From WordPerfect to Microsoft Word: Macros, AutoCorrect, and Quick Parts

When I was in high school, a lo-o-o-o-o-ng time ago, I took a course in WordPerfect. I learned that program from the inside out. I had keyboard shortcuts and macros for EVERYTHING. I never typed anything longhand. Using that program was like being a court reporter.


My first word processing software. I miss you, WP.

paperclipConveniently enough, I worked my way through undergrad as a legal secretary. I had a Dictaphone in one ear and a telephone in the other. When I wasn’t answering phones, taking messages, or greeting clients, I was typing letters. And in four short keystrokes, I had a new letter opened, dated, addressed, and saved. I could type the body in approximately three minutes. Three more keystrokes and the letter was signed, saved again, and printed. NEXT!

I loved that program. So when it was replaced with Microsoft Word, I was devastated. That stupid little paperclip was no substitute for my magical macros. Who cared about icons when my keystrokes were absent? What good is a wizard without her wand?

I will admit – I have resisted the technological side of Word ever since then. I use the program. Along with my web browser, it’s the software that I use most often every day. But up until about a year ago I had not tapped into its full potential as a technological tool.

Carol Fisher Saller changed my mind. Even before I read her book The Subversive Copyeditor, I was fully convinced that copyeditors have a duty of care, a point that she emphasizes. To me, that means that a copyeditor has no business mucking around with a manuscript unless they know that the changes they’re making will improve the text. Saller, of course, does a much better job quantifying the “mucking around.”

But she also makes clear a point I had not considered – a copyeditor’s duty of care does not just mean knowing grammar, knowing the difference between grammar and style, and knowing your style guide inside and out. It also means knowing your software.

To my own shame, I have been hiding behind my English-language competency in order to work around MS Word instead of with it. It’s time for that to end.

I’m making baby steps. The first of those was a post from back in June of 2015, “21 Hacks for Word for Writers.” This is a collection of shortcuts I learned doing proofreading work. This blog post is another. This is something I learned while teaching a course called Keys to Effective Editing, and it’s akin to the macros I used to adore in WordPerfect.

Here is how you can use Autocorrect and Quick Parts to insert lengthy, standardized, or complexly formatted text into your document easily** (click on any of the images below to see them in more detail):


Go to File –> Options –> Proofing.

File -- Options

Select AutoCorrect Options.Proofing -- AutoCorrect Options

Be sure the box marked “Replace text as you type” is checked.

In the boxes below “Replace text as you type” enter:

  1. a) the text you want to type (case sensitive)
  2. b) the text you wish to have appear (also case sensitive)^^

Select ADD.

Replace -- ADD

In the document, you can now type the AutoCorrect text and hit Enter, Tab, or Space and the text you wish to appear will be automatically inserted in your document.

Type shortcut. Hit Enter, Tab, or Space.

Type shortcut. Hit Enter, Tab, or Space.

Quick Parts

For more complicated bits of text, Quick Parts is a better solution. You can find Quick Parts on your menu bar under the Insert Tab.

Quick Parts allows you to save the formatting associated with a block of text. So you want to create the text in the body of your document first, then save it to Quick Parts. Let’s use a signature line as an example:


L. Michelle Baker, PhD
The Corporate Pro
Because communication is key!
304 283 4573

After you type the text and format it correctly, highlight the text and select Quick Parts. You have lots of options here. I would suggest doing one of two things:

Copy Text

1) You can choose to save as an Auto Text. This allows you to insert the Quick Part by typing the shortcut and hitting Enter, very much like the AutoCorrect feature.

Save As

Quick Parts saved as Auto Text become what is called a Building Block. In addition to typing the shortcut sign, you can also insert an Auto Text by selecting Quick Parts, Building Blocks Organizer, and searching for the Quick Part by any number of descriptors.

2) You can also choose to save the selection to the Quick Part Gallery, in which case it will be added to the Quick Parts menu with a preview and by the name you give it. You can also find it in the Building Blocks Organizer. But you will not be able to enter it into the text through a shortcut.

Building Block Organizer

Quick Parts saved as Auto Text are automatically saved in the normal.docm template. They can be accessed from any document that is based on that template or from the Building Blocks Organizer. Quick Parts saved as part of the Quick Part Gallery are automatically saved in the Building Blocks Gallery and can be accessed from the Building Blocks Organizer.

For both AutoCorrect and Quick Parts, I suggest that you print a list of shortcuts and either post them or keep them in a binder in your writing space. Then you have a quick reference and you do not need to remember a whole new series of buttons, symbols, or shortcuts.

For me, this knowledge has been a big sigh of relief. I feel like I have my macros back. They are not as quick and easy as my old WordPerfect shortcuts, but the work I’m doing today is a little more complicated than typing repetitive correspondence and taking messages. So I guess it’s time to pull up my big girl panties and join the twenty-first century. Fine.

But I’m keeping my purple coffee mug 🙂

Because purple is my favorite color and it makes me smile :)

Because purple is my favorite color and it makes me smile 🙂

Did you find this post helpful? If so, please share it with your friends and colleagues!

**Note: These instructions are for MS Word 2013. With some slight modification, they should also work for MS Word 2010. If you have suggestions for how to modify them, please be sure to leave them here.

^^The plain text and formatted text options appear to be linked to Microsoft Outlook. Please comment if you have more information regarding these features.


  1. Thanks for the tips Michelle!! I am starting to use MS Word more than ever and these tips are really helpful.

  2. This is fantastic! Thanks so much for writing about this – I have wanted something like this first shortcut in documents where I have to type and re-type the same really long scientific name over and over throughout the document. I am looking forward to testing it out!

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