Google Docs: Custom Substitutions

Lesson 31: Custom Substitutions


Custom substitutions

If you're tired of typing the same phrase over and over again, you can create a custom substitution that will generate the phrase automatically.

Watch the video below to learn how to create and use custom substitutions in Google Docs. 

What are substitutions?

Substitutions allow you to type a short piece of text and have it be replaced by something else. For example, try typing two parentheses with a 'c' in the middle.

type c with parentheses

Then press the spacebar or Enter key on your keyboard. The text turns into the copyright symbol! Using substitutions is that easy!

copyright symbol

Creating custom substitutions

To make your own custom substitutions, you first have to find the substitution list.

Click Tools, then select Preferences.

clicking preferences

In the Preferences pane, click Substitutions.

clicking substitutions

You'll see a list of the default substitutions that are already available. 

list of substitutions

Now let's create our own substitution that will replace sop with standard operating procedure. 

Click the empty box under Replace and type sop.

typing replace field

Then click the corresponding box in the With column, and type standard operating procedure.

typing the with field

Then click OK.

clicking ok

Now that our custom substitution is created, let's try it out. Somewhere in your document type sop.

typing sop

Then press the spacebar. The letters will be replaced with the custom substitution!

the substitution has been made

Any custom substitution that you create will be available in all of your Google Docs. This means that you don't have to re-create your substitutions each time.

Doing more with custom substitutions

When creating custom substitutions, you can use text or any Unicode-based symbol, like a square root sign or cowboy emoji.

use unicode symbols

You can turn off a substitution by clicking the checkbox next to it.

turning off cowboy

You can delete a substitution by clicking the X.

deleting the cowboy

If you want to turn off all substitutions, click the checkbox next to Automatic substitution.

turn off all substitutions

Substitutions on mobile

You cannot create or edit custom substitutions from the Google Docs mobile app, but you can use substitutions that you previously created on the computer.

The process to use a substitution is the same on mobile. Simply type the text...

typing cowboy

Then tap the spacebar, and the substitution is made.

the cowboy emoji

Custom substitutions require a little bit of setup, but in the end they can save you a lot of time and hassle.