The Automatic substitution feature in Google Docs is a simple way to create text shortcuts for words or sentences you regularly use in your documents. Here’s how you can save time and effort with this handy tool.
Fire up your web browser, head to Google Docs, and open a new or existing document.
On the menu bar, click Tools > Preferences.
From the Preferences settings, make sure the box next to “Automatic Substitution” is checked before you enter anything.
This is the same feature that automatically creates hyphens, en dashes, and em dashes in your document.
Next, you’ll see two text boxes, one for the word you want to replace and the second for what it will be replaced with. For example, anytime I type the word “Email” followed by the space character, Docs will replace it with my email address.
You can also use the auto substitution feature as a kind of autocorrect for common words you might accidentally misspell, without having to right-click an error in Docs’ spellchecker.
Just as before, type any misspelling of a word in the “Replace” field along with the correct spelling in the “With” field.
One caveat to using automatic substitutions in Google Docs is anything in the “Replace” field has to be one word without spaces. If you enter something in this field with a space between words, Docs will add it to the list, but the shortcut won’t work. The “With” field can be virtually anything, however, including multiple words with space characters.
If often reuse a sentence or paragraph in your documents, you can use the substitution feature to create a text shortcut to shorten the number of keystrokes it takes to write it all out.
When using text shortcuts like this, to ensure any words you regularly use don’t overlap with keywords, place it alongside special characters, such as brackets, curly braces, colons, exclamation marks, etc. This way, you won’t get any unwarranted substitutions in your document.
You can disable any substitution you’ve added by clicking the box next to the left of the “Replace” field or delete the substitute by clicking the small “X” to the right of the “With” field.
After you’re done entering all the substitutions, click the “OK” button to save changes and return to your document.
There you go. To add more shortcuts to your document, head back to Tools > Preferences and type in any substitutions you might need in the future.
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