All the current common versions of Word have the Autocorrect feature turned on by default. Try it. Open a document in Word 2003, 2007 or 2010 and try typing (c) and press the Enter key. Similary, try typing (TM), freind, wierd and teh, pressing Enter after each one. Notice that Word changes the first two into their proper symbols and corrects the spellings of the words. Notice, too, that because each word is at the beginning of a new line, Word capitalises the first letter automatically – this is all the work of Autocorrect.
Word includes various ways to customise the way the Autocorrect feature works. Put the text-entry cursor immediately after the last word typed (in this example it is ‘The’) and a small blue underline will appear under the first letter of the word. Hover the mouse pointer over this and it will turn into a dropdown menu – click on it to reveal the various options. From here, it is possible to prevent Word from correcting this particular word or to turn off capitalising the first letter of sentences; this is sometimes useful when creating lists, for instance.
Now try this. Press Enter a couple of times and type the words Fathum and Potatoe – both will be highlighted as incorrect. Right-click on Fathum and choose the correct replacement spelling (‘Fathom’) from the pop-up menu: this process replaces a single occurrence of the misspelled word. Next, right-click on Potatoe and this time select Autocorrect from the menu and then choose Potato from the submenu: this will correct this and all future misspellings of the same word.
Let’s go behind the scenes. Word 2003 users should open the Tools menu and choose Autocorrect Options; Word 2007 users need to click the Office button and then click the Word Options button at the bottom of the dialogue box. When the dialogue box opens, click Proofing in the left-hand column and then click the Autocorrect Options button in the main window. Using Word 2010? Open the File menu and choose Word Options, then Proofing, then Autocorrect Options.
Scroll down the list in the dialogue box to see how Word is set up to correct common spelling mistakes and turn keystrokes into special characters (for example, ‘R’ in a circle for a registered-trademark symbol). Remember the corrections made in Step 3? Look through the list here and you won’t find ‘Fathum’ and ‘Fathom’ because it was a one-time-only correction; however, notice that ‘Potatoe’ and ‘Potato’ have been added to the list, which means that Word will correct that particular spelling mistake automatically from now on.
It’s also possible to use Autocorrect to complete words that are particularly difficult to remember or type. Say you’re writing an assignment about the Giant Hogweed plant but you keep forgetting the Latin name. In the empty box above the list type HGW in the Replace column and then type Heracleum mantigazziani in the With column. Click the Add button and then click OK to close the dialogue (in Word 2007/2010 you will have to click OK again). Back at the document, type the three-character abbreviation HGW and press the space bar and Word will replace it with the full Latin name.