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How to Create PowerPoint Text Shortcuts for Symbols


Has your train of thought ever been derailed by something so simple as inserting a symbol? Here’s what happened to me.

I was smack in the middle of writing a great pitch and building an awesome PowerPoint presentation. My creative engine was at full throttle, when suddenly everything ground to a screeching halt…I needed to insert an upward facing arrow!

It sounds stupid, but what started as a minor distraction turned into an epic quest and completely threw off my pitch writing mojo.

I started by trying to find it in the insert symbol dialog box. “Which tab was that on again?”…forget it. Instead I decided to copy and paste it from another slide within my deck. “Which slide did I use it on again? Aha, found you!”

After finally finding my symbol, I was back to my pitch, but…where was I again? My train had left the station.

To make sure this never happened again, I did some research and found out that the best work around is to create text shortcuts for your frequently used symbols using AutoCorrect.

Custom text shortcuts for symbols video tutorial

Here’s how to create your own text shortcuts, and prevent this type of tiny issue from ruining your PowerPoint productivity.

Custom text shortcuts for symbols explained

When creating, or naming, your text shortcuts, you have two options which I’ve outlined below with advantages and disadvantages. Which route you go with is a question of personal preference and how many symbols you usually work with.

What to consider when using text shortcuts for symbols

 My advice though is to not get too caught up in the process. Remember the goal is to get back to writing your amazing pitch.

Option 1: Creating your own unique shortcut name

Just as I did in the video, you can create your own shortcut names. For example, I set ‘uarrow’ as the shortcut for the upward facing arrow (↑).

The advantage of doing it this way is that you can pull this off on the fly, set your shortcut, and use it throughout your deck without too much hassle.

Just remember to make sure you create a shortcut name that is both 100% unique to your symbol and something that is easy to remember. Your shortcuts aren’t any good to you if you can’t remember them.

Option 2: Reusing shortcuts from Word

A more ‘technically’ correct method of naming your shortcuts is to use the symbol names in the Math Shortcuts section of the AutoCorrect dialog box (available only in Word). This provides you with preset text shortcuts for symbols.

For example, using Math AutoCorrect, type ‘\uparrow’ and hit Enter and you get ‘↑’. Type ‘\Uparrow’ and hit Enter and you get ‘⇑’.

The advantage of this is method it that you will learn a bunch of new text shortcuts for the different symbols. The disadvantage is, it can be time-consuming on the front end to find, setup and memorize all the different symbols.

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Updated on December 14, 2017

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