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TextExpander @ Work: A Guide for Writers

TextExpander is designed to help everyone be more productive thru typing smarter. But, there are unique ways TextExpander can help a variety of industries, so we’re starting a new series to explore some of the ways TextExpander can be useful in a variety of practices and tasks—from the legal industry, to real estate, to freelancing, and more.

We have plenty of handy tips and tricks that will help you get more out of TextExpander, as well as great additions from our community to highlight. Let’s start with a practice dear to our hearts: writing.

Just plain writing

One of the best ways for a writer to fit TextExpander into their daily workflow is by exploring the ways they can present their snippets using the available formatting options. Those options are found in the editing bar as you edit a snippet. For starters, you can set each snippet’s format to be either plain text, or “rich text and pictures.” If you need a primer on the differences between the two, check out our video: Working with Snippets, at the 3:48 mark.

This gives you control over how your snippets look in various apps and contexts, such as rich text emails, word processors, and web publishing WIZYWIGs. A “rich text and pictures” snippet is just what it sounds like—you can specify font styles, colors, and other formatting for each snippet, and add just about any kind of photo you want.

This gives you the flexibility to maintain your branding and style across any apps and workspaces you move between throughout the day.

Naturally, there are some great, general snippet groups for writers, many created by generous members of our community. Browse our Public Groups for handy groups you can subscribe to for free. Here are a few good groups in Public Groups to start you off:

  • TidBITS AutoCorrect – Snippets that fix over 2,500 common misspellings, produced by the fine folks at TidBITS
  • Accented Words – Good for adding proper accent characters to words that need them, without your hunting around for umlauts
  • Brand Names – To help you stop typing FaceBook when you actually meant Facebook

HTML snippets

Some writers who publish online prefer to pull a Trinity and write in the actual code of the web. Since many writing apps aren’t built for HTML, some writers turn to coding apps, which often aren’t built for their other needs. It’s a vicious cycle.

Wherever you write, HTML snippet groups for TextExpander can do wonders for your process. They can automatically expand all the code you need to add links, styles, bulleted lists, you name it. Some snippets can even place any content on your clipboard in the right place as you use a snippet, which is pretty awesome. Head over to Public Groups and subscribe to the HTML & CSS group.

Markdown snippets

For writers who prefer to go Trinity-lite, John Gruber’s Markdown writing syntax is a great alternative to HTML. It simplifies a lot of the code necessary to add most of the typical writing elements such as links, text styles, and bulleted lists.

Markdown looks a lot cleaner than HTML, making it easier to read as your write, and TextExpander snippets will supercharge your markdown. Head over to MacSparky, the blog of our friend David Sparks, and download his Markdown snippet bundle. If you need to brush up on your Markdown first, head over to John Gruber’s Daring Fireball and take a quick scroll through his guide.

WordPress snippets

Speaking of publishing online, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It has quite a few moving parts and pages, though, so TextExpander user Daniel Santoro created a snippet group for getting around your site and making adjustments more quickly.

You can subscribe to Santoro’s snippets from Public Groups. Some assembly is required, though, so head over to Santoro’s site for instructions.

That’s just the red pill

As you might guess, the rabbit hole for snippets goes pretty deep. Our community has created all sorts of specialized snippet groups over the years, for all kinds of writing tasks. Now that we have a central spot for shared snippets in Public Groups, you’ll be able to find more—and share your own!

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