If you actually have the template open for editing and that is the document you are editing when you try to save a building block, the template will be the default storage location. If, instead, you are in a document based on the template (it is the attached template) the document  template will be an available choice (above normal.dotm).

If you are in an ordinary document (not a template) and want to save a building block to it, first save it as a template (.dotx unless you also want macros) and then save the building block.

For an example of a building blocks template that acts as an Add-In see the Word 2003 WordArt Building Blocks Add-In.

See Saving AutoText above for more on the use of the Alt+F3 keyboard shortcut.

See also Moving / Copying Customizations (including AutoText) to another template.

Here is an example of a building blocks organizer screen for footers showing footers coming from the Word 2013 Built-In Building Blocks, the Word 2010 Built-In Building Blocks, and my Page X of Y Building Blocks Add-In. The sources are shown in the Template column.

Default Storage Templates - depends on how you get to the Create Building Block dialog

Alt+F3 keyboard shortcut

This is the legacy from menu versions and is set for AutoText. It is still set for AutoText and stores in the normal.dotm template by default. It stores in the AutoText gallery and the General category by default.


Save Selection in the ??? Gallery choice at the end of a Gallery menu

When you add your selection to a gallery, that gallery is the default. The default Category is General, which shows up under Built-in when the gallery is displayed. The default storage template is the Building Blocks.dotx template, which is the default storage location for user-created building blocks.


Where in a template are building blocks stored (for techies only)?

In the XML in the document.xml in the Gallery folder in the Word folder. Look for <w.docPart> to start a building block.

Video on adding a Building Block (Text Box)


How Can You Modify Building Blocks

The simple answer is to recreate them and store them again under the same name in the same gallery and category in the same template. Actually, that is not so simple, is it?

Word has a Modify Building Block dialog! (It looks remarkably similar to the Create Building Block dialog.)

Click for information about the Gallery this comes from. WordArt

You can access this from any building block gallery by right-clicking on an entry and selecting Edit Properties, or from the Building Blocks Organizer clicking on the Edit Properties button.

Using the Modify Building Block dialog, you can change any of the choices originally made, including the template in which the entry is saved.

AutoText in Outlook

This page is about Word. However, this section was added in response to a user question.

AutoCorrect is shared among all Office products. This is not true of AutoText.  In non-ribbon versions of Word (Word 97-2004), Outlook uses the file to hold its AutoText entries. In versions beginning with Word 2007, it uses the file "NormalEmail.dotm" to hold these. While this file can be opened and edited in Word, probably the best practice is to insert the entries directly from Outlook. The Alt+F3 shortcut will work for this.

Using macros to insert AutoText from a global or document template

Recorded macros don't work well for this and they are not portable. See the Knowledge Base article on this. You can download a template with concise portable code from my Word FAQ downloads page AutoText Inserter and Macros to Insert Building Blocks.

See below: Using VBA (macros) to Insert an AutoText Entry or other Building Block (Word 2007 or later)


AutoCorrect is sometimes confused with AutoText but the two are very different. A key distinction is that unformatted AutoCorrect entries are shared by all Office programs. AutoText and Building Blocks are Word components only. (Outlook can use AutoText and Textbox building blocks but they are not shared with Word in Ribbon versions). A second distinction is that AutoText is stored in templates, while AutoCorrect is (mostly) stored in language-specific ACL files. Formatted AutoCorrect entries are stored in the normal template.

The key to using AutoCorrect is the AutoCorrect Option settings.

AutoCorrect Options

In Word 97-2003 you access the AutoCorrect options dialog under the Tools menu. In Word 2007 -2019 you get to it from the Options. This is listed as Word Options under the Office Button in Word 2007 and under the File Tab in Word 2010-2019. In all versions of Word you can reach it with the keyboard shortcut Alt+T, A.

AutoCorrect Options microsoft word

Word 2010 AutoCorrect Options Dialog

(tabs different in earlier versions)

A quick way to get to AutoCorrect Options in Word 2007-2019 is to click on the lightning bolt drop down after an AutoCorrect. This is shown to the right. Word just corrected "hte" to "The" at the beginning of a sentence. Bringing the mouse pointer over the word displays the lightning bolt and after a few seconds the tooltip. Clicking on the lightning bolt brings up the AutoCorrect Options Dialog. If this is not showing up, you need to check the box in the AutoCorrect Options dialog to show AutoCorrect Options buttons.

Using AutoCorrect to Correct typos

I suspect this is the original purpose behind AutoCorrect and the reason for the name. If you type "adn" and press the space bar, Word changes this to "and." When you type "adequit" followed by a period, Word changes it to "adequate" followed by the period. Like all AutoCorrect text replacements (other than the functions shown below) these are set forth in the table of AutoCorrect replacements.

Again, these are language-specific. AutoCorrect, though, can be used for much more than correcting typos. Three uses are insertion of boilerplate text quickly, automatic insertion of formatted fractions, and insertion of dummy or random text.

Using AutoCorrect for quickly typing boilerplate text

Say the name of your company is "International WireWorks, Inc." and you have to type that 40 times a day. You could select the name and save it (without the period at the end) as an AutoCorrect entry with the trigger being "iww." Whenever you type "iww." in your documents, you will get "International WireWorks, Inc." Note, if you had included the period in your saved text, you would have two periods in your resulting text. The same can be done with much more extensive phrases.

Using AutoCorrect to type formatted fractions

AutoFormat as You Type already provides limited insertion of fractions. These are limited to the fractions built into the font being used. If you have the option for this checked, Word will replace typed common fractions like 1/2 and 1/3 with the font characters for those. (This option is checked by default in a Word installation.)

However many fractions (i.e. 2/3, 1/16) are not included in fonts. If you want to have more fractions handled automatically and have them appear with consistent formatting in your documents, you could create formatted AutoCorrect entries with the numerator formatted as superscript and the denominator formatted as subscript. You would also uncheck the "Fractions" option on the AutoFormat as You Type option.

Since these are formatted entries, they are stored in the normal template, not in the language-specific acl file. For more on this, see How Can I Create a Fraction in Word that isn't in Any of the Fonts that I Have? For a macro solution see Create a Fraction by Graham Mayor.

Using AutoCorrect to Insert Random Text - Rand and Lorem functions

There is in AutoCorrect a function to insert random or filler text to help you see how a template will look when it is used. In Word 2000-2003 this is the Rand function. Later versions also have the Lorem function. Both use AutoCorrect but allow the user to specify the amount of text. Both require that they begin a paragraph and both are triggered by the Enter key at the end of the paragraph.

Here are the two functions before the enter key is pressed:





The function can take one or two parameters. When only one parameter is given, that is the number of paragraphs of three sentences. When two parameters are given, the first is the number of paragraphs and the second is the number of sentences in each paragraph.

In Word 2000-2003, the text used by rand is the sentence: The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog. This sentence uses all 26 letters used in English but does not give the variety offered by the ribbon versions of Word. You can get this in ribbon versions of word using the function "rand.old" instead of "rand."



In ribbon versions of Word the text used by rand appears to come from Word's help files.

The lorem function works with the same parameters but produced nonsense text that looks like Latin and is adapted from text written by Cicero. See Lorem Ipsum. It looks much more like ordinary text (at least in English or Latin). Sentence length varies and there is a normal distribution of ascenders and descenders in the letters. This use as dummy text dates back to the middle ages.

For more on this AutoCorrect function, see The Rand "Virus" or how to insert dummy text into a document.

You can download a free Add-In for Word 2007-2019 that writes these formulae for you to help you learn them. It has a custom dialog box that gives you choices.

Turning Off AutoCorrect

Usually what people want to really turn off is AutoFormat as you Type. If you truly want to turn off AutoCorrect, uncheck all of the boxes on the AutoCorrect Options dialog.

File>Options>Proofing>AutoCorrect Options

Note, I do not recommend turning AutoCorrect off, but do recommend turning off the option to Automatically use suggestions from the spelling checker.

Using AutoFormat as you Type to insert paragraph borders (fancy lines)

It's easy to add a variety of horizontal divider lines to Word documents. To create a solid, black line for example, type three HYPHENS (-) at the beginning of a new paragraph and then press ENTER. Typing three UNDERSCORES (_) will make a thicker line, and so on. (If you type more than three, it will still work.) 

See the table below for a guide to the types of lines you can create:

--- (Three HYPHENS)
=== (Three EQUAL SIGNS)
### (Three POUND SIGNS)
*** (Three ASTERISKS)
~~~ (Three TILDES)

If you're having trouble making this tip work, try this:

  1. Select AutoCorrect from the Tools menu.
  2. Click the AutoFormat As You Type tab.
  3. Then select the Borders check box under the Apply as you type heading.

Note: These can be very disconcerting if you don't know that this is what is happening. For that reason, many experienced Word users, including your author, turn this option off. If you want to not apply these (or any other AutoFormat or AutoCorrect) press Ctrl+Z immediately after Word makes the change. You can also add a space after your three (or more) characters and Word will not convert the characters to a paragraph border. If you are past the point where Ctrl+Z will help, you can get rid of one of these borders by removing the border format from the paragraph.

In Word 97-2003, place your cursor in the text line above the border and use Format => Borders and Shading. Make sure that the apply to box says "paragraph" and click on the box for "none."

AutoFormat as you type correction - AutoText autocorrect microsoft wordIn Word 2007-2019 (365), place your cursor in the text line above the border and on the Home tab find the Borders and Shading dropdown in the paragraph group; it will be highlighted (shown left). Select No Border.



Using AutoFormat as you Type to insert Em-dashes and En-Dashes

Em-dashes () and En-dashes () are true dashes, not hyphens (-) or minus signs. An En-dash has about the width of the upper-case letten N, and an Em-dash has about the width of the upper-case letter M.
See How to Use the M-Dash and How to Use the N-Dash.

To insert an Em-dash you put two hyphens -- without spaces between two words or characters as you type.

Any word (or character)--another word (or character) converts to an Em-dash.

Becomes: word (or character)another word (or character)

To insert an En-dash you need to put it between two words with a space on either side of two hypens or minus signs.

Any word (or character) -- another word (or character) converts to an En-dash with spaces on either side.

Becomes: word (or character) another word (or character)

Both of these AutoFormat as you Type methods require that the second word be ended in some way (space or punctuation) before the transformation takes place.

These can be inserted using Insert > Symbol. There are keyboard shortcuts for these as well. They use the minus sign on the numeric keypad.

Note, if your mouse pointer turns into a bold dash , press the Esc key! That can remove commands from a menu or the Ribbon!

If you do not like the spaces around the En-dash, you may want to use AutoCorrect instead. That is discussed by MVP Jay Freedman in this Microsoft Answers thread.

Where Are AutoCorrect Entries Stored?

Unformatted AutoCorrect entries are stored in .acl files. These files are language-specific. That is, if you change the language setting for your text, a different .acl file will be used (or generated).

Formatted AutoCorrect entries are stored in / normal.dotm.

See also What Files Do I Need to Back Up?

Moving or Copying AutoCorrect Entries


This utility supplants and improves the utility from Microsoft. It copies your AutoCorrect Entries into a Word table.  They can be viewed and edited in that table. Then the utility can put your edits into your AutoCorrect all at once. You can also copy the table to a different computer and use the utility to copy your AutoText onto that computer. Easy to use. Free! The version of this utility for Word 2007 - 2019 can be found on Jay Freedman's site.

Another utility to manage AutoCorrect entries can be found on Greg Maxey's site: AutoCorrect Utility Manager

(The following is from the Chapter on Numbering:)

Use AutoText to Create Sequence Fields for Interrogatories and More

A Sequence field tracks differently numbered lists within a document. Combining Sequence fields and AutoText entries give you a fast and easy way to insert Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and Requests for Admission.

Practice: Use Sequence Fields

  1. Type INTERROGATORY NO. followed by a space.
  2. Press CTRL+F9 to insert field characters.
  3. Type SEQ Rog within the field characters.

Note Note  The "Rog" in this example is the name of the Interrogatory numbering scheme. This name will keep this numbering scheme unique from any other schemes that may be running in the document. See Tip below for more information.

  1. Press F9 to update the field. A number "1" should appear.
  2. Select INTERROGATORY NO. 1, and press ALT+F3 to create a new AutoText entry.
  3. Type rog for the AutoText entry name, and click OK.
  4. Type Request for ANSWER followed by a space.
  5. Press CTRL+F9 to insert field characters.
  6. Type SEQ Ans within the field characters.
  7. Select ANSWER 1, and press ALT+F3 to create a new AutoText entry.
  8. Type Ans for the AutoText entry name, and click OK.
  9. Type Ans and press F3. The next sequential number for an Answer appears.
  10. Press ENTER and type rog and press F3. The next sequential Interrogatory appears.

To use the AutoText entry, simply type rog and press F3.

Tip Tip  Follow the same steps (above) to create Request for Production or Request for Admissions. The only difference would be in Step 3, you would change the "rog" to "rpf" or "rfa". This will keep unique numbering schemes running in the same document. Therefore, you could have an Interrogatory No.1 as well as Request for Production No.1. Keep in mind that if you cut, copy or paste sequence codes, you'll need to select them and press F9 to update the field codes. They do not update automatically.


How to Print AutoText Entries

You can print all AutoText entries (in the attached template and any global templates) using:

File > Print

In the print dialog box toward the lower left you will see "Print what" answered with "Document." Change that to "AutoText entries." Click on OK.

To Print AutoCorrect Entries

Use the AutoCorrect backup utility you can download from the MVP FAQ site to create a table with your AutoCorrect entries. Print that table. See also AutoCorrect Utility Manager.

Turning AutoFormat as You Type Options Off

Many of the AutoFormat as You Type Options cause unexpected changes in your document. While there are times when they are useful, those times are not frequent for your author. Here are screenshots showing the ones that I uncheck, and those that I leave on. These are from Word 2003 and Word 2010.

Word 2003 Options AutoFormat As You Type  AutoFormat As You Type Options - Word 2010

See Tame AutoFormat and How To Turn Off AutoFormat Options.

You may want to use AutoCorrect rather than AutoFormat as you Type for Fractions and Em-and En-dashes.


Using VBA (macros) to Insert an AutoText Entry or other Building Block (Word 2007 or later)

Recording a Macro

Recording a macro will work, to a limited extent.  Recorded macros will not work on someone else's system even if they have the same building blocks or even if they are a different user on the same computer. Recorded macros will not work if the template contains more than one building block with the same name, even if they are different types. Note that the file that comes with Word "Built-In Building Blocks.dotx" has many building blocks with the same names. You can use the Building Blocks Organizer and sort by name to see if there are multiple building blocks with the same name and in the same template.

Because of these limitations, often you will need to actually write a macro.

However, you can try recording one. The key is to use the Building Blocks Organizer to insert the Building Block when recording the macro, rather than a shortcut or another gallery/menu.

Any macro, recorded or written, should be stored in the same template that holds the building block. That way, if the macro is available, the building block is available.

Writing a Macro

To do this, you need to know:

  1. The name of the building block. If you have a unique name for the building block (no other building block of the same name exists in any building block entry location) then use Graham Mayor's macro found on one of his sample macro pages. A variation is shown below.
  2. The name (and location) of the template that holds the building block unless the macro is in the same template
  3. How to insert a macro. See Installing Macros and Install/Employ VBA Procedures (Macros).

Building Block Name = "MyBB" (example in this macro, change to fit)

Situation 1 and 1a have the Building Block and the macro in the same template. This simplifies coding because a macro can always tell the name and location of the template that holds it. That information is required to use a macro to insert a building block.

Situation 1 - template holds both the building block and the macro

Here is the macro to insert that uniquely-named building block at the insertion point in the document:

Sub InsertMyBB()
'  Will not work if there are multiple building blocks with the same name in the template! See below.
  Const sBBName As String = "MyBB" 'use the name of your building block instead of "MyBB"
  On Error GoTo Oops
  Application.Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' Thank you Timothy Rylatt
  Application.Templates(ThisDocument.fullname).BuildingBlockEntries(sBBName).Insert Where:=Selection.range, _
    RichText:=True ' Insert MyBB Building Block
  Exit Sub ' We're done here
Oops: ' Didn't work - building block not there!
  MsgBox Prompt:="The Building Block " & sBBName & " cannot be found in " & _
  ThisDocument.Name & ".", Title:="Didn't Work!"
  On Error GoTo -1
End Sub

This and the following macro are both contained in a demonstration template that can be downloaded from my downloads page.

Situation 1a - template holding building blocks and macro in same template - multiple building blocks with the same name

In this situation, the previous  macro would confuse Word and give unpredictable (to the user) results. In this case, the macro needs to know both the gallery and category of the building block. The following macro assumes that the building block is stored in the AutoText gallery and in the General category. You can find the name of the gallery and category using the Building Blocks Organizer. Category names are plain text. Galleries are referenced in vba as Building Block Types and use constants. You can find a list of the constants for the different galleries here.

Sub InsertMyBB()
' Assumes that the Building Block is of the type AutoText (wdTypeAutoText) in Category "General"
' See
' This is based in part upon contributions from Greg Maxey and Jay Freedman - any errors remain mine
' Written by Charles Kenyon April 2021
  Const sBBName As String = "MyBB" 'use the name of your building block instead of "MyBB"
  Const sTempName As String = ThisDocument.fullname ' puts name and full path of template in string
  Dim oBB As BuildingBlock
  On Error Resume Next
  Application.Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' Thank you Timothy Rylatt
  Set oBB = Application.Templates(sTempName).BuildingBlockTypes(wdTypeAutoText) _
  If err.Number = 0 Then
    oBB.Insert Selection.range, True
    MsgBox Prompt:="The Building Block '" & sBBName & "' cannot be found in " & _
       ThisDocument.Name & ".", Title:="Didn't Work!"
  End If
  On Error GoTo -1
  Set oBB = Nothing
End Sub

This and the preceding macro are both contained in a demonstration template that can be downloaded from my downloads page.


Situation 2 - template holding building block is in Word Startup Folder and named MyBBTemplate.dotx

This template, for some reason, does not hold the macro, it is in a separate template. We know the name of the container template. The name of the template containing the macro does not matter for our purposes.

Sub InsertMyBB()
'  Will not work if the Startup Folder is the root directory of a drive, i.e. C:\
'  For use with building block stored in a template loaded in the Word Startup Folder that does NOT hold this macro
'  Will not work if there are multiple building blocks with the same name in the template!
  Const sBBName As String = "MyBB" 'use the name of your building block instead of "MyBB"
  Const sTempName As String = "MyBBTemplate.dotx" 'use the name of your template instead of "MyBBTemplate.dotx"
  On Error GoTo NoStartupPath
  Const sStartupFolder As String = Application.Options.DefaultFilePath(wdStartupPath)
  On Error GoTo Oops ' error handler
  Application.Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' Thank you Timothy Rylatt
  Application.Templates(sStartupPath & "\" & sTemplateName).BuildingBlockEntries(sBBName) _
     .Insert Where:=Selection.range, RichText:=True ' Insert MyBB Building Block
  Exit Sub ' We're done here
  On Error GoTo -1
  MsgBox Prompt:="No Startup Folder Set in Options"
  Exit Sub
Oops: ' Didn't work - building block not there!
  MsgBox Prompt:="The Building Block " & sBBName & " cannot be found in " & _
  sTemplateName & ".", Title:="Didn't Work!"
  On Error GoTo -1
End Sub

Situation 3 - Insert a building block with a unique name at a bookmark, regardless of location

This macro does NOT care where the building block is stored but its name must be unique to have predictable results.

Sub InsertMyBuildingBlock_Bookmark()
' Charles Kenyon 09 April 2021
' based on Graham Mayor's macro at
' In addition to checking the active template, add-in templates and the normal template,
' this macro looks in the building blocks.dotx template.
' Building Block name must be unique!
  Const BookMarkNAME As String = "delete" ' use the name of the building block - make variable if multiple bookmarks
  Dim oTemplate As Template
  Dim oAddin As AddIn
  Dim bFound As Boolean
  Dim oRng As range
  Dim i As Long
  'Define the required building block entry
  Const strBuildingBlockName As String = "Building Block Name"
  ' Set the range
  Set oRng = ActiveDocument.Bookmarks(BookMarkNAME).range
  'Set the found flag default to False
  bFound = False
  'Ignore the attached template for now if the
  'document is based on the normal template
   Application.Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' Thank you Timothy Rylatt
   If ActiveDocument.AttachedTemplate <> NormalTemplate Then
    Set oTemplate = ActiveDocument.AttachedTemplate
    'Check each building block entry in the attached template
    For i = 1 To oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries.Count
     'Look for the building block name
       'and if found, insert it.
      If oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(i).Name = strBuildingBlockName Then
        oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(strBuildingBlockName).Insert _
        'Set the found flag to true
        bFound = True
        'Clean up and stop looking
        GoTo lbl_Exit
      End If
      Next i
  End If
  'The entry has not been found
  If bFound = False Then
    For Each oAddin In AddIns
      'Check currently loaded add-ins
      If oAddin.Installed = False Then Exit For
        Set oTemplate = Templates(oAddin.Path & _
          Application.PathSeparator & oAddin.Name)
        'Check each building block entry in the each add in
        For i = 1 To oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries.Count
          If oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(i).Name = strBuildingBlockName Then
            'Look for the building block name
              'and if found, insert it.
            oTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(strBuildingBlockName).Insert _
            'Set the found flag to true
            bFound = True
            'Clean up and stop looking
            GoTo lbl_Exit
          End If
        Next i
    Next oAddin
  End If
  'The entry has not been found. Check the normal template
  If bFound = False Then
    For i = 1 To NormalTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries.Count
      If NormalTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(i).Name = strBuildingBlockName Then
        NormalTemplate.BuildingBlockEntries(strBuildingBlockName).Insert _
        'set the found flag to true
        bFound = True
      End If
    Next i
  End If
  'If the entry has still not been found
  'finally check the Building Blocks.dotx template
  If bFound = False Then
    For Each oTemplate In Templates
      If oTemplate.Name = "Building Blocks.dotx" Then Exit For
    Next oTemplate
    For i = 1 To Templates(oTemplate.fullname).BuildingBlockEntries.Count
      If Templates(oTemplate.fullname).BuildingBlockEntries(i).Name = strBuildingBlockName Then
        Templates(oTemplate.fullname).BuildingBlockEntries(strBuildingBlockName).Insert _
        'set the found flag to true
        bFound = True
       'Clean up and stop looking
        GoTo lbl_Exit
      End If
    Next i
  End If
  'All sources have been checked and the entry is still not found
  If bFound = False Then
    'so tell the user.
  MsgBox "Entry not found", _
    vbInformation, _
    "Building Block " _
    & Chr(145) & strBuildingBlockName & Chr(146)
  End If
  set oTemplate = Nothing
  set oRng = Nothing
End Sub

For more thoughts/ideas on inserting a building block at a bookmark, see this thread:
Updating bookmark with multiple building blocks based on checkbox

Situation 3 - template holding building block is "Building Blocks.dotx" in the building blocks storage location

This template also does not hold the macro because templates in the building blocks folder do not contribute macros to Word even if they contain them. This macro incorporates code from Greg Maxey and Jay Freedman given in this thread. Building Blocks.dotx is the name of the template used, by default, to store custom building blocks other than AutoText. It is stored, by user, in a language-dependent, version-dependent folder. This macro is intended to retrieve the building block regardless of the language or version.

Sub InsertMyBB()
'  Based on code by Greg Maxey and Jay Freedman
'  For use with building block stored in the default custom building blocks file "Building Blocks.dotx"
'  Will not work if there are multiple building blocks with the same name in the template!
   Const sBBName As String = "MyBB" 'use the name of your building block instead of "MyBB"
   Const sTempName As String = "Building Blocks.dotx" 'use the name of your template instead of "MyBBTemplate.dotx"
   Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' in case building blocks not yet accessed
   On Error GoTo Oops ' error handler
   Application.Templates.LoadBuildingBlocks ' Thank you Timothy Rylatt
   Application.Templates(sStartupPath & "\" & sTemplateName).BuildingBlockEntries(sBBName) _
         .Insert Where:=Selection.range, RichText:=True ' Insert MyBB Building Block
   Exit Sub ' We're done here
Oops: ' Didn't work - building block not there!
   MsgBox Prompt:="The Building Block " & sBBName & " cannot be found in " & _
   sTemplateName & ".", Title:="Didn't Work!"
   On Error GoTo -1
End Sub

Warning on Multiple Building Blocks with the same name. See screenshot below!

If there are multiple building blocks that have the same name in the same template, the results will be unpredictable unless instead of BuildingBlockEntries the Collection of BuildingBlockTypes is used along with the specific category. The ordinary user will not be aware of these so the developer must set things up. Word has 35 types that correspond to the 35 galleries of building blocks. You can find a list here. See also What happens if two building block entries have the same name? below.

At this point, I will refer you to the thread that started this all if you want your entries in a different template (or want to get them from the Built-In Building Blocks). For your own use, you can record the insertion of a building block from any template. The problem comes when you try to transfer the macro and building block to another computer or user. (Again, see the idea of storing the macro and building block in the same template.)

Using Macros with AutoText Fields

I often use AutoText Fields in my document templates. These work not only with AutoText but also with other Building Blocks. The AutoText itself is stored in either document or Global Templates. That way there is one central repository for the language or images. However, AutoText Fields are not necessarily automatically updated. In addition it is important to not send a document with an AutoText Field to someone who does not have access to the Global template, the field needs to be unlinked so that just the AutoText, itself, is what is in the document. This is also important for maintaining archival documents so the language does not change when the document is opened.

I handle this with an AutoNew macro in the document templates. That calls on two macros in the global template containing the AutoText when a new document is created based on the document template. Separate similar macros would be needed for AutoTextList fields. These will not do anything to Building Blocks Gallery Content Controls.

Here are the macros:

AutoNew Macro (in the document templates)

Sub AutoNew()
  ' Place in document templates containing AutoText Fields - runs when new document created
  ' Charles Kenyon November 12, 2020
  Application.Run UpdateAllAutoText
  Application.Run UnlinkAllAutoText
End Sub

Update all AutoText Fields macro (in global template)

Sub UpdateAllAutoText()
' Update all AutoText fields in a document, even if in headers/footers or textboxes
' based on code at
' November 12, 2020 Charles Kenyon
  Dim rngstory As Word.range
  Dim lngValidate As Long ' do not know purpose of this - CK
  Dim oShp As Shape
  Dim oStory As range
  Dim oField As Field
  lngValidate = ActiveDocument.Sections(1).Headers(1).range.StoryType ' do not know purpose of this
  For Each rngstory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
    'Iterate through all linked stories
       For Each oField In oStory.Fields
          If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then oField.Update
       Next oField
    On Error Resume Next
    For Each oField In rngstory.Fields
       If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then oField.Update
    Next oField
    Select Case rngstory.StoryType
      Case 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11
         If rngstory.ShapeRange.Count > 0 Then
           For Each oShp In rngstory.ShapeRange
             If oShp.TextFrame.HasText Then
                For Each oField In oShp.TextFrame.Fields
                   If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then oField.Update
                Next oField
             End If
         End If
     Case Else
         'Do Nothing
   End Select
   On Error GoTo 0
   'Get next linked story (if any)
   Set rngstory = rngstory.NextStoryRange
   Loop Until rngstory Is Nothing
   Set oStory = Nothing
   Set oField = Nothing
   Set rngstory = Nothing
   Set oShp = Nothing
End Sub

Sub AutoTextFieldUpdateAllStory()
' Written by Charles Kyle Kenyon 9 March 2021
' assistance from Jezebel
' All Story Field Updater - AutoText fields
  Dim oField As Field
  Dim oStory As range
  ' On Error Resume Next
  For Each oStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
  ' This goes into headers and footers as well as the regular document
  For Each oField In oStory.Fields
    If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then
    End If
  Next oField
  Set oStory = oStory.NextStoryRange
  Loop Until oStory Is Nothing
  Next oStory
  Set oStory = Nothing
  Set oField = Nothing
  On Error GoTo -1
End Sub

Macro to Unlink Fields (in global template that holds AutoText or other Building Blocks)

Sub UnlinkAllAutoText()
  ' Unlink all AutoText fields in a document, even if in headers/footers or textboxes
  ' Based on code at
  ' Charles Kenyon
  ' 2 Sept 2020
  Dim oStory As range
  Dim oField As Field
  For Each oStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
    For Each oField In oStory.Fields
      If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then oField.Unlink
    Next oField
    If oStory.StoryType <> wdMainTextStory Then
      While Not (oStory.NextStoryRange Is Nothing)
        Set oStory = oStory.NextStoryRange
        For Each oField In oStory.Fields
          If oField.Type = wdFieldAutoText Then oField.Unlink
        Next oField
    End If
  Next oStory
  Set oStory = Nothing
  Set oField = Nothing
End Sub


Troubleshooting AutoText

Weird formatting?

No tooltip is showing for my AutoText so I can't press Enter and insert it.

In Word 2010 this indicates that your AutoText is stored somewhere other than normal.dotm. This is perfectly acceptable but you can't use the Enter key or see the tooltip. Once you have typed at least four letters of the name, try pressing the F3 key to insert your AutoText. Long term, you can use the organizer to insert it.

In Word 2007 no tooltips show for AutoText entries. Period. You can still use the F3 key to enter AT entries in your text.

In Word 97-2003 this may indicate multiple AutoText entries with the same entry name or that you haven't typed enough of the name for Word to distinguish the entry you want from a different one with the same beginning to the name.

Missing Page Number / Header / Footer Commands - greyed out - Charles Kenyon

What happens if two building blocks entries have the same name?

Word will allow two different entries to have the same name so long as they are either stored in different templates, different Galleries in the same template or different Categories in the same Gallery. No error message or query will be generated when you try to save one with the same name as another unless you are trying to save in the same template, Gallery, and Category. In that case, you will be asked if you want to redefine the entry. Generally you want to have different names for different entries.

The F3 key after typing an entry name will call not only AutoText but also other Building Blocks.

The AutoText field will call not only AutoText but other Building Blocks. Different entries with the same name can lead to problems.

First, the general hierarchy of templates governs. You can add in the Building Blocks and Built-In-Building Blocks templates when dealing with AutoText and Building Blocks. When looking for an AutoText entry named "MyEntry" Word will look:

bulletFirst in the Attached Template, if the entry is not there, it will look
bulletIn the Normal.dotm Template; if the entry is not there, it will look
bulletIn loaded Global Templates; if the entry is not there, it will look
bulletIn the Built-in Building Blocks Template; if the entry is not there, it will look
bulletIn the Building Blocks Template.

I have not yet explored what happens with other templates containing building blocks stored in the Building Blocks folder. Nor have I explored the hierarchy of galleries and categories within a template.


Troubleshooting AutoCorrect

If AutoCorrect does something you don't like, immediately press Ctrl+Z to UnDo it. You can edit the AutoCorrect Options to remove entries that consistently cause you problems.

Every Word user should have one of two key AutoCorrect Backup/Restore utilities. The one for Word 97-2003 can be found on the MVP site. The one for later (ribbon) versions ( can be found on Jay Freedman's site. These create a backup Word document that has all of the AutoCorrect entries in a given language in a table. This makes it easy to move entries to a new computer or make changes. Note the utility does not delete AutoCorrect entries that exist. If there is one with the same name, it will replace it. Another backup utility can be found at AutoCorrect Utility Manager.

On one of the Word help forums the question arose on how to deal with multiple AutoCorrect entries that were causing problems. Specifically, the user had AutoCorrects to change the "ise" endings on words to "ize." That is, it would automatically change "customize" to "customise" and so forth. It is likely that this happened from using the spell check option to add spelling errors to AutoCorrect (below). These are not built into Word.

Over time, having this checked is likely to result in a number of entries that are problematic. Going through the list in AutoCorrect Options would be hit-or-miss. The Backup/Restore utility could be used, though, to search the backup document for these entries so that they could later be changed using the AutoCorrect Options. It would also be possible, using that utility, to restore an AutoCorrect without the problem entries. Doing so would require that they be unformatted entries (not stored in the normal template). You could then rename the ACL file with Word closed so Word would not use it. Using the Backup utility would restore all of the other entries without the ones that were deleted.

I would be tempted, though, to simply rename the ACL file and start over from scratch, perhaps looking through the backup file to see if it contains anything very useful.

Troubleshooting AutoFormat as You Type

If AutoFormat as You Type causes you problems, immediately press Ctrl+Z to undo the change it made. Then go into the AutoCorrect Options to turn off the feature that is causing you problems. You can see at I keep most of the options off on my computer. Remember that there are two tabs for AutoFormat in the options. You want to make your changes to "Autoformat as You Type."

Turn it off!

Style changes can seem like they must be AutoFormat gone whacky! The following is from the Chapter on Styles:

A style has changed unexpectedly

Check to see if automatic updating is turned on for the style. With automatic updating, a style is updated automatically when you make additional changes to the style, meaning that every paragraph in your document assigned to that style will change automatically. To turn off this feature, click the Format menu, and choose Style. Select the style in the Styles box, and then click Modify. If the Automatically update check box is selected, clear it.

Your style may have been based on another style that has changed. Changes to a base style affect other styles in the document that are based on it. For example, if you change the font in Normal to the Arial font, Word changes the font for the styles used in footnotes, headers, footers, page numbers, and other text. If you don't want a certain style to change when you change the base style, make certain your style is not based on another style. On the Format menu, click Style. In the Styles box, click the style you want to modify, click Modify, and then click (no style) in the Based on box.
Warning Warning  When you base a style on No Style, you will need to set the Language because the default will be No Proofing. (Word 97)

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you not base any styles on normal and that you change the built-in styles so that they are not based on normal. This is particularly true for any styles that are involved in paragraph numbering.

If you change the styles in a template and then reopen a document based on that template, styles in the current document may be updated, based on their definitions in the template. If you don't want the styles in documents based on a particular template to update when you open the documents, click Templates and Add-Ins on the Tools menu, and then clear the Automatically update document styles check box.

Charles Kenyon note: I recommend that you keep the Automatically update styles check box unchecked. Especially if you will be sharing your documents with others, leaving it checked can result in truly bizarre formatting and make your documents ugly or even unusable.

If the template that contains the style definitions is missing or damaged, styles in the current document use the style definitions from the Normal template.

Applying a style turns off bold, italic, or underlining

Sometimes when you apply a style that has specific formatting attributes to text already formatted this way, the reverse formatting may occur. For example, when you apply a style that contains bold formatting to a paragraph that contains some bold text, the bold text may lose its bold formatting. This problem will not occur if you apply character formatting— either through a character style or direct formatting — after you apply a paragraph style. Apply the style first, and then select the words to have other formatting and apply the formatting directly.
Tip Tip  To make sure that no direct formatting has been applied to the text, first select the text completely and then press CTRL+SPACEBAR. This removes manually applied formatting. Now when a style is applied, there is no reversing situation to occur.

Following is from Knowledge Base:


WD97: Macros to Test for an Existing AutoText Entry Name



WD: Creating Custom Date Formats with AutoText and/or Toolbar

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