Computer programs, or software, are the instructions that orchestrate
your computer's components to perform harmoniously and deliver the final
product in a fraction of the time it would take to do the job manually.
WordPerfect and Microsoft Word, for example, are both word-processing applications
that transcend the ordinary typewriter and catapult the average user into
a new galaxy of desktop-publishing options that were previously available
only to professional publishers.
Not only are these programs themselves time savers, but there are shortcuts
and nifty tricks built into these applications that further automate repetitive
tasks. Macros are a feature of most business programs that allow the user
to bundle multiple instructions together in a single command that can later
be executed with a mere keystroke or from the toolbar. You can, for example,
create a macro for something as simple as a custom letterhead or as complex
as a merge process.
Macros have been around since the days of text-based computing and in
fact have their own programming language. Although graphics-based programs
have made creating and executing macros easier, they are still considered
to be an intermediate activity and can at times be tricky.
Beginners will find the use of automatic text entries in both Word and
WordPerfect much easier to master and a blessing when time is of the essence.
AutoText is a feature of Microsoft Word that allows you to assign an abbreviation
to any block of text or graphic. Whether it's an entire document or merely
a paragraph, Word will memorize it as a few simple keystrokes that you
can later play back at any time, in any document.
Let's say, for example, that you create letters and documents daily
that contain redundant entries, such as salutations, signature lines or
homework headings. First, enter the text and apply formatting as you would
normally. Block the text and choose Edit, AutoText from the menu bar. (Note:
Word 97 users will choose Insert, AutoText from the menu bar). Now type
an abbreviation for this block, such as LH for letterhead or CJS for a
signature block ... it's your choice! Click on the button labeled Add,
and you're done. To execute the AutoText entry, simply type the abbreviation
in your document and press the function key F3. Presto! Your expanded entry
appears on the page.
When creating AutoText entries, you can be assured that Word will retain
all of your text and paragraph formatting, such as font, size, alignment,
text style and borders. This is a quick and easy way to create multiple
styles of letterheads or salutations. Graphics as well can be assigned
an AutoText entry for ease in adding a company logo to your document, for
WordPerfect users will find automatic text entries in that application
aptly called Abbreviations. The process is essentially the same as in Word,
with the exception of a few command differences. Block the desired text
in WordPerfect and choose Insert, Abbreviation from the menu bar. Click
the button labeled Create, type your text abbreviation, then click the
To execute your automatic text entry, type the Abbreviation and press
CTRL+A. Once again, the text appears like magic in your document. WordPerfect
doesn't have the ability to assign graphic images to Abbreviations like
Word does, but the automated text feature is reason enough to explore this
option in WordPerfect.
Once your shortcut entry is created in either Word or WordPerfect, it
becomes part of the application and can be executed at any time, in any
document. Simply position the cursor where you want the entry to appear,
type the abbreviation, and press the appropriate keystrokes to expand the
For complete step-by-step instructions in either application, click
Help on the menu bar and look up Abbreviations in WordPerfect or AutoText
in Word. Print the Help topic and add it to your own file of helpful hints
and time-saving techniques.
Creating shortcut entries for those boring and mundane tasks frees your
time to explore the fun and creative side of word processing.