prevent editing in a Section of a MS Word template/document

Occasionally, I’ve needed to protect a portion of a Word template from accidental editing. There are many reasons to do this, but one example – the one I’ll be using in this particular #pragmaticcomputertip – is to protect the content and formatting of what I call “faux” letterhead. (Note: This tip applies to MS Word 2007 and later.)

Click HERE to read the previous #pragmaticcopmutertip about creating faux letterhead. After finalizing, it’s a good idea to to be protect that section of the form against accidental editing. Here’s how that’s done:

Continue reading “prevent editing in a Section of a MS Word template/document”

“Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?”

Some people love the clean look of Word 2013, but if you’re like me, it feels cold. and bleh.

and empty.

The ribbon only displayed when I clicked on a menu item. As soon as I began typing, it would disappear. This was not helpful. I didn’t want to go get the ribbon every time I needed something on it. That ribbon needed to sit and stay.

Word 2013 Ribbon Hidden

Here’s how to get your ribbon back: Continue reading ““Where’s the Ribbon in Word 2013?””

cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY

I thought I was crazy. My keyboard was typing stuff I did NOT type. Backslashes when I pressed the spacebar. Numbers when I pressed letters and the other way around. Adding characters when I pressed the backspace button. Weirdness. Nothing short of a reboot would solve the problem and even then, it was only temporary. I searched Google and stumbled upon the possibility that my keyboard was no longer set to “QWERTY.”

To find out if your keyboard settings may have changed:
Continue reading “cure your possessed keyboard: dvorak to QWERTY”

autotext/quick parts/building blocks.

If you used Autotext in MS Word 2003 or earlier, it’s one of the first questions you’ll have:

“Does Word still have Autotext?”

The answer? YES.

What’s the next question?

“WHERE is it? I can’t find it anywhere!”

I know.

Autotext has been renamed. reorganized. buried. Some refer to it as QuickParts. or Building Blocks. or both. But forget names. Let’s cut to the chase:

Alt+F3 and F3.

“Keystrokes?” the die hard mouse people whine ask?

(To you mouse people, go ahead, use the mouse. Click the “Insert” Ribbon, then click the Quick Parts dropdown, then . . . who am I kidding? I’m not typing up mouse instructions for this. sorry)

For you long time Autotext users, the good news is that Microsoft left in the legacy keystrokes for this feature.

Quick and Easy.
To CREATE an Entry:
1. Select the text you never want to type again, whether you open a document which contains that text or whether you type it from scratch – select it.

2. Press “Alt+F3” and the following dialog box will appear showing the first few words of the selected text in the “Name” line: mswordbuildingblockautofill
3. Type the “nickname” for this snippet of text – a short word you would RATHER type. (since it’s already selected/highlighted, you don’t have to erase what’s already there, just type your nickname (in this case “blcn”) and the original text will be replaced.)

4. Press Enter. Done.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 1, Legacy F3 Method:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After 2 or 3 letters, press “F3” and the nickname you typed will be replaced by the text snippet you saved, formatting, spacing and all. Just like always.

To PLAY an Entry – Option 2, Visual Prompt:
1. Begin typing the nickname for the text snippet you want to insert.
2. After you’ve typed 4 letters of your nickname, MS Word will prompt you (see below).
If you press “Enter” your nickname will be replaced with the corresponding building block text. If you press enter, tab or keep typing, MS Word will assume you mean to type those letters and it won’t replace them with the building block text.

If you want Word to visually prompt you to press the ENTER key to PLAY your entry as soon as it recognizes the nickname, make sure you (a) give it a name that is at least 4 characters long and (2) make it a unique name – NOT a real word you might really want to type. If it’s a real word, it WILL be replaced with your saved Autotext text snippet if you press enter, whether you want it replaced or not.

automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.

In the previous #pragmaticcomputingtip, entitled “automatic random text generation. improved?” I shared a nifty little feature in Word 2007 and 2010 which automated the generation of random text.

Check it out and then come on back and I’ll walk you through you a variation.

no. really. check it out. I’ll wait.

okay, welcome back.

While =rand(p,s) is effective and fun, its use has a potential problem. It generates interesting text. Okay, “interesting” is debatable, but it generates English text that makes sense, which means there’s a potential for distraction.

If you don’t want your reader/learner/audience to focus on the content of your text, there’s another, similar feature that generates nonsensical random text that will keep people focused on the form of your document/website without tempting anyone to read for content absorption. Try this:
Continue reading “automatic text generation. a variation for the easily distracted.”

automatic random text generation. improved?

For YEARS DECADES, I have been creating dummy documents for use in computer training. Usually, I ask someone to type a sentence – any sentence – and then I teach them to use keyboard shortcuts to select, copy and paste their sentence, resulting in a multi-paragraph, multi-page document to work with as I train.

It’s always interesting to see what people type:

the distracted or disinterested: “I can’t wait for lunch.”

and the suck-ups: “The computer trainer is really good!” (umm hmm)

and of course, the ever popular: “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” frequently makes an appearance.

I’ve written about that third sentence before in a previous post entitled “automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word“. You could automatically generate paragraphs composed of it using Word 2003 and earlier versions using a little known “=rand()” feature in Microsoft Word.

But now, with Word 2007 and 2010, it’s even better.

Check this out. Open either Microsoft Word 2007 or 2010 and, at the top of a new, blank document, type this:


Then press the enter key.

What just happened?

Microsoft Word just reached into it’s help files and copied 8 random paragraphs containing 5 sentences each and pasted them into your blank page.

As a computer trainer, let me just say.


If you’re thinking the “=rand(8,5)” looks like an Excel formula, you would be correct. The first number inside the parenthesis represents how many paragraphs of text you want, the second number indicates how many sentences each paragraph should contain. If you skip the numbers and just type “=rand()” the default result is 3 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

The formula doesn’t have to be typed at the beginning of a document, but it must be typed at the beginning of a line, with no characters before it.

Again, as someone who frequently needs fake documents to play work with, I LOVE this! I’ve tried to think of other uses and the only other one that comes to mind would be for print samples. If you can think of other ways to take advantage of a random text generator, comment and share!

automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word.

When I provide computer training, I often need fake documents to work with. Most of the time, I will have a trainee type a single sentence and then have them copy and paste it over and over again to create a paragraph. Then I’ll have them copy their little paragraph and paste it over and over again to create a multi-paragraph, multi-page document. It provides some keyboard text selection and cut/copy/paste shortcut key practice and we end up with a safe document to work with during training.

But if you’re using Microsoft Word, there is another way to build a fake document. MS Word can generate random text automatically. Try this:

In MS Word 2003 or earlier, at the beginning of a line, type:


Press enter.

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” (which contains every letter of the English alphabet) appears multiple times, forming three paragraphs of five sentences each.


You can also specify the number of paragraphs and sentences by typing numbers between the parenthesis, like this:


Typing the formula in as it appears above will generate 8 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

Handy for computer trainers like me and for printers who need sample text. If you can think of other uses for randomly generated text, comment and share!

CLICK HERE for an UPDATE of this feature for Word 2007 & 2010!!

This will not work if:
“Replace text as you type” has been disabled under Tools, AutoCorrect.
If the insertion point immediately follows a page or a column break.