View Full Version : auto text

John Dirks Jr
05-06-2009, 04:02 PM
I use a template I made in Word to write reports. I'm just getting around to adding some auto text words.

For those of you who have auto text in your report writing software, what are some of the longer home inspection related words that are installed?

Bruce King
05-06-2009, 05:46 PM
Not sure what you mean by longer words.

I have been working on that for several weeks now, always getting my templates easier to work with but usually have to hand type for about an hour to explain the specific problems that are not run of the mill on each house.

I use autotext in Word and it only requires about 4 or more characters to get to the point where you can hit enter. It will paste large amounts of text or whatever you have assigned to it.

You have to be careful with a few things:

1. Your data is stored in Normal.dot and you better have it backed up!

A search will probably say the file does not exist on your PC but it does.

Its buried, the location may depend on stuff you chose during the installation.

Mine is here:
c:/documents and settings/ owner / application data / microsoft / templates

2. If you name an auto text something like strap (for foundation strapping issues) and then want a different version for a particular installation or lack thereof you might name another one strap2 so then you have to make sure to type in all 6 characters to get that one since typing strap and hitting return will give you the first one.

The feature I really like is the drop down form field, you can put all of the typical choices for something in there and while in protect form mode you can choose items from your list. I use this for manufacturer names, hvac unit sizes, amps, locations of items, piping materials and about another 120 items. It is limited though, you can't put paragraphs in the drop down form fields but that is what autotext is for.

Autocorrect is another good one, it can be setup to fix those words that you always hit the key next to the one you wanted.

I'm still using the word 2003 version since it will do more than I need anyway.

John Dirks Jr
05-06-2009, 06:21 PM
Thanks for the tips Bruce. I'm using Word 2002. It's got everything I need.

Are you saying that I can program entire sentences in too? Such that I only need to prompt with the few keystrokes and it will automatically put the sentence in? I didn't know that.

Bruce King
05-06-2009, 07:04 PM
in 03 version:

type your verbiage
select or highlight it
click on insert at top menu
select autotext
select new
name it with a short "problem associated" name

to paste into report, just start typing the name until the yellow box pops up and hit enter

backup normal.dot as in prev post when you get several done.
You can also keep a document of the text as a backup or as a reference while typing the report.

I have so many now, I can't always remember the key word/name

John Dirks Jr
05-06-2009, 07:08 PM
If I copy the template and store it on other hard drives, its all saved there too, correct? My point is, if something goes haywire, I just go grab it back from one of the other drives. Does this make sense?

Bruce King
05-06-2009, 08:22 PM
nope, your word document or template does not keep the normal.dot file.

Any "drop down form field" used as I mentioned before will stay with the document but not autotext. All autotext you create goes in normal.dot file.

Both features are very useful, I have shaved off an hour on my reports over the last few years by constantly tweaking the templates.

Also, very important, say you create a whole bunch of autotext entries and your pc crashes........ If you are lucky it will save them and ask you the next time you open word if you want to use the normal.dot file but the best habit is to close word every now and then and it will ask you if you want to save the new normal.dot and you better select yes.

Matt Fellman
05-06-2009, 09:03 PM
Wow, I thought I was the only one crazy enough to use a Word document as a template. I gave up on autotext and just use a second document with common problems/phrases. I've really focused on it over the last year or so and it's payed off big. It really saves a lot of time to copy/paste a common problem into the report.

I'd say at least half of my comments come from the pre-written document. Some require minor tweaking to put things in the proper tense or location but it's way faster than starting from scratch each time.

Another benefit is when it comes time to proof read the report. When it's a comment I know I've already checked I can just skip right past it.

John Dirks Jr
05-07-2009, 04:30 AM
Here is another trick I do with regard to the most common comments. I write them right into the master template. It's quicker to dump them when they are not needed than to retrieve them when they are.

Jerry Peck
05-07-2009, 05:56 AM
Here is another trick I do with regard to the most common comments. I write them right into the master template. It's quicker to dump them when they are not needed than to retrieve them when they are.

Which may account for the comments I've seen about brick chimneys and basements in reports in South Florida when there was no: 1) basement; 2) fireplace or chimney, much less a brick chimney.

I've seen those comments about other items which simply did not exist in South Florida and on those houses.

*I* would not put in those comments, *I* would prefer to add comments in rather than risk forgetting to take comments out.

My program, which I wrote and ran on Word Perfect, started out with a basically empty report and with a click here, some typing where needed, another click here for a code reference, and, item by item the report was completed and filled in. When I was done I made my report search for the specific minimum items I had to address by the SoP and, if nothing was there, it stopped and allowed me to enter that information or skip it, but I had to intentionally skip it if it was an item specified in the SoP.

I would much rather enter the information for what I saw than try to figure out what I had not looked at yet the information was already in the report to start with. :eek:

Just me, maybe.

John Benson
05-07-2009, 05:58 AM
There is some autotext software (http://autotext.1234micro.com) out there that can take full paragraphs and phrases and speed up that process as well.

I realize there is some customization in developing reports for home inspections, but it sounds like the central goal for each of you is to streamline the inspection report process with an autotext program.

Are there multiple inspectors in your office? Some programs can even share an autotext master list across multiple workstations.

Is this something that would benefit home inspectors?

A.D. Miller
05-07-2009, 06:58 AM
Just me, maybe.

JP: Could be.:D

Bruce Ramsey
05-07-2009, 07:58 AM
I prefer to delete rather than drop in. I make a copy of my template document and rename to todays report.

Run thru the report and delete all the problems the house does not have. Add photos in next to pre-written text or in proper section if no pre-written text. Tweak pre-written text if necessary. Write new statements for new problems. If new problem seems likely to reoccur in the future, it gets added to base template. Usually the new problem statement gets tweaked to make it more generic. This often leads to a better written statement so it goes back to todays report. Back up template doc and make second copy of template.

On proof read , check for statements that do not belong, mixed verb tense, awkward sentence structure, etc.

Bruce King
05-07-2009, 08:26 AM
Here is another trick I do with regard to the most common comments. I write them right into the master template. It's quicker to dump them when they are not needed than to retrieve them when they are.

Heres a good way to deal with that method, which I also use for certain bits of advice scattered throughout the report.

For every single phrase that may not be needed on every report, put > this in front of it. Then start at the top and do a "find >" and when you get to each one either delete the phrase or remove the > and move on through.

Here is my process in summary:

1. Listen to each voice recording (usually 50 to 120) and type or autotext the issue in the associated "summary" section. I proof read as I go.

Jot down sizes, brands, locations etc to be added to the drop down form fields as I go through the recordings.

2. Enter form protect mode so that I can jump through each field that needs data and select the one noted. Many of these you will have the most common item as the default so you fly right down through all 25+ pages in just 5 minutes to fill in over 120 data fields.

3. Look over my pictures and type in any items that did not have a voice recording or fine tune any writeups as needed.

4. Resize the pics, add red arrows as needed and setup my monitor for two windows, drag and drop the pictures under the associated writeup.

5. Recheck the written notes made while listening to the recorder and make sure any items that could not be fully inspected are notated and the reason why.

6. Scroll down and adjust spacing etc to keep as many of the writeups on the same page as the pictures as possible.

7. Convert the file to PDF, make a quick check of the pdf and email.

I also save my word doc to the disk and to a memory stick every 20 minutes or so since I know what PC's can do to you, just a good habit. I used wordperfect years ago and had a file corrupt on me for no reason and it cost me about an hour of work.

I can do reports much faster now than when I first started but still spend way more time than the driveby guys that flip them out in the driveway.
The difference is that mine actually meet the state standards, explain and list the problems as opposed to just recommending someone else do the inspection job later.

A.D. Miller
05-07-2009, 08:45 AM
I did not attempt to re-invent the wheel, so I purchased InspectIt ReportPro.

I deleted all of the canned autotext.

I wrote, and continue writing, my own. Up to 3,500 and counting.

I fill in the appropriate autoext from memory first.

Next I listen to the voice recorder and make adjustments to the comments as required.

I then plug in the pictures in the sections where they pertain.

Pdf - gone.

Oh, and none of this will ever happen on site. That is what my office is made for.

John Dirks Jr
05-07-2009, 02:04 PM

Thanks for the tip on backing up the normal.dot data. I didn't realize that stuff did not carry with the document to other hard drives.

Now, if I copy and transfer that normal.dot data to the other drives, will the auto text entries and all that stuff then work on the other computers as well?

Bruce King
05-07-2009, 05:54 PM
yes, but you need to make sure the other pc has a version of word that uses normal.dot, find the location and replace the file with the good one.

Another bad PC thing that many don't know about is that the "My Documents" folder gets wiped clean if you do a re-install or repair of windows. I forget which name it is but there's one fix for windows that keeps a lot of your settings but wipes out that folder. Make a backup folder if you use the "my documents" folder.