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Shorthand Glossaries: The Automatic Typist

Over the years, Spell Catcher can save you hundreds of cumulative hours of typing—and wear and tear on your hands and wrists—by typing for you. Using Spell Catcher’s shorthand glossary feature, you can create self-expanding abbreviations that save you typing, ensure spelling consistency, and even correct common typos automatically.

For example, the first shorthand abbreviation that most people create is one that types their e-mail “signature.” You might decide that cmj should expand to “Cordially, Michael Jordan” whenever you type it.

If you’re a doctor or lawyer, you might create shorthand glossaries that type out standard bits of text in the documents you create. A surgeon might create an abbreviation called reportintro that expands to: “The patient appeared in my office at 17 West Broad Street in excellent health, but complaining of the following symptoms:”.

And if you’re somebody who types quickly, you can even use the shorthand glossary for a sneaky trick: create shorthand abbreviations that look like typos-and define the expanded form as the correctly spelled versions. For example, you might teach Spell Catcher to expand the abbreviation teh into the word “the,” or potatoe into “potato.”

To get you started, Spell Catcher comes with a predefined library of common spelling errors in shorthand-glossary format. (In fact, teh and potatoe are already in the list). Spell Catcher, in other words, may be correcting your typos as you type, without you even being aware of it!

How To Set Up Your Shorthands

You can add new shorthand abbreviations and expansions in several different ways.

Creating A Shorthand Entry Manually

Here’s how to create a shorthand glossary entry.

  1. Open the Glossary document. The easiest way to do this is to choose the Spelling References... command from the Input menu, Spell Catcher menu, or Spell Catcher’s Dock menu. Click the disclosure triangle for the language you’re interested in, double-click the shorthand glossary document you want to open.

    • There are many other ways to open your favorite shorthand glossary documents. Remember these are regular, double-clickable documents just like any other. Use the Open Recent menu, Recent Items menu, the Finder, your favorite launching utility, the Dock - totally your choice. If you want to know exactly where a particular reference document exists on your disk, hover the mouse over it in any list of references, or click the Show in Finder button in the References pane of Spell Catcher’s Preferences window.

  2. Click the [+] button to add a new shorthand, and enter the abbreviation in the text field that is presented.

    Entering the shorthand abbreviation

  3. Press the tab key once to move the insertion point to the expansion box (or press it twice to move to the larger expansion text entry area). Type the full, expanded text for your shorthand entry. Shorthand expansions can be 32,000 characters long. If this shorthand is intended to correct a common typo automatically, this is where you type the corrected version.

    Entering the shorthand expansion

  4. Ordinarily, Spell Catcher expands a shorthand abbreviation no matter how it is capitalized, with a small caveat. You can type btw or BTW, and the program will still write by the way. One feature Spell Catcher has is that if the expansion is in the Glossary as all lower-case, BTW will expand to BY THE WAY and Btw will expand to By the way.

    If you want Spell Catcher to recognize your abbreviation only when typed exactly as you’ve entered, check the Match abbreviation’s case box at the bottom of the window. If the abbreviation is not lowercase or proper case, Match abbreviation’s case is implicitly selected (and you can’t deselect it).

    If you check the Keep expansion’s case box, Spell Catcher will expand your abbreviation exactly as you typed its expansion, regardless of how you type the abbreviation.

    The other checkbox at the bottom of this window, Don’t type separator, which you’ll probably use even less frequently, and requires a bit of explanation. Spell Catcher doesn’t expand an abbreviation until you’ve followed it with a space, tab or return character (otherwise, you’d find your abbreviations expanding even when they appear in the middle of words!). When it recognizes that you have completed typing an abbreviation, Spell Catcher replaces the abbreviation with the expanded version and types the separator character that triggered the expansion. If you’d prefer that Spell Catcher not add the space, tab or return after expanding this particular abbreviation, check on Don’t type separator box. (This option can be useful in e-mail, spreadsheet, and database programs. If you were to press the Space bar, for example, to expand an abbreviation in a spreadsheet cell or the Subject line of an e-mail, you’d leave that cell or field behind with the expanded phrase and a space. This option prevents that space from appearing).

    You can easily see how the selected shorthand will expand, according to the way you type its abbreviation and the state of the Match abbreviation’s case and Keep expansion’s case checkboxes, by showing the shorthand expansion preview inspector (click the Inspector button in the toolbar or choose View > Show Inspector).

    Previewing shorthand expansions

  5. When you’re finished entering your shorthands, simply close this window and Spell Catcher will save the changes you have made.

Using Dates and Times in Shorthand Expansions

Spell Catcher has powerful features for inserting formatted dates and times in shorthand expansions.

Shorthand Expansions with Styled Text

Spell Catcher X 10.4 adds the ability to create and use shorthand expansions with styles.

Requirements and Limitations

Benefits

Creating Styled Text Expansions

  1. Add a new shorthand, then enter its abbreviation and expansion.
    Styled Text before
  2. Select “Styled Text”
  3. Choose Format > Font > Show Fonts, then style your expansion as desired.
    Styled Text after

Try it Out!

Now you’re ready to try out your shorthand. See How to Trigger Shorthand Expansions later in this chapter.

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