AutoText on Steroids – Using Word Building Blocks

If you are a long-time user of Microsoft Word, you probably use AutoText to add boilerplate text to your documents.

A stack of children's building blocksMicrosoft Word 2007 takes this concept miles further!

With the new building blocks feature, almost any type of text or graphic can be saved—formatted text, form fields, clip art, WordArt, cover pages, and more—then inserted into your documents using a keyboard shortcut.

You save a lot of time not typing or formatting the same text or graphics over and over again.

Tutorial: Creating and using building blocks

Open Word 2007 and follow along as we create a building block.

Let’s assume that your company’s name is, “Lindberger, Humperdink, Schnitzelgruber and Moore Consulting, Inc.” Not only that, your company style guide requires that every time the company name is used, it has to be formatted in green, bold font.

How to create a building block

  1. Copy and paste the company name into a new Word document.
  2. Add green, bold formatting to the text.
  3. Highlight the text. (Be careful not to highlight anything you don’t want included in the building block.)
    a selection of highlighted text
  4. On the Insert tab, click Quick Parts to expand the menu, then select Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery.
    Selecting 'Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery' from the list
  5. Type a name for the building block. Choose something short, because this will be the text you type to insert this building block into your document.
    The Create New Building Block dialog box
  6. Select the gallery where you want the building block to be saved. If you select Quick Parts, it will be available from the Quick Parts menu. (For this tutorial, select Quick Parts.)
  7. Select the template. (If you save it to any template except Building Blocks.dotx, the building block will only be available in that template.)
  8. Click OK.
  9. Close the file. Click Yes to save the building block to the template.

Congratulations! You just created a building block. Now, let’s use it!


Using the AutoText Gallery

If you want to save text as an entry in the AutoText Gallery, you have to add a button for the gallery on the Quick Access toolbar.

Follow these steps to add the button to the toolbar:

  1. On the Quick Access toolbar, click the Customize button.
    location of customize button on the Ribbon
  2. Select More Commands.
  3. Under Choose Commands From, select Commands Not in the Ribbon.
  4. Scroll down the left-hand list, select AutoText, then click Add.
  5. Click OK.

Clicking the button on the Quick Access Toolbar opens the Create New Building Block dialog box.

Inserting AutoText using a building block

Instead of using the ribbon to insert the building block from the Quick Parts menu, here is a faster way to do it:

  1. For this tutorial, create a new document.
  2. Type coname (or the name of your building block).
  3. Press F3. Your formatted company name is inserted into the document.

To speed up your workflow, create building blocks for any text or graphics that you use often.

How do you use Building Blocks? Let me know in the comments below.

Photo Credits: © samxmeg –