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:

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create faux letterhead for fax and pdf attachments.

Historically, I’ve created faux letterhead to be used when letters were to be sent via fax. More recently, they are used for letters to be sent as PDF attachments via email.

The reasoning behind this is to save money on pre-printed stationary letterhead. Economically, there’s no reason to print a letter on this expensive paper when the recipient will never actually touch it.

First, I re-create the content and format of a client’s pre-printed letterhead using the same fonts and layout as the printed version. The goal is that the recipients of these letters won’t notice a difference between the paper letters they receive from a firm via USPS and the letters they receive from the same firm via fax or email.
Continue reading “create faux letterhead for fax and pdf attachments.”

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.”

I can’t save autotext!

Do you create autotext entries or buttons in Microsoft Word 2002, 2003 or XP but can’t seem to find them later?

If you also have Adobe Acrobat Professional or Standard loaded on your computer, you’re not imagining things or doing anything wrong! There’s a conflict between Word and Acrobat 7.0 which prevents autotext, macros, preferences and custom setting (like buttons) from saving in MS Word. For those of you who care or understand – Word ‘s “” can’t save changes.

The good news is that Adobe knows about this problem and has issued an update! For detailed info and the download link, CLICK HERE to visit the “Tech Note” in the Adobe Knowledgebase.

Converting Between WordPerfect and Word.

Want to edit a Word document using WordPerfect?
If you have the latest version of WordPerfect, just open the Word document and WordPerfect will convert it automatically, no matter what version of MS Word was used to save it.

Don’t have the latest version of WordPerfect (WP13 aka WPx3)? Then you need “The Know How.” Keep reading (or scroll down to skip the explanation and get right to it.)

Want to edit a WordPerfect document using MS Word?
Just open the WordPerfect document in any version of MS Word. Since WordPerfect’s document format has remained the same from version 6 through 13, this method should always work when opening any WordPerfect file in any version of MS Word.

Why can’t any version of WordPerfect open any Word file?
Nearly every version of MS Word produces a unique document format, so attempting to open a Word document in a previously released version of WordPerfect produces the message “Unknown File Format.”

(That’s okay, some previously released versions of MS Word had/have trouble opening newly released MS Word file formats – without a patch.)

Each version of WordPerfect produces the same document format – so MS Word has been able to read it since Word 6.0. Did WordPerfect just get it right the first time? Novell and Corel think so.

Let me give you an example: Let’s say WordPerfect 9 (WP9) is currently installed at your firm. WP9 was released a few months before Word 2000 (Word XP). Since Word XP didn’t exist when WP9 was released, WP9’s conversion utility isn’t capable of converting Word XP files.

(Do you need to read that again? I did.)

WP10, on the other hand, can convert Word XP files because Word XP did exist when WP10 was released. The versions continued to leapfrog each other and today we have WP13 (WPx3) released just months before Word 2007. If you’ve been playing along, you get that WPx3 can’t read Word 2007 files.

(That’s okay, Word 2003 [and earlier] can’t read them either – not without the
Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack.

Don’t have the latest WordPerfect? Here’s The Know How:
By following the steps below, a document saved in any version of MS Word can be successfully converted to an earlier version of WordPerfect – most of the time.

1. Open the file in Word.

2. Select File, Save As from the menu.

3. At the bottom of the “Save As” dialog box, at the end of the “Save as type” line, click the drop down arrow, scroll down and select:

“Word 6.0/95″ Do NOT select “Word 97-2002.

(Although grouped together, each version was unique.)

4. Save the document with a new name to preserve the integrity of original.

(NEVER manually change a file extension from .doc to .wpd! The software will do that.)

5. Close the document.

(If warned of a possible loss of formatting, select okay. You still have the original.)

6. Open the 6.0/95 version (with .doc) of the file in WordPerfect, allowing WordPerfect to convert it.

7. Revise the document as needed and when you save it, WordPerfect will remind you that it was converted and prompt you to select a format. Choose WordPerfect.

Need to Provide the WordPerfect File to Someone Using Word?
1. Work on the file as normal in WordPerfect and save it as a WordPerfect file.

(No need to choose a version. WordPerfect’s file format is the same for versions 6-13)

2. Open the WordPerfect file in MS Word, allowing MS Word to convert the document.

Now you’ve got The Know How.

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.