This kind of program has been around since Bill Gates was a baby, and it’s still handy. It’s “RoboType,” and it can save you the trouble of retyping any block of text by just assigning a couple of letters to it.

It reminds Bob of his old days in the newsroom when Zbigniew Brzezinski was President Carter’s national security advisor. Someone on the copy desk taped a sign on the wall that read: “Zbigniew Brzezinski is unfair to copy editors.” With RoboType installed, they could have assigned his name to a couple of key letters, like “zb.” Then if they typed “zb” and hit the space bar while in Word or some other word processor, a little blue box would pop up with the full name. Click the box or hit the return key and it would slug in as they say. (Make sure you got the spelling right.)

There is no limit to how much text can be stored this way. If you sometimes sign your letters with a photo-copied signature or some legal boiler-plate, give them call letters and they will pop into place. Here’s a by-the-way note: the program calls these letter groups “abbreviations.” Of course, they are not abbreviations, but we don’t expect programmers to know how to write.

The new Robotype 4 has some ready-made shortcuts for other common calls. Type “calc” and hit the space bar and it bring up the Windows calculator. Type “now” and it offers you today’s date in several different formats. If you don’t want those functions when the little blue box pops up, just keep typing, all will be normal. The program has a random password generator and the ability to assign several different paragraphs to the same sequence; they then come up in a menu of choices. We chose “bp” to represent our standard boilerplate signature, but we could also make it stand for British Petroleum.

If you use RoboType when writing an email, we found that it doesn’t work with the Chrome browser. It worked fine in Internet Explorer and Firefox and saved us a lot of time with our Gmail. The only problem we had was when we tried to use call letters for images. This worked when slugging an image into MS Word, but not with email.

RoboType 4 is for Windows only and is available free in PC Magazine’s Utility Library, for subscribers who pay $20 a year; if you’re a not a subscriber, it’s $8. Just go to and click “downloads” at the top of the screen.

One Response to “AN OLDIE BUT GOODIE”

  1. An alert reader wrote in to say:

    “I have run across this problem when I type legal documents and briefs which have the same long words like:

    names, etc

    I use MS Word and the Office Suite 2007.

    For years, my solution is to use the “INSERT” option and Select “SYMBOL” and “More Symbols” from the drop down box.

    This will open up the Symbol box.

    Click on the “Auto Correct” box.

    Click on the dot for “Plain Text”.

    In the “Replace” Box, enter the short-cut abbreviation.

    In the “With” box, enter the desired word or phrase. You can capitalize, abbreviate, and add symbols. You can also copy and paste into this box for convenience.

    Have a GREAT day!

    -Partne Daugherty