June 06, 2011

Save Time with Microsoft Office Quick Parts

Stephen Stine

A video tutorial accompanying this article is available for ABA members.

Lawyers spend a great deal of time drafting documents and correspondence. Microsoft Office has built-in features to speed up the drafting process. Microsoft Office 2007 introduced a new feature called Quick Parts, which builds upon the AutoText feature from earlier Office versions.

Quick Parts enables you to save selected text or graphics for quick insertion into a Word document or Outlook e-mail message without having to retype the selection or cut and paste. Quick Parts can be used to save text that you use time and again, such as standard responses to client inquiries, alternate e-mail signatures and commonly used contract clauses.

To use Quick Parts, first select with your cursor the text or graphic you want to save for later use. Next, click on the Quick Parts button located in the "Text" group of commands on the Insert tab of the Ribbon. Then, select the "Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery" option (Note that for easier access you can add the Quick Parts button to the Quick Access Toolbar by right-clicking on the Quick Parts button and selecting the "Add to Quick Access Toolbar" option).

A "Create New Building Block" window will next appear to organize your selection for later insertion. Type the name of your selection in the “Name” field. Then, choose where your Quick Parts entry will be saved by selecting a gallery from the "Gallery" dropdown menu. You may want to save your selection in the default Quick Parts gallery or another location such as the AutoText gallery. Next, using the "Category" dropdown menu, either choose an existing category for your entry or create a new one. You can add notes about your entry in the "Description" field. You may use the "Save in" dropdown to save your entry in a certain template.

There are a few ways to insert a Quick Part into a document or e-mail message. In Office 2007, one method involves typing the first few letters of the Quick Parts entry name (enough letters to distinguish the name from similar Quick Parts entry names) and pressing the F3 button. Note that this differs from the operation of AutoText/AutoComplete in Office 2003 and Office 2010.

Another way to insert a Quick Parts entry is to use the Quick Parts button. By doing so, text or graphics you saved in the Quick Parts gallery will show up as previews, and clicking on the preview of your choice will insert that selection into your document. In Microsoft Office 2007, Quick Parts entries saved in galleries other than the Quick Parts gallery will not show up for preview unless you add buttons for those alternate galleries to your Quick Access Toolbar.

A third way to insert a Quick Parts entry is to use the "Building Blocks Organizer" option. In Word, that option is located on the menu of the Quick Parts button. To access the option in Outlook, first click on the Quick Parts button, then right-click on any preview and select the "Organize and Delete" option. This will bring up a "Building Blocks Organizer" window, which lists all of the available Quick Parts entries. Clicking on the listed entry you seek will prompt a preview display, and clicking on the "Insert" button will insert your selection into your document or e-mail message.

From the Building Blocks Organizer window you can also edit certain entry characteristics, such as entry name, gallery location and category.

When editing the text of a Quick Parts entry, you must save the modified text using the same name, category and gallery location as the original. When prompted with the question, "Do you want to redefine the building block entry?" answer “yes.”

To access your new Quick Parts entries later, be sure to save your changes to a template before closing Word or Outlook. You will be prompted to do so when attempting to close the programs.

It's important to note that the Quick Parts entries you create in Outlook do not automatically appear in Word and vice versa. Entries are saved in the program you used to create them. To use the same Quick Parts entries in both Outlook and Word, you can copy them manually.

It's relatively easy to import Quick Parts entries created in Outlook to Word. Outlook stores its Quick Parts entries in the template, NormalEmail.dotm. Locate the template in the Microsoft Templates folder, then place a copy of the template in the Microsoft Document Building Blocks folder. Doing so will allow you to find all your Outlook Quick Parts entries in Word. It is not possible to import Quick Parts entries created in Word to Outlook by a similar process of copying templates from one program to the other.

This article first appeared in YourABA e-newsletter, a monthly publication distributed via email to all ABA members.  Learn more about the benefits of belonging to the American Bar Association.

Stephen Stine