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How to Use Autocorrect in Google Docs

Fix common misspellings, add markup, or create a text expander

By Deb Tennen · January 10, 2019
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Google Docs offers an autocorrect feature: It's called Automatic substitution. Here, we'll walk through how to set up and use it, as well as when it might be particularly useful. This autocorrect feature can save you time and make sure your frequently used phrases, sentences, or even paragraphs are consistent across all your documents.

Step 1: Click Tools > Preferences

Click Tools, then Preferences

Step 2: You'll see a popover with a list of checkboxes. The last one is Automatic substitution. Be sure that box is checked.


Step 3: Below that, you'll see a whole slew of default autocorrect features. For example, Google Docs will automatically change (c) to ©.

You can uncheck any of the defaults if you don't want to use them for the time being, or click the x if you want to delete them permanently. You can also leave them and press delete/backspace when the autocorrect happens to undo it.

Add your own autocorrect options from here. You'll see a blank row at the top. On the left, under Replace, type your shortcut: what you want to type in Google Docs. On the right, under With, type your result: what you want the text to change to.

Blank row to fill in

For example, you could set up Google Docs autocorrect to replace eml with yourname@gmail.com, saving you a couple of keystrokes.

Once you've started filling in both the Replace and With sections, a new row will be created at the top so you can add more customized autocorrect options.

Step 4: Click Ok. Now, every time you type one of your shortcuts, it will automatically change to whatever you indicated.

When to Use Autocorrect in Google Docs

You can use this feature for a variety of reasons:


If there's a word or person's name that you consistently misspell, put the misspelling under Replace and the correct spelling under With.


If you write in HTML, Markdown, or another markup language, you don't want to type the markup every time. So you might replace ahref with <a href="url">linktext</a> and then fill in the rest manually.

Repeated phrases

If there's a phrase, sentence, or paragraph you repeat often in your work, you can come up with a shortcut word. Then you'll just type the shortcut word and the whole paragraph will appear.

Be sure it's a word you don't use otherwise. Pro tip: use an unusual character like the semicolon ; right before the shortcut word with no spaces to make sure you don't accidentally trigger the autocorrect. For example, use ;address in the Replace field to insert a full mailing address.

Text expanders serve this purpose, but if you wear a tin foil hat and don't want a text expander reading everything you type on your computer, you can use autocorrect to serve the same purpose in Google Docs.

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