Early on in my working career, I began using the autotext feature in Microsoft Word to automate the addition of signature blocks, repetitive phrases, and other phrases when I was regularly repeating myself. By typing a unique phrase like worksig, Word would then include my entire signature block such as
Have a great day,
Stan Skrabut, Ed.D.
Instructional Technology Educational Specialist
University of Wyoming Extension
This has been a huge time saver. Because I also am involved in many different activities, I have different signature blocks, for example:
- capsig – Wyoming Wing Professional Development Officer
- sqdnsig – Laramie Valley Composite Squadron Commander
- pscsig – Planning Section Chief
- rmsig – Rocky Mountain Region Chief of Staff
In other programs like Microsoft Outlook, I use the signatures feature to manage my many different signatures as well as email templates for common responses. A feature from Google email labs also allows for canned text responses. Each of these features has helped to make responding faster and more accurate. However, there are some other tools that help make the process even better and they are program independent.
For the past year, I have been using a program called Phrase Express. This program will expand a unique text combination into a presaved text block. Because Phrase Express can be used across programs, I have basically abandoned the autotext features in Word, Outlook, and other programs. I briefly wrote about Phrase Express in a previous post.
Recently, I have learned about another program that may replace Phrase Express. The program is called Texter and it was created by Lifehacker. Texter does everything Phrase Express has done for me, but it can be stored and launched from a Dropbox folder. This allows me to have the same saved phrases across computers. This is a tip I picked up in a book called Lifehacker: The Guide to Working Smarter, Faster, and Better.
There are also other applications which do similar things:
Ideas for use
I have already introduced the idea of using these tools for automating your signature blocks. Here are some additional ideas:
- data for online forms
- templates for common information requests
- phrases that you regularly use
- header, footer, or other document information such as eeo information.
Here is what Lifehacker has to say about autotext: How to Use Text Expansion to Save Yourself Hours of Typing Every Week
As I noted, these tools have saved me thousands of keystrokes. What tools are you using to get things done a little more quickly?