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How To Write Technical Documents Faster

What to know how to type faster and get those documents out the door quicker? Most people don’t know what the AutoCorrect feature in Word really does.

Most people think it’s there to correct the odd typo and clean up your document AFTER you have written it.

That’s true but…

I use to correct the document AS I WRITE and to enter longs strings of text automatically.

Why bother?

When I write user guides, for example. I use a similar structure for the intro, bullet lists and instructions.

Instead of writing, ‘follow these steps’, I type onto the page in Word the letters fts.

Word then automatically writes, follow these steps: on the page.

Do you see how useful this can be?

You can also use it to o automatically detect and correct typos, misspelled words, and incorrect capitalization. It’s very powerful when you look into it and has saved me 100s of hours of manual typing.

Another example?

When I type ar1, AutoCorrect replaces it with “Annual Report.”

Or if you type ‘Teh Executrie summary states’ with a space, AutoCorrect replaces what you have typed with “The Executive Summary states.”

You can also use AutoCorrect to insert symbols, such as copyright symbols.

Note: Text included in hyperlinks is not automatically corrected.

So, how can I do this?

To autocorrect your Word Documents, follow these steps:

1.a In Word 2003, click Tools, AutoCorrect Options.

1.b In Word 2007, click Start, Word Options, Proofing and then the AutoCorrect Options.

2. In the Replace box, type a word or phrase that you often mistype or misspell – for example, type Micorsoft.

3. In the With box, type the correct spelling of the word – for example, type Microsoft.

4. Click Add.

Add a few more! Go on!

Spend 15 min here and add in shortcuts for words, sentence and strings (e.g. Please follow these steps: etc) you use regularly.

What other tips do you know to write documents faster?

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Favorite 10 Technical Writing Tools

drinking sheepI’ve used the same technical writing tools for the last 5 years. A few products have come across my desk but nothing that really blown me away.

Here’s a run-down of what I use to write my technical documents. No order of preference. Which should I keep? Which should I replace?

Continue reading Favorite 10 Technical Writing Tools

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10 Reasons to Love Microsoft Word 2010 & Ditch Snagit's Screen Capture Tool

5 Things you cant do with the Microsoft Office...
Image by Ivan Walsh

What do you want to see in Microsoft Office 2010? Arpan Shan, who has access to the beta versions at Microsoft, shares his favorite 10 Office 2010 features.

Some of these you may already know, but he highlights some nice ideas that seem to be coming through. In Word 2010, for example, you will have an in-built screen capture tool that takes screenshots of whatever apps you have open. Interesting to see how Techsmith, the makers of Snagit, will respond to this.

Also, Scott Stiles, the head of the Program Management team for Word, describes the aims and objectives that Microsoft has for this new release. Continue reading 10 Reasons to Love Microsoft Word 2010 & Ditch Snagit's Screen Capture Tool

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3 Tricks to Sharpen Your Screenshots

Diagrams, charts, and images all serve to enhance academic, business and technical documents. Without them the reader’s attention would flag and their interest wane. Continue reading 3 Tricks to Sharpen Your Screenshots

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7 Mistakes to Avoid when Writing Technical Documents in Word

The main issues with creating long docs in Word tend to involve formatting, styles, graphics, tables, and bullets.

  1. Formatting — cutting/pasting material directly from one file into another is best avoided as this will bring unwanted styles in the target Word file. Instead convert it to raw text and then import it.
  2. Styles — create specific styles and avoid over-riding settings. Avoid using the default settings in the template file.
  3. Graphics – avoid using cut/paste graphics into Word. Instead, reference them with Insert Picture etc.
  4. Tip: insert graphics only after all other content has been built! Tables — avoid the default Word auto-format settings.
  5. Bullets — use styles to create bullets. Avoid using the toolbar and menu options to create bullets. Avoid over-rides.
  6. WARNING: Bullet lists cause more damage than any other feature in Word!
  7. Always turn off Allow Fast Save and Save Auto Recover. See Tools > Options > Save > Allow Fast Save.

Developing Microsoft Word files with these pointers in mind will help reduce the file size and avoid corrupting the document template.