The way you do this differs between versions of Microsoft Word so I am starting off by covering how to do it in Microsoft Office Word 2011 for Mac.

At Property Typing, we have been typing building surveys for our clients for years and although many of my clients use standard paragraphs for their reports, hardly any of them have them set up in a standard paragraph template file which means that the typist simply needs to type a paragraph number and Word will automatically paste in the appropriate paragraph.  This saves time and money for the surveyor and saves a lot of fiddling around, copying and pasting between documents for the digital dictation typist.

How Surveyors save time and money with correctly formatted reports – standard paragraphs

1. Depending how many standard paragraphs you use in your reports (which can range from 100% to none at all – truly the spectrum is vast), creating an auto text template for these paragraphs, as I’m about to show you, will be a good useful investment in your time.To start with, you will need all your paragraphs in a Word document in the correct format that you want them to show in your finished reports, i.e. if you usually use Arial 12, 1.15 spacing, justified text then make sure they are set up like this.

2. Save your document somewhere you can find it easily (on the desktop for example) as a Word Macro Enabled Template (.dotm) – you might want to call it “Standard Paragraphs for Building Surveys.dotm” as an example.

3. Select the first paragraph that you want to use as an auto text entry with the cursor making sure that the blue formatting symbol is also highlighted (if you don’t already have the formatting symbols showing, then turn them on using the “show all non-printing characters” button which looks like this:

formatting button

4. Go to INSERT…AUTO TEXT…NEW… Then create your auto text number which has to have a minimum of 4 characters. So you may want to just use 0001, 0002, 0003 etc. or you may want to use a 4 letter word which relates to the content of the paragraph, i.e. for a paragraph describing the weather you could use WEAT – the first 4 letters of weather.  Think about what you will find easiest to use when dictating.  Make sure you write the name or number of the paragraph above each paragraph so you can remember what you have called it.  See example below:


The weather at the time of the inspection was

[…] following a period of […] weather.  The inspection was [accompanied/unaccompanied].

5. Do this for all of the paragraphs. How long this takes depends on how many you have obviously!

6. Make sure you save your document when you are finished. One you have saved it as a .dotm make sure you also save it as a normal Word .docx as well.

7. The next thing you need to do is insert the template into the correct place on your computer so its accessible to Word. To do this, you need to click on your computer under DEVICES in the finder window, select MACINTOSH HD, then USERS and your username will be the name under the picture of the little house, mine is “Antonia”.  Make a mental note of this.  Then navigate to a new finder window, hold down Alt/Option then click on GO in toolbar, then GO TO FOLDER and paste in the below file path, making sure you replace your user name where I have inserted the stars and hit GO:

/Users/*********/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates

8.  Keeping that folder open, navigate to wherever you saved the .dotm file (i.e. your desktop), copy the file (right click copy) and then paste (right click paste, or Command V) it into the User Templates window you found using the file path.

9. Open a brand new Word document and go to TOOLS…TEMPLATES AND ADD INS…ADD. You should see your newly created auto text template in here.  Select OK to add it, then OK.

10. Next – test your auto text! Try typing one of the 4 letter codes into your document, and you should see a preview of the paragraph it relates to i.e.:

Auto text preview

When you see this – hit ENTER and it will be pasted into the Word doc.

And that’s it – so when you next send your dictation out for typing, just send the typist a copy of the template (.dotm) file and use your Word .docx version of the file to reference the paragraph numbers/codes while you are dictating.

Happy time saving!