How much time do you take to come up with the copy and content for a landing page? A social media post? A blog?
What about a headline, a subject line, or a CTA (Call To Action)?
It’s hard to say, right? Writing is hardly a linear process.
When writers like us aren’t complaining about impossibly tight deadlines, we are busy clacking away at our poor keyboards without giving them a moment’s breather. And not all that time spent with the letters is productive. Some of it is squandered away typing the same text or email or pitch or outline over and over.
What if I told you we could cut down on that mindless work and devote our creativity to produce rewarding, original work, instead?
Meet a special productivity tool that makes it possible: Text expanders.
Text expanders let you create abbreviations or shortcuts to quickly insert frequently used text phrases or blocks of text. When you key in the abbreviation, the text expander automatically replaces it with the corresponding text. This can save the user a lot of time and effort by eliminating the need to type out the same text over and over.
Benefits of using a text expander for writing-related work
All knowledge workers and professionals can benefit from using a text expander. But it is especially useful for those whose jobs involve a lot of writing or typing everyday, such as founders, customer support executives, sales development representatives (SDRs), recruiters, and writers, among others.
Recommended reading: The best ways to boost productivity by using text expanders
Writers can churn out great content faster by incorporating a text expander into their daily workflows.
Here are the top benefits of using a text expander for writing-related work:
1. Stores your important research just a keystroke away
Tired of sifting through complex note-taking apps to find the right facts and quotes for your piece? I get it. I am a writer, myself. And the last thing I want while writing is to lose the flow by searching for data. By storing the quotes in a text expander during the research phase, I save myself the trouble of jumping through hoops to find them when I need them. All I’ve to do? Type o/quote-1 or o/quote-2 and voila, it’ll get inserted in the right place in my article, automatically.
2. Helps you avoid the blank page problem
The biggest enemy of any writer? The scary, uncharted territory of the blank page.
Nothing annoys and frightens us more than a blinking cursor staring back at us when the words just won’t come. With a text expander, you can create a go-to snippet for blog or social media post outlines so that you never have to confront the blank page again. Just type o/outline and let the standard prompts, questions, H1s, and H2s guide you in the write direction!
3. Reduces manual effort while typing
Whether you type 20 words per minute or 120, a text expander will reduce the effort made by your fingers while darting across the keyboard. Using shortcuts for your standard keywords, phrases, and your go-to catchphrases in writing can be a gamechanger for times when your hands are aching from tapping away to finish that behemoth 7000-word article.
Recommended reading: Your one-stop guide to text expander and shortcuts
4. Increases typing productivity
A text expander not only reduces your effort while typing but also increases your productivity simultaneously. What earlier took you a minute to type might just take a second using snippets. It’s like a cheat sheet for maximizing typing productivity. And you get to kill two birds with one stone: more writing output while spending less time actually writing.
5. Improves accuracy
Did you know you could program your text expander to automatically correct spellings and grammatical constructions for you? Some text expander apps come with thousands of such pre-programmed combinations as well. Make the most of them and let your text expander act as your first-level proofreader!
6. Keeps you focused
Did I mention how text expanders store your important research just a keystroke away? This means you stay focused on what really matters—writing and making that darned publishing deadline—instead of going down “research” rabbit holes on the internet by having hundreds of tabs open.
Text expanders don’t just speed up typing by storing common phrases for us but also reduce the minutes wasted on distractions, making us that much more productive.
How to use a text expander to speed up your writing?
There might just be as many ways of using a text expander as there are people using one.
The most popular ways for writers to use text expanders to accelerate their writing include:
1. Storing commonly mistyped words for auto-correction
To use a text expander for auto-correcting spellings, you would first need to create a database of words that are commonly misspelled, along with the correct spelling of each word. You can then create abbreviations or codes for each misspelled word, and associate the correct spelling with each abbreviation in the text expander program. For example, you might create an abbreviation such as "teh" and associate it with the correct spelling "the".
Then you would simply type in the abbreviation for a misspelled word as you are typing, and the text expander program will automatically insert the correct spelling in its place. This can help to save time and improve the accuracy of your writing. Some text expander programs may also have built-in functionality for spell checking and autocorrect, which makes the process more easy and effective.
2. Storing interesting data and inputs from subject matter experts (SMEs) for ready reference
In times of AI creating (read: regurgitating surface-level) content, you have more opportunities than ever to make your writing stand out from the standard fluff. How?
Make sure to reference more than just the top 5 search results while you conduct the research for your piece. Some things that can help: referencing longer videos on YouTube to get nuanced information on a subject; contacting SMEs for getting original stories, anecdotes, and opinions straight from the horse’s mouth; actively consuming research reports, infographics, industry trends and insights, newspaper articles, personal columns, and other unconventional sources.
You can create dedicated snippets for each category of source, such as o/quotes, o/info, o/trends2022, o/report1 etc. to store interesting facts and insights and then call upon them readily where and when they are needed in your article.
3. Storing go-to writing phrases and catchphrases for consistency
Have you ever come across an article where the introduction seems to be penned by one person and the conclusion by another? The whole thing reads like a patchwork due to inconsistent style, tone, and voice. As writers, we have good days and bad days. On the latter, I find it helpful to rely on a text expander. Some text expander programs can organize and categorize our go-to catchphrases, CTAs etc. This makes it easier to find the ones we need and use them to improve consistency in the piece.
4. Storing copy metadata
There are some standard details that you might need to update for every blog or social media copy or landing page copy you write. This metadata can include titles, subtitles, H1s, details of the target audience, keyword details include volume, difficulty, density, meta titles and meta descriptions, author details etc. You can create a dynamic snippet (one that allows you to fill-in the relevant details for each piece of content) and reference it instead of copy-pasting the same data from the very beginning each time.
For example, you could have the shortcut o/meta expand to the following in your Word doc or Google Docs for a new blog.
[Name of the Author]
[Designation of the Author]
5. Storing content outlines and templates
You might be writing blog posts (or social media posts or other pieces) of various formats and categories. You can define outlines and templates for each category so that you never have to confront the blank page problem again.
Here’s a LinkedIn post template that uses the AIDA (Attention-Interest-Desire-Action) copywriting framework, as an example.
- I- Context that builds up the hook
- D-Details that add to the context
- A- Strong CTA
Now every time you seek to write a LinkedIn post, you can type o/aida and let the above template guide the flow of your words.
6. Storing email requests and templates
I bet one of the few things writers hate writing is repetitive emails, am I right? But it’s how you get clients if you’re a freelancer. It’s how you pitch ideas to publications. And it’s also how you seek feedback or approval. You might make multiple similar requests every day, including cold pitches, requests to book meetings, requests for review and publication etc.
Having handy templates for each use-case can save you hours of time every month which you can use to make your writing shine instead. Use a text expander to create templates for email requests and summon them with a few keystrokes. You can thank me later!
7. Storing, referring, and using URLs accurately
With the explosion of apps for everything from grammar check to streaming a movie, looking for a specific URL online is like searching for a needle in a haystack. To avoid digging through unending email threads and bookmarks for links and open them faster, you can use text expansion.
Example: You can create a shortcut to this article: o/speed-write and save it as a snippet in your text expander. The next time you type o/speed-write in your browser, it will expand to the original URL and bring you straight to this guide and these life, oops, time-saving tips!
You can also use text expanders to create UTM links for your marketing campaigns and track them without hassle.
You can create a dynamic snippet to build different UTM parameters for different posts as building them via the Google URL builder can be tedious.
Just follow the syntax in the image below and input the right variables in your target URL, source, medium, and campaign to get going.
8. Accessing special characters and accent marks instantly
I grew up learning German as a foreign language. The hardest part about it was not the gendered articles or the many, many grammatical cases to contend with. It was working on my assignments on a standard English keyboard that did not have the umlaut. (The umlaut refers to two dots placed over select vowels in some Germanic languages and it looks like ä, ö, and ü for example). I had to remember so many keyboard shortcuts that I always ended up Googling them over and over or just copy-pasting them from Google Translate.
You don’t have to go through that mess anymore! Store special characters and symbols in your text expander. Just type o/euro to summon € or o/cafe to correct it to café automatically each time.
Look at this extreme example from within our HQ (more as a source of chuckles than of reference!)
9. Speeding up punctuation
You can’t really tell this from this blog post but, I am a fan of the em dash (—). I use it extensively to break my longer sentences into readable chunks. And it annoys me to type in the odd key combination to invoke it.
I usually pause my frantic typing, press the wrong keys in the wrong order, lose my train of thought trying to correct the hyphen or underscore to the em dash, and end up wasting a couple of seconds on this pointless exercise each time.
My savior? o/em. Something I can type without needlessly preparing in advance and which lets me automatically insert the em dash instantly in a document. If you too, have go-to punctuation symbols that you find hard to type, just create a text expander snippet for it and spare yourself the trouble!
Many of these tips and tricks have personally helped me produce a higher quality of content in a lower amount of time. I hope they do the same for you.
Powerful text expander snippets writers can use in their daily work
Here’s a handy list of text expander snippets writers should have at their disposal to speed up everyday work:
- Questions for conducting your research, including interview questions you ask SMEs
- Copy and/or blog metadata including project names, titles, keywords, target readers etc.
- Frequent instructions or comments you add to your documents such as “Insert image”, “Insert link to landing page”, “Insert CTA” etc.
- Frequent email requests you make to clients, managers, editors, and publications, whether it is for pitches, feedback, reviews or something else.
- Your email signature
- Frequent email subject lines and greetings or signoffs
- Commonly mistyped words and phrases such as teh (for the) or wierd (for weird)
- Complex terms or phrases that you might use often. For example, the word “jurisdiction” for a legal writer can be replaced by o/jrsd instead
- Special characters, punctuation marks, common emojis, accent marks, and foreign words you like to use often in writing should also get their own snippets
Try OSlash—the text-expander that makes you write 30x faster
Now that you know why you must invest in a text expander, let us answer the next obvious question too.
Which text expander should you try?
We may be a bit biased but after dogfooding OSlash at OSlash, we can’t let you look elsewhere in good conscience.
Why is OSlash the right text expander for you?
Here are just some of the many reasons:
- Automate typing by creating snippets for your most commonly used pieces of text
- Format snippets with a rich-text editor and images to make them look just right
- Share snippets seamlessly with colleagues (or keep them private if you like)
- No need to type your snippets from scratch! Highlight anything on the web, right-click and convert it into a snippet in a single click
- Autocomplete snippets or point-click-and-insert them instead of remembering the right shortcuts
- Find and choose the right snippet instantly with the OSlash launcher
- Transform your most frequented pages/links into simple shortcuts to surface information in an instant
Sweet deal, isn’t it? We’ve made it even sweeter by offering you a free 15-day trial of OSlash.