Building Blocks in Word

I suspect that we all have some “standard” phrases or paragraphs of text that we regularly reuse; perhaps hunting down the exact set of words that we want to use from a previous document and then copying & pasting into our current one. Wouldn’t it be easier if there was a quicker way to do this? Well there is by making use of Word’s Building Blocks.

Getting started with AutoText

OK, so the easiest way to do this is find your document that has the text in it that you’d like to be able to regularly reuse (and, of course, that could be the document that you’re currently writing) and select the text that you’d like to reuse

Then, from the INSERT tab, select the drop-down arrow
next to QuickParts

As we have previously selected our text, you’ll notice that Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery is available. Clicking this opens the Create New Building Block dialog box

The name is pre-populated with the first few characters from your selected text which should be changed to something a little more useful. Because it’s already highlighted, you don’t need to delete the existing text first, you can just type the new name.

Creating your Building Block

Once you’ve given it a “sensible” name, there are then a number of choices to make…

While Name is self-explanatory, the other information boxes in the Create New Building Block dialog box require a bit of explanation…

  • Gallery – Building Block Galleries are simply subdivisions of the entire set of Building Blocks. I leave the default to Quick Parts – why bother spending the time to change things if you don’t need to?
  • Category – When saving a Building Block, Word prompts users to save it in a Category in addition to a Gallery. Categories are simply additional means of grouping Building Blocks together for ease of recall. Word provides only one Category by default – “General” – but users can create their own categories as necessary. For instance, someone involved in preparing sets of financial statements might choose to have a gallery for Cover Letters, a gallery for Financial Statements, and a gallery for Footnotes.
  • Description – Here you can add a brief description of your Building Block
  • Save in – Word saves Building Blocks in template files. More specifically, Word saves Building Blocks by default in the Building Blocks.dotx template. You may also choose to save new Building Blocks in the Normal.dotm template or any other global template so that the Building Blocks are accessible when you are working in any document. On the other hand, you may save the Building Block to a specific document template, and it will then only be accessible to any document that uses that specific template.
  • Options – This setting allows you to control how Word will insert the Building Block. The three choices available here are Insert Content…
    • only,
    • in its own paragraph, and
    • in its own page.

Viewing your Building Block

Once you have created a number of Building Blocks, clicking on the Quick Parts button allows you to see them all, grouped by category together with a thumbnail of their text

You will notice that I have prefixed my custom category with the letter “Z”. This means that when I go into the Building Blocks Organiser, they are all grouped together at the bottom of the list…

Taking it to the next stage

In addition to single paragraphs, multiple paragraphs of text can also be grouped as a single building block… as can a combination of text and images. For example, if our Word document now looks like this…

We can select the image and associated text and add that in the same way as simple paragraphs… (TIP – put your mouse pointer to the right of the text and image that you want to grab so that it’s an upward & to the right pointing arrow as that will allow you to easily select the image AND text)

Then add to the Building Blocks Organiser as before…

View it via the Quick Parts button…

Using the Building Blocks

So far, we’ve just created the Building Blocks… so how do we use them?

Creating a new Word document & selecting the INSERT tab & clicking on Quick Parts brings up the various items that we’ve created… click on one & it will be inserted into your document where your cursor is currently located

Alternatively, you can RIGHT-CLICK on the relevant building block to see additional options…

And finally…

If you’re using these on a regular basis, don’t forget to add the Gallery to your Quick Access toolbar