Writing is a necessary part of many people’s jobs. Whether it’s internal memos, emails, proposals, or articles, many of us have to tickle these keys on a daily basis to produce work-related prose.
One of the natural side effects of writing for work is that you often have to use brand names. Unfortunately, trade names are not always capitalized in a way that is either intuitive, or even in keeping with the way Mrs. Demarest taught us (some) to capitalize names in her seventh grade English class.
Some brands, like Apple, are capitalized the way you’d expect. There is an uppercase letter at the beginning, followed by lowercase letters. Other brands, such as eBay and iPhone, use the camel cover. Camel case is the term used when writing a large word in the middle. Like a camel, it has a hump in the middle.
Some brands have two humps, one at the beginning and one in the middle. YouTube uses two cams, while MyMiniFactory (a 3D printable object library) uses three.
Other brands mix uppercase and lowercase letters in ways that might not be natural. VMware and the old format of ZDNet come to mind.
Then there are the brands that use all caps. The two companies ZATZ are always capitalized, such as BMW, VISA, and IKEA.
If you work in marketing or you are a tech journalist, you are probably faced with typing brand names a hundred times a day. Normally, muscle memory works. After typing the iPhone ten or twenty thousand times, I’m pretty much on autopilot with the camel case.
But what if you can’t get your fingers to write the correct case? What if you know Microsoft is Microsoft, but your fingers have always wanted to type MicroSoft? Or you can somehow keep on FaceBook when Facebook is on. Or, for the sake of your life, you can never remember that Photoshop is Photoshop and not PhotoShop?
Kindly remind to get our style right.
With the big redesign of ZDNET last month, came a new design dictation: ZDNET is no longer ZDNet. It should have always been written as ZDNET. As you might imagine, with over a decade of ZDNet muscle memory, I needed help. To the annoyance of my impatient and indulgent editors, I continued to convert articles using the old style of capitalization.
As it turns out, there is an app for that.
Once I was told that I kept typing our new brand wrong, I switched to a tool I had relied on for a long time: TextExpander.
TextExpander is a tool that monitors key sequences. When it finds a sequence that has been programmed to watch, it replaces the original with a new one. It is triggered as soon as it sees the limiter. So, for example, if you type ZDN et [space]deletes all six characters and replaces them with ZDNET [space]. It also makes a really unique sound to let me know it’s made a change, which reassures me that now it’s right.
You might think that you can use spelling dictionaries in applications such as Microsoft Word. But the problem is that you will then have to change the definitions in every app you use. With a system-wide text replacement app like TextExpander, these changes will be made whether you’re writing in Word, Chrome, Evernote, Notion, PowerPoint, or even in a video editing app like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. It also stores the definitions in the cloud, so it works across all your devices too.
I use TextExpander a lot to fix words that I misspelt regularly. For example, I write relatively regularly about Dell, but I always seem to write Dejj and Dekk. When TextExpander sees those incorrect versions, it quickly replaces in Dell. Since Dell is a regular topic of coverage, it is very important to spell the company name correctly.
Easy replacement setup. Simply select New Snippet from the TextExpander menu.
Here’s how to set up the expansion.
A snippet window will appear. I would like to start with (1) briefly. This is what I usually write and want to fix. Then (2), enter the alt text. You can choose your alternative to be rich text or plain text (3). Name the abbreviation (4). Then, finally, decide if the shortcut is case sensitive or not (5). Since this substitution is entirely case-related, you’ll need to set it to “case sensitive”.
One thing to note. By default, TextExpander expands after typing a space, carriage return, or tab.
Since you will likely use a comma or period after the search word, you will need to enable it as well. Go to Preferences, then expand and show all settings. I recommend turning on the period, comma, exclamation point, and question mark as well.
That’s all you have to do. I find that I am either adding shortcuts that I expect to be used frequently (as I expect ZDNET debugging to be used), or for individual projects. Sometimes, when a particular name is hard to remember, or when I need to cite a long set of last names in an academic paper, I set up an acronym so I can cite and write without errors.
More about TextExpander
for individuals, TextExpander is $39.96 every year. You can use it on Mac, Windows and iOS systems. There is also a Chrome extension version for those using Chromebooks.
While I’m always a little annoyed with the software’s subscription model (TextExpander used to be a one-time purchase), the company allows an unlimited number of devices and keeps your shortcuts in the cloud, so no matter which device you’re using, they know to make corrections.