Having taught both medical, legal, and general transcription, I am frequently asked about word expander software. So what is it? How can it help you become faster and more productive?

Word expander software is software that assists in typing a few letters that expand into entire words or sentences. Production typists, both medical, legal, and general, use word expander software in order to type more words/lines faster.

Many transcriptionists, particularly medical and legal transcriptionists, are paid by production (meaning lines or pages typed), so the faster they become, the more money they can make in a shorter amount of time.  Even if the pay is not production pay, isn’t it smart to consider software that will reduce your workload?

Examples of Shortcut Keys

Some of the top names in word expander software are be Shorthand and Instant Text. Instant Text does everything from expanding text to washing the dishes. (Just kidding!) It has a LOT of functions that other expanders don’t have, including multiple lists and the ability to create large amount of texts as macros that can be inserted quickly and easily.

Let me give you some examples of what word expander software can do for you: If you’re a medical transcriptionist, you don’t want to have to type the word “esophagogastroduodenoscopy” a hundred times a day, right? That’s where word expander software helps.  Using a word expander program, you can create a shortcut of “esoy” and when you type “esoy” and hit the enter key, the entire word will expand into your document, including the space after the word if you want it to.

There are many ways to create shortcuts. A smart transcriptionist will choose one way and stick to it. I personally like Jon Knowles’s ABCZ system. This, in brief, is where you use the first 3 letters of the word and then the last letter of the word to create a shortcut. “Esophagogastroduodenoscopy” would then be typed “esoy.”

For phrases, the ABCZ system gives more information on creating abbreviations. This is taught in detail in our General Transcription course.

MS Word

No matter the type of transcription being done, making money by being fast is the goal, but quality and accuracy cannot be sacrificed. Word expander software is also GREAT to help with words that you always misspell when typing fast.

Expander software can range in price anywhere from $50 and up depending on the features that each offers. You can play around with seeing how expander software works in MS Word. (We do not recommend that you use MS Word’s feature as your primary  “work” expander, as it can easily corrupt at 5,000 entries.)

Here is an example of how to use MS Word to see how expander software works:

  • Go to file
  • Choose Options
  • Choose Proofing
  • Choose Autocorrect Options
  • In “Replace” box type “esoy” in the “Replace with box” type “esophagogastroduodenoscopy.”
  • Go to your MS Word word doc and type “esoy” and hit the space bar. Voila.

This is the basics of how word expander software works. As you can see, when used correctly and consistently, it can save much time in typing long words, phrases, and even entire paragraphs of text.

In summary, word expander software saves keystrokes, which saves time, which, in turn, makes the transcriptionist more money. Most good transcription courses will teach you all about word expander software and how to use it effectively. Becoming fast and efficient is the goal of EVERY professional transcriptionist. Using word expander software will assist you in meeting your goals.