One tool that I absolutely could not do without is a text expander – a program that saves time by completing frequently used phrases or snippets of text. In the past, I used the Autocorrect function in MS Word to do this. For example, I had set up Word so that when I typed ‘hivx’, the words ‘human immunodeficiency virus’ magically appeared in the text. These days I use a text expander – PhraseExpress – to do the same thing.

The advantage of using PhraseExpress is that it works across all applications: Word, Excel, Thunderbird, Outlook, WordPress, etc. It’s also more user-friendly than the autocorrect function, it can include formatting, and the phrases can be stored in a single data file and shared across a network.

I use PhraseExpress to save time and improve quality. For example, I use it with:

  • names of organisations – e.g. typing 'oecdx' gives me 'Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development'
  • medical and technical terms – e.g. typing 'mrsax' gives me 'methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus'
  • comments to authors – e.g. if I have deleted the word 'very' from the text, I explain the change in a comment by typing 'veryx', which gives me 'Best to avoid the subjective term very.

You may have noticed that all my snippets are just the abbreviated term plus 'x' – I use this approach because it makes them easy to remember.